Fish Tank Victorious in Nicaragua

Popular team wins big in the Flor de Caña International Billfish Tournament

2017 flor de cana international billfish tournament nicaragua
The Fish Tank team, celebrating a hard-fought win in Nicaragua.Courtesy Antonio Varcasia

The Flor de Caña International Billfish Tournament is one of the top tournaments in Central America, thanks to its winning combination of outstanding fishing, luxurious accommodations and the warm, inviting host nation of Nicaragua. For the 16th annual tournament, held in Puesta del Sol, a fleet of 33 boats participated in the tournament’s two categories: Centenario for large sport-fishers and Gran Reserva for smaller boats.

Chris and Laura Jessen and the Fish Tank team were off to a hot start, releasing 26 sailfish on the first day of the tournament to take a commanding lead at 2,600 points. Ken and Amanda Cofer's Tranquilo team was second with 17 sails and 1,700 points, and several other teams remained in top contention, including Marc Stanley's Pelese, Tijereta, Rum Runner and others.

Going into Day Three, Tranquilo got hot and released a pair of blue marlin and then started piling up the sailfish releases (including one quintuple release); it looked as if they would walk away with yet another win in Central America. However, the Jessens and Fish Tank battled back from the brink, releasing an incredible 41 sails on the final day alone to emerge victorious. Their final tally: 82 sailfish in three days.

Tranquilo landed in second but it's hard to complain when your last day of fishing yields 38 sailfish and two marlin releases. Pelese held on to place third; guest angler Greg Angel was named the top angler of the tournament with 3,100 points. Rum Runner and No Agenda rounded out fourth and fifth places, respectively.

In the hotly contested small-boat division, Conga placed first with 2,700 points. Dolce Vita was second with 2,500 points and Soles third with 1,900 points. For the tournament, there were 805 billfish released in three days: 793 sailfish and 12 marlin.

2017 flor de cana international billfish tournament nicaragua
Ken and Amanda Cofer and Tranquilo, second place.Courtesy Antonio Varcasia
2017 flor de cana international billfish tournament nicaragua
Marc Stanley's Pelese finished in third.Courtesy Antonio Varcasia
2017 flor de cana international billfish tournament nicaragua
The tournament's top angler was Greg Angel, fishing on Pelese with Capt. John LaGrone.Courtesy Antonio Varcasia
2017 flor de cana international billfish tournament nicaragua
The first hint of sunrise lights the sky.Courtesy Antonio Varcasia
2017 flor de cana international billfish tournament nicaragua
The first day of tournament competition shows its colors.Courtesy Antonio Varcasia
2017 flor de cana international billfish tournament nicaragua
The fleet departs from Puesta del Sol, Nicaragua.Courtesy Antonio Varcasia
2017 flor de cana international billfish tournament nicaragua
Fish Tank heads out.Courtesy Antonio Varcasia
2017 flor de cana international billfish tournament nicaragua
Most of the blue marlin action is centered on the drop-offs around 55 to 60 miles from Puesta del Sol.Courtesy Antonio Varcasia
2017 flor de cana international billfish tournament nicaragua
A frigate bird scours the ocean looking for its next meal.Courtesy Antonio Varcasia
2017 flor de cana international billfish tournament nicaragua
Pelese swings around on the troll.Courtesy Antonio Varcasia
2017 flor de cana international billfish tournament nicaragua
A sailfish goes vertical. This year's tournament featured an incredible bite.Courtesy Antonio Varcasia
2017 flor de cana international billfish tournament nicaragua
Capt. Joe Crawford and Rum Runner, always a familiar sight off Nicaragua.Courtesy Antonio Varcasia
2017 flor de cana international billfish tournament nicaragua
Splashdown!Courtesy Antonio Varcasia
2017 flor de cana international billfish tournament nicaragua
Capt. Bubba Carter's Tijereta fished this year's tournament.Courtesy Antonio Varcasia
2017 flor de cana international billfish tournament nicaragua
Waiting for the bite.Courtesy Antonio Varcasia
2017 flor de cana international billfish tournament nicaragua
With the setting sun behind them, the fleet heads for port after another day of fishing.Courtesy Antonio Varcasia