The 43-foot Cabo, Sea Dream, won the 64th annual International Billfish Tournament of Club Náutico de San Juan thanks to the efforts of angler Juan Pepe Donestevez, who released the team’s third blue marlin and sealed the victory for the popular local team. Even better: All three fish were caught on 20-pound-test line, in a special late-season light-tackle rendition of the 64-year-old tournament.
“Fishing was good for us,” says Sea Dream‘s Humberto “Tayito” Martínez, who released the first two blues. “The billfish cooperated, the bite was good and currents helped, in spite of some mixed green water.” He credited the skills of Capt. Jesús Vela and fellow anglers in the win. Vela won the Mike Benitez Best Captain Perpetual Trophy, awarded to the tournament’s top captain.
Coming in second was the 42-foot Blueprint, a team that scored a white marlin for lady angler Coralys Ayala and a blue marlin by Eduardo Rodriguez, Blueprint’s owner. Tournament director Sal Egea Jr. won third place aboard his family’s 50-foot Viking, Panama Jack. Egea released one white marlin while angler Joey Vizcarrondo released another.
“We wanted to keep the tournament’s tradition alive and also go out and fish to keep our minds off the daily stress and routine of the recovery efforts after Hurricane Maria,” Egea says. He went on to thank the boat owners and anglers who made the effort to fish.
“The element of using 20-pound-test also gave a fresh fishing perspective to a new generation of young anglers who are now experiencing the thrill of fishing,” Egea reports. “It’s a closeness of you and the fish that’s very exciting.” Egea will return as the tournament director of the 65th annual tournament, which is slated for October 15-21, 2018.
The winning international team was Club Náutico of San Juan 01 in first place. USA came in second and the Dominican Republic team placed third.
The ladies distinguished themselves as well. Coraly Ayala, the first angler who released a billfish in the tournament, teamed up with Camelia Fernandez (who released a sailfish) and together with Vanessa González they won third place in the Interclub category. Also winning the top spot in the Interclub category were Martínez, Luis Umpierre and Jorge Luis Díaz. The second place trophy went to Donestevez, Emilio Fernandez and Joe Vizcarrondo.
In two days, 20 billfish were released, including five blue marlin. The tournament’s original dates were cancelled due to Hurricane Maria, and while recovery efforts will continue for months, Puerto Rico is expected to be back on its feet as a world-class fishing and tourism destination by the summer of 2018. Read more about Puerto Rico’s outstanding marlin fishing.