The Flor de Caña International Billfish Tournament has become one of the most popular events in Central America thanks to a terrific venue, outstanding support from title sponsor Flor de Caña Rum and phenomenal billfishing. This year, 18 boats competed for a prize purse of more than $72,500 (including the optional jackpots) in the 12th annual event held out of Marina Puesta del Sol in Chinandega, Nicaragua.
Fuujin, captained by Jimmy Kitchell, jumped to an early lead in the tournament after Day One, but with flat-calm seas and great fishing, it was sure to be a dogfight right down to the final moments. The fleet battled back and forth during the three-day event, with no clear leader emerging until around noon on the third day.
Tranquilo, a 57-foot Spencer owned by Ken Coffer and captained by Lance Moss, started piling up the releases. When the final call for lines out came, they had stacked up an incredible 22 sailfish to their tally for the tournament. However, a minor engine problem kept the boat from maintaining cruising speed; consequently, they were late for the mandatory check in and fell off the leader board.
Carlos Pellas and the Rum Runner team, with Capt. Joe Crawford at the helm of the 68-foot Viking, moved into first place. They released 31 sailfish and two blue marlin in three days to take home the lion’s share of the tournament’s prize purse.
In second was Xta-Sea, owned by Alexis Chamorro and captained by John LaGrone, with 29 sailfish and one marlin. Rounding out the top three was the famed charter boat Tijereta with Capt. Bubba Carter — the team of Joan Vernon, Bill Easum and Sam White released 31 sailfish in the tournament. Tony Carrizosa from Rum Runner was the event’s top angler, and Xta-Sea’s Julio Chamorro landed the tournament’s largest game fish, a 39.6-pound dolphin.