It’s known as one of the most competitive angler-centered tournaments on the planet: the International Masters Angling Tournament, or simply, the Masters. Founded in 1963 by John Rybovich and a few of his angling friends, the tournament tests the skill of each angler by using a “dead boat” format, where individuals battle their billfish with very little assistance from the boat; captains can pivot the stern in the direction of a hooked billfish, but the act of backing down or chasing a fish with the boat is not allowed. The fights are timed and points are scored accordingly, with penalties assessed for broken lines. Anglers, who fish two per boat, also rotate among different boats and fish with different anglers each day, to further ensure a level field for all.
This year, Chase Offield emerged victorious over the four days of Masters fishing competition, held in Isla Mujeres, Mexico, May 18 to 21, 2016. And he saved the best for last, posting the best score on the fourth and final day of the tournament to clinch the win with a total of 530 points (240 of which came on the last day).
Byron Russell, one of the first-time anglers in this year’s Masters, finished in second place with 477.5 points. He was followed by Pete Boinis in third place with 450 points — Boinis was able to overcome a zero-point day on the second day of the tournament and rebounded nicely for third. Jim Motsko, tournament director and co-founder of the White Marlin Open, finished in fourth place while Lach Cheatham rounded out the top five. Karen Comstock, a past attendee of Marlin University, was the event’s top lady angler. She was one of three ladies invited this year, the first to ever fish in the Masters.
In the boat standings, Capt. Ryan Higgins put Viking 62 in first place with 22 sailfish. Local veteran Anthony Mendillo on Keen M finished in second place with 16 sails, while Ship’s Café, captained by Scott Adams, was third with 15 sailfish releases.