Offield Wins Masters Angling Tournament in Isla Mujeres

Consistent fishing and a big final day leads to victory

Chase Offield Masters Angling Tournament Isla Mujeres Mexico
Top angler Chase Offield (second from right) is presented his Masters trophy at the awards ceremony.Courtesy Lillian Mendillo

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 Hit n Run Masters Tournament Isla Mujeres Mexico
Byron Russell finished in second place in this year's tournament.Courtesy Lillian Mendillo

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.

sailfish jumping Isla Mujeres Mexico Masters Tournament
Acrobatic sailfish like this one were the primary target for the anglers, fishing off the Yucatan hotspot of Isla Mujeres, Mexico.Courtesy Lillian Mendillo
Dale Creamer Masters tournament Isla Mujeres Mexico
Dale Creamer battles yet another nice sailfish during the 2016 Masters tournament.Courtesy Lillian Mendillo
Ryan Higgins Viking 62 Masters tournament Isla Mujeres Mexico
Capt. Ryan Higgins (center) was the top captain on Viking 62.Courtesy Lillian Mendillo
Ladies on the beach Isla Mujeres Mexico Masters tournament
The ladies of the Master's tournament during the welcome party on the beach in Isla Mujeres, Mexico.Courtesy Lillian Mendillo
Release Marine Sam Peters Melissa Peters Karen Comstock
The lucky guy in the middle is Release Marine's Sam Peters, flanked by his wife Melissa on the right and Karen Comstock on the left.Courtesy Lillian Mendillo
Bonnie Powell Anthony Mendillo Isla Mujeres Mexico Keen M
Bonnie Powell hangs out on Keen M with Isla Mujeres veteran Anthony Mendillo during the tournament. Powell will receive the Rybovich Lifetime Achievement Award from The Billfish Foundation later this year for her tireless efforts in promoting sport fishing around the world.Courtesy Lillian Mendillo
Sam Peters Release Marine Masters tournament Isla Mujeres Mexico
Sam Peters says, "Don't miss the Masters!"Courtesy Lillian Mendillo