Thursday, March 27, 2008

Spring Baja Billfish Tournaments on the Horizon

Baja and fishing tournaments go together like chips and guacamole. They come in all shapes and sizes. Many are simply an excuse to fish and party, others are serious events providing charities with funds to support a variety of causes; on the other end of the spectrum, there are money tournaments that can literally turn a fish into a huge cash prize, allowing a lucky angler or team to become instant millionaires. While it appears that there are several contests somewhere in Mexico every month, spring always brings a blizzard of press releases announcing a seemingly endless stream of events.

Here are several events scheduled for May which demonstrate the variety of objectives that Baja tournaments offer:

PUERTO LOS CABOS Billfish Classic is the first event showcasing the new marina in San Jose del Cabo
Puerto Los Cabos Billfish Classic - May 7 -- 10 - is the first event to showcase the new marina in San Jose del Cabo. It appears, however, that they are hedging their bets and allowing boats to start from either the Cabo Marina or Puerto Los Cabos Marina. Initially the event included a minimum weight of 160 lbs. for striped marlin. The rule infuriated the sportfishing community and the event found itself embroiled in a controversy over the “kill” format. Anglers using the Marlin Nut forum mounted an email/letter writing campaign protesting the kill tournament regardless of minimum weight.
After receiving numerous protests Harvey Hunnicutt, IGT President, elected to modify the rules to “release only” for striped marlin.
Which is a excellent example of the impact Sportfishing community and individual anglers may have when they band together in support of causes ranging from regulatory issues like NOM-29 to conservation.
The IGT Mexico Tournament Series also includes Mazatlan Billfish Classic, Cancun Billfish Classic, Puerto Vallarta Billfish and Tuna Classic, and Puerto Los Cabos World Cup. These are held at different locations in Mexico and Baja culminating with an IGT Grand Championship (dates to be announced).

The pennants were flying as the Marina Rubicon Marlin Cup 2006 team from Lanzarote, Spain, accomplished an unbelievable feat with 10 marlin releases on the fourth and final day earning fishing's prestigious 2007 IGFA Offshore World Championship in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

Offshore World Championship - May 11 -- 16 -Considered by many as the “Olympics” of offshore fishing, the International Game Fish Association sponsors this serious, non-money tournament, celebrating the skill of anglers from around the world. Since 2000, the event has grown into the sport’s premiere offshore fishing series. All participants are already winners, having won in one of the 130 qualifying events held in 38 different countries.
“Countries and territories from five continents represented so far include teams from Angola, Australia, the Bahamas, Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Croatia, Grenada, Guatemala, Italy, Jamaica, Mexico, New Zealand, Panama, Puerto Rico, St. Lucia, Spain, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks and Caicos, the United States, Vanuatu and Venezuela,” said Tournament Coordinator, Ms. Lesley Arico. “The championship currently has 66 teams signed up for 2008 to fish this all-release format using non-offset circle hooks. Events include a fundraiser and auction. Considered the most prestigious catch-and-release blue water fishing tournament in the world, the event also draws the single largest contingent of international teams ever to compete in a fishing competition.”

World Championship Billfish Release Tournament - May 17th -21st - Another money tournament requiring mandatory use of circle hooks in an all-release format, WCBRT offers a new class of billfish tournament. The event has already attracted anglers from worldwide ports of distinction. The WCBRT is a qualifying event for the IGFA Offshore Championship and will include a Junior World Championship Division. The mission of the WCBRT is to promote competition, sportsmanship and the advancement of billfish conservation in a manner that will insure healthy billfish populations and exciting fishing experiences today and for future generations.

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