Sunday, November 21, 2010

The thrill of it

The celebration and trip to the scales at the Puerto Paraiso Mall was as exciting as the catch.

I guess you might say that the stars were aligned in my favor this year. Not only was I assigned to cover the Los Cabos Billfish, Bisbee Offshore and Bisbee Black and Blue tournaments, but I also had an invitation to ride as an observer on the 75’ luxury sportfisher C-Bandit built by Titan Marine, Inc. in San Diego.

Of course, as in any sport, the preparation begins long before the event actually takes place. Some of these teams have been pre-fishing almost every day since their arrival in Cabo six weeks ago.

I have been hanging out in Cabo San Lucas since early October, riding on many of the pre-tournament trips and rubbing shoulders with some of the best tournament anglers from around the world. I am awed at the camaraderie wrapped in respect that is forged among the competitors. Alliances are established and each evening after the boats return to their slips, telephones ring and radios crackle as the day's action is discussed and strategies are determined for the next day; fishing information is cautiously shared as teams search the banks to determine which ones hold the bait and the big fish needed to win.

A primary part of the pre-fishing is the dress rehearsal. Many teams have refined their ability to perform together under pressure over many caught fish, and they are able to perform like well-oiled machines, while others struggle to put together a plan of action which will allow them to get into the game.
Competition is intense in this high-stakes game! The Captain of C-Bandit, Peter Groesbeck, was part of the 2006 Bad Company team that won nearly $4,000,000 in the Bisbee Black and Blue.

The C-Bandit’s team entered the first tournament of the series with guarded optimism. Their highlight of pre-fishing was double when the first blue marlin ate a freshly-caught ten-pound yellowfin tuna down deep on a Cannon downrigger and another blue ate a somewhat smaller skipjack out of the rigger. The owner, Bill McWethy had the estimated 450-pound blue marlin to the transom of the boat in thirty-five minutes.

The 12th Annual Los Cabos Billfish Tournament's thirty-seven teams gathered from around the world on Tuesday, October 12th. The Kickoff and Captain’s meeting for each event is like the who's who of anglers, including the local high-liners, a large contingent from the U.S. and the international teams who return to compete each year.

By the time the three-day event concluded, a total of 209 anglers racked up sixty-five billfish, six tuna, ten wahoo and two dorado and nearly $425,000.00 paid out to the winners.
The fifty-nine teams lined up at Cape Rocks on October 16th for the obligatory shotgun start of the second in the series. The 11th Annual Two-day Los Cabos Offshore Tournament anglers were brimming with optimism.

The total number of fish caught included fifty-five billfish, sixteen blue and thirty-two striped marlin, four sailfish and eleven tuna, including one that tipped the scales at 161.8 pounds after a 30-minute battle. The winners’ optimism was rewarded with $248,120.00.

On the first day of the tournament, C-Bandit was in the right place at the right time. A 549 pound black marlin ate a ten-pound yellowfin tuna! Believe it or not, the angler Buzz Colton, has fished the tournament circuit often, but he had never landed a black marlin…so the three-plus hours it took him to catch it was understandable. The celebration and trip to the scales at the Puerto Paraiso Mall was as exciting as the catch.

People crowded around the scale as the team had their pictures taken and celebrated with an obligatory drink of tequila. The catch put the team in third place and hoping for another shot at a big one today. The whistles accompanied by shouts of congratulations as the team made their way back to the C-Bandit were exhilarating, even for those of us who were spectators.

Despite adhering to the old adage not to leave fish to find fish, Thursday was not the team’s day and it was ‘no hits and no errors’. What did make the team’s day, however, was hearing the good news that their first day’s catch was worth $282,000.

By the time you read this, three events will be history. But, it’s not too late for you to experience the "thrill of it" for yourself. There is one more event, the 2010 Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot - Nov 3rd to the 6th and with cow sized tuna caught in all three events the signups for the event are coming in at a brisk pace. See you there?