Even in a down economy, Bisbee can still draw a crowd. The 2011 Bisbee’s Black & Blue Marlin Tournament handed out prize checks totaling more than $2.1 million with the crew on Tiger Spirit netting a payout of $1,162,842 — and they didn’t even come in first place!
The 31st edition of the Black & Blue attracted a field of 100 boats and more than 560 anglers representing 12 different nations. But unlike other sports where there can be only one winner, several teams shared the spotlight on the stage overlooking the Cabo San Lucas harbor.
Angler Luis Arballo and his teammates aboard Bad Medicine, a 35 Cabo, took top honors in the Black & Blue after they landed the event’s biggest fish, a 409-pound blue, on the first day of the tournament. That catch swept the daily $200, $500, $1,000 and $2,000 jackpots for a total purse of $394,090.
But in a game where it pays to play, Tiger Spirit earned a remarkable consolation prize. Even though Luis Alberto Liera’s blue marlin was 14 pounds lighter than Bad Medicine‘s, it earned a whooping $1,162,842 since it was the only fish entered in all three daily $5,000 and $10,000 jackpots. Tiger Spirit owner Ned Wallace of Newport Beach, California, has been a long-time participant in the Black & Blue, but this is the first time his team has scored the tournament’s top cash prize. As an added bonus, Wallace & Co. earned an offshore trip to Panama, compliments of West Coast Fishing Club, a tournament sponsor.
“We’ve been fishing the Black & Blue since 1993 and we’ve placed in the money three of the last four years,” Wallace said at the awards banquet. “But this one has paid off the most. The biggest compliment for us is fishing against some of the great teams from around the world. It really means a lot from a prestige standpoint. My captain, Sergio Cota, is one of the most respected in the area and this win really cements his reputation.” Luis Alberto Liera was the angler who reeled in the profitable fish.
Vicente Rangel of Mexico and his family team on Pegasus went home with a check for $283,752 after boating a 329-pound blue on the second day.
Steve Skola, Chuck Mangus and their Hawaiian crew pocketed $259,745 in prize money as well. They too earned most of the daily jackpots after bringing a 313-pound blue to the scales aboard El Lobo on the last day of fishing.
Black and blue marlin are the tournament’s only eligible species and they must weigh at least 300 pounds to count at the scales, but boats can still show off their angling skills by competing in the release category. This year, Hammertime was the top team, releasing three blues and one striped marlin. That showing earned the team a check worth $47,791. Big Time came in second place in the release division after bringing three blues and a sailfish to the transom, while Reel Energy rounded out the standings with two blue marlin scored based on time. Big Time earned $16,543 and Reel Energy pocketed $9,191, respectively.
After a track record of paying out more than $56 million over the last three decades, the Black & Blue has indeed earned its rep as the richest tournament in the sport.
“Despite the economy our overall money was up again this year,” said Tournament Director Wayne Bisbee after the checks were handed out. “Even second place can win a million bucks in the Black & Blue. So thanks to all our anglers and crews, plus our fantastic sponsors, we are the big enchilda of sportfishing. We’re the World Series, Super Bowl, and Triple Crown all rolled into one wet–and wild–ride.”
2011 Final Standings
Bad Medicine, angler Luis Arballo: $394,090.00
409 lb. blue marlin, Day 1 $200, $500, $1,000, $2,000 Jackpots
Tiger Spirit, angler Luis Alberto Liera: $1,162,842.50
395 lb. blue marlin, Day 1, 2 and 3 $5,000 & $10,000 Jackpots
Pegasus, angler Vicente Rangel, $283,752.50
329 lb. blue marlin, Day 2 $200, $500, $1,000, $2,000 Jackpots
El Lobo, angler Steve Skola: $259,745.00
313 lb. blue marlin, Day 3 $200, $500, $1,000, $2,000 Jackpots
Top Release Teams
900 points / 3 blue marlin + 1 striped marlin (on time)
Big Time II, $16,543.13
900 points / 3 blue marlin + 1 sailfish
Reel Energy, $9,190.63
600 points / 2 blue marlin (on time)