The unofficial start to the 2011 Baja tournament season wrapped up with the completion of the Bisbee’s East Cape Offshore Tournament at the Hotel Buena Vista Beach Resort. On the stage overlooking a tranquil Sea of Cortez, the tournament dished out $331,740 in cash prizes to five teams. A total of 61 boats fished this 12th annual sportfishing event which is presented by Cabo Riviera.
Chucky Van Wormer and his team aboard La Hielera & Co. were the biggest winners after boating a blue marlin weighing 557 pounds. The big blue was caught on a Hi-5 Triple XL Kona Dodger lure and was weighed before noon on the first day of fishing. Van Wormer earned $238,569 for that catch, which was the only qualifying marlin brought to the scales. It also represented the largest blue marlin ever weighed in the history of the East Cape event, and is the tournament’s largest single cash payout to date.
Don Whittier, fishing aboard a 23 Angler center console, was the other big winner. He took top dorado and both dorado and tuna day one jackpots (47.2 and 56.2 pounds, respectively). Whittier also scored the biggest tuna, a yellowfin that weighed 51.5 pounds, on the second day to take that daily jackpot as well. Whittier’s total winnings added up to $46,585.
Alain Iribe claimed the other second day gamefish daily when he hoisted a 33-pound dorado to the scales. Iribe was trolling aboard Carajo when the neon-green fish struck his bait. For his efforts, Iribe earned $12,112.
Some new faces showed up at the scales on the last day. John Reinhardt, fishing aboard Flora T II, landed the top dorado for Friday. His 42.8-pound fish earned $12,112 in the daily jackpot category. Sergio Aviles, fishing aboard Tail Chaser, pocketed $22,360 when he weighed in the day’s biggest tuna, a yellowfin that tipped the scales at 58.1 pounds taking both the daily jackpot and top tuna.
Sneak Attack, skippered by Capt. Sammy Talbert, took the top release boat honors with a solid effort. El Dorado, featuring an all-lady angler team, took second place in the release division, followed by Karma 3. El Dorado was awarded second based on the time the fish were released.
The fleet caught a total of 105 billfish during the three-day competition, including 39 blue marlin, 38 striped marlin, two black marlin and 26 sailfish. Tournament director Wayne Bisbee was surprised no other qualifying marlin were weighed, but he certainly wasn’t disappointed by the overall outcome.
“It’s been a great way to kick off another tournament season here in beautiful Baja,” Bisbee said. “We had a near-record field of boats, some great anglers and cooperative weather. Unfortunately the bigger fish didn’t get the memo about the meeting this week, but that’s fishing. But now everyone is tuned up and ready to go for the rest of the season, and I’m sure it’s going to be a good one.”
The next leg in the Bisbee’s Offshore Tournament Series is the Los Cabos Offshore Tournament, in Cabo San Lucas on October 14-16. That’s followed by the biggest event of all, the 31st Bisbee’s Black & Blue Marlin Tournament which runs October 18-22, also in Cabo San Lucas. The Black & Blue is the richest event in sportfishing, with more than $51 million awarded in prize money in its three-decade history.
For more information visit www.bisbees.com.