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19th Stars and Stripes Tourney Scores Big

Coming from throughout the United States and Mexico, 43 teams competed in Stars and Stripes’ 2015 “It’s All About the Kids” event — a two-day, action-packed, very competitive sport fishing tournament.

Wrapped in the camaraderie and satisfaction of pursuing big fish, they raised some big bucks for the many children’s charities that Stars and Stripes supports.

The shuttles began arriving at Chileno Bay beach at 6:15 a.m. from the host hotel, Hilton Los Cabos Beach & Golf Resort, where they were greeted by staff and volunteers who quickly dispatched each team to their respective boat.

After all 43 teams were aboard their assigned boat, the boats lined up, crowding the start line; Dick Gebhard perched precariously on the bow of the panga as he pulled the trigger on the flare pistol, signaling the start of the two-day contest.

It seemed as though only minutes had passed before the VHF at Tournament Control crackled to life with the first team calling in a hookup. Throughout Friday and then on Saturday, the hook-ups, releases and losses were tabulated by Debbie Gebhard and her sister, along with Dick Gebhard who operated Tournament Control.

With as much drama as the last Super Bowl, all 43 teams struggled to remain in the hunt. It was well into the final hour and winners still emerged for the different categories. With the minutes ticking down the final hour, Gebhard murmured to the Tournament Control team, “What an exciting finish — non-stop action from start to finish, one of the best tournaments so far!”

Of the 161 billfish caught, all but one was released. The one fish weighed, a 525-pound blue marlin was caught by Skip Elefante aboard the “Stimulator.” In addition, there were 24 tuna, 6 dorado and 1 wahoo.

Captain’s Winners

Listo Captain Eduardo Ceseña Marlin 17 releases, Nick Sanchez, Mark Sanchez, George Sanchez, George Ashley

Reel Quest Captain Ty Valli Tuna 185-pounds Charles Ruck, Henry Ruck, Robert Lewis, Griffin Lewis, Greg Richardson, Nick Richardson

Carpe Diem Captain Jeff Hamm Dorado 42-pounds, James Patton, John VanderLans, Clinton Squire, Nate Lowery

Game On Wahoo 25-pounds, Paul Fruchbaum, Mike Moody, Doug Brownell, Peter Libkind, Mary Foxwell

Team Winners

MARLIN

#1 17 releases, So. Cal Pescadores aboard Listo
#2 14 releases, Enterprise aboard Go Deeper Dave Conti, Scott LeBas, Greg Murphy, Richard Murrell
#3 Casa Gold aboard Minerva 2, Dan Seebold, Jason Bibelheimer

TUNA

#1 185-pounds Team Rotza aboard Reel Quest
#2 165-pounds Team Blood, Sweat and Beers aboard Carpe Diem
#3 75-pounds Corona Beach Angler aboard Yahoo Tim Ryan, Paul MacDonald, Patty MacDonald

DORADO

#1 42-pounds, Team Whatevah/Hoff aboard Carpe Diem
#2 36-pounds Team Orangewood aboard Hot Rod Marissa Barth, Jeadine Miller, Michael Thomas, Michel Vernick
#3 5-pounds Team Woodchuck aboard the Mucho Bueno Stuart Young, Jake Stivers, Courtney LaPeter, Lee Farzine

WAHOO

#1 25-pounds Team Big Boy 1 aboard Game On

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Gary Graham, the BD Outdoors Baja Editor, has more than five decades fishing experience off of Southern California and the Baja Peninsula. From light tackle and fly up to offshore marlin fishing, Gary has experienced all facets of this fishery. He's set several fly-fishing world records and in his first year as a member of the Tuna Club of Avalon, he received more angling awards than any other first-year member in the club's 109-year history. He's been involved with many California angling clubs and is the Baja California Representative for the International Game Fish Association. 
Gary's a conservationist as well as a writer and photographer. In addition to two books on saltwater fly-fishing, hundreds of his articles and photographs have appeared in publications around the world. Graham has devoted his life to finding new fisheries and developing new techniques — all of which he shares through his guiding, speaking, photography and writing.