On the 16th of October, Hurricane Paul skirted Cabo San Lucas dumping massive amounts of wind-driven rains, which resulted in the Port Captain closing the port, causing the first of the October marlin tournaments in Cabo to be shortened from three to two days. Although disappointed, it only fueled the eternal optimism that most anglers share that conditions would improve.
Some said the chlorophyll charts indicated the water was clearing up from the storm. At the Bisbee‘s Black and Blue Tournament’s captains’ meeting, enthusiasm ran high as Wayne Bisbee, the Tournament Director, called the meeting to order.
Spectators and team members mingled and crowded the stage so they wouldn’t miss a single word. Bisbee quickly reviewed the rules, tournament schedule and introduced local dignitaries, finishing up with the announcement that 106 teams had entered and the unofficial prize money total was nearly $2.5 million — enticing a loud cheer from the crowd.
The first day of fishing began with promise as the fleet of 650 international anglers from a dozen countries fanned out from the famed El Arco — some to the Pacific, others up into the Sea of Cortez. To qualify for the event, blue or black marlin must weigh more than 300 pounds. Smaller fish only earn points for a successful release, while crews who boat undersized marlin are penalized.
At the end of the first day, only one billfish showed up at the tournament scale. Don Valero weighed in a 263-pound blue early in the day and was penalized 25 points, plus two points per pound up to 300 pounds for a score of negative 99 points. Chupacabra and Sneak Attack both released undersized blue marlin in the same area where they each caught their winning fish for the Bisbee Los Cabos tourney the week prior.
That meant day one’s unclaimed Daily Jackpot rolled over to day two, creating a whopping daily prize of $1.4 million for the crew that brought in the biggest fish of the day, if they were across the board and entered in all the jackpots. The high-stakes fishing contest that is the Bisbee Black and Blue felt more like a lottery!
The morning’s pace quickened on day two and by 1 p.m. five different teams had reported hook-ups of what they believed to be qualifiers, only to dejectedly report later on that the fish had been lost one way or another. Then, just a few minutes before 2 p.m., accompanied by loud shouts and yells of the crew in the background, Capt. Hercules “Herk” Marsella excitedly reported a boated fish on the Frantic Pace and they were headed for the scale.
Angler Dave Sanchez and his crew landed the 465-pounder after an 80-minute fight. As the only qualifying blue marlin on the day, it would go on to earn them a cash prize of nearly $1.422 million for the combined jackpots of day one and day two.
On the third and final day of fishing, teams went back to the drawing board to determine what area and strategy they felt would offer them the best opportunity to cash in on the final day’s jackpot. Some followed rumors while others chose factual information from boats in their network. Late in the afternoon, Capt. Mariano Mariscal on the Shambala, reported in with a boated blue marlin — a final attempt to snatch the last day’s daily jackpot from the leader. Unfortunately, when it was all said and done, the fish didn’t meet the 300-pound minimum. The final minutes of the tournament ticked off, and 106 boats and Wayne Bisbee listened as Axel Valdez declared the 2012 Bisbee Black and Blue was officially over with only one qualifying fish caught for the entire event.
Frantic Pace swept all the major cash awards, including the Top Tournament and Top Jackpot, plus all Daily Jackpot levels equaling $2,396,800.
The stakes are high in the Bisbee Black and Blue, the richest sport-fishing tournament in the world! It takes $63,100 to enter across the board and go in all jackpot levels, including the $10,000 daily. But it’s the potential million-dollar prizes that attract top anglers and crews to the tip of the Baja peninsula.
The team on Bad Company, led by Capt. Steve Lassley won the largest payout for a single team in 2006, taking home $3.92 million in cash. Frantic Pace now joins the elite group in the record book with the second largest payout.
The Release Division payout was settled by time of release, as all the top teams released a single blue marlin. Sea Angel, a 63-foot F&S with Capt. Billy Angel at the wheel captured first place with the shortest time. That catch earned them a check for $50,830. Sneak Attack, a 65-foot American Custom Yacht skippered by Capt. Sammy Talbert, came in second to win $17,595, while Hammertime, a 68-foot Hatteras run by Capt. Jeff Richardson, won $9,775 for third place.
“You know me, I always like to spread the money around,” Tournament Director Wayne Bisbee told the crowd assembled for the lavish awards’ banquet. “But part of the appeal of the Black and Blue is the chance to win a really big check and tonight that honor goes to the Frantic Pace team. Congratulations to them, and Muchas Gracias for another memorable tournament. It was a helluva week!”
For more information on the Bisbee Black and Blue, visit www.bisbees.com.