102 Blue Marlin Released in San Juan

The teams fishing the Club Nautico de San Juan’s 59th International Billfish Tournament (IBT) released an astounding 102 blue marlin.

The event also became the first tournament to partner with the National Geographic Society in the deployment and recovery of six billfish Crittercams to capture images of these magnificent fish in their natural environment.

“We set a new record this year of an average of 2.5 blue marlin released per boat. It was a very successful tournament,” says tournament chair Miguel Donato.

Gaviota, a 52 Viking won the Top Boat trophy by being the first boat to release six blue marlin.

san juan international billfishJoe Vizcarrondo, Gaviota‘s owner and angler said, “We’ve fished in this tournament for over 10 years and this is the first time we’ve won the overall. One of the great secrets to our success was Capt. Luis Infanzon. He diligently stayed in position and tried to raise fish. The fact that he stuck to his method is why we finished the way we did today.”

Gaviota‘s anglers, including Vizcarrondo, Ricky LeFranc and Frankie Mirandes, collectively released three blue marlin the first day, two on the second and one on the fourth and final day of fishing.

Four other boats also released six blue marlin by the time lines out was called at 4 p.m. In order of finish in the tournament, they were Amigo, Jean B and GinPoleAde.

The Top Angler trophy went to Ecuador’s Miguel Sosa, who was the first to release four blue marlin. In angler standings, Bruno Rodriguez finished second, also with four releases, while Malcolm MacDonald finished third by releasing three blue marlin.

Club Nautico de San Juan #1 finished in first for the international team category, with eight blue marlin releases. Team anglers were Jaime Fullana fishing aboard the Buddy Davis 74, Bolita; Gustavo Hermida aboard his Hatteras 72, Fish Hunter; and Bruno Rodriguez, fishing from his Jim Smith 53, Amigo.

“We enjoyed perfect fishing, perfect weather and a bit of luck,” says Fullana, who released three of the team’s eight marlin. Rodriguez released four, while Hermida contributed one.

Puerto Rico’s Stephanie Lebron, fishing aboard the 54 Bertram, Tati-Way, successfully defended her title and earned Best Female angler honors again this year, releasing of two blue marlin.

“I caught the first fish on third day of fishing,” said Lebron. “It was over 500 pounds — the largest I’ve ever caught. It took me over 45 minutes to reel it in and make the release. I am so proud of that fish.”

The 148 anglers fishing the event released a total of 102 blue marlin from 43 boats.

The IBT also continued its long-term commitment to conservation and welcomed professionals from The Billfish Foundation and International Game Fishing Association (IGFA). Several pop-up archival satellite tags were placed in blue marlin as part of the Great Marlin Race. Five tags placed in last year’s tournament have already been recovered. The furthest was on a fish caught by the late Puerto Rican captain Mike Benitez, which popped-up 4,776 nautical miles away off the coast of Angola, Africa, nearly four months later.