Bisbee East Cape Offshore Week as seen by Gary Graham

Baja Bytes

Baja Editor
May 11, 2011
Lake Elsinore, CA USA
Gary Graham
Boat Name

Wednesday afternoon taxi ride beneath grumpy, cloudy skies.

When I arrived at Hotel Rancho Buena Vista Beach Resort the sun was out and most of the tournament fleet was anchored out in front of the hotel.

Gang’s all here – Trish Bisbee, David Garcia of Catch Stat and his assistant.

Even the kids get in the act.

Need a Mexican fishing License? Felipe Valdez is your man.

What can I say? It’s Bisbees.

Ken Matney, Hi-5 Lures has just the lure you need for that winning fish.

Eager teams began arriving mid-afternoon August 4 for the Bisbee East Cape Offshore Captains’ Meeting, the Bisbee staff awaiting them at the check-in tables in the Hotel Buena Vista Beach Resort dining room.

Sixty one boats from the East Cape region, San Jose/Cabo San Lucas and other Mexican ports gathered at 7 a.m. Wednesday on the waters in front of the host Hotel Buena Vista Beach Resort overlooking the Sea of Cortez.

The first day began with a roar as the boats at full throttle responded to the red flare streaking across the sky signaling the start. Quickly, the fleet divided directions between north and south.

No flags a flapping is a sure indicator that it was a slow day on the water.


Esteves, entered in the game fish jackpot aboard the Gaviota, brought in the first tuna exceeding the 40-pound minimum to the scale: a 57.6-pounder caught on squid.

Day two was more of the same except the tuna were fatter. Captain Carlos Beltran, member of the North Star crew scored top daily honors with a 156-pound tuna on a squid that was hooked while the rest of the team was fishing live bait. It took just short of two hours to bring the to the side of the boat.

Friday finally delivered more blue and black marlin to the scale than tuna. A seasoned Bisbee’s team member, John Peelman on Hot Rod outlasted a stubborn 409-pound blue marlin to take the largest prize of the event.

Angler Randy Wickward, a member of the well known "Tiger Spirit" team from Cabo San Lucas, captured the second-largest marlin for the week, a 389-pound black that was landed aboard Ardilla Ciega.

After fighting the fish and bringing it along side the panga, he assisted gaffing and hauling the huge fish on board.


In an unfortunate turn of events, Wickward, 53, collapsed and fell to the deck and could not be revived by his teammates. Bisbee related that Wickward had told his "Tiger Spirit" teammates that he wanted to win the Bisbee ECO tournament on his own boat with them. His dream was to be on his own small boat, not a big sportfisher. He passed away after the fish was gaffed; at that moment, they were in first place, fulfilling his dream. There was a heartfelt round of applause as Trish Bisbee announced the fish’s weight.

Leaving tuna to dominate the game fish division, Agustin Pino on Fisherman found the largest one overall, a 170.3-pound yellowfin while soaking a live skipjack over the Gordo Bank in a tug of war that only lasted 10 minutes on 100-pound line.





The awards banquet was held on the beach where breezes cooled everyone as the sun set behind the foothills.

Early Bird winner, Dr. Dean Ettinger.

El Chupacabra (Captain Jesse Scarborough), 3rd release team

Team Reel Quest (Captain Ty Valli) 2nd release team

Go Deeper Top Release Team, Captain Javier Alejandro Abaroa, skipper.

The two other tuna daily jackpots, which paid out $34,850, were split between Team Tres Amigos (Erick Esteves, 57.6-pound yellowfin)

Team North Star (Gonzalo Castillo, 156-pound yellowfin). Both fish were caught on squid.

Team Fisherman with Captain Jose Cosio; 170.3-pound yellowfin, $60,470 for the Day Three Daily and overall tuna prize money.

Angler Randy Wickward landed the second-heaviest and only other qualifying marlin, a 389-pound black, aboard the panga Ardilla Ciega with Captain Gregorio Liera; $11,049.

John Peelman and Team Hot Rod owner from Fresno, California, 409-pound blue marlin, $366,531.

Totals: 62 billfish were caught by the 61 boats fishing the 2015 ECO, including 40 blue marlin, 13 stripers, five sailfish and four blacks. Ten yellowfin tuna were also brought to the scales.

The total purse in this year’s event, which was sponsored by Pelagic High Performance Offshore Gear, was nearly $508,000.
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