Top teams and anglers receive accolades for their performances in the 2017 Los Cabos Billfish Tournament.
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2017 Los Cabos Billfish Tournament Awards, Team Reel Gold, Champs of 2017 Los Cabos Billfish Tournament
During the 19th Annual Los Cabos Billfish Tournament Oct. 15-19, 43 teams fished the waters off of Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Los Cabos Marinas, Mexico, competing for their share of a massive $534,600 purse, plus trophies and prizes. The fleet enjoyed the only dual start location tournament in Los Cabos and registered 102 billfish catches in three days of competition, including 61 blue, 31 striped and six black marlin, and one short-bill spearfish.
On Day 2, angler Murray Wright fought this 347-pound black marlin for more than four hours aboard the 35-foot Reel Gold.
Two qualifying marlin were brought to the scales: a 347-pound black on Reel Gold and a 303-pound black on Wild Hooker. The impressive catches earned these teams the first and second place overall team awards, respectively.
No undersized marlin were weighed during the tournament, which saw a 98 percent release ratio. Cash and prizes were also awarded for billfish releases, tuna, wahoo and dorado. Additionally, the tournament introduced a new Overall Release Points Jackpot with 23 teams registering for the optional division.
The tournament didn’t start well for team Reel Gold, with angler Jon Crawford tearing a quad muscle during the first day of fishing. The injury prevented him from participating further, but did earn him the Hard Luck award at the end of the tournament.
Meanwhile, teammate Murray Wright and the crew took care of business, hooking up to a nice one on day two that became an epic battle on a 50-wide Penn Reel and light stand-up rod. After a grueling 4-hour fight, Captain Roberto Marquez called in the boated fish and headed to the scales.
The 347-pound black marlin would end up being the biggest fish of the tournament, and – with an all-in entry – team Reel Gold hit the jackpot: $203,760 in total prize money. They also took home King Sailfish Mounts trophies, a Yeti cooler, AFTCO championship apparel, a Soundview Millworks trophy, a Taylor Offshore Kraken Dredge, an Accurate Reel, Carey Chen artwork, Lucas Oil products and a Garmin Quatix watch for Captain Roberto Marquez.
Wright, along with teammates Leonel Martinez and Roberto Marquee, received an invitation to compete in the 2018 Lucas Oil Offshore World Championship in Quepos, Costa Rica.
Second-place team Wild Hooker got off to a better start on day one, when the owner and angler Allen Stuart hooked up a black marlin late in the afternoon. The fish looked to be the right size, and Captain Shane O’Brien and crew had to make a tough call, ultimately deciding to boat the fish. It turned out to be the right decision, as the fish weighed in at 303 pounds, making the minimum by just three pounds to win the Day One Marlin Jackpot.
The fish held on during the next two days to earn Wild Hooker second place team and second place Largest Marlin Jackpot honors, landing a $169,140 payday for Capt. O’Brien, mate Boyd Decoito, Allen Stuart, Rick Daab, Charlie Bowman and Guy Arrington.
The team on Fish Tank, with Captain Ben Horning at the helm and owner Chris Jessen doing most of the angling duties, put on a billfish release clinic during the second and third days of the competition. The team scored 4,100 points from eight blues and one striped marlin. Three of the blue marlin were caught on day two, which earned the Daily Release Jackpot, but it was the third day that team Fish Tank had everything go right. They released five blues and one striped marlin to win another Daily Release Jackpot, first place Base Entry Release Points and first place Overall Release Points Jackpot.
Because there were only two marlin boated in the tournament, Fish Tank also picked up third place team honors for total winnings of $75,900 for Capt. Ben Horning, mate Topher Wightman, Chris Jessen, Laura Jessen, Erik Martinez and Thomas Garmany.
Many other teams made the stage to received awards for billfish release and game fish categories. All winners received King Sailfish Mounts trophies and Carey Chen artwork.
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Reel Gold: 1st Place Base Entry Team Division and 1st Place Marlin Jackpot with 1,347 points from two blues and one black marlin. Total Winnings: $203,760.
Captain Roberto Marquez, Mate Leonel Martinez, Murray Wright, Richard Matson, Jon Crawford, and Roberto Marquee.
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Wild Hooker: 2nd Place Base Entry Team Division and 2nd Place Marlin Jackpot with 303 points from one black marlin. Total Winnings: $169,140.
Capt. Shane O’Brien, Mate Boyd Decoito, Allen Stuart, Rick Daab, Charlie Bowman and Guy Arrington.
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Fish Tank: Two Daily Release Jackpots, First Place Base Entry Release Points, First Place Overall Release Points Jackpot and Third Place Base Entry Team Division with 4,100 points from eight blues and one striped marlin. Total Winnings: $75,900.
Capt. Ben Horning, Mate Topher Wightman, Chris Jessen, Laura Jessen, Erik Martinez and Thomas Garmany.
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Chupacabra: 2nd Place Base Entry Release Points and 2nd Place Overall Release Points Jackpot with 4,100 points from eight blues and one striped marlin. Total Winnings: $18,270.
Captain Clay Hensley, Mate Jason Douglas, Bo Jennings, Blake Stamper, Don Stamper, Don Logue, Augustine Vicente and Michael Thompson.
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Expedition: 3rd Place Base Entry Release Points and Day One Release Points Jackpot with 3,700 points from two blacks, five blues and two striped marlin. Total winnings: $12,000.
Captain Wilks Hammock, Mate Hilberto Romero, Glenn Richardson, Tony Fascone, West Marshall and Mitchel Vitale.
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Team Galati: 3rd Place Overall Billfish Release Points Jackpot with 2,200 points from four blues and two stripes. Total winnings: $8,280.
Captain Tony Carrizosa, Mate Osiel Winkler, Carmine Galati, Brad Richards, Guillermo Bojorquez, Zach Ferrell, Arturo Moreno, Eric McDodwell.
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Nana III: Day One Wahoo Jackpot with a 25.4-pound wahoo. Total winnings: $7,875.
Captain Jesus Romero, angler Jeremy Sila Wins.
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El Torito: Day One Tuna Jackpot with a 214-pound tuna. Total winnings: $7,875.
Captain Antonio Romero, angler Jose de la Pena.
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El Suertudo: Day Two Wahoo Jackpot with a 27.50-pound wahoo. Total winnings: $7,875.
Captain Greg DiStefano, angler Guy Yocom.
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Feelin’ Azul: Day Two Tuna Jackpot with a 63.7-pound tuna. Total winnings: $7,875.
Captain Carlos Beltran, angler John Schultz.
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Sneak Attack: Day Three Wahoo Jackpot with a 25.6-pound wahoo. Total winnings: $7,875.
Captain Vicente Bojorquez, angler Hector Rodriguez.
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C-Rod: Day Three Tuna Jackpot with a 146.8-pound tuna. Total winnings: $7,875.
Captain Abel Ramirez, angler Bryce Schell.
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2017 Los Cabos Billfish Tournament Awards, Hard Luck Award Winner Jon Crawford
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2017 Los Cabos Billfish Tournament Awards, Guest Artist Carey Chen and Auction Winner
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2017 Los Cabos Billfish Tournament Awards, Dignitaries