2023 Unofficial Rules
The Los Cabos Billfish Tournament is a three-day team event with top team honors going to the team that tallies the most billfish points. The tournament pays down to third place (first, second and third). Optional billfish, tuna, wahoo and dorado jackpots also award cash and prizes.
Participation and Entry Fees
The Los Cabos Billfish Tournament offers two different options to participate. You may enter in one or both.
 Los Cabos Billfish Tournament Base Entry - The base entry fee is $5,000 per team. This base entry fee covers the participation of all registered anglers and allows your team to enter any of the Optional Marlin Jackpot categories, the Tuna/Wahoo/Dorado Daily Jackpot and the Billfish Release Jackpots. Team registered captains and mates can also be registered anglers. The tournament provides a welcome team captain's bag, six tournament angler shirts, six tournament angler hats and attendance at all planned entertainment and social activities. The tournament committee reserves the right to deny tournament entry of any individual, organization or corporation.
 Tuna/Wahoo/Dorado Daily Jackpot Entry - The Tuna/Wahoo/Dorado (TWD) Daily Jackpot fee is $1,500. If a team chooses to only register in the TWD, each registered angler must pay a $200 fee. Teams registered in the Base Entry do not pay the $200 fee. Teams registered in the TWD only receive a team gift captain's bag, entry to all planned entertainment and social activities, tournament angler shirt, and tournament angler hat. The tournament committee reserves the right to deny tournament entry of any individual, organization or corporation.
Note: The $200 angler fee is included in the $5,000 Base Entry fee. Teams not in the Base Entry that register only for the TWD jackpots are subject to a one-time $200 angler fee. For example, if a four-angler team is registered for only the Tuna/Wahoo/Dorado Jackpot entry, total fee would be $2,300.The all-in entry fee including base and optional jackpots is $30,500.
In an effort to receive early registrations, the tournament will allow participants to cancel their registration until the deadline of 10:00 p.m. October 15. The tournament will refund all entry fees less a $150 processing fee.
Angler, Crew and Boat Requirements
A final registration, captains meeting and kickoff party will take place from 4:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Oct. 15 at the Playa Grande Resort. Every registered angler must provide a fishing license to be eligible. All teams that are preregistered and teams needing to register must send at least one representative to obtain tournament credentials and the team captain's bag. All anglers and boat captains must attend the scheduled angler/captains meeting at 7:30 p.m. on Oct.15 at the Playa Grande Resort Beachside Terrace. If they do not attend, they accept and agree to be bound by all instructions and/or rule changes made in writing or orally during that meeting. In an effort to maximize participation, registrations will be accepted until 7:29 a.m. on Oct. 16. Without exception, each boat must have on board one designated boat captain and at least one designated mate. All anglers must provide a copy of their fishing license. If a team has an angler drop out, an additional angler can be signed on if he/she registers and pays the tournament committee $100 BEFORE the start of that day's fishing. Designated captains and mates can also be registered anglers. Boats may receive aid from other boats due to mechanical failure. Teams and boats are NOT allowed to receive assistance in landing or releasing fish. Teams are allowed to change boats but must inform the tournament director and check out prior to going fishing. All fish to be weighed must be brought to the designated Marina Fundadores Weigh Station and removed from the registered boat. All participants must exercise good and courteous sportsmanship whether at the dock, under way or fishing.
IGFA Angling and tackle rules listed apply in this tournament unless otherwise stated. (See release rules for scoring billfish release points.) If necessary, registered anglers are allowed to pass the rod to another registered angler when fighting fish. When registered anglers are fighting a fish, they must comply with the listed angling rules and regulations. It is the responsibility of each team and crew member to know, understand and abide by angling, tackle and tournament rules during this competition. Any angler, captain or mate who deliberately breaks these rules will be immediately expelled and disqualified from this and future tournaments WITHOUT a refund of any jackpot or registration fees. Each participant agrees to submit to a polygraph examination at a time and location as determined by the tournament management, and at the discretion of tournament management, following the end of the competition. Failure to successfully pass such an examination may result in a test of a second team member; in the event of failure by the second team member, the team shall be disqualified. Decisions of the tournament organizers are final, nonappealable and nonjusticiable.
A 40-mile radius fishing boundary from the Cabo San Lucas coordinates 22° 52’.486 N, 109° 53’.507 0 W is in effect for this competition. Any tournament boat witnessed venturing outside of these boundaries by at least two other participating tournament vessels can be disqualified from further competition. However, in an effort to avoid false claims against tournament leaders, any fish taken by the offending vessel on days prior to the alleged infringement will still be eligible for prize money. Any boats found making false claims of boundary infringement will be disqualified WITHOUT a refund of any jackpot or registration fees and banned from further competition.
Blue marlin, black marlin, striped marlin, sailfish, spearfish, yellowfin or bigeye tuna, wahoo and dorado. Blue and black marlin minimum eligible weight is 300 pounds. Only two marlin may be weighed per day, per boat. Anglers may weigh only one marlin per day. Striped marlin, sailfish and spearfish are release only. Minimum weight for tuna, wahoo and dorado is 25 pounds.
Billfish Points Scoring
All billfish hookups, releases and boated fish are to be reported to tournament control along with the boat name, boat number, angler name and fish species. Billfish releases should be called in after the fish is let go. Boated fish should be called in once the fish is on board. Three hundred (300) points awarded for every blue or black marlin officially released, or 1.5 points per pound for every blue or black marlin weighed and verified at or over the 300-pound minimum. Twenty five (25) points for any striped marlin, spearfish or sailfish officially released.
If a blue or black marlin brought to the scales fails to make the minimum weight limit, the team that caught the fish will be penalized 300 points, plus two points per pound that the fish is under the minimum weight. For example, if a fish weighs 280 pounds, that team will be penalized 300 points for not meeting the weight requirement and another 40 points for the 20-pound difference. The total penalty would cost them 340 points, and they would receive no other points for the fish. Any blue or black marlin boated for any reason must be weighed. Failure to weigh a boated blue or black marlin will result in immediate disqualification for the remainder of the tournament and forfeiture of all points previously earned. In the event of a tie, the team reaching the highest score first wins with the other team assuming the next award position. This is based on the time of release and boated time of billfish.
Billfish Release Rules
All teams must provide their own video camera(s) to verify releases. All video recording equipment must be set to the proper time and date and must be synchronized to the official tournament time. To verify a catch, you must use control number cards 1 to 4 provided. Teams will be informed of the number to use prior to each day’s start of fishing. To score an official release, the video footage must include sufficient footage to (1) clearly identify the species; (2) show a team member, angler or crew touching the leader while the fish is still hooked; (3) display the catch control number card provided by the tournament; (4) identify the time and date of the catch; and (5) show the catch and full release of the fish. The video must identify all of these elements. Do not delete any video taken during fishing hours, even if it does not include the above elements and will not be used to prove a catch. After the release video is taken, the time, species, catch control code number and angler name must be written on the catch-report affidavit. Each registered angler and boat captain must then sign the catch-report affidavit. At the end of the day's fishing, the camera, camera connections, catch-report affidavit and all video footage taken must be brought to the weigh station for verification of official release points. Catch reports should be turned in by 7 p.m. unless a team is fighting a fish after lines out at 4:30 p.m.
All catches must be recorded on the catch-report-affidavit sheets provided. The official time, species, control-number code and angler name must be written on the catch-report affidavit. Each registered angler and boat captain must sign the catch-report affidavit. The catch-report-affidavit sheets should be turned in at the weigh station each day by 7 p.m. unless a team is fighting a fish after lines out at 4:30 p.m. Failure to turn in the catch reports will result in disqualification of that day's catch.
- Rods: Unlimited in use or numbers.
- Teasers: Unlimited in use or numbers.
- Hooks: All tournament participants must use non-offset circle hooks for all species whenever live or dead natural bait is used.
- Baits: Live bait, dead bait, lures and any combination thereof are permitted in this tournament. Live bait cannot be purchased or received from another boat during tournament fishing hours.
Note: The tournament committee holds the right to examine any tackle, hooks, line and/or leaders anytime during the event. Refusal to allow the committee to examine any tackle, line and/or leaders will result in immediate disqualification from the event WITHOUT a refund of any jackpot or registration fees.
Boat Check-In and Daily Fishing Hours
Fishing will commence at 7:30 a.m. and end at 4:30 p.m. each day. All fishing for live baits must be completed 15 minutes prior to the lines in Shotgun Start at 7:30 a.m. Any tournament boat fishing for live bait between 7:15 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. may be disqualified from that day's fishing. Any boat may resume fishing for live bait AFTER the 7:30 a.m. start. The tournament committee reserves the right to change starting and finishing times for any reason it deems necessary. We will have two water-based visual checkout locations each morning from 6:30 to 7:30 a.m. One location will be in Cabo San Lucas and one location will be in San Jose Del Cabo, offshore of Puerto Los Cabos Marina. Boats will proceed past one of the water-based committee boats in an orderly fashion and display their boat number to the tournament-committee members. A committee member will record your boat number and inform you by radio that you have checked in for the start. Boats will then line up behind the committee boats and wait for the Shotgun Start to be announced over the radio at 7:30 a.m. (Boats running late due to mechanical problems that can't make the start can check out over the radio at any time during the day. But they must inform tournament control of their problem and estimated time and location of departure BEFORE 7:30 a.m.) The tournament control's time will act as the official time for the start, catch-and-release, and end of fishing each day without exception.
In the event of late hookups prior to 4:30 p.m., all fish to be weighed or release video must be back to the Marina Fundadores Weigh Station by 11:59 p.m. on the day of the catch. There will be no exceptions to this rule.
All teams must stop bait fishing by 7:15 a.m. and wait for the official radio shotgun start at 7:30 a.m. ANY team that is tournament fishing prior to the 7:30 a.m. radio start announcement may be disqualified from the day's fishing.
All billfish hookups, releases, boated and lost fish are to be reported to tournament control along with the boat name, boat number, angler name and fish species. Billfish releases should be called in after the fish is let go. Boated fish should be called in once the fish is on board. The tournament control's time will act as the official time for the start, catch-and-release, boated fish and end of fishing each day without exception. All teams intending to weigh tuna, wahoo or dorado must notify tournament control at the time of the catch and take video or a picture of the fish with the number card and confirm the catch is complete. The official tournament VHF channel will be 28. In the event that channel 28 is not available the backup channel will be 27. Tournament Control international cell-phone number 407-405-0102 will be available for teams to communicate. During the last hour of fishing each day, all hookups must be reported.
All anglers and boat captains must attend the scheduled anglers/captains meeting at 7:30 p.m. on Oct.15 at the Playa Grande Resort. If they do not attend, they accept and agree to be bound by all instructions and/or rule changes made orally or in writing during that meeting.
There is no weather committee. The tournament is conducted on a "fish-at-your-own-risk" basis. If any portion of the tournament is fished and a team or teams land or release fish that match the tournament's eligible species and minimum weight limits, then prizes will be awarded.
Optional Jackpot Fee
There are optional jackpots available to all teams registered in the tournament. Each fee represents a team entry into a specific jackpot division. For more information, see the "Prizes and Awards" section.
Optional Marlin Jackpots
Teams must be registered in the $5,000 base entry to be eligible to register for the optional Marlin Jackpots. Optional Marlin Jackpots are offered for the largest marlin per day and largest marlin(s) of the tournament. Only teams registered in the Marlin Jackpots are eligible for cash and prizes.
Participants may lodge protests against any catch which they believe was not made in accordance with these rules. All protests must be stated in writing and accompanied by $500 USD. The tournament judges may call a protest hearing at their discretion; a protest hearing is not guaranteed. All protests will be settled on the day of the incident. All protests on October 16, 17 and 18 must be in the hands of the tournament's designated rules official by 7 p.m. on the day of the alleged incident unless there is a protest regarding a fish that comes to the scales late. The protesting party, as well as the accused team members, captain and crew, must be present at any official protest hearing. The tournament committee may refuse to consider any protest evidence not submitted at the protest hearing in the presence of the protested team. If the protesting or protested team fails to show up for the protest hearing, that team forfeits its right to submit evidence. Decisions of the tournament organizers with regard to protests are final, nonappealable and nonjusticiable.
All participants are expected to maintain a reasonable and sportsmanlike demeanor at all times throughout the tournament. Unsportsmanlike or threatening conduct toward tournament organizers or other participants, or any other behavior which the tournament organizers deem inappropriate, in their sole discretion, will result in immediate disqualification of the entire team with no refund of entry fees.
Equipment and Tackle Regulations
Monofilament, multifilament, and lead core multifilament lines may be used. The catch shall be classified under the breaking strength of the first 16.5 feet (5 meters) of line directly preceding the double line, leader, or hook. This section must be comprised of a single, homogenous piece of line. For this tournament, 130-pound-test is the maximum; tournament or non-tournament lines are eligible. If the stated line test is 130-pound or less on the label, it is allowed in the tournament. Wire lines are prohibited.
Monofilament, multifilament, and lead core multifilament lines may be used. Line backing not attached to the fishing line is permissible with no restrictions as to size or material. If the fishing line is attached to the backing, the catch shall be classified under the lighter of the two lines. Wire line backing is prohibited.
The use of a double line is not required. If one is used, it must meet the following specifications: A double line must consist of the actual line used to catch the fish. Double lines are measured from the start of the knot, braid, roll or splice making the double to the farthermost end of the knot, splice, snap, swivel or other device used for securing the trace, leader, lure or hook to the double line. The double line on all classes of tackle over 20 pound (10 kg) shall be limited to 30 feet (9.14 meters). The combined length of the double line and leader shall not exceed 40 feet (12.19 meters).
The use of a leader is not required. If one is used, it must meet the following specifications: The length of the leader is the overall length including any lure, hook arrangement or other device, and is measured to the bend of the last hook. The leader must be connected to the line with a snap, knot, splice, swivel or other device. Holding devices are prohibited. There are no regulations regarding the material or strength of the leader. The leader on all classes of tackle over 20 pound (10 kg) shall be limited to 30 feet (9.14 meters). The combined length of the double line and leader shall be limited to 40 feet (12.19 meters).
Rods must comply with sporting ethics and customs. Considerable latitude is allowed in the choice of a rod, but rods giving the angler an unfair advantage will be disqualified. This rule is intended to eliminate the use of unconventional rods. The rod tip must be a minimum of 40 inches (101.6 cm) in length. The rod butt cannot exceed 27 inches (68.58 cm) in length. These measurements must be made from a point directly beneath the center of the reel. A curved butt is measured in a straight line. When the rod butt is placed in a gimbal, the measurement from the center of the reel seat to the pivot point of the gimbal can be no more than 27 inches. (The above measurements do not apply to surfcasting rods.)
Reels must comply with sporting ethics and customs. Power-driven reels of any kind are prohibited. This includes motor, hydraulic, or electrically driven reels, and any device that gives the angler an unfair advantage. Ratchet handle reels are prohibited. Reels designed to be cranked with both hands at the same time are prohibited.
Hooks for Bait Fishing
All tournament participants must use non-offset circle hooks for all species whenever live or dead natural bait is used. For live or dead bait fishing no more than two single hooks may be used. Both must be firmly imbedded in or securely attached to the bait. The eyes of the hooks must be no less than a hook's length (the length of the largest hook used) apart and no more than 18 inches (45.72 cm) apart. The only exception is that the point of one hook may be passed through the eye of the other hook. A hook may not precede bait, lure or bait/lure combo by more than one hook’s length. The use of a dangling or swinging hook is prohibited. Double or treble hooks are prohibited.
Hooks for Lures
When using an artificial lure with a skirt or trailing material, no more than two single hooks may be attached to the line, leader, or trace. The hooks need not be attached separately. The eyes of the hooks must be no less than an overall hook's length (the overall length of the largest hook used) apart and no more than 12 inches (30.48 cm) apart. The only exception is that the point of one hook may be passed through the eye of the other hook. The trailing hook may not extend more than a hook's length beyond the skirt of the lure. A hook may not precede bait, lure or bait/lure combo by more than one hook’s length. Gang hooks are permitted when attached to plugs and other artificial lures that are specifically designed for this use. Gang hooks must be free swinging and shall be limited to a maximum of three hooks (single, double, or treble, or a combination of any three). Baits may not be used with gang hooks. Assist hooks or other such single hooks that are attached to a lure with a lead constructed of monofilament, multifilament, wire or other such material must conform to the following: When using assist hooks on any artificial lure, other than a skirted lure, the lead cannot be more than 1½ hook’s length and the bend of the hook may not be more than 4 inches (101 mm), whichever is less, from the closest point of attachment on the lure. Double and treble hooks may not be used as assist hooks.
May not have any mechanically propelled devices that aid the angler in fighting a fish.
Must be free swinging, which includes gimbals that swing in a vertical plane only. Any gimbal that allows the angler to reduce strain or to rest while fighting the fish is prohibited.
Gaffs and Nets
Gaffs and nets used to boat or land a fish must not exceed 8 feet (2.44 meters) in overall length. In using a flying or detachable gaff the rope may not exceed 30 feet (9.14 meters). The gaff rope must be measured from the point where it is secured to the detachable head to the other end. Only the effective length will be considered. If a fixed head gaff is used, the same limitations shall apply and the gaff rope shall be measured from the same location on the gaff hook. Only a single hook is permitted on any gaff. Harpoon or lance attachments are prohibited. Tail ropes are limited to 30 feet (9.14 meters).
Either with, or without a hook, are prohibited and may not be used for any purpose including baiting, hooking, fighting, or landing the fish.
Outriggers, Downriggers, Spreader Bars and Kites
This equipment is permitted to be used provided that the actual fishing line is attached to the snap or other release device, either directly or with some other material. The leader or double line may not be connected to the release mechanism either directly or with the use of a connecting device. Spreader bars are also acceptable when used strictly as a teaser. (An angler, captain or mate can act as a human outrigger.)
Daisy Chains, Birds, Floats and Similar Devices
This equipment may only be used if they do not unfairly hamper or inhibit the normal swimming or fighting ability of the fish, thereby giving the angler or crew an unfair advantage in fighting, landing or boating the fish.
A Safety Line
A safety line may be attached to the rod, reel or harness provided that it does not in any way assist the angler in fighting the fish.
From the time that a fish strikes or takes a bait or lure, the registered anglers must hook, fight, release and land or boat the fish. If necessary, registered anglers are allowed to pass the rod to another registered angler when fighting fish. If a rod holder is used and a fish strikes or takes the bait or lure, the registered anglers must remove the rod from the holder as quickly as possible. The intent of this rule is that the angler shall strike and hook the fish with the rod in hand. If a double line is used, the intent of the regulations is that the fish will be fought on the single line most of the time that it takes to land the fish. A harness may be attached to the reel or rod, but not to the fighting chair. The harness may be replaced or adjusted by a person other than the registered anglers. Use of a rod belt or waist gimbal is permitted. When angling from a boat, once the leader is brought within the grasp of the mate, or the end of the leader is wound to the rod tip, more than one person is permitted to hold the leader. One or more gaffers may be used in addition to persons holding the leader. The gaff handle must be in hand when the fish is gaffed.
The following acts will disqualify a catch:
Failure to comply with tournament rules, equipment or angling regulations. Resting the rod in a rod holder, on the gunwale of the boat, or any other object while playing the fish. Handlining or using a handline or rope attached in any manner to the angler's line or leader for the purpose of holding or lifting the fish. Shooting, harpooning, or lancing any fish at any stage of the catch. Chumming with or using as bait the flesh, blood, skin, or any part of mammals other than hair or pork rind used in lures designed for trolling or casting. Changing the rod or reel while the fish is being played. Splicing, removing, or adding to the line while the fish is being played. Intentionally foul hooking a fish. Catching a fish in a manner that the double line never leaves the rod tip. Using a size or kind of bait that is illegal to possess. Attaching the angler's line or leader to part of a boat or other object for the purpose of holding or lifting the fish. If a fish escapes before gaffing or netting and is recaptured by any method other than as outlined in the tournament angling rules. Mutilation to the fish, prior to landing or boating the catch, caused by sharks, other fish, mammals, or propellers that remove or penetrate the flesh. (Injuries caused by leader or line, scratches, old healed scars or regeneration deformities are not considered to be disqualifying injuries.) When a fish is hooked or entangled on more than one line.