Photo Credit: Out Your Front Door
Nestled at the southern tip of Baja California where the azure waters of the Gulf of California meet the Pacific Ocean, Cabo San Lucas has long been a sanctuary for those who seek the thrill of angling in one of the world’s premier fishing destinations. In 2023, this idyllic Mexican coastal town played host to the 25th anniversary of the Los Cabos Billfish Tournament, a landmark event that brought together anglers from across the globe. While developing Hurricane Norma took aim at the Los Cabos region, anglers’ spirits soared as the striped marlin bite blazed hotter than ever before. Over three exhilarating days, the tournament record for billfish releases was shattered as 42 teams released a staggering total of 583 striped marlin, seven blue marlin, and three sailfish. This number nearly quadrupled the previous tournament release record of 150 in 2018. The Cabo spirit—a unique fusion of daring adventure and languid relaxation—came alive once again, reminding us all why this tournament remains a beloved tradition for big-game anglers and a true celebration of billfishing.
The team fishing aboard The Daddy Rabbit, a 58-foot enclosed-bridge Viking from the Channel Islands, California, emerged victorious as the 2023 Los Cabos Billfish Tournament champions. Under the skilled leadership of owner-angler Dennis Hood and Capt. Angel Agundez Sandez, the formidable team, consisting of Adrian Covarrubias, Guillermo Gonzalez, Ezequiel Orias, and Ramon Sandez Agundez, exhibited exceptional angling prowess by releasing a remarkable total of 140 striped marlin. Their outstanding performance not only secured them the champion’s trophy and the top captain trophy, but it also earned them a substantial prize of $86,550. Additionally, their triumph came with the honor of an invitation to compete in the 2024 Costa Offshore World Championship.
Second place went to the team fishing on Let’s Go, who released an impressive total of 130 striped marlin aboard their 42-foot Freeman. Colin Sutton, Patrick Morey, TJ Jaworsky, Troy Mathers, Capt. Alan Araiza Flores, and Capt. Alan Eduardo Araiza Castro worked the electric bite on their center-console in a steady rotation—hookup, leader, release, and the next angler was already hooked up ready for the next leader touch. Let’s Go took home the second-place trophy and a combined check of $74,430.
Home-ported in Cabo San Lucas, the team on Meshuga Fish secured third-place honors fishing aboard their 68-foot Viking. Led by Capt. Jeffrey Stolarz, the team of Steve Hilton, Scott Ward, Scott Curtis, CP Drewett, Ryan VanderKooy, Lawrence Joseph Aliseo III, and Hunter Barrett released 110 striped marlin and one blue marlin to take home the third-place trophy and a combined check for $57,120.
Other teams who made the stage to take home cash and prizes included:
- Team Bill Collector — $25,275 for Day One Daily Billfish Release Jackpot and Day Two Heaviest Dorado (tie)
- Feeling Azul — $11,100 for Day One Heaviest Tuna and Day One Heaviest Wahoo
- The Magnetic — $11,100 for Day Three Heaviest Wahoo
- Cloud 9 — $5,550 for Day Three Heaviest Dorado
- Game On — $5,550 for Day Three Heaviest Tuna
- Riverbottom Nightmare Band — $5,550 for Day One Heaviest Dorado
- Sauced Bosses — $5,550 for Day Two Heaviest Tuna
- Overtime — $2,775 for Day Two Heaviest Dorado (tie)
Six jackpot categories of the $754,945 in prize money were left untouched when no qualifying marlin was weighed, making the total payout this year $290,550 for billfish release and gamefish categories. All teams in eligible marlin categories were refunded accordingly. Teams also raised more than $3,500 for the Solmar Foundation, a nonprofit organization that lends a helping hand to the members of the local Mexican community who need it most.
The awards dinner took place at the Playa Grande Resort’s beachfront terrace, where participants were treated to a full mariachi band, a four-course filet mignon and lobster dinner, and an action-packed memento video by Out Your Front Door. Between Hurricane Norma closing in, the high degree of tenacity it takes to compete during a fire bite in Cabo, and the meticulous submission of an unprecedented number of release videos, the 2023 Los Cabos Billfish Tournament may have been a test of wills, but it was also a celebration of the enduring spirit of competitive sport fishing. The teams who competed this year kept pace with a hookup frequency previously unheard of, keeping the radio committee vigilant and the final results tentative until final review. Congratulations to all the teams who made their mark this year, showcasing their skill and steadfast passion for billfishing.
For more information about the Los Cabos Billfish Tournament, contact tournament director Jennifer Dudas at [email protected].
LOS CABOS BILLFISH TOURNAMENT SPONSORS
Los Cabos Tourism Board, Salt Life, Playa Grande Resort and Grand Spa, Solmar Hotels and Resorts, Yeti, Costa, Garmin, Galati Yacht Sales, Viking Yachts, Seakeeper, Release Marine, King Sailfish Mounts, Arnian Group, API Cabo San Lucas, IGY Marinas, Marina Cabo San Lucas, Coastal Carolina Cutting Boards, Marlin, Salt Water Sportsman, Sport Fishing, Angler's Landing, the Marina at Puerto Los Cabos, Big T Lures, Penn, IWS ScaleMaster, and BFD Big Game Lures
Bonnier is an outdoor adventure company that fuels passion for fishing, boating, sailing, motorsports, hunting and travel. Bonnier has the nation’s leading portfolio of experiential events and iconic media brands in the marine category and an extensive series of nationwide motorsports and hunting events. Publisher of Salt Water Sportsman, Marlin, Sport Fishing, Boating, Yachting, Cruising World and Sailing World, Bonnier also produces award-winning SFTV programming and is the worldwide market leader for international billfishing tournaments. Each year, Bonnier hosts a network of expeditions, expos, jamborees, tournaments and regattas across the US as well as in Mexico, Bermuda, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama, Australia and the Virgin Islands. Bonnier is owned by Sweden-based Bonnier AB, a globally operating conglomerate with more than 200 years in publishing.
ABOUT THE MARLIN GROUP
The Marlin Group is the world’s largest network of big-game fishing enthusiast brands, with an integrated portfolio of media and experiential event properties that cater to anglers, captains, mates, and others who pursue the ocean’s apex predators. The group publishes Marlin, the industry’s No. 1 source since 1981, and is the worldwide market leader for international billfishing tournaments, with the Offshore World Championship in Costa Rica, the Bermuda Triple Crown, the Scrub Island Invitational Series in the British Virgin Islands, and the Los Cabos Billfish Tournament in Mexico. Marlin Expeditions—formerly Marlin University—has led anglers on educational excursions to the globe’s best big-game fishing destinations for more than 20 years; in 2023, it will visit Costa Rica, Guatemala, Cape Verde, Panama, Australia, and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The Marlin Group is an operating unit of Bonnier LLC, an outdoor adventure company that fuels the passion for fishing, boating, sailing, motorsports, hunting and travel.