It was finding elusive yet highly prized blue marlin – and lots of them – that led to the Top Boat and Top Angler winners in the Casa de Campo Blue Marlin Classic. Fished out of Marina Casa de Campo, in La Romana, Dominican Republic, March 31st to April 3rd, a record fleet of 21 boats with anglers representing five nations released an impressive 85 blue marlin in three days. Nine were caught by the team aboard Joseph Rahman’s October 2015-launched Viking 72, Auspicious, to win Top Boat, while Kevin Paul aboard the Scarborough 63, Waterman, released six blues to earn Top Angler.
“We pre-fished for three days before the tournament and found a body of water east of where everyone else was that was teeming with fish and kept it a secret,” explains Auspicious’s captain, Danny Lombardo. Boat owner, Rahman, had heard stories of the consistent blue marlin bite in Dominican Republic waters and traveled here for the first time to test the waters for himself as well as participate in the tournament.
Team Auspicious’s secret fishing hole paid off. The team shot straight into the top boat standings the first day by catching and releasing four blues. The second day, the team reeled in another four blues to maintain their lead. However, competition heated up when Reel Passion, a Holton Custom 61 with Capt. Gary Richardson at the helm, caught four blues too.
“The third day everyone came to where we were fishing. It was a real parking lot. We managed to release one blue marlin, while Reel Passion released another four. They ended up tied with us on points, but we ultimately beat them on time,” says Lombardo.
Lombardo credits the keen focus of his anglers, Joseph Rahman and Matt Bierley, who finished second and third respectively in the angler standings, as well as crew, mates Brendan Burke and James Wise, and himself as captain with the win.
Meanwhile, it was thanks to Waterman’s Capt. Mike Standing also finding the bites that led to Kevin Paul earning Top Angler.
“We pulled away from the rest of the fleet when the bite turned on the first day and released two blues, one of them by Kevin,” says Standing, who captained Waterman to third place in the Best Boat rankings with seven releases total.
The next day, Standing piloted Waterman off on its own again to a spot between a couple of FADS (fish aggregating devises), where Paul released three more blues. The last day, he went back to the same spot, didn’t find fish, and decided to run a few more miles out. The move paid off. Paul released two more blues in the last few hours to land him Top Angler with Waterman finishing third in the boat standings.
“This year’s Casa de Campo Blue Marlin Classic was the perfect combination of fabulous fishing where all boats caught blues, there were great prizes for the winners and truly original, elegant and fun-filled shoreside activities,” says tournament director Rick Alvarez of International Billfish Tournaments.
The tournament benefits Hogar Del Nino, an orphanage and educational center in La Romana.
The Blue Marlin Classic kicks off the first leg of the Dominican Billfish Triple-Header Series, which continues with the Cap Cana Shootout, June 21 – 26, and concludes with the Cap Cana Classic, September 29 – October 2. For information, visit: www.intlbillfishtourns.com
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.