Only in its second year, the Palmas del Mar International Grand Slam Fishing Tournament, which was fished out of the new namesake marina in Humacao, Puerto Rico on April 24 and 25, is fast becoming one of the Caribbean’s sought-after fishing tournaments. This year’s event drew anglers and boats from as far away as New Jersey who, no doubt, had heard about the record 522-pound swordfish caught last year that set a new island record on 80-pound line.
The fish cooperated this year too. While no one caught a record or a grand slam (the catch of three different billfish in a single day to win the $50,000 grand prize), a total of 13 marlin, one swordfish and 13 dolphin (mahi-mahi), 17 tuna and two wahoo were caught by the 25-boat fleet. The weather cooperated with mostly sunny skies and a light chop on the seas.
After two days of fishing, it was Pink Lady and its owner, Alberto “Pipo” Gaul, who earned both the Best Boat and Best Angler awards with 1,000 points. Right behind, with 700 points, were Jesus Montano and his boat, Blue Bird.
Wheezing, owned by José Rodríguez Santana, won Third Best Boat, with the catch of a blue marlin by angler Ricky Castro and a white marlin by angler Miguel Casul. Wheezing was the closest boat in the fleet to achieving a grand slam, only missing the catch of a sailfish.
Third Best Angler award went to Luis Lomba, Jr., who fished aboard the Reel ‘Em All. The award for Best Lady Angler went to Ceci Rodriguez.
All anglers had their eyes trained on the big money prize from a grand slam catch. However, the fleet couldn’t help thinking about swordfish and the possibility of breaking last year’s island record catch. This is the only tournament of its kind in Puerto Rico which includes swordfish fishing. One swordfish was indeed caught; a 109-pounder by angler Wilo Ruby aboard the Ambush. Catching swordfish is a difficult task considering that this billfish is an extremely vigorous and powerful fighter.
Eduardo Montano won the Best Junior Angler award with the catch of two dolphin fish totaling 65 pounds, followed by Second Best Junior Angler, Juan José Boschetti Muñiz, who caught a 25 pound dolphin.
Most of the fish were caught to the south and east of Vieques in the famous “wall,” a steep drop off that draws the baitfish on which billfish feed. The so-called “Bajo de Patillas” also has a “wall” created by a mount where marlin also swim in search of food. Both areas are within a mile or so offshore the Palmas del Mar Yacht Club.
Tournament chairman, Luis “Cuquito” Muñiz, was pleased with the turnout, catch and invites all anglers to fish next year.
NEWS FOR ARMCHAIR ANGLERS
Season Two of A Pescar TV, the only televised fishing show produced in Puerto Rico for the World Fishing Network, was released in April. It is aired throughout the Caribbean and Latin America in Spanish and English to over 65 million viewers.
“We never expected the tremendous impact that the show has had,” said Yesie Acevedo, executive producer. Three professional Puerto Rican fishermen star on the show. Captain Ricardo Ferrer is the main host, Gustavo Pagan is the biologist and there’s also Captain Francisco Rosario.
A Pescar is aired in Puerto Rico on local channel 13 every Saturday at 9:30 a.m. and 8 p.m. The show is also aired on Direct TV Channel 167.