The blue marlin were certainly biting at the 56th annual Club Nautico de San Juan International Billfish Tournament (IBT) hosted August 28 to September 3 out of San Juan, Puerto Rico. The fleet of 46 competing boats released 99 blue marlin over four days of fishing.
“Out of 46 registered boats,” said tournament chairman, Gonzalo Ferrer, “40 of them released marlin and almost all competing boats reported action on board. In fact, we had many boats with multiple releases.”
The winners certainly had their share of releases. Luis Bacardi’s Rum Bum scored Top Boat with the release of six blue marlin, followed by Bimba and Reel Affair with five blue marlin apiece. The Rum Bum, which traveled from the U.S. specifically to compete in the IBT, moved into the Top Boat lead the second day of competition and never looked back.
Bacardi also won one of the most coveted awards. He and fellow anglers Doug Covin and Salim Merheb were members of United States 05, the International Winning Team. The anglers each received the prize of entry to participate in the Rolex/IGFA International Championship to be held in Cabo San Lucas in 2010, and three plane tickets to Panama courtesy of Copa Airlines.
The Guatemala angling team of Antonio ‘Che’ Kozina, Juan Cobar, Jr. and Midel Gómez finished second in the International category, followed by Venezuelan lady anglers María Rivera, Carolina Figueredo and Ivette Rodríguez. Rivera won the Best Lady Angler award with two marlin releases.
Meanwhile, Puerto Rican angler Carlos Ramirez won Top Angler when, in the last few moments of competition, he hooked and released two marlin that, along with another two previous released, propelled him to the top of the leader board. Visiting angler Doug Covin and local anglers Jorge Pavia and Nicolas Carvajal filled the second through fourth angler slots, all of them with three blue marlin releases apiece.
In the Interclub category, the United States team of Carlos Ramírez, Bill McGough and Carlos Luis Rodríguez won, followed by Club Náutico de San Juan with Mike Benítez, Ralph Christiansen III and Luis Enrique Terrassa, and in third position Club Deportivo del Oeste’ with Eugenio Belaval, Efraín González Caro and Omar Joglar.
Club Nautico de San Juan has been an active leader in billfish conservation, and the IBT has been an all-release format since 2003. Two awards recognize tagging, or placing research tags in marlin at the time of release so scientists can track and learn more about them. Venezuela’s Maria Rivera won the Angler with the Most Tags award, while Ariel Correa aboard Bimba won the Captain with the Most Tags award.
A total of 170 anglers competed in this tournament and hailed from 10 countries: Australia, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Panama, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, U.S. Virgin Islands, United States and Puerto Rico.
To register for 2010: www.sanjuaninternational.com.