Hard work and attention to detail paid off for the team aboard Shoe, the Top Boat in the Casa de Campo International Blue Marlin Classic. Anglers aboard Shoe, the USA’s Don Schumacher’s 62-foot Spencer, released a total five blue marlin. Shoe was one of 17 boats from the Caribbean and USA that competed in this March 17 to 22 tournament hosted out of Marina Casa de Campo, in the Dominican Republic.
“The first day we saw two blue marlin, but didn’t get a bite,” says Schumacher, who owns Don Schumacher Racing, a Brownsburg, Indiana-headquartered company that manages champion professional drag racing teams. “Both of those blues were on our teasers, but we couldn’t get them to eat.”
The second day proved much more productive for the Shoe team. Angler Kenny Krumins caught and released two blue marlin while fellow angler, Christian Springsteen, added one to the score. The third and final day of fishing saw Krumins and Springsteen release a blue marlin apiece for five total.
“Three teams caught five blue marlin each,” explains Schumacher. “We won the tournament on time over the second place boat, Contango, and we beat the third place boat, Betsy, because we used 30-pound line and circle hooks.”
Anglers received an extra five points for use of light 30-pound test line and five points for use of circle hooks. Both are fish conservation measures.
Schumacher and his team who, in order to enjoy this productive fishery, base out of Casa de Campo from January through April annually, had to work hard for their win. That’s because the USA’s Mike Brauser and his team aboard Brauser’s 90-foot Spencer, Betsy, nearly beat Shoe to the Top Boat win. Brauser caught and released all five of Betsy’s blue marlin and earned the Top Angler prize. Coincidently, Brauser released the 1000th blue marlin of his fishing career three days before the tournament started.
“We would have won if we fished on 30-pound test line,” says Capt. Tim Popfinger. “But we chose 50. That’s because we had one fish on 30 for over an hour and our game plan was to catch and release the fish quickly, so we could catch more during each day. The last day we didn’t see anything, so it didn’t turn out exactly as we planned. There was a lot of anxiety that last day. It was tough.”
The 17 boats fleet with 28 anglers released a total of 40 blue marlin. In addition, six white marlin and five spearfish were also caught and released, although these species didn’t count in the point totals.
“What makes the billfishing in the Dominican Republic so fantastic is that the local fishermen have put out hundreds of FADs (fish-attracting devices). These are anchored with concrete in deep water with a Styrofoam ball, netting and palm fronds that float on top of the water and attract fish underneath. The blue marlin are here because the FADs are here,” says Betsy’s Popfinger.
The Casa de Campo International Blue Marlin Classic is the first leg of the first-ever Dominican Billfish Triple-Header tournament series. The series continues with the International Cap Cana Billfish Shootout (June 8 to 14) and the Cap Cana Classic (September 10 to 13). Teams vie for both tournament and series points and prizes. For more information, visit: www.intlbillfishtourns.com
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.