Puerto Rican angler, Alex Báez, aboard the Aguja, tagged and released two billfish—a sailfish in the morning and a blue marlin in the afternoon—to score 600 points, win the 1st Annual Palmas del Mar International Fishing Tournament held March 6 to 8, and nearly hit the jackpot. A third billfish, specifically a white marlin, would have netted Báez a Grand Slam and $50,000 cash prize.
The Aguja caught its billfish in one of the most promising recreational sport fishing grounds in the Caribbean. That is, south of the Spanish Virgin Island of Vieques, an area that is horseshoe in shape and spans to the east all the way to the southern town of La Esperanza. There is a famous trench here that is ideal for deep-sea fishing.
Meanwhile, the boat Four C Sons fought a huge swordfish up to the last moment, and finally boarded it. The 522-pounder is the new Puerto Rico Record on 80-pound test. Since the battle took longer than expected, angler Rafi Casanova, owner of Four C Sons, could not be present at the Award Ceremony. But as soon as he arrived to the yacht club marina late that evening, the Organizing Committee immediately handed the Largest Swordfish prize. Casanova has filed all needed documentation with the Puerto Rico Sport Fishing Association for national record purposes. His fish beat the previous swordfish record of 250-pounds caught off Ponce by Alfonsito Díaz.
Other winning boats were Pariente, owned by Georgie Hess, which came in second by tagging and releasing a blue marlin caught by Eric Alonso, while Paciencia, owned by Carlos Suarez, came in third with a sailfish caught by Francisco Suero.
In all, the 30 boats that braved high seas with heavy waves and wind gusts, caught and/or released 31 fish, including four billfish that were tagged and released and 26 fish that were caught, primarily wahoo, dorado and tuna.
"The tournament was a success. All types of billfish were released such as the sailfish, white marlin, and blue marlin; we boarded a swordfish; we almost had a ‘Grand Slam’; and practically all the boats caught something," said Luis “Cuquito” Muñiz, Chairman of the Organizing Committee.
The tournament was held at the new marina facilities at The Yacht Club at Palmas del Mar. The marina, which has 162 slips, offers state of the arts facilities for megayachts up to 200 feet long inside the resort community of Palmas del Mar, Humacao. For more information: www.palmasdelmaryachtclub.com.