Team Reel Gold Wins The 2017 Los Cabos Billfish Tournament

Top teams and anglers receive accolades for their performances.

Michelle Makmann

Reel Gold: 1st Place Base Entry Team Division and 1st Place Marlin Jackpot with 1,347 points from two blues and one black marlin. Total Winnings: $203,760.

Captain Roberto Marquez, Mate Leonel Martinez, Murray Wright, Richard Matson, Jon Crawford, and Roberto Marquee.

During the 19th Annual Los Cabos Billfish Tournament Oct. 15-19, 43 teams fished the waters off of Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Los Cabos Marinas, Mexico, competing for their share of a massive $534,600 purse, plus trophies and prizes. The fleet enjoyed the only dual start location tournament in Los Cabos and registered 102 billfish catches in three days of competition, including 61 blue, 31 striped and six black marlin, and one short-bill spearfish.

Two qualifying marlin were brought to the scales: a 347-pound black on Reel Gold and a 303-pound black on Wild Hooker. The impressive catches earned these teams the first and second place overall team awards, respectively.

No undersized marlin were weighed during the tournament, which saw a 98 percent release ratio. Cash and prizes were also awarded for billfish releases, tuna, wahoo and dorado. Additionally, the tournament introduced a new Overall Release Points Jackpot with 23 teams registering for the optional division.

The tournament didn’t start well for team Reel Gold, with angler Jon Crawford tearing a quad muscle during the first day of fishing. The injury prevented him from participating further, but did earn him the Hard Luck award at the end of the tournament.

Michelle Makmann

On Day 2, angler Murray Wright fought this 347-pound black marlin for more than four hours aboard the 35-foot Reel Gold.

Meanwhile, teammate Murray Wright and the crew took care of business, hooking up to a nice one on day two that became an epic battle on a 50-wide Penn Reel and light stand-up rod. After a grueling 4-hour fight, Captain Roberto Marquez called in the boated fish and headed to the scales.

The 347-pound black marlin would end up being the biggest fish of the tournament, and – with an all-in entry – team Reel Gold hit the jackpot: $203,760 in total prize money. They also took home King Sailfish Mounts trophies, a Yeti cooler, AFTCO championship apparel, a Soundview Millworks trophy, a Taylor Offshore Kraken Dredge, an Accurate Reel, Carey Chen artwork, Lucas Oil products and a Garmin Quatix watch for Captain Roberto Marquez.

Wright, along with teammates Leonel Martinez and Roberto Marquee, received an invitation to compete in the 2018 Lucas Oil Offshore World Championship in Quepos, Costa Rica. Second-place team Wild Hooker got off to a better start on day one, when the owner and angler Allen Stuart hooked up a black marlin late in the afternoon. The fish looked to be the right size, and Captain Shane O’Brien and crew had to make a tough call, ultimately deciding to boat the fish. It turned out to be the right decision, as the fish weighed in at 303 pounds, making the minimum by just three pounds to win the Day One Marlin Jackpot.

Michelle Makmann

Wild Hooker: 2nd Place Base Entry Team Division and 2nd Place Marlin Jackpot with 303 points from one black marlin. Total Winnings: $169,140.

Capt. Shane O’Brien, Mate Boyd Decoito, Allen Stuart, Rick Daab, Charlie Bowman and Guy Arrington.

The fish held on during the next two days to earn Wild Hooker second place team and second place Largest Marlin Jackpot honors, landing a $169,140 payday for Capt. O’Brien, mate Boyd Decoito, Allen Stuart, Rick Daab, Charlie Bowman and Guy Arrington.

The team on Fish Tank, with Captain Ben Horning at the helm and owner Chris Jessen doing most of the angling duties, put on a billfish release clinic during the second and third days of the competition. The team scored 4,100 points from eight blues and one striped marlin. Three of the blue marlin were caught on day two, which earned the Daily Release Jackpot, but it was the third day that team Fish Tank had everything go right. They released five blues and one striped marlin to win another Daily Release Jackpot, first place Base Entry Release Points and first place Overall Release Points Jackpot.

Because there were only two marlin boated in the tournament, Fish Tank also picked up third place team honors for total winnings of $75,900 for Capt. Ben Horning, mate Topher Wightman, Chris Jessen, Laura Jessen, Erik Martinez and Thomas Garmany.

Many other teams made the stage to received awards for billfish release and game fish categories. All winners received King Sailfish Mounts trophies and Carey Chen artwork.