Team Reel Gold’s Capt. Javier “Kuubby” Villavicencio struck gold with the only boated marlin in the Los Cabos Billfish Tournament. The entire six-angler team including Murray Wright, Richard Matson, Mitch Kishimoto, David Patterson, Pat Jackson and Chris Turek flew from its current working residence in Namibia, Africa, during the opening week of the tournament, following Hurricane Odile, to attend the 16th annual event. The owner of Reel Gold Richard Matson has fished the tournament for 10 years and wasn’t going to miss the event.
Their dedication paid off on the first day of fishing, when a 365-pound blue marlin ate the lure for angler Jason Snyder and stayed tight for Reel Gold. Because it was the only marlin boated during the event, the team won First Place Team, all Daily Marlin Jackpots and the Largest Marlin Jackpot. Team Reel Gold didn’t stop there with angler Richard Matson catching a 43.6-pound wahoo on the second day to win the Daily Wahoo Jackpot. There were no qualifying wahoo on the other fishing days, so once again Reel Gold cashed in. Total team winnings were $109,200, a Furuno GPS/sounder, a Tycoon Tackle custom rod, King Sailfish Mounts trophies, AFTCO championship apparel, a Yeti cooler, an Arribe reel, Steve Goione artwork, a Penn reel and an invitation to the 2015 Offshore World Championship in Quepos, Costa Rica.
Team Picante 45, led by David and Donna Machado and friends from Mississippi, released one blue marlin and five striped marlin to win First Place Release Team and the Days One and Three Release Jackpots. Team Picante 45 with Capt. Daniel Carrera, mate Luis Lucero, Bill Massie and Luis Orantes also earned Second Place Team honors winning a total of $18,550, an Accurate Reel, an AFTCO Gaff, a Tycoon Tackle custom rod, an Arribe reel, a Yeti cooler, King Sailfish Mounts trophies and Steve Goione artwork.
Team Minerva II with veteran Capt. Pimi Fiol Ortiz had a great tournament, releasing one blue marlin, two striped marlin and a sailfish to win Second Place Billfish Release Team, the second day Billfish Release Jackpot and Third Place Overall for Canadian anglers Gary Anderson, Gary Mowat and Rob Forbes. The team also caught the only qualifying dorado at 25.4 pounds to sweep the Daily Dorado Jackpots. Total winnings for Team Minerva II was $18,600, a Penn Reel, an AFTCO Gaff, a Tycoon Tackle custom rod, a Yeti cooler, King Sailfish Mounts trophies, Cabo cigars and Steve Goione artwork.
Other teams making the stage to pick up hardware, cash and prizes included Team Pocket Aces with Capt. Angel Cecena and owner Mark Hinkle, which released one blue marlin and three striped marlin to earn Third Place Release Team. Team Gladiator with Capt. Pepe De La Pena and owner Davis Crook from Oklahoma stayed busy with tuna bites, winning the Day Two Tuna Jackpot with Vernon Ritter’s 60.9-pound fish and Day Three Tuna Jackpot with Ritter’s 78.4-pound fish. Team Estrella Del Norte Capt. Donald Whittier caught the largest tuna at 180 pounds, winning the Day One Jackpot for Los Cabos angler Gonzalo Castillo.
The 2014 Los Cabos Billfish Tournament wasn’t about maximizing participation after a horrific hurricane devastated the destination. It was about the incredible cleanup due to the support of the federal government that sent 20,000 army, navy and utilities specialists to aid the citizens. In just three short weeks, the Los Cabos Billfish Tournament happened on schedule, sending the message that the destination had recovered quickly and was open for visitors.
The gala awards banquet took place on Playa Grande Resort & Grand Spa’s beautiful oceanfront terrace, and participants enjoyed a fine-dining experience, gifts from the tournament, entertainment and awards presentation. Secretary of Tourism, Ruben Reachi, gave congratulations to the winners and sincere appreciation to the teams making an extra effort to navigate limited flights and take part in the event. It was a special evening with a good time had by all.
Image courtesy Los Cabos Billfish Tournament