October 19, 2023 – WINTER PARK, FL – The 25th-anniversary running of the Los Cabos Billfish Tournament showcased a historic striped marlin bite. Over three exhilarating days, the tournament record for billfish releases was shattered as 42 teams released a staggering total of 583 striped marlin, seven blue marlin, and three sailfish. This number nearly quadrupled the previous tournament release record of 150 in 2018.
The record-setting performance came as developing Hurricane Norma took aim at the Los Cabos region, despite permitting challenges that threatened to disrupt the scheduled kickoff of the tournament. However, thanks to an upwelling of local support in the weeks prior to kickoff, and to the resilience of the Los Cabos fishing teams, the tournament went off without a hitch and delivered an epic bite that served as a strong reminder of why the Los Cabos region remains one of the world’s premier billfish destinations.
The team fishing aboard The Daddy Rabbit, a 58-foot Viking from the Channel Islands, California, emerged victorious as the 2023 Los Cabos Billfish Tournament champions. Under the skilled leadership of owner-angler Dennis Hood and Capt. Angel Agundez Sandez, the formidable team—consisting of Adrian Covarrubias, Guillermo Gonzalez, Ezequiel Orias, and Ramon Sandez Agundez—exhibited exceptional angling prowess by releasing a remarkable total of 140 striped marlin. Their outstanding performance not only secured them the champion’s trophy and the top captain trophy, but it also earned them a substantial prize of $86,550. Additionally, their triumph came with the honor of an invitation to compete in the 2024 Offshore World Championship.
Second place went to the team fishing on Let’s Go, who released an impressive total of 130 striped marlin aboard their 42-foot Freeman. Colin Sutton, Patrick Morey, TJ Jaworsky, Troy Mathers, Capt. Alan Araiza Flores, and Capt. Alan Eduardo Araiza Castro worked the electric bite on their center-console in a steady rotation—hookup, leader, release, and the next angler is already hooked up ready for the next leader touch. Let’s Go took home the second-place trophy and a combined check for $74,430.
Home-ported in Cabo San Lucas, the team on Meshuga Fish secured third-place honors fishing aboard their 68-foot Viking. Led by Capt. Jeffrey Stolarz, the team of Steve Hilton, Scott Ward, Scott Curtis, CP Drewett, Ryan VanderKooy, Lawrence Joseph Aliseo III, and Hunter Barrett released 110 striped marlin and one blue marlin to take home the third-place trophy and a combined check for $57,120.
Gamefish kept the IGY marina weigh station busy with Bill Collector, Feeling Azul, The Magnetic, Cloud 9, Game On, Riverbottom Nightmare Band, Sauced Bosses, and Overtime all collecting payouts in the tuna, dolphin, and wahoo categories.
However, with no qualifying blue or black marlin weighed, six jackpot categories of the $754,945 purse went unclaimed and teams were refunded accordingly. Total payout this year was $290,550 for billfish-release and gamefish categories. Teams also raised more than $4,000 for the Solmar Foundation, a nonprofit organization that lends a helping hand to the members of the local Mexican community who need it most.
The awards dinner took place at the Playa Grande Resort’s beachfront terrace, where participants were treated to a full mariachi band and a four-course filet mignon and lobster dinner.
The 2023 edition of the Los Cabos Billfish Tournament, owned by Los Cabos Tourism and operated by the publisher of Marlin magazine since its inception 25 years ago, proved to be a test of wills, but it was also a celebration of the enduring spirit of competitive sport fishing. The teams who competed this year kept pace with a hookup frequency previously unheard of, keeping the radio committee vigilant and the final results in question until each and every billfish release was verified by an exhausted video-review team.
This year’s running also represented a refresh of sorts, with tournament director Jen Dudas taking the reins and receiving strong local support from Charo Bulnes of Solmar Hotels and Resorts, tournament facilitator Clicerio Mercado, the Los Cabos Hotel Association, Los Cabos Tourism, and Darren Carey of IGY Marina.
With a renewal of the long-term agreement between Marlin and Los Cabos Tourism in place and permits already secured, planning is well underway for next year’s running of the Los Cabos Billfish Tournament, scheduled for October 8-12, 2024. Be a part of what is sure to be the biggest fleet and payout to date by registering early at loscabostournaments.com.
Bonnier is an outdoor adventure company that fuels passion for offshore fishing, motorsports and hunting. Bonnier operates the world’s premier offshore fishing magazine, Marlin, and its series of big-game fishing tournaments and expeditions across the US and in Mexico, Bermuda, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Australia and the Virgin Islands. In its Motorsports & Outdoor division, Bonnier operates a series of nationwide motorsports and hunting events, including the Sands Sports Super Show, Off-Road Expo and Open Season Sportsman’s Expo. Bonnier is owned by Sweden-based Bonnier AB, a globally operating conglomerate with more than 200 years in publishing.
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico – The participants in this year’s Los Cabos Billfish Tournament enjoyed perfect weather and a great bite at the tip of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, where the Pacific Ocean meets the Sea of Cortez. The fleet of 53 teams caught and video-verified 138 billfish, including 91 striped marlin, 26 blue marlin, 19 sailfish and two black marlin. A total of $862,350 in cash was awarded. Team Reel Cast, a 48-foot Cabo with Capt. Zach Morrow, mate Hiram Ruelas and teammates Bill Pino, Doug Berg and Javier Ruelas earned 1,225 points from one weighed 500-pound blue marlin caught by Bill Pino, one blue marlin, five striped marlin and two sailfish—all released—to win the 2022 Los Cabos Billfish Tournament. The team’s blue marlin, caught on the second day, earned all levels of the Daily Marlin Jackpots and first place in the Largest Marlin Jackpots, a total of $354,000. They also took home an invitation to compete in the 2023 Costa Offshore World Championship.
Team El Suertudo, an 80-foot Weaver with Capt. Greg Distefano, mate Oswaldo Ortega and teammates Guy Yocom, Scotty Walker, Jeff Richardson, Bruce McDonald, Alan Ortega and Alfonso Ortega scored 1,000 points from two blue marlin and 16 striped marlin releases to place second in the tournament. El Suertudo picked up a Daily Release Jackpot and First Place Overall Release Points Jackpot, earning a total of $94,800. Team Salty K, fishing aboard a 78-foot Garlington and led by Capt. Keith Hilton, mate Ryan Thurner and teammates Harry Okuda, Bryan Zulka, Antonio Colorado and Ed Noonan scored 925 points from three blue marlin and one striped marlin release to place third in the tournament. Salty K added a second-place Overall Release Points Jackpot to win a total of $48,900.Team La Chingona, a 46-foot Viking with Capt. Antonio Bojorquez, mate Luis Gonzales and teammates Milinda Smith, Richard Bradbury Jr., Jeff Zimmerman, Kirk Russell, Sergio Aviles Cota and Marcos Aviles Cota started the tournament in a big way weighing a 349-black marlin caught by Cota to win the Day One Daily Marlin Jackpots and third-place Overall Marlin Jackpots, winning a nice check for $189,810. Team Stella June, a 46-foot Jarrett Bay with Capt. Evan Salvay, mate Darian Silva and teammates Ivan Van Ortwick, Jakob Gonterman, Jazz Moorhead, Hugo Pino and Paco Ruis landed a 389-pound black marlin on the second day, caught by Moorhead. The team earned second-place Overall Marlin Jackpots of $80,190.
The Los Cabos Billfish Tournament is just one of the big-game tournaments in the Bonnier portfolio, which also includes the Bermuda Triple Crown, Scrub Island Invitational and Costa Offshore World Championship.
About Bonnier: Bonnier is an outdoor adventure company that fuels passion for fishing, boating, sailing, motorsports, hunting and travel. Bonnier has the nation’s leading portfolio of experiential events and iconic media brands in the marine category and an extensive series of nationwide motorsports and hunting events. Bonnier is the publisher of Salt Water Sportsman, Marlin, Sport Fishing, Boating, Yachting, Cruising World and Sailing World, produces the award-winning TV series SFTV, and hosts world-class fishing tournaments, sailing regattas and educational events across the US and in Mexico, Bermuda, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Australia and the Virgin Islands. Bonnier is owned by Sweden-based Bonnier AB, a globally operating conglomerate with more than 200 years in publishing.