September 8, 2011

San Juan, Puerto Rico. The blue marlin were certainly biting on this second day of fishing at Club Nautico de San Juan’s 58th Annual International Billfish Tournament (IBT). The 52-boat fleet released 28 blue marlin today, which adds up to a two-day total of 59 blue marlin releases. No wonder the IBT was ranked among the top 10 favorite tournaments in the world by Marlin Magazine!

Carlos Garcia has one hot team aboard his 47-foot Cabo, Peje. Three blue marlin releases today coupled with two releases on the tournament’s first day put the Puerto Rico-based boat in the lead with five blue marlin releases (2000 points).

“Yesterday was tough,” explains Garcia. “We saw eight, hooked up six and only released two. Today, we saw three and released three. We were 100 percent today. Fresh baits were the secret to our success.”

Of Peje’s four anglers, Garcia released two and the other three anglers released one blue marlin apiece. Andy New, manager at Marina Cap Cana, was one of Peje’s anglers who released one of today’s blue marlin.

Garcia and Peje are no strangers to the winner’s circle. Garcia won Top Angler in the 2010 International Billfish Shootout in Cap Cana and Peje took Top Boat at the 2007 USVI Open/Atlantic Blue Marlin Tournament in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. Championing the IBT would be a fantastic trio of wins for Garcia and Peje.

Puerto Rico’s Juan Soto, aboard the 52-foot Hatteras, Bimba, had a great day even though he missed one of two bites.

“I released the second marlin I hooked-up,” says Soto. “It was a nice approximately hour long fight.”

The fight caught the attention of tournament photographers and videographers and made for some spectacular footage.

The IBT is a catch-and-release tournament where it’s the number of blue marlin released that counts in the scoring. But anglers and crews can’t help but be awed when they hook up a massive blue marlin.

“Today my released marlin was around 500 pounds. It was a big one that put up a good fight,” says Juan Somoza, who fished aboard the 60-foot Hatteras, Mayte. “Yesterday, my two releases were about 200 and 400 pounds.”

Somoza ended today as third top angler with 1200 points after two days of fishing. Scotland’s Trevor Somny is in second and Puerto Rico’s Hector Rodriquez first each with 1200 points as well. The point tie is broken according to which angler released his three blue marlin first.

Success, says Somoza, “comes from a watching the lures all the time and having a good team. The captain, the mates, myself, we all work together to get the job done. Everyone knows just what to do to make the release.”

One of the international anglers fishing in this year’s IBT traveled only a short 70 miles, from St. Thomas, in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“We had a nice jumper today and saw five total, but we couldn’t get a stick in any of them,” says Jeffrey Kreiner, who angled aboard the 47-foot Buddy Davis, Sin Prisa, today. “What I like about rotating to a different boat every day is that you get to meet great people. I was fishing today with a pediatric oncologist and the commodore of the Ponce Yacht & Fishing Club and they were so interesting. I have to say this tournament really takes good care of you as a guest.”

Another guest or international angler who has fished the IBT year-after-year for nearly a decade is Bill McGough, from Boca Raton, Florida. What keeps McGough coming back? “The people,” he says. McGough was diagnosed with Stage IV melanoma in May 2008. He competed in the IBT that year in spite of having a particularly rigorous round of chemotherapy just before he left home that caused him to lose all of his hair during the tournament.

“The Club here is a strong organization and they are so supportive,” says McGough. “Someone calls every few months just to say hello and see how I’m doing. I’ve fished in Cabo San Lucas, Costa Rica, Aruba, Cape May, NJ, and back home in Florida, and this is the best tournament – the fishing, the activities and the people.”

McGough fished aboard the 82-foot Buddy Davis, Mijobi, today. “We pitch baited to a marlin and I was about to hook-up when heavy rain poured down from a passing thunderstorm,” he says.

Yet, even though he has yet to get his name on the scoreboard, McGough says, “Every day is a lucky day for me.”

The third day of tournament fishing takes place tomorrow, September 9. Fishing will conclude on September 10, one day early due to anticipated rough weather from approaching Tropical Storm Maria. More than 30 prizes will be handed out at the Gala Awards Ceremony. The IBT is a qualifier for the prestigious Rolex/IGFA Offshore Championship that takes place each May.

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