Cap Cana 2012
Story by: Greg Moore
I spent the winter anticipating and dreaming about going to Cap Cana. All those long months, I was staring at picture postcards of The Fishing Lodge and the boats in the Cap Cana Marina. When I arrived in May for the International Cap Cana Billfish Shootout, I found the facilities were better than described in the travel brochures. The Dominican Republic people are friendly and gave us a warm welcome. Rick Alvarez, the tournament director, had put together a great schedule of events.
I am one of the 15 International Game Fish Tournament Observers (IGFTO) here for this catch and release billfish tournament. I thought my mission here was to save the marlin, but that’s only one part of each observer’s job. I spent several hours at the Cap Cana tournament talking to Jimmy Loveland, director of the Atlantic Blue Marlin Tournament, who repeatedly emphasized that an equally important purpose for each observer is to ensure fair competition among the boats, captains and anglers.
It takes a combination of luck, skill, patience and experience to catch a blue marlin. It’s that combination that will move competitors up the leader board. The observers’ role is to ensure IGFA and/or the tournament rules are adhered to, so anglers on each boat compete on a level playing field. Sportsmanship, man against man (or woman), is what will save the marlin. They don’t have to put the fish on the dock to compete.
I took Jimmy’s words with me the next day when I was observing aboard the Reel Passion with Billy Ingram and his crew. The three anglers were working together, tending their lines and keeping a constant vigil on the spread of ballyhoo. Kurt Ward got hooked up with a white marlin and the other anglers quickly cleared their lines. After a short battle, Kurt had the white alongside the boat and had a good release. The anglers were just resetting their lines when Kurt hooked up again. Another white marlin was caught and released.
The crew continued to work together, catching several dolphin, bonita and tuna in a frenzy that kept Ross, the mate, busy – but he always managed to have a rigged rod ready to go.
After a disappointing afternoon of dolphin and tuna, Billy finally found his white marlin. Once again, the crew worked with great precision and the release of this marlin gave them a 3rd Place finish in the tournament. Watching an experienced crew working together and playing by the rules made it look easy.
On the last day of the tournament, I observed aboard the Uno Mas, a beautiful 60-foot Bayliss. Sam Peters welcomed me aboard and introduced me to the crew. We spent several minutes going over the tournament rules to make sure we were all working on the same page.
It was late in the day when a big blue marlin came into the spread and crashed the left teaser. The blue then hit the two flat lines, ran with one but never got hooked. The long rigger angler, Jeff Thiel, reeled in his bait, patiently positioning it until the marlin struck. Jeff let the blue run with it then skillfully reeled down and let the circle hook do its thing. The line came tight, the blue felt the pressure and the fun began. The blue greyhounded across the water in a super display, then headed for the deep. Jeff’s experience showed as he worked the rod in a give-and-take manner, pumping and pausing. The blue finally broke the surface again in a majestic presentation. Jeff started reeling down, while the captain maneuvered the boat to keep the best angle on the blue. In a short time, Jeff had the blue to the leader and, in a cascade of white water, was rewarded with a release. It was the last blue marlin caught in the tournament.
I look back now and I’m glad the blue was released alive. It was the combination of luck, skill, patience, experience and sportsmanship – that Jimmy Loveland spoke about – that got the job done. Observers should know they play a vital role in these release tournaments by ensuring anglers compete fairly on a level playing field – and that is what will save the marlin.