Casa de Campo/La Romana, Dominican Republic 2017

March 16-20, 2017
Story by: Art McDonald

It’s hard to find a Caribbean resort that beats Casa de Campo…. A 7,000-acre Ponderosa-style tropical seaside resort that stands as second to none in ambiance, services, luxury, amenities, golf…. And, oh yeah, OUTSTANDING Blue Marlin Fishing.  One of the first areas to employ FADS (Fish Aggregating Devices), the La Romana/Casa de Campo (Spanish for "Country House") area has an estimated 2,500 FADS – attracting scores of Blue Marlin.  Coinciding with this attraction is the annual Casa De Campo Blue Marlin Classic – organized and run by Rick Alvarez (International Billfish Tournaments), with over 25 years of Tournament organization history. 

A total of 12 IGFTO Observers (John Daly, Karen LeCompte, Charlie Kluck, Bill Pickering, John Johnson, Evan Hipsley, Mike Sampsel, Art McDonald, Ed Tapping, Tess Sheil, Sine Mate, and Mark Sorel) were on hand to perform observer duties for the 16 boats entered in the Tournament.  As usual, festivities started out gangbusters at the kickoff party held at the elegant Marina Yacht Club on Thursday, March 16th.  Day 1 - Friday morning saw a buzz on the docks in anticipation of what was to come.  Things got off to a quick start as several boats reported hook-ups almost as soon as the “lines-in-the-water” call was made.  When the smoke cleared, the 92’ Viking Fa La Me released an impressive 4 Blues to take the lead over Blue Bird (3 Blues), Emily (3 Blues), and Team Supreme (3 Blues). 

By Day 2 most of the boats had homed in on specific FADs to fish.  Fa La Me held onto a slim lead with 2 new releases (for a total of 2,460 points), followed by a newbie to the top 3 – the Mama Who after releasing 3 Blues to add to their first day totals with 2,425 points.  Third place was Blue Bird (1 release) with 1,640 points.  What would the final day bring…………… it turns out………….. PLENTY of surprises.

Amazing Grace, a 58’ Viking had released 2 Blues on day 1, but went fishless on day 2 – and, going into the final day was in 9th place with 820 points.  The fish gods must have taken pity on them with a quick fish right at the get-go…………. And then everything just CAME TOGETHER.  In a span of 2 ½ hours, they released FIVE Blues (for a daily total of 6) to storm into the lead – and never looked back.  Just as their luck changed, so did the Chaser (a 48’ G&S) who, with 3 Blues going into day 3 – added 3 more to take 3rd place behind Fa La Me that went fishless on the final day!  How About That, Sports Fans…. A classic comeback extraordinaire – Casa de Campo Style!

The Gala Awards banquet was held at the main hotel in Casa de Campo…… an elegant facility, to be sure.  Food and beverages were incredible.  Everybody loves an underdog….. and there was lots of toasting Amazing Grace on an epic day, surely to be remembered for quite some time.   It just goes to reinforce what Yogi said………….”It ain’t over till it’s over!”  63 Blue Marlin released for an average of 3.7 Blues per boat – not shabby at all for a 3-day Tournament!

First Class facility, First Class Tournament, First Class boats, anglers, & crews, and FIRST CLASS FISHING…………….. could it be any better?   NAAAH!