|Just like in the Wizard of Oz, it’s always fun to peek behind the curtain for the less-than-obvious. Last week was no different in Los Cabos. Whether it was the unspoken, a brief glimpse of something overlooked or a secret seldom shared, it's all fun.
First, let's begin with the dismal. The stats of the three tournaments held since the middle of October are not exactly the Department of Tourism material.
The three events which included the Los Cabos Billfish, the Los Cabos Offshore Charity and the Black and Blue drew an impressive number of teams – 37, 80 and 106 respectively, for a total of 223 teams. At LCB, the first day was lost due to Hurricane Paul, reducing the total number of days for the three events to seven.
During each event, teams fished nine hours a day equaling a hefty 2,792 hours of trolling collectively for the seven days. The result was 101 billfish caught, with only four meeting the 300-pound minimum weight; the rest were all released by the teams. The first two also included tuna (13) and dorado (17) caught.
IT WAS A HI-5 LURE XXL CABO SHAKER with abalone shell and red eyes using the black and purple colors associated with barrilete (Mexican skipjack), the primary bait available during the event.
Most attribute the slowdown of what had been fairly good fishing to Hurricane Paul which swept by offshore dumping plenty of rain and causing a runoff that turned waters several miles off the tip into a murky color. Regardless of the dismal catch rate, the 16 teams did manage to score a portion of the approximately $2,482,820 handed out during the three events. However, one team, Frantic Pace, took the lion's share of the cash…the second highest payout in the 32-year history of the Black and Blue: $2,396,800.
Another big winner who never wet a line during any of the tournaments was Ken Matney, owner of Hi-5 Custom Lures. I first met Ken a few years back at the East Cape Bisbee’s Tournament. He was standing behind a table laden with his custom-designed lures, proudly displaying his handiwork. A Baja resident, he had developed his small lure-manufacturing business in his home in Baja. A humble man, I had to do a lot of research to discover just how successful his lures actually are.
The one and only blue marlin brought to the scale in this year’s Black and Blue by Frantic Pace that weighed 465 pounds was taken on one of Matney’s lures. It was a Hi-5 Lure XXL Cabo Shaker with abalone shell and red eyes using the black and purple colors associated with barrilete (Mexican skipjack), the primary bait available during the event. Matney laughingly explained, "Matching the hatch has worked once again."
Remarkably, it was Hi-5's sixth Bisbee’s first place win, including Bisbee East Cape events in 2004, 2008, and 2011; and the Bisbee Offshore Los Cabos in 2008 with a 870-pound blue marlin, the second largest ever caught in the contest!
This is the second time that one of his lures has caught the winning blue marlin earning in excess of $1,000,000. Both wins were in the Black and Blue; the first was in 2005, earning the team $1,348,440.00. This year, it seems that lightening can strike twice as his lure topped the 2005 win with $2,396,800 for angler Dave Sanchez.
High expectations drew good turnouts in two out of three of the events in Los Cabos. The unexpected visit of Hurricane Paul certainly seemed to put fishing into a tailspin – at least for billfish. Poor conditions seemed to change the complexion of the tournaments from a contest to a lottery this year. Yet, it still produced plenty of excitement for some.
The yellowfin tuna action has definitely shaken off the storm’s effect, with some cows showing up to the scales almost every day — a very good omen for this week's WON's Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot.