by David Proudfoot

It takes confidence to bet heavily when the stakes are so high. Yet that’s exactly what Team Tranquilo did this past week during the 35th edition of the Bisbee’s Black & Blue Marlin Tournament. The first-time crew from Costa Rica parlayed a hot streak with a hunch and the move paid off in record fashion. Tranquilo earned $2,511,462, the second-highest single team payout in Black & Blue history, with a blue marlin weighing 327 pounds. That fish was good for third place overall, sweeping all but one optional jackpots on the first day. Michael Moretti was the angler, with Captain Victor Julio Lopez at the helm of the 57-foot Spencer. The overall purse this year was more than $3.5 million.

“This is the best third-place finish ever. It really means a lot, coming from Costa Rica with the boat and the team,” Moretti explains. “The competition here is the best in the world. It’s a different style than what we’re used to, but it’s very tough. The whole experience has been top notch and we’re already making plans to fish the Black & Blue again next year.”

the winners

Moretti & Company are coming off a first-place win in the Bisbee’s Los Cabos Offshore Tournament earlier this month. A 399-pound black marlin then earned Tranquilo $460,200, another tournament record, for a combined payout of $2,971,662 for the two tournaments. The team caught a Pacific slam consisting of a black and blue marlin, a striped marlin and sailfish during the contests. The winning marlin were both fooled by the same green/black plunger lure.

The international flavour of 2015 continued with a Canadian contingent from Thunder Bay, Ontario. Team Catching A Buzz, led by angler Tyler Squier, caught the heaviest fish of the week. The 500-pound blue marlin, Squier’s largest, earned the buddy team a check for $356,225. The awards included first-place team and jackpot, first-place captain and crew and the $1,000 daily for Day Three. Carlos Dominguez guided the team to the victory aboard the charter boat Rondinella.

Five More Minutes, another buddy team from Texas, is taking home $156,937 after landing a 356-pound blue marlin on the first day of fishing. The team won second-place honours and the $1,000 Daily with that catch. Jave Abaroa was the skipper of Whata Journey.

In the tight release division, Team Nice Ride came out on top after releasing two blue marlin. Those efforts earned Capt. Tyson Valli and the team a $76,295 payout. Fantasma, with Maricio Wenges at the wheel, took second-place honours with two blues released. Fantasma earned $26,392 based on time. Predator, led by Capt. Morgan North, came in third place with a single blue, good for a check totalling $14,662. Only blue and black marlin are eligible in the release division, which is sponsored by Costa.

One-hundred and twenty-one teams competed in the 35th edition of the Black & Blue, the richest tournament in sport fishing. A total of 945 anglers fished hard for three days and caught 44 blue marlin and one black. Teams had to contend with a noticeable absence of baitfish due to the warmer El Niño conditions. Squid were prevalent in certain areas, however, and all three qualifying marlin were caught on lures. The minimum size in the weight division is 300 pounds.

“Congratulations to all our winners,” said Tournament Director Wayne Bisbee right before the customary fireworks show at the conclusion of Saturday’s awards banquet. “Thank you for joining us for our 35th edition, and thanks to all our wonderful sponsors for making this possible. It’s been another one for the history books, and my family and I look forward to welcoming everyone back again next year. Bueños noche and safe travels home.”

The Black & Blue is the last of three tournaments in the Bisbee’s Baja big game series. It is the richest sport-fishing tournament in the world with more than $72 million in prize money awarded in its 35-year history. The 2016 B&B will be held October 25-29 in Cabo San Lucas. Major sponsors include the Tesoro Resort Los Cabos, Pelagic High Performance Offshore Gear, Baja Cantina, Hotel Buena Vista Beach Resort, Costa, Los Cabos Tourism Board, Oil Boom USA, Sevenstar Yacht Transport, David Wirth, National Car Rental, American Fishing Wire/Hi-Seas and the Bisbee’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Fund.

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