After two long, hard days of tournament fishing – not to mention the days spent pre-fishing – Bisbee’s East Cape Offshore Tournament teams were ready for the kick-back day.
While the Hotel Buenavista Beach Resort staff set up for the Awards Party on the beach, some of the team members hung around the pool or in the air-conditioned bar swapping fish stories both old and new.
Throughout the day, most of the Cabo-based boats returned to Land’s End with plans to return to East Cape by car for the party.
Later in the afternoon, a welcome cloud cover, along with a breeze from the east, helped cool down the beach as the musical group “Cabo Max” warmed up.
Wayne Bisbee began by thanking the Valdez Family and the Hotel Buenavista staff for their support and assistance. “You gotta’ love the Valdez Family,” he declared and continuing he thanked Pelagic for providing all the goodies, and Marine Trophies for their support. This was translated into Spanish by Clicerio Mercado, Bisbee Tournament Baja Representative.
Then came the Early Bird Drawing with the help of David and Ryder Garcia won by the Altata Bay Team.
Mercado introduced Sra. Elizabeth Martínez Rosas, Delegada de Santiago, representing Los Cabos Mayor; Sra. Lucy Trasviña, Mexican Senator (B.C.S.), and Sra. Imelda Martínez Campos, Chuy Valdez widow, all of whom would be assisting with the awarding of the checks to the winners.
Bisbee noted there was “no way” Imelda could not be on the stage to carry out the tradition that her late husband Chuy had begun 20 years ago.
The Third Place Release Division was the first to be announced: “Team Carajos” from Sinaloa released four blue marlin earning them $6,587. Bisbee grinned that they were given “some sort of credit for the most elaborate team shirts.”
“Team Tag Team” also caught four blue marlin winning Second Place in the same division, decided by the length of time to catch for $11,087.50.
“Team Second Wind” captured the First-Place prize with three blue marlin and four striped marlin for $34,255. “That’s a lot of fish when you think about it!” Bisbee smiled.
Day One Tuna Jackpot belonged to “Team Snafu” (with Felipe Valdez) weighing 58.8 pounds. They pocketed $18,275. “Make sure we get the little guy in the photo,” Bisbee admonished.
Day Two Tuna Jackpot Daily and the heaviest yellowfin caught was worth $31,935 to “Team Hotel Buenavista” weighing 60.8 pounds. Earlier, Esaul Valdez had declared, “I beat Felipe [his brother] by two pounds!”
“I didn’t realize the whole Valdez family would be on the stage tonight,” Bisbee teased.
“The only one missing is Axel,” Mercado reminded Bisbee.
Felipe said he “could teach his brother Esaul how to fish, but not Axel,” Bisbee interjected, “Felipe did the best he could.”
“Now, we are going to move on to dorado,” Bisbee began. “Team “Los Compadres” landed the only qualifying dorado during the two days of fishing, netting the team an impressive sum of $50,200 for their 34-pound prize fish.
“It worked out pretty dang good for them,” whispered an onlooker as the photographers clicked away. “They managed to win both dailies and the heaviest dorado categories. These are all Los Barriles’ boys!”
“Are we ready for this? “Team El Suertudo” swept all the billfish categories with their 381-pound blue marlin caught on the first day – nicely done with no other qualifiers brought to the weigh station. Winning both Day One and Day Two jackpots, plus getting the heaviest billfish for what is the largest payout in the history of the East Cape Offshore Tournament ever – “Team El Suertudo” collected a whopping $619,800.
“You think we have to make them smile?” Bisbee asked the cheering crowd. “Not their first time on our stage, but the biggest payout for sure.”
Cortez Rescue, the local Dog Clinic has a 50/50 drawing each year with the proceeds going toward the expenses of maintaining the facility. The raffle was won this year by Greg Lewis, “Team Cloud Nine.”
After the drawing, “Team El Suertudo” graciously donated an additional $2,000 to the clinic from their winnings.
Fireworks popped and whooshed overhead as Queen’s “We are the Champions” blared over the loudspeakers while the photographers hollered directions of how to pose and where to look.
Bisbee closed, announcing that “ECO will be hosted next year at Hotel Buenavista Beach Resort and that dates will be announced soon and if anyone has comments about the number of days – two or three – we are all ears.”
Despite the lack of fish caught, most of the teams had some action and shared or envied the winners success, providing memories for everyone there – memories that would survive a lifetime.
So until next year…