La Guaira, Venezuela - The 7th annual edition of the prestigious
International La Guaira Billfish Shootout, held March 30th, and 31st &
April 1st, was a
tournament of surprises. This all-release tournament was anyone's game
from the beginning, and suspense held right up to the very end, as teams
jockeyed for first place throughout the final day of fishing.
After two days of the traditional "lent winds", conditions improved on
Sunday as the sea laid down, billfish seemed to once again become
active. However, only a
handful of boats ran far enough east of the famed La Guaira Bank, and
most that did went home with the prizes. "They finally found the fish,"
Captain and La Guaira resident, Paul Ivey. "They were just a lot farther
east than expected" he added.
In the end it was Rapscallion, with Jim Cleary, Jr. of Pennsylvania, and
WBS angler Jim Lambert, of Florida aboard, who surprised everyone with a
from behind. Rapscallion released five blue marlin Sunday, which, added
to their three blues already posted on the leader board, gave them a
total of 4,200 points
and the Top Team award. Cleary also won the Top Angler award.
Even more remarkable was the performance of the teams aboard Sharon and
Liberty. On Sharon, with Capt. Alberto "Rhino" Perez, Team
comprised of Venezuelan William Morrison and Brazilians Dr. Angelo
Calmon De Sa and son Angelo Jr., released six blue marlin - the most any
team had released
in a single day - thus climbing from the twenty-first position into
Third Place in the Team Standings.
The local team aboard Liberty also released six blue marlin on Sunday,
which moved the team from last position into fifth, and although they
did not place in the
team standings, Venezuelan angler, Edgar Figueroa, who released four of
the six blues, took Second Place Angler.
Team A-Fin-ity, aboard Vintage, with Capt. Dave Noling, a Texas native
who's lived in Venezuela for the past eight years, in first place going
into the final day,
ended in Second Place as anglers Davis Clapp of Washington State, Shayne
McMahon of Oklahoma, Hans Kraas of Florida and Alberto Sanchez of
held on till the end. New Jersey angler, Mark Roy, fishing aboard
Magia, took Third Place Individual Angler, and in an extraordinary first
tournament showing, Sue
Philpott, fishing aboard Heldter Skelter, took Top Lady Angler.
Phillpott, who had never released a marlin before the Shootout, released
three blues and a
A total of 119 billfish were released in this year's tournament aboard
the 37 tournament boats, all using Sufix line: 107 blue marlin, 2
sailfish, 3 white marlin, and an
unexpected 7 spearfish. "It' quite uncommon to released that many
spearfish in such a short time," remarked tournament director Rick
Alvarez, "It's possible that
we've set a record for the most tournament releases of Atlantic Long
Bill Spearfish." That would add to the La Guaira Shootout's astounding
'99 World Record for
the most tournament blue marlin releases (256).
Shootout teams wrapped up a day of serious fishing with some serious
April Fool's day fun. Boats entering the Marina at Puerto Viejo were
warmly welcomed with
smiles and a cascade of water balloons compliments of Sharky's Revenge
and others. The festive mood continued into the evening with fabulous
food at the
awards banquet, live music, and the usual visit from the Pepsi and Polar