Waterman's Journal

Apr 07, 2022

First Annual Pelagic Pura Vida Blue Marlin Classic

March 24 – 27, 2022 - Quepos, Costa Rica – Hosted by world class Marina Pez Vela, in Quepos Costa Rica,  International anglers from Australia, Costa Rica, Italy, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and South Africa joined those from across the United States including Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina,  Michigan, Ohio, and Texas, to participate in the first Bluewater fishing tournament of its kind.

With a truly unique tournament format that featured “no boundaries” as well as offering separate “sonar and non-sonar” divisions, this tournament was a true reflection of PELAGIC’s bold and innovative spirit, and willingness to try new things to improve the tournament experience for all participating anglers and teams.

No Boundaries:  With no boundaries (traditionally there is a 50 mile boundary) or limitations to the distance boats can travel to find the fish, teams could elect to head out to the world famous FADS and seamounts of Costa Rica that are located 100 plus miles offshore in search of a hot bite.  Furthermore, with no boundaries in place, teams could leave for the fishing grounds at midnight prior to day one and elect to stay out on the grounds overnight, to capitalize on early morning and late evening bites.

A unique aspect of this tournament is that boats are permitted to leave anytime after midnight and may stay overnight if they wish.

Sonar and Non-Sonar Divisions:  While many tournaments have discussed offering separate sonar/non-sonar divisions, Pelagic is the first to do so. A hot topic in the industry, modern “360 degree” sonar units offer game-changing technology that allows boats that have them to see fish and bait up to one-quarter mile away from the boat, in a 360-degree radius all around the vessel, while traditional fixed, “cone sonar” units only allow the boat to see fish and bait that is directly under the boat. These distinct differences were what separated the teams into the sonar and non-sonar divisions.

The Pelagic Tournament village was back in play as restrictions were relaxed and tournament teams, tourists and the local community enjoyed great music, Food and coffee provided by F.A.D.S Foods Quepos, refreshing rum drinks from fair trade certified Flor-De-Cana Rum and many options to purchase a myriad of high-quality Pelagic Gear products, including our industry leading Pelagic Polarized Sunglasses. All with the most magical sunsets in Central America as a backdrop for the kick-off party, Captains meeting and opening ceremonies at the fabulous Marina Pez Vela on Thursday night.

The ability to stay out overnight made team strategy and fishing location decisions that much more interesting and important. This decision would be critical for both the eventual sonar and non-sonar division winners. As Thursday turned to Friday, in the midnight hour, most teams opted for the early departure option and left the marina lit up in all their glory and ready for competition in this groundbreaking, history making tournament.

The majestic Blue Marlin was the guest of honor for this competition and the scoring scale reflected as much, with 500 points awarded for each blue marlin released, followed by black marlin at 250 points, striped marlin 100 points and sailfish 1 point per release.

In the sonar division, team Vaquero with Captain Lance Hightower got to work quickly with an early blue marlin release and followed that up with a steady sailfish pick throughout the day. At the same time, inshore of Vaquero, team La Belle with legendary gamefish skipper, Captain John Cochrane leading the way, got on a nice piece of water and a hot blue marlin bite, going 6 for 8 chances and finishing in the lead after day one. Eight Eights and Captain David Cooper kept themselves in contention as well, releasing several sailfish, a striped marlin and a blue marlin. A big thank you to all the overnight teams that checked in via satellite phone with their day one catch totals.

In the non-sonar division, team Trilo Bite was committed to the offshore F.A.D.S, leaving just before midnight Thursday with the other teams, and hunkering down for 2 days offshore, overnight. Captain Mattia Maestranza put his Trilo Bite anglers on the blue marlin right away on day one and while their hook up ratio could have been better, they finished at the top of the non-sonar division with 4 blue marlin released. Team Tuna Trapp with team Captain/angler Joe Burkhardt put 5 sailfish on the board to stay in contention going into day two and team Pelagic who was red hot while pre fishing the week before the event, had a difficult and humbling first day, releasing 2 sailfish.

On a side note, it was a great honor to have world record holder and world class angler Stacey Parkerson fishing on team Trilo Bite in the non-sonar division. Stacey holds over 50 IGFA World Records and was the first woman to catch a blue marlin on the fly. She holds two places on the IGFA 100 most impressive world records list and has released more than 2,500 billfish in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Stacey’s eager endorsement and approval of the sonar and non-sonar format for the PVBMC was a feather in the events cap and comes from an angler with impeccable credibility.

With the weather turning wet and rough, day two saw the fleet facing completely different conditions. The competition was tight right until the end, with many teams relying on their day one results to get them to the finish line on top in both divisions. When day two ended and all boats had safely returned to port, the CatchStat scoring was made official. The fleets finished in the following order.

In the non-sonar division, team Pelagic added 2 more sailfish on day two to finish with 4 sailfish and 3rd place overall. A highlight for Capt. Ron and crew was a rare 70 plus pound wahoo they caught on day one. Team Tuna Trapp added a single blue marlin to their 5 sailfish from day one to take 2nd  overall. Joe and the boys also enjoyed some fresh fish during the week, catching several large dorado and some yellowfin tuna.

Team Tuna Trappe - 2nd Place Overall - Non-Sonar Division

After two days at sea, Team Trilo Bite returned to tournament headquarters having added 1 blue marlin on day two, for 5 total releases in two days. Their efforts enabled them to claim 1st place overall honors and champions of the non-sonar division. As a bonus, Trilo Bite added Top Lady Angler honors for Stacey Parkerson for her day one blue marlin release. This team was gracious in victory and excited that their decision to fish the F.A.D.S had paid off. Congratulations Team Trilo Bite.

Team Trilo Bite - 1st Place Overall - Non-Sonar Division

In the Sonar division, Eight Eights added a blue marlin and a few sailfish to their day one results to finish with a total of 2 blue marlin, one striped marlin and 16 sailfish, good enough for 3rd place overall and Top Overall Angler honors for Kyle O’Connor with 2 blue marlin and 3 sailfish. Capt. Cooper runs a tight ship and is always first class.

Team Vaquero - 2nd Place Overall - Sonar Division

Vaquero had a strong day two with 17 sailfish and another blue marlin to finish with 3 blue marlin and 43 sailfish for 2nd place. These folks just keep fishing and it’s a pleasure to have Jerry and his team in both of our Costa Rica tournaments.

Team La Belle - 1st Place Overall - Sonar Division

But it was Team La Belle and the legend, Capt. John Cochrane that made headlines. Capt. Cochrane is no stranger to catching blue marlin, in fact he holds the Texas record for most blue marlin in a season at 31. He is a co-founder of the Houston Big Game Fishing Club, The Texas Legends Tournament and the Texas Saltwater Fishing Hall of Fame, and he ran the mother ship “The Madam” for that legendary fishing program. Despite a slow 0 for 2 effort on day two, Capt. John and his crew held on to the victory with their excellent 6 for 8 blue marlin result on day one, releasing the most blue marlin overall, across both divisions. The piece of water they found inshore of the F.A.D.S paid off in the end and the team was extremely excited with the victory. Congratulations to Team La Belle for their sonar division championship.

Thank you to all the teams that fished with us, we look forward to the future and we will see you next year in Quepos, Costa Rica for the 2023, Pelagic Pura Vida Blue Marlin Classic.

Top Anglers:

Top Overall Angler: Kyle O’Connor, Team Eight Eights, 1003 points, 2 blue marlin & 3 Sailfish

Top Lady Angler: Stacey Parkerson, Team Trilo Bite, 500 Points, 1 Blue Marlin

Sonar Division Awards:

1St Place Overall Champions: Team La Belle, 3000 points, 6 Blue Marlin Released

2nd Place Overall: Team Vaquero, 1543 points, 3 Blue Marlin & 43 Sailfish

3rd Place Overall: Team Eight Eights, 1116 points, 2 Blue Marlin, 1 Striped Marlin & 16 Sailfish

Non-Sonar Division Awards:

1st  Place Overall Champions: Team Trilo Bite, 2500 points, 5 Blue Marlin Released

2nd Place Overall: Team Tuna Trappe, 505 points, 1 Blue Marlin & 5 Sailfish Released

3rd Place Overall: Team Pelagic, 4 points, 4 Sailfish Released