Waterman's Journal

Jan 26, 2023

Costa Rica's Largest and Richest Fishing Tournament

Quepos, Costa Rica: The 7th Annual Pelagic Rockstar Offshore Tournament makes Costa Rican and Central American sportfishing history two years running! With a record setting 94 teams and 553 anglers catching and releasing 1,131 billfish for more than $1.3 million in prize money, the Pelagic Rockstar solidified its place in tournament fishing history as the largest and richest fishing competition in Central America.

Over two days of nonstop fishing action, Team Galati/Fish Tank fends off a furious last-minute finish at the top of the leaderboard to claim victory and the title of Grand Champion. The team earned their permanent place on the Pelagic Costa Rica Rockstar perpetual trophy, and a check for $303,940.

A prolific dorado and yellowfin tuna bite provided plenty of excitement for the hundreds of fans at the weigh station scales. Team Pura Vida scored big with their two-day, single biggest fish from each day aggregate of dorado, including a 48.8-pounder on day one, earning first place in the Dorado division and a check for $131,770.

Team Rigor Mortis took first place overall in the tuna division and $42,770 for their two biggest yellowfin tuna, which included a beautiful 137.4-lb. fish.


Tournament Stats:

  • 94 teams
  • 553 anglers representing 16 different countries
  • $1,374,400 in prize money
  • 1,131 total billfish released
  • 1,048 sailfish, 78 blue marlin, 3 black marlin, 2 striped marlin
  • 12 billfish per team average
  • 21 different winners received checks and/or trophies

    Top Team Stats:

    • 1st place Grand Champion Billfish: Team Galati/Fish Tank with 42 sailfish for 4200 Pts and $303,940
    • 2nd Place Billfish: Team Vaquero with 33 sailfish, 2 blue marlin for 3900 Pts and $251,300
    • 3rd Place Billfish: Team Game Plan with 32 sailfish, 2 blue marlin for 3800 Pts and $13,160
    • 1st Place Dorado: Team Pura Vida 2-fish aggregate 48.8 lbs and 24.98 lbs totaling 73.78 lbs and $131,770
    • 1st Place Tuna: Team Rigor Mortis 2-fish aggregate 137.4 lbs and 75 lbs totaling 212.4 lbs and $42,770

    Top Angler Stats:

    • Top Overall Champion Angler: Adriana Finkelstein. Team Miss Behavin. 14 sailfish, 2 blue marlin released for 2000 pts. Second woman in event history to win top overall angler. *Joni Smith, Team Southern Pride, 2021.
    • Top Female Angler: Adriana Finkelstein. Second double angler champion in Rockstar history. *Joni Smith, 2021.
    • Top Jr. Angler: Jonah Smith. Team Southern Pride. 20 sailfish released for 2000 pts. First repeat Jr. Angler Champion in event history.

      Tournament Team Payout:

      Galati/Fish Tank $303,940
      Vaquero $251,300
      Pura Vida $131,770
      Gratitude $91,200
      Anticipation $91,200
      Kraken $89,000
      Buccaneers $84,800
      Full Nelson $78,400
      Wine Time $58,650
      Rigor Mortis $42,770
      Fast Times $36,400
      Pelagic $30,000
      Pescadores $21,600
      Hog Wild $16,450
      Full Drag Offshore $13,200
      Game Plan $13,160
      Gamefisher 2 $7,400
      La Otra Vida $6,580
      The King & I $6,580


      Total Payout: $1,374,400.00

      *Note: Billfish Optional daily Jackpots were divided into two categories, Sonar equipped and non- Sonar equipped vessels.

      January 12-15, 2023 – Marina Pez Vela, Quepos, Costa Rica –

      A record-breaking tournament fleet of 94 teams and 553 anglers, hailing from 16 different countries around the globe, set their sights on world-class fishing and the largest payout in Central American tournament fishing history. Hosted once again by world class Marina Pez Vela and located in the beautiful Pacific coast town of Quepos Costa Rica, participants, friends and families, tourists, and the people of Quepos, were treated to an exceptionally exciting and action-packed weekend of fishing, live music, food and fun.

      A who’s who list of some of the best anglers and crews in the world, assembled for the shotgun start just outside the breakwater of MPV on day 1, for what has become a “must fish” tournament on the circuit every year. Perfect weather and calm seas greeted the fleet for the shotgun start. As the largest fleet in Central American and Costa Rican Sportfishing history reached the fishing grounds, the radio room and tournament control were immediately alive with teams calling in their releases for sailfish, blue marlin, black marlin and striped marlin.

      At the end of Day 1, it was Captain Ben Horning and Team Galati/Fish Tank in first place in the billfish division with 25 sailfish released for 2500 points. Team Clay Time came in just 100 points behind in second, scoring 2400 points. Rounding out the top 3, it was Nsatiable with 2100 points. Meanwhile, Capt. Lance Hightower on Vaquero only tallied 11 sailfish releases on the first day of fishing, but made up for it with 2 blue marlin releases for Angler Kristina Warshauer, to hang around in 8th place going into the final day of fishing. As things would unfold, these two fish would become crucial in the final standings.

      Lady anglers would take center stage in this event, with several making the difference for their team’s overall standings. When all was said and done, lady anglers would hold three of the top ten angling positions, including the Top Overall Angler Award for Team Miss Behavin and angler Adriana Finkelstein with 14 sailfish and 2 blue marlin releases.

      At the weigh station scales, teams were lining up to weigh their two heaviest dorado and yellowfin tuna, of which their single heaviest fish from each species counted towards the optional daily jackpot’s each day and the combined weight of their single heaviest from each day counting towards an aggregate total and the top positions in the dorado and tuna general categories. Highlights from scales were Team Pura Vida with their 48.8-lb. dorado, that combined with their heaviest Day 2 dorado of 24.98 lbs. gave them first place overall in the Dorado division and when combined with optional jackpots from Day 1, earned them a beautiful trophy and a check for $131,770. Rounding out the top 3 in the Dorado division were Team Hog Wild in second and Team The King & I in third.   

      In the tuna division, Team Rigor Mortis weighed a 137.4-lb. yellowfin on Day 1 and followed that up with a 75-pounder on Day 2, to take first overall and a payout of $42,770. In second was Team Wine Time with a 149-lb. Day 1 monster and a Day 2 39.1-pounder for $58,650. Third place went to Team La Otra Vida with 102.6-lb. and 79.8-lb. tuna for a combined weight of 182.4 lbs good for $6,580.

      Day 2 started much the same as Day 1, with the radio alive with billfish release calls. The score keeping team from Catch Stat reported that not even a full minute went by at any time during the tournament without a billfish release. As the day wore on, the top 8 teams jockeyed for position and traded places several times. Several teams hooked and caught fish in the waning minutes that would secure their position at the top. With time running short just before the stop fishing call at 4 pm, it was Team Galati/Fish Tank holding a very slim margin at the top.

      With under a minute left before lines out, defending champions Team Vaquero rallied with a quadruple sailfish hook up, getting the call and confirmation in, a mere 50 seconds before lines out. The team released all 4 fish, moving Team Vaquero from 8th place all the way up to 2nd place overall. The last-minute heroics came with a check for $251,300.

      When the final video reviews had been submitted and approved, it was Team Galati/Fish Tank and their 42 sailfish releases for 4200 points, that could not be shaken from the top position. The team finished where they had ended Day 1 – in 1st place at the top of the leader board and Grand Champions of the 7th Annual Pelagic Rockstar Offshore Tournament, worth $303,940. Team Vaquero and their last-minute heroics finished 2nd with 3900 points, and Team Game Plan rounded out the top 3 with 3800 points and in 3rd place overall.

      Special mentions and highlights:

      • The gamefish harvest and weigh-in took on a whole new meaning thanks to Marina Pez Vela’s new tournament fish cleaning policy and community outreach efforts. This year we were proud to partner with “Coopebrujas Del Mar R.L.” or “Witches of the Sea,” a group of entrepreneurial women who saw a need to provide work for other woman and their families who had lost their job’s due to the pandemic and other economic factors. “Brujas Del Mar” provided a team of expert fish cleaning and processing professionals, made up of the husbands and brothers of the groups founders, to fillet, bag and dispose of all the carcasses of the fish harvested during the tournament. Our participants were very generous and donated more than 300 whole fish to this effort. This generosity and willingness to contribute helped to feed over 400 families. These fish went to an orphanage, a homeless shelter and to a group that helps those suffering from food insecurities. In addition, every single employee of MPV, went home with bags of fresh fish to feed their families. We can’t thank our fleet enough for their generosity and we are proud to have played a small part in benefiting so many people through this effort.
      • Congratulations to Top Overall Angler and Top Female Angler, Adriana Finkelstein from Team Miss Behavin for her 14 sailfish and 2 blue marlin releases for 2000 points. Adriana beat all the other anglers to claim Master Angler honors, and she becomes the second woman to win Top Overall Angler in tournament history. It is a very special achievement to take home both Top Female Angler and Top Overall angler trophies, especially when competing against a field of world class anglers.
      • A well-earned congratulations to our repeat Jr. Angler Champion Jonah Smith, fishing with Team Southern Pride and winning this honor two years in a row. Jonah finished with 20 sailfish releases for 2000 points, just falling short of top overall angler honors on time of last release.
      • A special congratulations to Team Game Plan and Captain John Brennan. This team has fished this event from the beginning. They were the events 2nd year champion and have now finished in 3rd place overall an amazing three times in a row. Considering the talent of the fleet each year, this is a special achievement.
      • In our non-sonar optional daily jackpot divisions, Team Buccaneers scored big in the marlin only and billfish release slots with Day 1 jackpots totaling $84,800. Team Full Nelson had a time with Day 2 non-sonar jackpot success, good for $78,400.
      • In the sonar optional daily jackpot categories, it was Team Gratitude and Capt. James Parker with Day 1 success, earning the team a check for $91,200. Team Anticipation and Capt. Harvey Shiflet matched that on Day 2 with $91,200 in jackpot winnings.
      • In the Dorado and Tuna Optional Daily Jackpots, Team Kraken scored on Day 2 with a 41.84-lb. dorado worth $89,000. Team Pescadores Day 2, 82-lb. tuna was worth $21,600. Team Full Drag Offshore weighed a 103-lb. tuna good for a Day 2 jackpot worth $13,200.

      What an incredible, history making turnout for all the teams and crews participating in this year’s record breaking event. We look forward to seeing you all back again next year for the 2024, 8th Annual Pelagic Rockstar Offshore Tournament.