Kansas City angler Dave Sanchez caught his first marlin off Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, and it's reasonable to assume that it will remain his favourite catch for as long as he lives. That's because the 465-pound (210kg) blue marlin, reeled in on the second day of the Bisbee's Black & Blue Marlin Jackpot Tournament, was worth $2,396,800 ($2,311,282 AUD) for Sanchez and his team aboard the yacht Frantic Pace.
"I'm really starting to like this offshore fishing," Sanchez said at the awards ceremony over the weekend. "We had a lot of fun. It was a great team effort and I'm just glad we ran across that fish. We found one, caught it, and as luck would have it, that was all it took."
The Black & Blue is the world's richest billfish tournament and the payout for Frantic Pace was the second-largest in the tournament's 32-year history. (In 2006, a record $4,165,960 purse was up for grabs at the Black & Blue, and the winner's share was $3.92 million.)
At 465 pounds, the marlin was not especially large, considering that at least two blue marlin in the 700-pound (317kg) class were caught in the weeks before the tournament began.
But because Sanchez's fish was the only marlin that met the 300-pound minimum qualifying weight, and because Frantic Pace had been entered in all of the daily jackpots, the team earned most of the $2,475,000 purse. The rest was paid out in a catch-and-release division.
Frantic Pace was one of 106 teams and Sanchez was one of more than 700 anglers entered in the three-day competition, and he was undoubtedly the luckiest.
When the marlin was reeled close to the boat the crew noticed that the snap swivel connecting the reel's main line to the leader had opened toward the end of the battle. Only the quarter-inch bend in the swivel was holding the leader in place; one fierce tug and the marlin would have earned its freedom.
But crewman Josh Temple gently grabbed the leader and slowly pulled the weary marlin close enough to be gaffed, securing the pot of gold at the end of the line.
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