In a town where fishing tournaments are almost as common as chips and salsa, the Bisbee series does for sportfishing in Cabo what the America’s Cup does for sailing.
Held in Cabo San Lucas each October, the two back-to-back events draw eager crowds of curious spectators who gather along the marina walkways to shop, party and be part of the excitement. Music blares, trinkets are thrown to the crowd by staff members atop the scale until a huge fish arrives to be weighed in front of the Puerto Paraiso Entertainment Plaza.
Bisbee’s Los Cabos Offshore Charity Tournament, October 18-20 (two fishing days) is a laid-back affair, providing unique camaraderie with a game-fish format (billfish, tuna and dorado.) It attracted 80 teams with 466 anglers competing for $486,590 in cash prizes in 2012 with 100% of the tournament proceeds donated to local charities. Last year’s beneficiaries were the boys at Casa Hogar, a local orphanage receiving a check for $102,810.
Big fish and bigger money draw top teams and crews to compete for millions in Bisbee’s Black & Blue Marlin Tournament, October 22- 26 (three fishing days.) Last year’s event attracted some 740 anglers aboard 106 boats. The winning team, “Frantic Pace,” earned a remarkable $2,396,800, second only to the 2006’s $3,902,998 to winner “Bad Company,” setting a tournament record as well as the largest amount paid out to a single team in a billfish tournament.
Bisbee’s Black & Blue Marlin Tournament was conceived in 1982 by Bob Bisbee while working at Balboa Island in Newport Beach, California, as a sales promotion for his store, Bisbee’s Sportfishing Center. It was an informal competition among friends that attracted a handful of boats with the angler catching the largest black or blue marlin winning $10,000 in prize money.
As the small flotilla began its journey from Southern California down the Baja peninsula, Bisbee never dreamed that this friendly competition would grow into a family-run business that would impact the world of big-fish tournaments and still be in existence 33 years later, annually hosting a fleet of boats the size of a small navy in three events, including one at East Cape.
Under the direction of Wayne and Trish Bisbee, the business continues to grow. The Bisbee family, boasting three generations, along with a dozen or so staffers and volunteers, keep the event running smoothly – entertaining anglers and spectators from all 50 states, as well as many countries around the world.
The Bisbee tournaments continue to draw new teams each year; and teams that have fished the tournaments are eager to return. It’s not just the possibility of the big purse, but the social event, where old friends swap fishing tales and new friends become old friends. The event is fun, the marina echoes with laughter each afternoon as anglers try to top fishing tales; tourists are drawn to the scales, eager to be a part of the festivities and to watch the weigh-in and fireworks.
Indeed, Bisbee Tournaments offer the opportunity to experience unique, world class events in an equally unusual setting for both anglers and spectators creating memories that will last a lifetime.
By Gary Graham