Not that anyone needed more evidence as to why Costa Rica is often called ‘the billfish capital of the world,’ but the 2015 fishing season provided another banner to hang from the rafters. The majority of the Costa Rica fishing tournaments are held from January through April, which is considered the peak billfishing season here and nicely coincides with the dry season weather. A review below of the major billfish tournaments earlier this year should have you jumping out of your skin to get back out on the water in early 2016!
Costa Rica’s flagship fishing destination, the Los Suenos Resort and Marina, hosted their annual Los Suenos Signature Triple Crown Tournament in the months of January, February and March. Each of the three legs consisted of three full days of fishing with forty of the top boats from the region. It was going to be hard to top the record-breaking 2014 tournament season in which they totaled 5,067 billfish released over the three tournaments, but we knew they’d throw every frozen ballyhoo they could get their hands into water and give it their best shot.
Leg I – Jan 22-24, 2015
The first leg of the Los Suenos Triple Crown featured 39 boats ranging from Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and even North Carolina. The January 2014 tournament featured a record 2,171 billfish released, and the January 2015 leg came up just 17 fish shy of that mark. Of the 2,154 billfish released thirty marlin were set free with the rest being Pacific Sailfish. Top boat for Leg I was ‘Tarheel’ with a whopping 108 sailfish released in three days.
Leg II – Feb 26-28, 2015
Similar to 2014, February’s fishing couldn’t reach the high bar set by January’s fish count. This year was better than 2014 however with 1,688 billfish released by the 40 competitors. Winner of Leg II was ‘Team Galati’ with 80 sailfish released in their three days. The ‘Tarheel’ finished close behind them with 69 sails and one marlin to put them in great position for the Triple Crown championship.
Leg III – March 26-28, 2015
The third and final leg of the 2015 Los Suenos Triple Crown ended on a major high note with another 1,890 billfish released by just 37 boats. Once again the winner of this leg was ‘Tarheel’ with 86 sailfish and one more marlin released. They also took home the 2015 Triple Crown with a total 27,300 points (500 pts for a marlin, 100 pts for a sailfish). The next closest team finished 9,000 points behind them, so the boys from North Carolina really put on a show.
The three day total came out to be an astounding 5,732 billfish released over the three legs of the tournament, shattering the 2014 record by nearly 700 fish. That should put to bed any rumors that Costa Rica is getting ‘fished out’ or that the numbers aren’t what they used to, the fishing here is better than ever!
For the third year in a row Costa Rica hosted the Offshore World Championship, the largest sport fishing tournament of the year. What makes this tournament so fun is that teams from all over the world descend upon the little town of Quepos and the Marina Pez Vela and turn it into an international party for four days. To qualify for this ‘invite-only’ tournament you must win an official OWC qualifying tournament anywhere in the world, but the trick is the qualifying tournament does not need to be a billfish tournament. You read that correctly, you can qualify for the biggest offshore tournament of the year by winning an accredited tournament for anything from sharks to salmon to tarpon. What makes it even more fun is that the teams don’t fish on their own boats, the OWC gathers all the top Costa Rican flagged charter boats for the week and then the teams rotate each day which boat they fish on. It’s a great way to even the playing field and to make sure the best anglers succeed, not the team with the fastest boat or most expensive electronics.
The 67 teams from all over the world slayed the billfish all week, releasing a whopping total of 2,842 billfish in the four day tournament (2,824 sailfish and 18 marlin). As impressive as that is, keep in mind many of these anglers have never fished with circle hooks before, which is the law in Costa Rica, and some have never even fished for billfish! Most of our captains can’t hide their frustration when we ask them about it, they estimate AT LEAST as many fish that were released were lost or never even hooked…
There were also a few other smaller tournaments of note, namely the Quepos Billfish Cup. The fourth year of this tournament saw increased numbers, 13 boats this year, with the winning boat releasing 49 sailfish and 1 marlin in the three days. The fleet overall released about 40 billfish throughout the weekend.