A last-minute catch helped a Charleston, South Carolina, angler and his team win the 2017 Bisbee Los Cabos Offshore Tournament last weekend. Thomas Powell hooked a monster blue marlin at 4:45 p.m. on the second day of the tournament and was still fighting it after the sun went down. The staff at the weigh station waited for them to finish, and it’s a good thing they did.
Bisbee’s tournament began October 19 with registration, followed by two days of fishing around the tip of the Baja Peninsula and an awards ceremony on Sunday. Powell was aboard the Hooray, an 80-foot Viking captained by Francisco “Pancho” Bojorquez and carrying Team Hooray, the owners and managers of Hooray Ranch who were participating in the event. With the option to fish either the Pacific Ocean or the Sea of Cortez at daybreak, the Hooray’s crew chose to cruise along the Gordo Banks, the gateway between the two bodies of water.
The decision began paying off almost immediately. Angler Kenneth Padgett had a blue marlin in the boat within an hour, but the rest of the day was fairly quiet. The weigh-in station opened at 3 p.m., but while many boats began crowding along the docks to have their catches officially recognized, the Hooray stayed out, trying to land a fish that would launch it to the top of the leaderboard.
At 4:45 Powell hooked into his blue marlin. Over the next three and a half hours he fought to bring the heavy billfish alongside the boat, each moment bringing him and the rest of the crew closer to the weigh-in cutoff—every boat had to be inside the harbor jetties by 9 p.m. for their catch(es) to be eligible. When the fish was finally boated, Captain Bojorquez made a cell phone call to the weigh station to assure them they were on the way and then sped at 40 knots back to shore.
The Hooray spun as Bojorquez backed her into the slip. The crowd caught sight of the two monstrous fish onboard, was deafening as it cheered “Hooray for Pancho!” The crew and anglers hugged and high-fived each other as they stepped onto the dock, making their way toward the scales to see the results for themselves. Padgett’s marlin weighed 315 pounds; Powell’s, a whopping 574 pounds. The two fish were the seventh heaviest and the heaviest fish of the tournament, respectively. The second heaviest was 94 pounds lighter then Powell’s.
The Hooray’s winnings? Between the first-place win and various jackpot earnings, the anglers received $284,683 for their efforts. In total, 152 fish were boated during the tournament—including 101 blue marlin, 33 striped marlin, and seven black marlin—with only 16 fish lost. The meat went to Hope for Los Cabos, providing an estimated 1,700 meals for families in the area.
Not only did Powell’s catch earn his team the top prize, but it also commanded a special place in his own fishing career. The marlin was the largest fish Powell had ever landed, as well as being the longest fight he had ever participated in.
For more information on Hooray Ranch, visit highadventurecompany.com/kansas-waterfowl.