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Tournament Photos

"The luck, she is still running good."
-Ernest Hemingway, 1954 Time Magazine Cover

Tournament Wins

The Little Awesome That Could!
July 25, 26, 27 2012
13th Annual Bisbee’s East Cape Offshore Tournament
262-Pound Record Breaking Tuna

It seems against the odds when a humble 30' cruiser, pitted against the biggest names and some of the biggest, fastest and often most daunting boats in the world of tournament fishing, ends up winning anything, let alone an East Cape Bisbee Tournament with a record setting 262 pound yellow fin tuna. But yesterday, with 61 boats competing for $461,690 during the last hour on the last day of the iconic three day tournament headquartered at the beautiful Hotel Buena Vista, 'Team Awesome' brought to the shore a stunning yellow fin tuna. All eyes were peeled for the fish that had been caught 35 miles south and just north of Gordo Banks after a 3 hour brutal battle to wrest the fish into the boat. They had to use a front end loader to bring it from the dock to the scales.

'Awesome' Captain Luis Duran Sandoval (50 years old from Los Barriles, Baja), accompanied by Captain Adan Rojas Ruiz (34 years old from Los Barriles, Baja), from sister boat ‘Too Awesome' acting as deckhand, along with Shaun Speer (60 years old from Los Barriles, Baja and Hailey, Idaho), Lucas Loynes  and Team Captain Mike Loynes (30 years old and 61 years old respectively, San Jose del Cabo, Baja and White Rock, British Columbia, Canada) were slow trolling live bait with two rods riding high in the rocket launchers off the bridge and strung on the outriggers, and getting nervous as the day's end was just a few hours away. Earlier Lucas Loynes caught and released a striped marlin; shortly after a hard fighting, 40# dorado and came in lit up like Disney on parade, was fought by Mike Loynes and brought onto the boat. Because they were competing only in the tournament’s Gamefish category, the question for Friday's three member team was: "Do we run back, weigh the dorado and then go back out fishing?" knowing that two days prior the winning dorado weighed 39 pounds. No! The game is still on, ice down the dorado, plug the gaff hole, and hope for another fish. And then BANG BANG BANG, the port side rod is hit and the outrigger launches with 16' of steel whipping, bending and snapping back and the outrigger rope is whacking and swinging and doing its best high wire act. The keys now are for Captain Luis to apply 30 years of skippering knowledge to manage the boat; Mate Adan to move fast, stay calm, don't tempt any of the 1000 things that can go wrong, and get the rod out of the rocket launcher; and, Shaun to safely receive the handoff to the deck so the fish fight can begin!

 HOLY COW - the common name for enormous tuna - there's one on the line and the rod is hard bent so far over the transom it’s nearly touching the water. The temperature is hot; the sun is hot; fighting is constant, strategic, wearing and after 30 minutes, Shaun hands off to Lucas; 30 more minutes and a  dousing of water, Lucas hands off to Mike. An hour and a half later, the team is rethinking strategy. The fish is clearly big, and clearly not coming to the surface. After stripping and filling the reel over and over, now time becomes a precious commodity. “Awesome” is nearly two hours away from the weigh station - at one point the team even considers cutting their losses and heading in with the potential day winning dorado. But NO WAY, they decide to take five minute spins and use all their fishing might on the reel to relentlessly tire the fish. Good strategy. They make head way, finally the reel fills and stops stripping out. Keeping in mind no one has seen the fish, it's any ones guess at its size. When it surfaces, the Captain's and fishermen go wild - and in their combined 45 years of fishing it is the biggest tuna Luis or Adan have ever caught. Now, to get it onto the swim platform will be a challenge; into the boat without a transom door, even more so. Three guys lifting, the fish doesn't budge from the platform. Two then three more heaves, nada. Luis is recruited from the bridge and four of them heave it into the boat. Then a cow sized tuna hits the deck and all hell breaks loose with grown men acting like four year olds on Christmas morning - jumping, yelling, high fives, knuckle bumps, and a bloody deck covered with disbelief. Lucas comes to his senses and reminds the group they still have to report to tournament control the fish is on the boat and as fast as possible run to the weight station.

 Hammer down hard and the team is flying. Twenty-five knots for an hour and a half puts them within comfortable territory when they slow for pictures all around then wind up again to the awaiting dock. It's just one hour before the weigh station closes and Tournament Director Wayne Bisbee is pacing, clearly concerned and hoping they beat the clock.

 At 111 pounds a big tuna is being weighed on shore by ‘E-Z-Duz-It’ and that team is ecstatic with joy and their expectation of a win. It’s 6:15, scales close at 7 pm, and although we know she’s inbound, we still don’t know what size fish ‘Awesome’ is bringing in; then Omar whispers in my ear “I’ve just gotten a text from Luis – he says it’s well over 200 pounds” and I catch Omar’s wry, knowing smile. The grudge match with the Team Captain of the previous day’s winners is now on. They beat our team two years ago by less than one pound on a 123 pound tuna. And their 213-pound tuna was impressive, already won them $23,500 and they have their eye on the overall prize and the tournament record. All we can hope is that the one coming in is at least 213.1 pounds!

 Awesome seems to be literally shining as she approaches, and then pulls to the dock. A crowd is waiting and after a very confident wave from Luis in the bridge, we see the deck and we’re drop jawed with awe. It is the largest tuna I’ve ever seen and now it needs to be muscled onto the dock, then the 150’ to the weigh station. News moves fast and in no time the fish is heaved into the bucket of the loader and taken up. Tournament Director Wayne Bisbee is stoked; he’s been at this game for a long, long time, and bringing in an enormous tuna, just minutes before the weigh station closes on the third day, is just adding to the excitement and pressure. “Hook it and hoist it, boys”, Wayne says “let’s get it weighed!”. Trisha Bisbee on the official scale checks the display and with her beautiful bright smile, tells Wayne ‘262’ pounds!

The crowd has tightened around and is so loud that Wayne shouts like the town crier and finally we can believe our eyes – HOLY COW, a tournament winning tuna, and Team Awesome and her crew hit the record books (again!). Pre tax payout is $37,095 and the team wants to be the first to sign up for next year’s tournament!

The story grows, as our “little ‘Awesome’ that could” now holds BOTH game fish records for the East Cape Bisbee, now in its 13th year. Ten years ago ‘Awesome’ caught a tournament winner and record holding 68 pound dorado.

The little ‘Awesome’ that could, indeed!