When it comes to big-game, big money fishing tournaments, Cabo San Lucas is in a class by itself.
During the monthlong height of the Land’s End city’s tournament season, three of the four fishing tournaments boast prize pools in excess of one million dollars. The fourth tournament, by the way, may cross that threshold as soon as this year. This combination of world-class fishing and enormous cash payouts across multiple tournaments simply doesn’t exist anywhere else on the planet.
The granddaddy of them all, of course, is Bisbee’s Black & Blue. Alternately dubbed “The World’s Richest Fishing Tournament” and “The Super Bowl of Fishing,” the best known of Bisbee’s trio of annual tournaments in Los Cabos continues to push the limits of what’s possible in the world of competitive fishing. Last year’s tournament didn’t just top one million dollars, but came close to topping $10 million. The final tally of $9,725,00 is easily the largest prize pool in sportfishing history, breaking the record Bisbee’s itself already held.
Video credit: Bisbee’s Offshore Fishing Tournaments
For all the allure of massive payouts and oversized checks held gleefully overhead by a team of fishermen (and fisherwomen) – Kim Bullman was the top angler in the 2021 Pelagic Triple Crown of Fishing, Cabo San Lucas’ top summer tournament – the focus remains on the fishing. Cabo San Lucas’ development as a tourist destination was driven by its world-class fishing conditions. Not only the black and blue marlin which inspired Bisbee’s signature tournament, but other billfish such as sailfish, spearfish and striped marlin. Game fish like tuna and dorado, too, are sought after in many tournament settings.
Yes, Bisbee’s Black and Blue is the world’s biggest marlin tournament, but Cabo San Lucas is also home to the world’s biggest tuna fishing tournament: the WON Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot. Each tournament has a long history in the area, with plenty of highlights. The biggest fish ever caught in Bisbee’s Black and Blue was the 993 pound blue marlin reeled in by Team Picante during the 1994 tournament. The WON Tuna Jackpot record, meanwhile, is a 383 pound yellowfin tuna caught by Team Fisher Man in 2009. The latter fell just 44 pounds short of the yellowfin record, which no surprise, was set in Cabo San Lucas.
Could those records fall this year? How hot and heavy will the fishing be? Bisbee’s Black and Blue, in particular, has seen a dearth of qualifying 300 pound marlin in recent years. Will Bisbee’s Black and Blue crack the $10,000,000 mark? Will the Los Cabos Billfish Tournament finally surpass the $1,000,000 mark?
Here’s everything you need to know about the next month of the Cabo San Lucas fishing tournament season, with an overview of the four major upcoming tournaments.
Los Cabos Billfish Tournament – October 16th to 20th
Just as September is El Mes de la Patria, the “the country’s month,” in México, October is the month of the fishing tournament in Cabo San Lucas. Bisbee’s two cash-rich tournaments – the Los Cabos Offshore and Black & Blue – get most of the publicity, but the Los Cabos Billfish Tournament also sends out a siren call to big-game fishermen eager for big-money prizes and jackpots. Team Sneak Attack led by owner Shawn Guttersen and captain Vicente Bojorquez captured first place and the largest marlin jackpot in the 2021 LCBT, as well as an invitation to Quepos for the Costa Offshore World Championship to go along with the cool $498,140, in prize money, after bagging a 554 lb. black marlin. The latter wasn’t quite as big as the 593 lb. black marlin that won Team El Suertudo top honors in 2020, but considering it only took a single day (due to weather conditions) for Sneak Attack to top last year’s winning check of 344,700, no one was complaining! Base entry in 2022 is $5,000 per team, or 25,000 all-in, across-the-board for all jackpots and prizes. Will this be the year the LCBT finally crosses the million dollar threshold? Could be. Total payouts last year were $826,450.
Bisbee’s Los Cabos Offshore – October 20th to 23rd
Commonly known as “Little Bisbee’s,” to differentiate it from the “Big Bisbee’s” Black & Blue marlin fishing tournament that also takes place each October in Los Cabos, the Los Cabos Offshore dates back to 2002, and is considered a more laid-back, charity focused endeavor than the Black & Blue … despite the increasingly lucrative prize money on the line. In 2021, for example, 187 teams competed for $1,965,200, smashing the previous marks of 128 teams and $1,457,000 in payouts. Cash prizes are awarded to the teams with the three biggest qualifying fish in the game and billfish categories at the LCO, and large amounts of fish/meals are always donated to local families in need. Base entry for teams is $1,500 U.S., with $22,500 necessary for “across the board” entry in all jackpots and challenges.
Bisbee’s Black & Blue – October 25th to 29th
Often billed as “The World’s Richest Fishing Tournament,” thanks to its multi-million dollar payouts, this marlin fishing tournament originally premiered in 1982, and remains to this day the highest profile annual event in Los Cabos. If you wonder why, consider the last two editions. The 2020 tournament boasted 127 teams vying for $4.6 million dollars, while a year later, in 2021, 198 teams competed for $9,725,000. If you’re bad at math, all you need to know is the prize pool more than doubled in a single year, and that more than $10 million could be on the line this year. Base entry for this millionaire maker is $5,000 U.S. per team, and requires a $71,500 U.S. outlay across all categories, jackpots and challenges. Prizes are awarded for the top five catches of black and blue marlin, assuming they meet the minimum standards (300 lbs.).
WON Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot – November 2nd to 5th
The Western Outdoor News has a long history with Los Cabos, dating back to the 1950s, when Baja columnist Ray Cannon’s rave fishing reviews helped put the area on the destination travel map. The WON Tuna Jackpot is thus one of the most iconic fishing tournaments in Cabo San Lucas, and a fixture of the autumn sporting calendar that follows hard on the heels of the Los Cabos Billfish and Bisbee’s Los Cabos Offshore and Black & Blue Tournaments. 164 teams made it to Cabo San Lucas for the 23rd annual event in 2021, competing for record cash payouts of $1.47 million dollars, making this officially now the biggest tuna fishing tournament in the world.
Saludos from Co-Founders…
Chris Sands – Writer and Michael Mattos