Friday, June 14, 2024

What multimillion-dollar fishing tournaments are in Los Cabos this year?

Los Cabos as a tourist destination was built on beaches and sport fishing. As far back as the 1950s and 1960s, fly-in resorts in Baja California Sur were targeted specifically to anglers, with marlin fishing in particular becoming the region’s calling card. 

Tournaments eventually followed, with Bisbee’s Black and Blue, founded in 1981, becoming the most long-lasting and prestigious. Today, this event is referred to, accurately, as the “world’s richest fishing tournament.” Prize pools for the last two events, in 2022 and 2023, have averaged over US $10 million. 

The rich fishing in the seas and bays near Los Cabos has made the area a global destination for competitive anglers. (IGY Marinas)

As Bisbee’s has grown over the past few decades, it has added two additional tournaments: the East Cape Offshore and Los Cabos Offshore. This trio of annual events all offer prize pools in the millions of dollars and get the lion’s share of publicity regarding fishing tournament season in Los Cabos. Rightfully so. Bisbee’s generates a lot of income for the local economy, and the fish caught help feed the region’s poorest residents

But other tournaments in the area have also crossed the million-dollar threshold – like the Cabo Tuna Jackpot – and a few others are close to hitting this milestone. Fishing contests are becoming increasingly lucrative at the high end, although it bears noting that dozens of tournaments take place in Los Cabos each year. For many participants, the attraction isn’t so much the potential payouts as the experience itself. 

What time of year is fishing tournament season in Los Cabos?

Fishing tournament season runs from June through November. As long-time visitors to Los Cabos know, the fishing is good year-round, but the catches are seasonal. Not surprisingly,  given Los Cabos’ reputation for black and blue marlin fishing, the season is contemporaneous with the best times of year to catch these fish. Other species found locally, however, like striped marlin, tuna, dorado, and wahoo are also a target at many tournaments. 

Where do the tournaments take place?

The Cabo San Lucas Marina is the primary departure point for most of the highest-profile events, but the East Cape of Los Cabos is also a mecca during tournament season, particularly small fishing destinations like Buena Vista and Los Barriles. Fishing takes place in offshore waters. For Bisbee’s Black and Blue tournament for instance, boats are restricted to within 40 miles of Cabo San Lucas

Which tournaments have already announced dates for 2024?

Here’s a look at how this year’s season is shaping up, dates for the major tournaments, entry fees and prize pools. 

Pelagic Triple Crown of Fishing Tournament – June 6 – 9, 2024

Fishing contests are becoming increasingly lucrative at the high end, with many tournaments offering prize funds of six figures or higher. (IGY Marinas)

Water sports apparel maker Pelagic kicks off the 2024 Los Cabos fishing tournament season with the 10th edition of the team fishing competition, with fishermen and women targeting billfish like striped marlin, as well as tuna, wahoo, and dorado. 

Base entry is $3,500 per team, with $59,000 across the board for all jackpots and challenges. Cash prizes are expected to top $500,000.

Bisbee’s East Cape Offshore – July 30 – August 3, 2024

The East Cape Offshore kicks off Bisbee’s 2024 season on July 30, with cash prizes awarded to the top three qualifiers in the marlin, tuna, and dorado categories. 

Base entry for the event is $1,500 per team, with additional fees for daily jackpots ($32,000 “across the board”). Last year, the tournament’s total payouts fell just short of $1.8 million.

Los Cabos Billfish Tournament – October 8 – 12, 2024

October is the biggest month for fishing tournaments in Cabo San Lucas, thanks not only to Bisbee’s two cash-rich tournaments but also to the Los Cabos Billfish Tournament, another important local event. Fishing was outstanding during this tournament in 2023, with a record 583 striped marlins caught and released by the 42 competing teams. Billfish (striped, blue, and black marlin or sailfish and spearfish) and gamefish (tuna, wahoo, and dorado) are the targets for participants.

Base entry is $5,000 per team, or $49,000 across the board to be eligible for all jackpots and challenges. Over $750,000 was paid out to winners last year. 

Bisbee’s Los Cabos Offshore – October 15 – 19, 2024

Commonly known as “Little Bisbee’s,” to differentiate it from the “Big Bisbee’s” Black & Blue tournament that also takes place in October, this event has been held annually since 2002. 

Base entry for teams is $1,500, with $32,000 necessary for “across the board” entry in all jackpots and challenges. Payouts totaled $2 million for this tournament in 2023, despite scheduling challenges posed by Hurricane Norma.

Bisbee’s Black & Blue – October 22 – 26, 2024

Last year’s Bisbee’s Black & Blue winners, team Stella June, took home a massive $4.4 million prize. (Bisbee’s)

This is the granddaddy of them all, a “millionaire maker” deservedly famous due to the size of its enormous payouts. Last year, for example, team Stella June earned the single biggest winning payout in tournament history $4.4 million topping the previous record set in 2006, when Bad Company netted $3.9 million). Total payouts last year, meanwhile, stood at $9 million, or just under the record-setting 2022 payouts of $11,651,300, the largest prize pool in sport fishing history. 

Base entry for this tournament is $5,000 per team, or $71,500 across the board for all jackpots and challenges. Prizes are awarded for the top five catches of black and blue marlin, assuming they meet the minimum standards of 300 lbs

Cabo Tuna Jackpot – November 6 – 9, 2024

This tournament has been crowning the world’s best tuna fishermen for the past 25 years, thanks to exceptionally lucrative payouts that crossed the million-dollar threshold in 2019, and over the past three years have hovered at almost $1.5 million. 

Base entry is expected to be $1,000, or about $20,000 across the board based on 2023, although the 2024 registration info has yet to be released. Team Fisher Man’s record 383-pound tuna in 2009, meanwhile, remains the standard by which all winners are judged.

Chris Sands is the Cabo San Lucas local expert for the USA Today travel website 10 Best, writer of Fodor’s Los Cabos travel guidebook, and a contributor to numerous websites and publications, including Tasting Table, Marriott Bonvoy Traveler, Forbes Travel Guide, Porthole Cruise, Cabo Living and Mexico News Daily. His specialty is travel-related content and lifestyle features focused on food, wine and golf.

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