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March 18, 2014

Amazing Sailfish Tournament Ends with Pending All-Tackle Record

The mid-March event off Angola -- known for its huge Atlantic sails -- may be the most successful African tournament in history for both quantity and quality of billfish.

“Amazing” is a term easily bandied about, but for the Lobito Big Game Tournament off southern Angola just ended, it applies both for the number of sailfish and their size.

A total of 51 boats over four days caught 514 sails and seven blue marlin, releasing all but three fish (two of which are pending world records). The top boat (Tudo Fishing Team) released 43 sails.

IGFA representative in Angola Iain Nicolson tells Sport Fishing that this has to be the highest total for sailfish for any west African tournament.

Particularly surprising was the size of these Atlantic sails, he adds, with many of the fish clearly into three digits. Some were far heavier, notably the 142-pound, 6-ounce fish caught my Marco Couto on day three, which if approved, beats by about a pound the current IGFA all-tackle world-record Atlantic sail — also caught off Angola. It would also become the new 30-pound-class record.

The pending new 20-pound record for women involves quite a story, according to Nicolson. Way back in 1974, Luisa Baptista caught a 78-pound, 11-ounce sailfish off Angola that became the women’s 20-pound record. It was later broken by a 106-pound sail. Just before the Lobito tourney began, a lady angler caught a monster 136-pound, 11-ounce sail on 20-pound that, once approved, will give her back the line-class world record. The angler? Luisa Baptista, beating her own record after 40 years. What's more, she caught it on the very same Everol reel she used in 1974.

“It was an extraordinary week!” Nicolson says.