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May 11, 2006

USA make big move into final round of Rolex/IGFA Offshore Championship

Another phenomenal day as anglers catch-and-release a record 146 marlin in third round...

Another phenomenal day as anglers catch-and-release a record 146 marlin in third round of world offshore fishing championship...

CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico - It's a funny thing about fishing. Sometimes the fish are right there and no matter what you entice them with you still can't catch them. Such was the case for many of the teams of anglers in the third day of the seventh annual Rolex/International Game Fish Association (IGFA) Offshore Championship (OCT) in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

But for others it was still another phenomenal day of bluewater fishing as a new single day tournament record 146 marlin were caught and released in the event considered the world championship of offshore fishing. (Tuesday's count was 137 marlin only to be broken 24 hours later.)

Making the right moves in a span of just two hours were the reigning 2005 Rolex/IGFA Offshore Champions a team with members from Miami, Fla, and the Chicago, Ill., suburbs who caught six marlin to move into the lead before Thursday's final round.  Ray and Charmain Rosher, Miami, along with Scott Segal, Libertyville and Tom Schramm of Roselle, brought their point total to 4228.2.  In day one they caught three marlin and a weight fish; day two it was five of the billfish to move them into third.

"By noon we still didn't have a bite so we moved 15 miles away and got into the fish using dead bait," said Schramm. "For those two hours we did great with a good rotation of anglers while constantly checking our equipment before the next fish.  We did well and our skipper and mate were a big factor too."

Just two marlin releases behind (300 points per marlin) is a team of California (USA) men, representing its qualifying win at the TAA Eastcape, Mexico Billfish Tournament, with 3627.4 points.  They caught just two marlin in day three to slip to second. The four men, Keith Leimbach, San Carlos; Dale Miles, Elk Grove; Bill Evans, Hillsborough and John Jacobi of Dinuba, Calif., found marlin - but well-fed marlin.  

"The first fish we caught and brought up to the boat had stuffed itself on squid and regurgitated many of them moments before we released it," said Leimbach.

"They had been feeding throughout the night during the full moon and we, like so many of the other teams, found them to be pretty full and not interested in feeding on anything we threw to them whether it was live, dead or lures as baits. For us to win in the final round we'll need to get into a good cadence with a clean rotation of anglers as we've done over the past three days, and make things happen."

Moving into third with five marlin was the Bahamas Rotary Tuna Classic team of Chris Lloyd, Paul King, Richard King and Adam Dann all of Nassau. They have 3326.8 points.

Tied in fourth with 3300 points is a team from Angola, Africa representing the 24 Horas da Pesca de Luanda, and one from the Bermuda Anglers Club ILT Tournament.  

 The Angola team made up of Jose Henrique Da Silva, Leonor Silva, Marco Roberto Da Silva Couto, Mario Proenca and Ernesto Ferraz caught just two marlin after a six release day on Tuesday dropping them down two positions.

The Bermuda team made up of Leslie E.M. Spanswick, David Ross DeSilva, Ron Boys and Richard King held its position releasing four marlin on Wednesday.

Three other teams could still be in the hunt. In sixth place tied at 3000 points each are the Dusk to Dawn Swordfish Tournament team from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., the Rolex/IGFA Championship team from Port Aransas, Texas and the Venezuelan International Super Slam 2005 team from LaGuaira.

(For team standings of the top 35 teams please see the IGFA web site at www.igfa.org.)

In the boat standings the Minerva III with Capt. Gilberto Kakogui is in the lead with 4800 points in skippering three different teams. Capt. Antonio Romero on the Picante Pride moved into second with 4500 points. Tied for third with 3300 points are Capt. Jaime Sanchez on the Rebelde and Julio Castro on the Tracy Ann. All are from the Los Cabos area.

Among angler standings two women are tied with 900 points each on three marlin releases.  They are Nora Schofield of Miami on the IWSFA Annual Fishing Tournament and Heather Rinfoul, West Palm Beach, Fla., from the 22nd Annual Treasure Cay Billfish Tournament in the Bahamas.  

Among the men Marco Roberto Da Silva Couto of the Angolan team leads as top rod with 3300 points.

The prestigious four day Rolex/IGFA OCT hosts what is believed to be the single largest contingent of international teams ever to compete in a fishing competition.

It has attracted many of the world's best angling teams who have won at least one of 110 IGFA sanctioned qualifying offshore events held in 40 countries across the globe during 2005. The number of IGFA qualifying tournaments continues to climb each year.

Teams are representing tournaments in the countries and territories of Angola, Australia, the Bahamas, Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, the Canary Islands, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Galapagos, Guatemala, Italy, Jamaica, Kenya, Kingdom of Tonga, Mauritius, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Senegal, Spain, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks and Caicos, the United States, Vanuatu and Venezuela.

Other countries are represented with anglers coming from France, England, Ireland, Slovenia and South Africa.  The United States is represented by 22 teams of anglers from 23 states. 

This is the fifth straight year Cabo San Lucas was chosen as the location for the international event. The teams draw for different boats each day from the local guided Cabo fleet. They fish for three species of marlin (blue, black and striped) and swordfish for 300 points each along with sailfish and spearfish for 100 point values each. The catches are scored and released alive at the boat in accordance with the IGFA tournament rules. The team releasing the most billfish over the four days will receive bonus points.  IGFA Certified Observers rotate on the boats.

The teams also receive "weight" points (per pound) for tuna, wahoo and dorado up to two fish of each species per day above the minimum size limit of 25 lbs. Local charities receive the donations of all fish weighed at the Cabo docks.  All anglers will use 30 lb. Momoi fishing line.

The team with the most points at the end of the four days of competition will receive engraved Rolex timepieces and Bodo Muche trophies.  Eighteen other prizes will be presented including ones to the three top male and female anglers, top three captains and top three places for the heaviest tuna, wahoo and dorado.

Besides title sponsor Rolex other major sponsors include Baptist Health South Florida,  IWS Scales, King Sailfish Mounts, Aftco Bluewater Sportswear, Bodo Muche Studio-Foundry, Mold Craft Products, Inc., Momoi Hi-Catch, Costa Del Mar Sunglasses, Murray Products Fighting Chairs, Daiichi, Hotel Finisterra, Nautical Jewelry Originals, Outdoor Channel, Guy Harvey, Hook & Tackle, Penn Rods & Reels, Stidd Captain's Chairs, Picante, Minerva's Baja Tackle, Pisces Sportfishing, API Dock, Grupo Ultrafemme and Transcabo.

The offshore championship is one of two world-class series fishing events that include the sixth annual Rolex/IGFA Inshore Championship Tournament to be held July 9 -12, in the Florida Keys.  In that tournament some 40 anglers representing 55 qualifying tournaments on four continents will be competing in light-tackle and fly-fishing competition for bonefish, tarpon, permit, redfish and snook in Islamorada, located in the middle of the Florida Keys.

Founded in 1939 the IGFA is a not-for-profit organization committed to the conservation of game fish and promotion of responsible, ethical angling practices through science, education, rule making and record keeping.  IGFA members are located in over 125 countries and territories. The IGFA welcomes visitors to its 60,000-square-foot interactive Fishing Hall of Fame and Museum in Dania Beach, Florida.