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The Best of the Azores


Big Game Fishing International Tournament

Big Game Fishing Journal - USA

Author: Capt. Matt Baryshyan

When offshore fishermen get together, especially canyon fishermen, for a little dockside chat, the subject inevitably comes up as to the ultimate definition of Fishing Heaven.

Without exception it is to catch bigeye tuna right outside your breakwater.

At the years have gone by and our trek to the grounds has taken us great distances from our home ports, that ultimate definition of fishing heaven has become more than a dream; it is the musings of someone who is, shall we say... delusional?

Oh well, nothing good is easy to come by - unless you were in the Azores fishing off the island of Sao Miguel for bigeye tuna from May through November in 2013.

Fishing Heaven indeed; with bigeyes and giant bluefin tuna literally just out side the breakwater!

We experienced yet another awesome visit to the Azores in 2013, competing in their Big Game Fishing Tournament which featured the eyes this year instead of the marlins, and the fishing was equally extraordinary.

Prior to arriving, my good friend Willem Rieff emailed saying that he hoped the marlins would arrive, but adding that I should bring mt favorite tuna gear, because the Island was surrounded by bigeye and giant bluefin tuna.

O QUE VERGONHA! (What a shame!) Can you imagine my disappointment? No, no, Matteo, no marlins, you are going to just have to suffer through catching bigeyes this year! Not only was I ecstatic about the tuna, I was equally excited to share this special place with my son, Metthew, this year, as we would be competing on a team comprised of the press representatives from France, Great Britain, and young Matt and I from America; the Allies back together on the high seas!

We began the day fishing less than a mile up the coast, half a mile of Relva beach, when the fleet began hooking up right at the top of the tide.

The charter boat Seazores - who eventually won the tournament - was on fire and dialed into the fish. I admired the way the crew and this small 24-foot boat worked a double.

The cockpit set-up on this boat was ingenious, with a bolster mounted on a rod-holder support going across the stern so you could safety fight a large fish. All week I enjoyed watching this small boat put the beat-down on the rest of the fleet.

Sergio Mestre, seazores captain, is a talented, engaging fellow and no doubt is the next superstar captain to come from Sao Miguel. Great job, Sergio!

"Last year we had an epic marlin bite, this year we had an epic bigeye bite.

Just to show you how successful this year´s tournament was, even though we did not see the marlins, let me say this; In august, in Rhode Island this past year, there was a tournament. There were 74 boat in that tournament, 74, and in three days they produced 28 bigeye tuna.

Now back here in the Azores, in our little corner of the world here, in three days with just 11 boats, we put 28 bigeye tuna on the deck for a total of 6,500 pounds of tuna!

Not only that, but the other amazing thing that was that the entire island was eating tuna this past week because of the 11 boats that fished their hearts out. Not for the money, not for the calcutta, not even for the market value, which would have easily been oven $60,000.  No, they did it for the pure joy of fishing and the fellowship created by a flawlessly run tournament.

So when I speak to the big game fishermen America, I say; if you want to catch a marlin, or if you want to catch a bigeye tuna and if you want to meet and live with the nicest people on the face of this earth, without any doubt, YOU COME TO THE AZORES!"

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