Los Sueños, Costa Rica, January 22, 2022—The very first fish released in the Masters Tournament may have been a premonition of things to come. Angler Dennis Coleman released the first Pacific sailfish of the event with a fight time of two minutes and 30 seconds just after lines in on Day One. The tournament, infamous for its rules including a dead boat fight recorded with a stopwatch, held host to 22 anglers and 11 boats out of Los Sueños Marina January 19 through 22.
Masters member anglers met prior to fishing in order to review the rules and initiate new “freshmen” fishermen. This year’s freshmen class hails from several states including Georgia, Florida and New Jersey. A quick run down of recent catch data from Los Sueños prompted the tournament rules committee to include marlin as a target species for the first time in the event’s 59-year history. “While sailfish must be fought from a dead boat, anglers hooked up to marlin can request boat assistance for half points,” states committee member Dale Creamer. Creamer and other Board Members went on to explain that avoiding a marlin bite like the one in Costa Rica was just “a shame”.
Adding marlin releases to the line up proved to be a smart move right off the bat with 2 blues and a black out of the first five releases. The weather did not disappoint Day One and the anglers, fishing two per boat, released 40 fish. David Johnson, a freshman angler from Lumberton, New Jersey, came out on top with 5 releases and a score of 242.5 points. The fastest release of the day, a :29 second unassisted blue marlin by angler Jerry Reynolds, held on to win the prestigious Pete Boinis Fastest Fish Award for the event. The top boat of the day was the Vaquero and Capt. Lance Hightower.
Anglers met for daily breakfast Day Two where most of the discussion surrounded marlin strategy – to back down or not to back down. The faster the fight time the higher the score starting with 100 points for a fight less that :30 seconds and a loss of 5 points for each :30 seconds of additional fight. For a “boat assist” marlin points are shaved in half. Come Lines Out the day looked very much like Day One with David Johnson maintaining his lead with an additional 102.5 points. Lachlan Cheatham moved up fast with 5 releases, including the first and last of the day, and 337.5 points. Anglers released 21 marlin and 18 sailfish Day Two and the Dealer’s Choice, with Capt. Scotty Jones, took high boat for the day with 9 releases.
Fishing turned up a bit on Day Three with 27 sailfish and 33 marlin released. The Dealer’s Choice added 14 releases to win Top Boat and Top Captain honors with 29 fish overall. Angler Pat Healey moved up the Leader Board with a score of 372.5 points and a total of 465, good enough for the most releases of the tournament and second place angler overall. Jerry Reynolds, a freshman angler hailing from Macon, Georgia, added 8 fish, including the last fish of the day, to his score and a third-place finish with 530 points total. The Vaquero held tight to second place boat and the Maya with Capt. Tony Carrizosa added 8 fish Day Three for a total of 18 releases and third place boat honors.
Dennis Coleman of Charleston, South Carolina managed a steady pick over three days of fishing. Scoring 2 sailfish under 3 minutes each and 155 points Day One, Coleman boosted his score Day Two with 2 unassisted blue marlin. On Day Three, Coleman released 5 fish – 3 sailfish and 2 more marlin with boat assist. Fast fight times, especially on the sails, earned Coleman an additional 277.5 points for a final score of 577.5 points and the 59th Master Angler Honors.
John Rybovich and his friends created the International Masters Angling Tournament in 1962. The first tournament awarded the winner, J. French Baldwin, the prestigious Master Angler Award and inducted him into the Leader Wire Club. Since that time, anglers have also vied for Rybovich Achievement Awards and Category Awards based solely on the cumulative number of fish released in the annual Masters Tournament.
In 2022 angler, Jonathan Guarisco moved into the Bronze Achievement category, Keith Beaty moved up to the Platinum level and Pat Healy moved into the Diamond level. Rybovich awards were presented to the following anglers for excellence during the 2022 event: Bronze (20 – 34 points) – Dennis Coleman, Silver (35 – 49 points) – Carmine Galati, Gold (50 – 99 points) – Keith Beaty, Platinum (100 – 174 points) – Pat Healey and the Grand Master (250+ points) – Pete Boinis with 255 points.
The International Masters Angling Tournament is a not-for-profit event benefitting the Los Sueños foundation for schools. Visit the website and Mastersanglers.com for more information on how to become a freshman angler in 2023.