While traveling in the Dominican Republic, Eight Eights mate Miguel Santana demonstrated his quick and easy set-up when it comes to rigging his DR ballyhoo.
It’s become an recurring theme each year to hear about the best parts of the Caribbean and Gulf being overrun with weed. Not the “puff puff give” kind, but the pain in the butt kind. Sargassum. It can be everywhere. And not just in neat lines along the rips but in mats and globs and clumps as far as the eye can see. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that since 2011, large accumulations of Sargassum have become a remerging problem in the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and tropical Atlantic.
By Steve Dougherty
Encompassing two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola, the Dominican Republic is the Caribbean’s greatest escape and currently the best place in the world to catch a blue marlin. Renowned worldwide for premium cigars and major league talent, the D.R. attracts adventurous owners and captains searching for outstanding fishing amid magical settings accommodating both tournament teams and families that fish together.
Things don’t always go as planned and even after this blue marlin came unglued on the leader, Eight Eights Capt. Mark Pagano wasn’t ready to give up on the tag. The fish remained on the surface for a brief moment where first mate Kyle O’Conner was given the opportunity to tag the free-swimmer. With angler Jill Yates and Michelle Keeney wiring the fish.
As more travel options start to open up, the Dominican Republic has likely been on the radar for many anglers and boaters. The Caribbean country is a well-known hotspot for sportfishing enthusiasts and casual vacation-goers alike with plenty of options for saltwater social distancing. Currently, U.S. citizens are able to travel to the tropical haven without the requirement of a negative COVID-19 test for entry.
Story & Images By Steve Dougherty
Upon receiving the invitation to ride along with the Eight Eights team on their 72’ Viking to document the final week of their 2020 Atlantic tagging expedition in the Dominican Republic, InTheBite publisher Dale Wills and I immediately formulated an itinerary and trip timeline.
While out with the Eight Eights team in the Dominican Republic we headed to the tower for a quick chat with Capt. Mark Pagano who was diligently scanning the water for any color deviation.
In a tournament marked by rough seas and windy squalls Captain Brent Gaskill from North Carolina guided his team aboard the 64’ custom Jarret Bay to a comfortable victory during the three days of fishing in the prestigious Casa de Campo International Blue Marlin Classic 2019, first leg of the Dominican Billfish Triple-Header Series.
But, “it was not as easy a victory as some might think” said a smiling Captain Gaskill. “We had to work very hard and travel far for the win” he added referring to the standings after day one. They stood in third place at the end of the day edged out based on time of the last release by the winners of the daily, the team aboard another Jarret Bay, Mama Who from Mississippi, and the Brazil-Venezuela team aboard the 72’ Merritt, Business Stinks. All three teams had released two blue marlin on that first day.
However, the leader situation was quickly resolved on day two when Builder’s Choice released two blue marlin within the first hour after lines in and added a third in the afternoon that day winning the daily while Mama Who and Business Stinks had no releases for the day. “After day two we never looked back” said a proud Harris Huddle, Builder’s Choice owner and winner of the Top Individual Angler Trophy who incidentally was followed by his team mate, Dominican Luis Selen, who earned the Second Place Individual Angler Trophy.
When the dust settled at lines out on the third and final day of competition the Team/Boat standings stood with Builder’s Choice in First Place with a three day total of seven. blue marlin releases, Mama Who in Second Place with a total of four blue marlin releases and Business Stinks in Third Place with two blue marlin releases. Coincidentally the same three teams/boats had finished first, second and third the previous year but in a different order with Mama Who as the winners.
In the individual angler standings as already mentioned Top Angler was Harris Huddle followed by Luis Selen in Second Place both aboard Builder’s Choice and in Third Place was Mama Who’s Trey McMillan. Top Lady Angler for the second year in a row was Mama Who’s Elaine ‘Lainey’ Jones. Teams and Individual anglers took home a small fortune in cash awards and sponsor luxury prizes.
We gratefully thank our Title Sponsors Casa de Campo Resort & Villas as well as our very gracious hosts Marina Casa de Campo for their hospitality. Save the date for the 2020 7th Annual Casa de Campo Blue Marlin Classic when the tournament will take place will take place April 1st thru the 5th. Don’t miss it!
LA ROMANA DOM. REP.
March 18th 2019
For the second consecutive year, the North Carolina team wins the Marina Casa de Campo Open fishing tournament. The crew and anglers aboard the Builders Choice are champions of the third version of the Marina Casa de Campo Open, organized by Marina Casa de Campo and directed by Robert “Fly” Navarro.
The team aboard the Cabana (Fenwick Island, DE) won second place and the team aboard the Auspicious (Palm Beach, FL) won third place. Elaine “Lainey” Jones (Mama Who) won the Lady Angler category. The tournament ended with 21 Blue Marlins and two White Marlins released for 23 Billfish released in the two days of fishing.
The MCDC Open had 12 sport fishing boats competing, all the participants and guests enjoyed the various activities that started with a welcoming cocktail in the Casa de Campo Yacht Club, home of the perpetual tournament trophy.
On the first fishing day, 12 Blue Marlins were released, out of which five were released by the champions, followed by Cabana with two Blue Marlin releases and Fa-La-Me with one Blue Marlin and one White Marlin. The first day of the tournament ended with a BBQ at the Yacht Club accompanied by good music.
The second fishing day had lines in the water at 8:00AM; fishing began with a Blue Marlin double, released by Shark Byte at 8:50AM. Cabana released a Blue Marlin at 11:56AM, which automatically positioned them in second place. The three Blue Marlins released by Auspicious were released in the afternoon and placed them in third place, the last one being released just an hour before the end of the tournament.
The awards ceremony was celebrated in La Romana Country Club with a fabulous dinner and an after party with a live band and a DJ.
Marina Casa de Campo would like to extend its gratitude to all the participants and sponsors of the event. Next year the tournament will be held from March 12th-14th with more interesting novelties that will make this tournament a must during the 2020 Casa de Campo Fishing Season.