A team of anglers led by a former Eatonville resident made a big splash in the 2014 Offshore World Championships.
Described by the local boat captain, Greg Daly, as “the super bowl of offshore fishing,” the event that was staged in April in Costa Rica ended with the Washington team placing in the top 20 overall and leading the field on one of the days.
Daly grew up in Eatonville, graduating in 1986 from Eatonville High School, and “most of my family still lives” in the town, he said.
The journey to Quepos, Costa Rica began last August, when Daly and five other team members, including Terry Backstrom of Roy, traveled to Westport to compete in the Washington Tuna Classic, one of 120 qualifying events internationally for the Offshore World Championships. Winning a qualifier guarantees a team a place in the largest offshore and reputedly most prestigious fishing tournament on the planet.
Daley and company, also known as Team Scarab, outmaneuvered 55 other Washington teams in the Washington Tuna Classic and solidify their place in the world championship.
Team Washington arrived in Quepos on April 6 for four days of maritime competition. Daly and his team competed alongside 64 international teams representing 31 countries.
The teams were required to attend a rules briefing, team registration and boat draw. The draw consisted of the team drawing from a pot to determine which boat they would fish from for that day of competition. Each day, the Washingtonians competed from a different boat.
The first day of competition was a whirlwind, Daley related. By the end of the day of “extreme fishing,” Team Washington had caught and released a few sailfish, he said, adding, “There were definitely some bugs that had to be worked out. It would take some serious work and dedication in the next three days to be in contention with the other teams.”
By the end of Day 2, the hard work paid off. The team not only placed first for the day, they fished their way to first place in the overall competition. Team Washington also set a single-day competition record by catching and releasing 35 sailfish.
In accordance with competition rules and guidelines, to verify a caught fish, each fish must be filmed to confirm species. The angler must also be identified in the video as well as the release of the fish. The different species of fish are assigned a point value. For example, a sailfish is worth 200 points, while a marlin is worth 500.
All data from each boat and team is provided to the tournament controllers every evening. The controllers scrutinize all data from that day of competition to validate all catches, Daly explained.
Going into Day 3 of the competition, Team Washington “was pumped up,” Daly said. But, he lamented, “when the bite dies down, competition slips fast.” Washington fell to 12th place.
As the final day of competition began, mechanical errors kook Washington’s boat was out of commission. But Washington still “exceeded expectations” by landing in 20th place overall.
The team plans to compete in more offshore tournaments throughout this year. “We’re on a mission to make it back” to next year’s world championships, Daly said.
Along with Daly and Backstrom, the team includes Mark Taylor of Federal Way, Miriah Major of Gig Harbor, and Erik Erdman of Longview.