Tight (Family) Lines

The Bisbees hang together
BY: BITSY LYLE

Wednesday, October 24 at 8 am in the Marina. It’s estimated to be the biggest tournament and purse ever, with over 150 boats registered and more coming in daily (some wait til the very last day to check weather conditions). But this year is also bittersweet: the legendary Bob Bisbee, who founded the eponymous big game fishing tournament over 30 years ago, passed away in June of this year. But his indelible stamp on this richest fishing tournament in the world and his generous, enthusiastic spirit lives on and the mantle has been bestowed on his son, Wayne Bisbee.

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And that’s why Wayne is down in the trenches with the rest of his staff. “My father left me with a wonderful legacy of what’s important in life and number one, foremost, is to have a strict work ethic.” He continued wistfully, “If it’s even an hour after sunrise, you’d better be up!” That’s good advice, especially if you happen to like fishing.

But Bob Bisbee’s legendary eponymous tournament isn’t just about the fishing. There are many benefits to having the annual Bisbee Black & Blue here in Cabo San Lucas. After an historically slow and hot August and September for local retailers, money is pouring into town. From the copious amounts of provisions for all the boat teams over a two-week period to pub crawls at local venues and the hiring of local crews, charter boats, chefs, etc., not to mention all the hundreds of tourists in town to witness the daily weigh-ins and join the daily spectacle down at the marina, it’s safe to say the merchants’ coffers are filled once again.

The other benefit of the massive amount of fish coming in is the participants donate the fish to local charities. At the end of the 2018 tournament, participants will have donated, sine 2015, over 30,000 pounds of fish to Feeding Los Cabos Kids’ eleven kitchens and many other charities that take care of those in need of food.

That’s impressive. And so are the other values Bob passed on to Wayne and his five siblings. “My father always told us the day you’re too good for your job is when your business goes downhill.” He described his father mopping decks, making phone calls, whatever had to be done for the tournament to be a success, exemplifying what he preached.

And when pressed for keys to his father’s lasting legacy, Wayne summed it up: ”His memory.” in the ‘60’s in Newport Beach working on the fuel docks, Wayne reminisced, “He remembered every person’s face and name and even something about their life. ”It would happen over and over again, Wayne continued. “He’d run into someone, it didn’t matter who, a store clerk or a deckhand and he could pull up their name and some minute detail and they would be delighted. It meant he listened and every person meant something to him. It was remarkable. It was a gift.”

There will be lots of fond memories of Bob Bisbee on the docks this year. Many, (25% of the field), have fished 25 years or more in the Bisbee Black & Blue. Ned Wallace, on Tiger Spirit, now in his 80’s, joked to Wayne that nowadays he’s getting beat by the younger guys.

What advice would Bob Bisbee give the fishermen (and women) this year? Wayne didn’t skip a beat. “Radio fish don’t bite!” For non-anglers, that means don’t chase the radio fish sightings. But do chase the dream of catching the big one!