Costa Rica Marlin University was one of the most enjoyable sessions yet. The old line about the fishing being excellent but the catching a little slow really suited these four days of fishing! We missed and lost a lot of fish and the students got plenty of bites, enough to learn how to hook billfish, and how NOT to try to hook them.
No one learns nearly as much from their successes as they do from their mistakes. You already knew what to do when you managed to catch a fish and there is nothing like a blistered thumb to teach an angler how to NOT to try to control a backlash while dropping back to a sail or marlin. There was a small run on elastic tape and band aids at the local convenience store.
It is always great to go back to the Hotel Guanamar at the little village at Playa Carrillo on Costa Rica's Guanacaste Peninsula. We know a lot of the staff and I am always embarrassed when some of my favorites know my name and I have to hunt through my brain's Rolodex for theirs.
The star of this event, and my new nominee for Super Granny of the DECADE, is Karen Comstock. She and hubby Roger (also a very, very cool guy - but eclipsed by his spouse for this week) get their kicks racing drag cars, SERIOUS drag cars - way too fast!
Karen and Roger won an invitation to the IGFA blue water world championship event that's held in Cabo San Lucas in May by excelling in a roosterfish contest.
"I want to learn enough to be able to not embarrass myself at the IGFA tournament." Karen told me on the bus ride from Liberia (in the north of Costa Rica where we had all landed) to the Guanamar Hotel.
The Comstocks were with me the first day and we only had a couple of bites. Karen hooked and caught her first sailfish on the first try. It was a nice catch on stand-up 30-pound gear.
The next day, with another team, my guys started out at seven for eight on sails. Then my guys went two for 13. The learning curve was not a simple geometric plot !
On another boat Granny Karen, with Marlin Editor Dave Ferrell as coach, hooked, fought and caught her first marlin - unaided! By now we were pretty sure the Comstocks could hold their own in the big IGFA event as Roger was also hooking and catching sailfish.
On Day Three Charles Perry, the coach for the Comstock's team that day, reported a three-hour-plus fight on 30-pound with a yellowfin tuna boated with a (conservative) estimated weight of 200-plus pounds. Karen Comstock was the angler! WOW!
The whole bunch of us had sashimi and tuna steaks for dinner that night!
Charles, Dave and I had one day back in the U.S. before flying to Bimini to do a - sort of - Marlin U for Hatteras Yachts. Fishing was slow (to put it mildly) with only one billfish (white marlin) bite between three boats in three days.
I claimed a "moral victory" on Day Three when I saw a small blue free jump. We talked about fishing a lot, discussed our years of experience and rode on some very nice boats: the new 54, 60 and 63 GT Hatteras convertibles.
We had a good time and I really enjoyed seeing the old Bimini Big Game Club resurrected as a Guy Harvey Outpost Resort. It brought back a lot of old memories of good times and big fish. I hope to try to look for bluefin off Bimini later this spring.
Getting hit by the same cold front three times the same day (first of the trip) was a heck of an experience. In Lauderdale we watched major wind shear cause a small business jet to abort an attempted landing and then delay our takeoff for over half an hour.
Trying to beat the front to Bimini saw us hitting some of the worst turbulence I have ever been in, and scared all of us, with giant drops and major bumps that flexed the wings of our small plane. I was some kind of pleased to land in Bimini!
Then, as we boarded the ferry to cross over to North Bimini, the front caught us again, this time with a small waterspout fizzing and twirling down the channel within 100 yards of us.
Tag A Giant
I'm currently in North Carolina about to join up with Tag-A-Giant to try and get some pop-up tags in bluefin tuna and to field test a new 130 class/ unlimited reel by Fin Nor.
Erin and I left Stuart recently and drove up to Atlantic, North Carolina. We spent one night there and took the ferry system to from Cedar Island to Ocracoke and then on to Hatteras. The ferries save over 200 miles of driving and take almost as long but are MUCH more relaxing and are cheaper than even the fuel the pick up would burn.
We met Capt. Dale Britt and his really excellent mate Alan Scibal on the ferry and the TAG team was waiting at a lovely house the scientists had rented. Dr Andre Boustany, Robbie Schallert, both old friend from earlier TAG seasons, and Daragh Browne, from Ireland, rounded out the team.
Some people say all the bad weather in the world is made off Cape Hatteras and what they can't use there they ship off to other places. That is obviously not true but it changes constantly and a lot of it is rough.
The main concentration of tuna was about 60 miles north, closer to Oregon Inlet than Hatteras so we had long runs and limited fishing time. We got eight internal tags into tunas in two fishing days and missed several days due to weather.
We fished south one day after a charter boat had gotten into bluefin closer to Hatteras. We could not have run as far north as we needed to be anyway. It is always tough fishing alone and without the help of the charter fleet, and we didn't locate the southern body of fish but still feasted on some nice yellowfin tuna that evening.
With more bad weather forecast for the next few days I bolted for Florida. I missed the Hatteras-Ocracoke Ferry by about three minutes and made the long drive around to Atlantic . The next day I had to go to Raleigh to get a lost bag BEFORE making the long drive home.
I stopped for fuel at the last Georgia exit on I-95 and planned on pushing on as the GPS said I could be home by 3:30 a.m. but Erin, who was in Denver that night, talked me out of it.
I caught a good night's sleep in a fleabag motel and got into a shooting clinic with John Wooley at Amelia Shotgun Sports. After a great day of sporting clays I drove on down to Stuart by 10 p.m., where I had one rum and tonic, took a long hot shower, did not bother to eat dinner, and went to sleep in my own bed for the first time in what seemed like a long, long while.
Now I am catching up on LOTS of paperwork and planning a cool trip to the Cape Verde Islands this June. More about that next time...
The TAG team found some more bluefin after I left but told me they looked to be getting blown out again for several days. Check out their blogs at http://tagagiant.blogspot.com/ to see what they are doing now and see some pics with yours truly assisting the team last week.
Good fishing - peterb