Whirlwind Tour

Just recently returned from a back-to-back stint of Marlin Universities in Costa Rica and Bimini, Bahamas. We enjoyed a turn of good luck in Costa Rica when the sailfish started moving north into the area we were fishing in around Carrillo. On the first day fishing was slow, but just 80 miles to the south the sail bite was blowing up. The second day proved much better and we all saw or caught double-digit numbers of sails, with a few marlin thrown in for good measure. One boat - Wet Ass II - caught a grand slam on the same day that I went 0-19 on sail bites. For a while there I thought I must be the worst teacher in the world. I'd thought I'd seen every way possible to miss a sail, but these fellows invented a few new ones! I fished on the Bushwacker with Capt. Skeet Warren for all four days of the event, but that third day was particularly frustrating - at one point we were 0-17. On the last day of Marlin U we put on a little tourney among the boats, with the anglers chipping in a little cash for a prize that goes to the crew on the winning boat. As luck would have it, the guys who had the terrible day drew Skeet's boat for the tournament. Now like most skippers, Skeet's a pretty competitive guy who doesn't like to lose, and the extra $600 in tip money isn't something to sneeze at either. As we boarded the Bushwacker for the second time, I could see a bit of panic in Skeet's eyes. I told him not to worry...we were going to redeem ourselves. Things got off to a great start when we released the fist sail that bit and kept on getting better. After releasing a second sail, to double our lead in the tourney, here comes the blue dog into the spread. After eating every bait in the spread - including a bonito bait fed to it on a reel with the drag engaged - one of the anglers finally hooked the hungry blue on a ballyhoo. But he did so with a giant backlash! As soon as I saw what was happening I started screaming for Skeet to start backing up. "We've got a backlash on this one Skeet! We can't let it get more than 5o feet out!" Skeet responded instantly and we roared back through the gear trying to get the release. I laid down on the gunwhale, stretching out as far as I could with both feet off the deck, straining to reach the wind-on...but it stayed just out of my reach. After another couple of seconds I finally got my hand on it and we got the release! But the drama was just beginning. As soon as I touched the leader I raced up the ladder to try and get some pictures on the lit up 250-pound blue marlin. The fish jumped about 10 feet off the left corner, bending into a giant U-shape before jumping right at the transom. The fish bounced off the back of the boat, only inches from tipping over into the cockpit. The angler was standing just inches away, and somehow managed to get the leader wrapped around his rod tip on the jump. When the fish ricocheted off the transom, it came tight on the leader and broke the rod tip with a resounding "SNAP!" Skeet, who'd seen his equipment take some serious abuse during the trip, whispered to me, "Just par for the course." His mood turned around a bit later, however, after two more sails to our total and giving our beleaguered anglers a victory in the Marlin U tournament. The Bushwacker crew won the cash and the anglers received a cool Guy Harvey necklace and special trophy made especially for the event. The fish showed up in good numbers so everybody left Costa Rica with a big smile on their face. We also did a special Marlin U for Hatteras Yachts down in Bimini, and although the fishing and weather turned out a little snotty, you couldn't have asked for better boat testing weather. Hatteras put on the event to expose potential customers to the fishing prowess of the new GT line, and we fished the 54, 60 an 63 GTs in some pretty serious seas on the first day. The boats handled the rough water admirably and I even got the hooks into a big white marlin for about 3 seconds before it jumped off. All the folks seemed to have a wonderful time fishing the boats and hanging out at Guy Harvey's Bimini Outpost. I got to work the cockpit all by myself, a treat I don't get very often, so I had a blast even though the fishing was pretty slow.