Damon Chouest recently surpassed a personal milestone of 1,500 lifetime blue marlin releases as an angler, and the Chach team of Chouest, Capt. David Dalfo and mate Matt Coppoletta has now released over 1,200 blue marlin while fishing together on one vessel over the past seven years.
Chouest caught the blue marlin bug in the Gulf of Mexico in the late 1980s while fishing with his grandfather aboard C’est La Vie, a 55-foot Hatteras, with his brother Dino. In 1988, they chartered Alchemist on a trip to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where they caught five blues, and the die was cast: The aggressive blue marlin on the North Drop hooked Chouest deeply. Chouest was the first angler to release more than 100 blue marlin in a single season, which he did in 1996 on Freedom with Capt. Cujo Brinkmeyer. The team fished the North Drop on the full moons and also targeted marlin in just about every other hot spot in the world: Venezuela, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Hawaii, Cabo San Lucas, Tonga and elsewhere. Chouest’s efforts shifted to Patriot in the late 1990s and early 2000s, heading across the Pacific to fish Tonga and other exotic ports of call with Capt. Terry Stansel. Chouest is also one of the few anglers in the world to have released every species of billfish, including both longbill and shortbill spearfish.
He formed the team aboard Chach, his son’s nickname, with Dalfo and Coppoletta seven years ago. “I’m very proud of what we have accomplished together as a team,” Chouest says. “It is a combination of determination, passion and teamwork that allows us to succeed. David and Matt are both incredible fishermen.” Their 1,200-plus blue marlin releases in just seven years on a single vessel represent an amazing accomplishment and are a testament to their dedication.
“These days on Chach, we spend six days fishing on each trip, and our season runs from about April through October,” Chouest says. While St. Thomas remains a special destination, Chouest also enjoys fishing the seamounts off Costa Rica, the FADs of the Dominican Republic, and pretty much anywhere else the marlin bite is hot. “We feel very blessed to be following our passion on the water, and we hope to keep pushing hard for as long as we can,” he says. The team currently has a new 68-footer from American Custom Yachts under construction that will give them more speed and range to fish remote destinations.