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Breaking Up with The Hooker

The legendary gameboat moves on

March 23, 2021
A large sport-fishing boat on the water.
The Hooker will remain for charter in Costa Rica, fishing the productive offshore seamounts for blue marlin. Debra Todd

All good things eventually must come to an end. This pandemic has given me plenty of time to think about the things I have accomplished, as well as a few things that I have yet to do.

Bringing The Hooker back to life was more than a dream come true for me. I was sure that I would never see that boat again, much less own it or fish it again. Since I first starting fishing out of Los Sueños, Costa Rica, with Capt. David Shinn many years ago, I really enjoyed all the fishing and the country. I had heard about the outstanding blue marlin action on the seamounts offshore and was interested in fishing them, but I never had the opportunity.

When my wife, Debra, and I bought The Hooker in 2016, I thought about where I wanted to fish this boat and start a charter business to pay the bills. It did not take long to choose Marina Pez Vela in Quepos as my new home port. I had fished there with The Hooker in 1989 before the marina was built, when The Madam was our mothership. We used the old banana-boat pier to pick up our guests and go grocery shopping in Quepos, and we did weigh a few world records from that old pier too.

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After fishing there for more than three years and catching way too many ­sailfish and marlin, I really enjoyed being ­competitive again. Then COVID-19 hit us all like a punch in the gut. I had a few calls over the years from people who were interested in buying the boat if I ever wanted to sell it, but to tell you the truth, I never even thought about it until I got locked in my house by this damned virus.

After losing the entire summer blue marlin season, I decided to test the market and quietly put the boat up for sale. Out of nowhere, I received an offer from the right people to take over this old girl. They already had an established, well-respected charter fleet and told me I could still run a few trips from time to time. We worked out a merger deal, and I was really excited that many other charter clients would get to enjoy fishing on this legend.

To date, The Hooker has 87 IGFA world records to her credit and has fished in more than 20 countries, from Australia to the Ivory Coast of Africa, Madeira, the Azores, Ascension Island, Hawaii, Tahiti, Peru, Panama, Ecuador, the Virgin Islands, Cape Verde, Senegal, Venezuela and beyond. Capt. Trevor Cockle ran the operation for many years and helped set several world records on her. He also put angler Bill DeGraw on the third-largest Atlantic blue marlin: a 1,337-pounder that was landed at Ascension Island in 2002.

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I am happy to announce that The Hooker will be in Guatemala for a month or two and then back to Costa Rica in April to stay—still catching plenty of billfish, just as she was built to do. I look forward to working with Capt. David Salazar and Casa Vieja Lodge.

As for me? I’ll still be ­running a few tournaments in the Bahamas, and fishing The Hooker occasionally for a few special charters in Costa Rica as well. I might visit Brazil, the Canary Islands and the Azores, as these are all on my bucket list. I still owe my wife a trip to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, with a stopover in Hawaii. Then the biggest decision will be deciding who to fish with, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. See you on the docks!

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