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Hot Marlin Bite in Costa Rica

Miss AC Wins Triple Crown opener

Team Miss AC at the Triple Crown.
Miss AC won the season opener in Los Sueños in 2022. ©Los Sueños Resort and Marina / Pepper Ailor

As the month of January draws to a close each year, it’s time for another season of competition in the always exciting Los Sueños Signature Triple Crown. In what has become a popular kickoff event, this year, 39 lady anglers on 13 teams signed up to fish the second-annual Ladies Only Triple Crown; the ladies fish one day prior to the start of each leg of the Signature Triple Crown. Anglers are also required to hook and fight their own fish unassisted. At stake this year: $32,000 in cash, plus additional prizes and trophies.
Dealer’s Choice, a 58-foot Viking owned by Frank Bongiorno and captained by Scotty Jones, took home the win and an early lead in the three-day series, with anglers Danielle Livia Bongiorno, Stacy Winstead, Danielle Orzech, and Nicole Paul-Hus in the cockpit releasing five sailfish and four blue ­marlin for total of 2,500 points.

The ladies aboard DA Sea drew first blood with a marlin release at 8:04 a.m.; by 10 a.m., Billfisher’s star angler, Judy Duffie, had achieved 1,300 points for her team. Dealer’s Choice moved into second with a marlin at 10:21 a.m., and then to first with another marlin at 11:00 a.m., but Billfisher came right back with a marlin just eight minutes later. Team Galati, known for their late-day tournament charges, moved into third with a sailfish release at 12:56 p.m. By 1 p.m., the teams had released a combined total of 53 billfish. Dealer’s Choice took over the lead and never relented, with a double sailfish release midafternoon, taking them to 2,500 points with five sails and four ­marlin. They were followed by Billfisher with 2,400 points (four sails and four marlin); Team Galati once again moved up the standings, taking third on time with two sailfish releases in just seven minutes, bringing them to 2,400 points. Max Bet and Fish Tank rounded out the top five. The lady anglers released 89 ­billfish—57 sails and 32 marlin—over the eight hours of competition, a ­foreshadowing of the next three days.

With 37 boats and 180 anglers, the first leg of the 2022 Signature ­Triple Crown was set to kick off amid one of the best blue marlin bites in recent ­memory. ­Nsatiabill started off with a marlin hookup at 8:04 a.m., releasing the fish just two minutes later. By the noon update, Capt. John LaGrone and the team on Ohana were in first place with 2,700 points, Scandalous was in second with 1,900 points, and Miss Victoria in third with 1,800 points. By the time the last fish was released—fittingly, a blue by Outage at 4:12 p.m.—a total of 209 sails and 71 marlin were released. Vaquero finished the day in first place, scoring 3,000 points with five marlin and five sailfish, followed by Ohana with 2,800 points (four marlin and eight sailfish), and Miss AC in third with 2,700 points (two marlin and 17 sails).

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The second day started with a ­sailfish hookup at 8:03 a.m. by Eight Eights. By 10 a.m., the fleet had released a total of 278 sails and 82 marlin; Vaquero was still in first with 3,200 points, until Max Bet released a blue at 11:02 a.m. to take over the lead. By noon on Day Two, Max Bet was up to 3,800 points for first, ­followed by Vaquero at 3,500 points, and Uno Mas had moved into third with 3,200 points. War Party released the last fish of the day, a marlin at 4:02 p.m. The fleet had released an additional 205 sails and 42 marlin on Day Two alone, for a two-day total of 414 sails and 113 marlin. Max Bet took the daily with 2,500 points after releasing four marlin and five sails, also moving them into the lead with 4,700 points (12 sails and seven marlin), ­followed by Vaquero in second on time with 4,100 points (11 sailfish, six marlin), and Miss AC in third.

Gallo Pinto started Day Three with a sailfish release nine minutes after lines in at 8:00 a.m. Vaquero released fish No. 570 of the tournament at precisely 10:00 a.m., at which point Max Bet was in first with 4,700 points; 280 billfish were released by 10:00 a.m. on Day Three alone. Always a tough competitor, Billfisher moved to second with a marlin release at 10:55 a.m. Miss AC was on top with 5,100 points by the noon update, Max Bet was second with 4,700 points, and Billfisher in third place with 4,700 points on time. The tournament couldn’t have been more exciting, with the 500-point marlin ­making all the difference in the scoring.

At 3:45 p.m., Team Galati released a marlin, moving them from sixth place to second. Max Bet was skunked until 3:42 p.m., when they called in to report a sailfish and marlin double hookup, which they went on to successfully release, moving them to third place with 5,400 points. Team Galati finished second on time with 5,400 points from 29 sails and five marlin over three days, and Miss AC took top honors for Leg One with 5,700 points, releasing 32 sails and five marlin.

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