We have come to the end of another great month with our season slowly winding down here in Guatemala, although the fat lady has not yet sung and we have the month of June ahead of us still. This May proved slow as far as sailfishing goes but produced some of the very best marlin fishing this area has ever seen with the 'Decisive' releasing 20 blue marlin in 21 days, with marlin flags a plenty flying on a daily basis at Marina Pez Vela out of which all the sportfishing boats operate. Our seasonal total stands at an impressive 57 blue and 2 striped marlin releases, almost three times that of any other marlin release total for a previous season in Guatemala and almost double that of any other boats releases in Guatemala for this past season. Almost all the blues have been caught pitchbaiting off the Moldcraft and Legend lure teasers we pull, hooking them on an Eagle Claw circle hook rigged mackerel on our 50lb Alutecnos standup gear...man it's been exciting!!
Joss van Breda and Andrew Gillespie, my tuna fishing friends from Cape Town, South Africa, made the long trip to join us on the 'Decisive' for 4 days and were spoilt rotten with the blue marlin fishing they saw at only 6 to 8 miles offshore. Their first day out had the duo release 5 sails from 7 bites, with Joss releasing his first blue marlin ever, a feisty 175lb fish he made short work of. We had two more blues up that day, one of which was a big 600lb plus class fish which would not eat. The 2nd of May saw Andrew release his first blue even, a strong and very acrobatic 400lber that gave him a real pull. With another 6 sailfish from 11 bites the boys were kept very busy and late in the afternoon we were attacked by a pack of blues hooking a double header but unfortunately pulling the hooks on both fish. Seconds latter we hooked another but again came unstuck but were amped after seeing such great blue marlin action so close to home and in such a flat calm blue ocean. The next day was Joss's turn on the blue with him releasing a 200lb fish along with a couple sails. We also saw another blue in the spread and missed one other. On their final day the marlin Gods really turned it on for us. We raised 5 blues, had 3 bites and the duo released all three, with Andrew getting the largest, a 400lb fish. The final fish of the day came right at lines out when Andrew hooked a sneaky blue on the ballyhoo in the rigger, to catch it on the lighter sailfishing outfit and give us our third. It had been a long time in planning but in their 4 days the 'Tuna Boys' had released 6 blues and 16 sailfish for a trip of a lifetime, and what a pleasure to have shared it with old friends. Well done and thank you for making the long trip guys!!!
Leon Nel of South Africa and Etienne Vercueil ex-South Africa also joined us at the Marlin Inn the April 30th thru 3rd. We had chartered the 'Cañaso' with Capt. Randall Gaines for them and they were also tickled pink with the amount of marlin action they had. On the 30th April they caught 3 from 14 bites on sails, missing a blue from the two they had up. The 1st of May saw the marlin up, but they just wouldn't stay stuck for them, pulling the hooks on 3 blues and releasing 2 sails. Things changed the following day going 2 from 3 on blues and 7 from 8 on sails, nice day, and all the action at only 6 to 8 miles. The final day the guys raised 18 sails and blue but with the fish on the lazy sails it was tuff converting and ended with 5 sails releases, to make for an excellent trip and some great good old friendly rivalry amongst the two boats and many evening rums over which we shared each days events.
The 6th saw us stay inshore and trying for the blues that had been stacked up there previously with Samuel and Sammy Conde of the Dominican Republic, who were visiting us along with our regular guest Manuel Tavares and his son Juan also of the DR, whom fished aboard the 'Cañaso'. Both boats saw blues but failed to capitalize that day. The next day we went offshore and at 38 miles found the marlin with the 'Decisive' going an amazing 3 from 6 on blues, with 8 up for the day to give Samuel his first blue ever. The fish ranged from 200 to 400lb's in size that day. It was good to have Manuel on board the following day as the boys did the switch with both fathers fishing with us for the day. We released a sail early and followed it up latter with a fat 650lb blue for Samuel latter in the day, which he handled like a pro.
Don Butler, our friend from the Carolina's brought down Andy LaStelle, Mike Coviella to join him for the 9th to see us releasing a 300lb blue and seeing one other. The following day Rick Noel, Brian Schmidt and Tom Simonson joined in releasing 2 sails from 5 bites and another 3 from 5 the following.
We have so many great anglers who visit and support us from all over the globe. With the vast majority of our clientele being repeat in nature one does to really like to point out anyone in particular as every group is so special to us, and case in point is Gary Hughes who again joined us from Chile, along with friends Rob Geldenhuys and Sean Whittome of Zambia, Africa. We started their trip going 7 from 8 on sailfish at 25 miles out to the east, with a nice blue marlin up that would not eat and then Rob releasing a spectacular 400lb blue marlin, his first ever. Nice work Rob!! The following day we missed the two blues we had a shot at and released 5 from 10 sails to keep everyone busy the next day doing almost exactly the same, just not being able to get the marlin to stick.
Dave Minson and son Matthew, joined us from Chile and the UK respectively, yes they've been coming from far ends wide this past May, for Matt to release his first sailfish and first blue, a 300lber on their first day out. We went looking way out east the following day and hit a blank but found the blues again out on the western edge the following day missing one and then for Matt to capitalize on an acrobatic 450lb fish as well as two sails to end an enjoyable trip for the Minson's.
Scott and Kristi Lund brought down their friends Billy and Laura Lutch of Palm Beach to share in their Guatemalan adventures. With the slower sailfishing of the past days we decided to target the marlin and that we did, releasing 2 in the 150 to 200lb class, one of which really gave Scott a good pull on the lighter sailfishing gear and the other which Laura managed in style on the 50. We were back on the same numbers out wide and west the following day waiting for the afternoon bite and it wasn't long after noon when a big fish came up hard on the left short bridge teaser and Laura was in for the fight of her life. The fish stayed deep and Laura stayed focused doing an amazing job on the 50 standup in the comfortable Alutecnos harness, exerting maximum pressure at all time. It took an hour to get the release and although the fish never showed itself clearly on the surface from what we had seen on the bite and on the leader it was fair to say the marlin was well over 500# and may have pushed well over 600lb's, very impressive work Laura, it's great to see anglers with such good technique, go girl!!! Doing a big turn and sweep over the same spot Scott hooked a very feisty 300lber, only minutes latter that made an incredible series of jumps and the most sizzling run we have seen in a long time. Scott whipped the fish in great style and in no time to end two great days of blue marlin fishing for the ecstatic group.
After our first day off the water in ages, we were out on the water after lunch on the 21st with 'Decisive's' owner Steve Cothron and his daughter Angela. With a sailfish to Angela's credit and couple blues having been raised by the fleet on the 9 mile drop-off, we switched gear and slow trolled some dead baits from the riggers working a tight area were marlin had been seen but would not eat at the higher speeds. It wasn't long and although I had to look twice in the lower light, the dark shadow trailing the right short turned into an aggressive bite on the mackerel which Steve brought in from the right rigger and hooked in true style to pass off to Angela who did a wonderful job releasing her first big blue, a 450# class fish that jumped fantastically up close and on the leader for the camera. We went out wide the next day, looking for that afternoon bite and were rewarded when the second blue of the afternoon bite the mackerel for Steve and he release a 400# fish to give the father and daughter team each a blue for their trip. The choice was made to work inshore the next day, pulling the hook on a blue off a lure early and then seeing another that would not eat and releasing 2 from 5 sailfish to end another enjoyable for the Cothron's.
With some time off the water we had time to regroup and had a very interesting meeting with Dr. Nelson Earhart of the Rosenthal School of Marine Science at the University of Miami. Earhart is spearheading a study to determine the economic value of the billfishing industry to the Pacific Central American countries, in particular that of Guatemala, Costa Rica and Panama. What was of great interest was his findings and studies as to why the sailfish congregate in such density along our Guatemalan coast and also as to why they were not here in their usual huge numbers this past season. From what they know and have seen, it has to do with this past seasons lack of offshore winds usually found along Nicaragua and Mexico and the subsequent slight warming of inshore waters, decreasing bait density and pushing sailfish out into the distant offshore reaches of their domain, resulting in less inshore density. This is not the first time this has happened off this coastline with a similar occurrence back in 1998, when the sailfishing slowed and the marlin moved in. It is a complicated set of variables but all made since and correlated with what we have seen here this past season. It was also very reassuring to note that by all accounts this is only a short term phenomenal and that it is predicted that things will revert back to normal in the upcoming months and that all will be back to normal by October for our upcoming 2007/2008 season.
Our bookings are filling quickly for next season, with December, February and April already sold, so do not wait too long as things are filling fast and we hate to see anyone disappointed with not being able to find their suitable days.
We are back on the water the 5th of June and look forward to what the month will bring us.
Until next report, tight lines, circle hooks and healthy releases.
Capt. Brad Philipps