It has been a little bit of a different start to this fishing season. The multitude of marlin that were around all through the summer months have stayed with us, with some exceptional marlin days in October and again in November.
Our friends, Enrico Capozzi, Stacey Parkenson and their captain Scott Jones brought their boat the "Spirit of Pilar II" up from Costa Rica to join us at the Billfish Inn, and try their hand at the Guatemalan blues on the fly rod. The team saw some exceptional days at the beginning of October raising as many as 6 or 7 blues in a day and fighting a blue on the fly gear for a substantial length of time almost every day, but were really unlucky not to capitalize and break one of the fly records they were trying for.
David West and his father Jim, joined us the 13 and 14th of October with David jumping right into trying for a blue on the fly rod. We had two up the first day and with a little more luck we may have got a bite on the fly. The following day proved slow although we did see some feeding killer whales which was quite a treat and the first time I had seem them off Guatemala.
Some unseasonably late rains really messed things up for the next week or more with green water moving in and the fish moving out. This was the first year in 8 years that I have seen such late rains but one can't argue with the weather gods.
Bob Middleton joined us for his 50th birthday celebrations along with his good buddies, Peter Bray and Blaine Heaps, on the 5th of November to give the sailfish a go on the fly. The sailfishing was a little on the slow side but Peter was quick to get in on the action with a 200lb blue marlin he released in fine style and really showed him the power of these supreme gamefish. Peter then released a sail on the fly latter in the day to take the angler of the day award. The following day we missed another blue, but were redeemed the next when Bob got stuck into a very lively 350lb blue on which he did a fantastic job and then had his birthday blue gift-wrapped by a sail on the fly rod and another 2 more on the spinning gear to see a happy ending to the groups billfishing adventure.
Our loyal friends Denny Doyle of Jacksonville Florida and Bob White of Ft Lauderdale, were with us the 8th thru the 10th of November. Running out 40 miles we found good water on the edge and raised a 300lb blue right off the bat which would not eat but got our hopes up. A little while latter a small blue passed through the spread and we latter found the sailfish just off the edge and picked at them with the guys going 5 from 6 raising 9. We were back on the western edge the following day and after 2 sailfish releases Bob hooked a crazy 250lb blue in fine style with Denny taking some magical photo's of the airborne fighter. Only moments latter and not to be outdone, Denny hooked into a larger blue getting a super fast tournament style release followed more fantastic jumps to see to a great day on the water. Things proved slow the next day for the duo but a great trip was had and it was wonderful to again spend time together with these two great anglers.
Deciding not to make the run offshore the following day, we put the baits out at only 10 miles straight out front in what we call 'the bottom of the pocket', a deep cannon that runs in from the edge. Following the hunch proved most rewarding with Richard Hoffman and sons, Mark and Mike, all of New York, getting in on some great action releasing 8 sailfish and missing a blue and seeing another to show them things can change a great deal from one day to the next in Guatemala and one never knows unless one is on the water trying. The blue marlin were biting in good members the next day, with us having 2 nice fish up earlier in the day neither of which would do much, but with the rest of the fleet also seeing blues we knew it wouldn't be long before we got our shot.
With a couple sailfish and dorado in-between it wasn't long and there she was on the right short teaser and then switched to the right rigger Legend lure with hooks. A solid hookup and Richard was holding on for dear life as the 450lber made a streaking series of jumps for the horizon. After another series of runs the fish went down deep and it wasn't to long before we realized the marlin had unfortunately been tail wrapped during the crazy jumps. With a lot of drag, huffing and puffing we surfaced the dead fish. Sailfish are a protected species in Guatemala and anglers release all marlin also.
This was the first marlin that had died on us in my 8 years in Guatemala and rather than waste the food, we boated her and took her home where she went 441lb by the formula and within no time many of the protein starved locals had their share of fresh fish with not an ounce going to waste.
The sun wasn't to high in the sky on the 13th and a blue marlin slightly bigger than the previous days was up on the magnum wide range teaser. Another perfect switch and Mike was into his first marlin ever. With smooth technique we released the fish in short order to cap a great trip for the Hoffman's.
Bill Easum and Jimmy Taylor joined us on the fly for the 12th with Bill releasing a sail straight off. A nice blue we had up wouldn't tease for the fly and the sails seemed rather lethargic for most of the day. John Price of Texas, joined the 2 the following day in practice for the next days PCCA tournament event and brought with him his lucky lone star. The team released 2 quick sails and then we raised a 550lb class blue on the flat line teaser which John did a fine job with the pitch and switch and had the exciting release in only minutes. An hour latter we had another blue up on the short teaser which we missed, but hearing the chatter on the radio of all the marlin the fleet was seeing we were confident it would not be our last sighting for the day. We were right, it wasn't long and a shadow materialized behind the right short, John made a perfect switch with the mackerel, junior chugger and the new 10/0 Eagle Claw 2007 circle hook combo rig, to the marlin and we where tight again. To our surprise the first jump showed stiff pec's, proportionally shorter dorsal and the big head of a 400lb black marlin, a species we do not see many of here. With some amazing leader jumps John had released the most difficult species of a potential Guatemalan slam. All rods were given to John and it wasn't long and he had released a saily to give us our first ever Guatemalan slam. What a day it proved to be for John, his first ever pacific blue, black and slam, and as far as I am aware the first time a single angler has achieved that in Guatemala, nice going John.
The opening function of the PCCA was a buzz with all the marlin news as some boats had released as many as 5 blues that day. It was going to be an interesting 20lb light tackle tournament. I unfortunately ate something which disagreed with me at the opening banquet and was out of action for a few days, the first time in 8 years I have not managed to make it to 'work'. Capt. Tony Haupt of the 'Escapade' fame kindly filled in for me while I recovered and saw the team to some steady fishing but just couldn't get into a blue marlin or two to boost their points and position up the leader board with the top boats releasing around 25 sails and a marlin or two a piece over the 3 day event.
Ricky LeFranc and son Andres and their friends Jorge Junco and son Francisco joined us for a father and son trip the 19th thru 21st. The fishing was slow the first day but Francisco still managed to release and swim with his first ever sailfish. Well done Francisco. Latter we were truly spoilt when a fully grown killer whale jumped just yards from our bridge teaser, what a sight to see an Orca in the wild. The boys released 3 from 5 sailfish the next day and 5 from 5 the following. The fishing wasn't what the LeFranc's had seen on the their previous trip but never the less everyone had a blast and we couldn't get over how much the little guys enjoyed themselves around the Billfish Inn. It is great to see fathers including their young sons in such trips and exposing them to the joys of the offshore world.
After a couple days break, we were back at it on the 25th with the fishing having improved for the group of Guatemalan businessmen who went 16 from 20 bites at 12 miles offshore.
Dr. Scott "Dog" Lund was back with us on the 26th inviting Cindy and Ries, our new Dutch Chef, out for a day on the water. Scott released a couple on the fly with Rees catching his first ever sailfish and Cindy releasing a very strong 125lb sailfish on the new Alutecnos spinning reel which has been performing flawlessly for us.
The next day Kristy Lund joined us and Scott was red-hot on the long wand going 7 from 8 on the fly sailfish and us being back in the pool by 2.30pm with welcomed cocktails to savor the joys of it all.