February delivered some fantastic fishing for us off the Pacific coast of Guatemala. We have seeing nice sized blue marlin on a very regular basis and some of the most spectacular balls of bait with sailfish, large Dorado, whales and birds all over them to make for 'National Geographic' like scenes which lasted for up to two weeks and kept anglers enthralled with non-stop activity.
The month started with Tony Interdonato, Mike Mooney, Greg Hochstetter and Steve Walker all friends from Florida joining us. Greg was the fortunate angler on the first day to release a spectacular 450 pound blue on 50lb standup to add to the 8 sailfish for the group. We continued the blue marlin run with Steve releasing a 200 pound fish on 20lb tackle as well as 6 sails for the guys the next day. Their final day we released 5 sails and spent more time in search of blues and were very unlucky not to capitalize, raising one blue that would not eat and having another extreme large marlin, perhaps a black, eat the live bonito we were pulling around a bait loaded log, 3 different times but every time just spit it out.
Clint and Lisa Everrett from the Carolina's joined us for 5 days aboard Decisive and 2 days aboard our second boat Circle Hook, starting the 4th going 9 from 20 on the sails and 11 from 19 the following. Heading inshore and east the next day Lisa was rewarded with a 325lb blue early in the day off the bridge teaser. Not much latter we found a log with loads of bait and choose to livebait while also skipping a dead bonito up close. Not long into it a 400lb plus blue inhaled the skipping bonito right under our noses in what had to be one of the most spectacular bites ever. Lisa again did a fine job hooking and fighting the marlin to put number two for the day under her belt, and together with 8 sails and a half bite from another blue they saw out a spectacular Guatemalan fishing day. The 7th and 8th saw a few sails each day and a blue of about 200lbs that we missed to end a fantastic trip.
Mike Coe and his son Andy fished with us on the fly next and raised an average of 4 to 14 sailfish a day. Althought they proved finicky at times each of the duo released a few fish and enjoyed their trip emensly.
Our neighbour and good friend Dr. Scott Lund was with us the 13th and 14th along with his friends Mike Carastro and Mark Boydston. Day one proved very tuff but we found them biting inshore on day two going 13 from 19 on the sails with some handsome dorado for the grill.
Jeff and Judy Schneider fished with us the 15th through the 17th. Having never caught a billfish on fly they achieved their goal and each managed to release a sailfish or two on the long wand to leave most happy with themselves. Fine job guys.
The weekend of the 19th saw Brad at the Miami Boat Show and The Billfish Foundation Annual Awards Dinner at which he was honoured for winning the Top Release Captain of the year as well as Pacific Sailfish Release Captain. This is the ninth year in a row he has received these much acclaimed awards. His mates Kennedy and Johnny were also honoured as top mates.
Fanie Steyn of Zimbabwe returned to fish with us bringing along with him 4 of is fellow Southern African's, John Reid, Tony Nesbit, Peter Robinson and Brendon Rundle to experience what this part of the Pacific has to offer. The 22nd saw the group releasing 12 from 16 bites and in high spirits. The 23rd saw 6 sailfish released and a very impressive blue marlin of 450lbs caught by Brendon around a group of spinner dolphins.
The following day saw 11 sailfish released from 16 bites. Their final day saw us find the birds, bait, dorado, sailfish and marlin at 14 miles and the action was no-stop. The boys released 24 sailfish from 44 bites, some big dorado were boated and the highlight of the day was a 350lb blue which Peter caught, while another similar sized fish just would not bite. The "Africans" couldn't have been happier and its always a pleasure to see people that come from so far be rewarded with some outstanding fishing and lifelong memories.
The month ended with us organising and help host the 64th Ocean City Light Tackle Derby, a 20lb conventional trolling tournament. 15 anglers fished on 5 boats, with a practice day followed by 3 tournament days. Barry Fitzpatrick and Richard Barrazzotto came in early to enjoy two days of fishing with us the 26th and 27th. Each was deservedly rewarded with a blue marlin release, as well as another blue that was missed and 2 more that would not eat, while getting heaps of practice on the sailfish going 14 from 34 over the two days. The 28th saw us on the official practice day, going 21 from 35 bites to put all the competitors in high spirits. The 1st of March saw day One and 'Decisive' releasing 10 from 28 sails as well as a 225 lb blue marlin for Mike Sparco. Day two saw 'Decisive' release 28 sails from 56 bites as well as a 300lb blue for Tony Calabrese to be top boat for the day. The final day saw the bite get even better, with 'Decisive' releasing 33 sailfish, with countless Dorado and a large marlin which crashed the teaser, to again take top daily honors. The final results saw 271 sailfish and two blue marlin releases for the happy Ocean City anglers. Wayne Six was the top angler with 2800 points, John Carbone came in second with 2600 points and Barry Fitzpatric third with 2300 points. Team Italia of Matthew Barrazotto, John Carbone and Tony Calabrese was top team and "Decisive" took the top boat spot by more than 10 sailfish and two blue marlin, to see the OCLTT derby out in fine style with many saying it proved to be one their most successful events yet.
With the amount of bait and fish we have seen this past month one can look forward to another great report next month. Historically February is not one of our better blue marlin months but with the numbers we are seeing, one is inclined to think that come May and early June we will see some superb marlin fishing along with the usually high numbers of sails. Anyone thinking of trying for blues on fly, light tackle or 50lb standup should seriously think of looking at getting here this May, as the fishing is lining up to be spectacular.
Until next report, tight line, eagle claw circle hooks and healthy releases.
Capt. Brad Philipps