After a great Christmas break, visiting various friends in the wonderful state of Texas, we have been back on the water since the 3rd of January 2007. The bite started off red-hot, just like we had left it in 2006, but unfortunately slowed right down through the second week. We pounded away, burnt alot of fuel looking in different areas, and where rewarded with enough action to make it worth while and the biggest blue marlin I have released in my almost 7 years in Guatemala, and one of the top 5 of my career.
Our friend Bill Easum of Corpus Christi, TX, got his year off to a flying start releasing 29 sailfish on the bait as well 6 on the fly rod on the 3rd. I don't think he missed but 1 or 2 fish all day, and was 100% on the fly. If he keeps this up the rest of the year, those tournament anglers in trouble.
My longtime buddy, Matt Smith of Australia, together with his father-in-law Wayne McWatt of New Zealand, joined us for 3 exceptional days, the 4th thru 6th. After years of trying to put a trip together it was great to have them here to share in this exceptional fishery. The pair released 31 sailfish from 40 bites the first day. Half way thru the morning of day two we raised a solid marlin on the right flat teaser, everything went to plan and the fish ate the pitched mackerel and Matt was into his first real fish, a blue one of around 500# maybe a little larger. The fish put on a show like no other, with some 20 plus water clearing, greyhounding leaps across the flat blue ocean, before settling down into a slugfest, with Matt getting the better of the fish after some 45 minutes on the 50lb Alutecnos standup outfit. With 14 sailfish to add to the marlin it was a day none of us will forget and always a blessing to have shared it with such good friends. The 6th saw us release 20 from 31 bites to see out the trip in style.
Nat Harris, Tommy Worth and Veto Spitaleri joined us on the fly the 7th thru the 10th. We raised 14 the first day releasing 2 on fly and 1 on spin, and broke off a 400# blue on the 50 late in the day. Things slowed the next days with he trio releasing a total of 8 fish for their trip.
Bill and Vicky Childs, of Maryland, came down on a "Christmas trip" and were enchanted with their trip. Even though the fishing was on the slow side, only releasing a half dozen between them, they couldn't get over the quality of the lodging, food and service. They had unexpectedly timed their trip with a group of regulars fishing other boats and invited the group of 7 to join us for a splendid evening at our Billfish Inn.
Things stayed slow for Scott Segal of Chicago, who invited Mark and Steve Wyklige to join him. We searched far a wide and did find enough action the first day to get us 4 from 8 on the sails and release Mark a 200# blue on the 20#, not bad for u're first day offshore. The following day Steve released a 75# striped marlin right off the bat, Steve's first marlin as well as for the Decisive, we do not see many here in Guatemala at all. The following day we were able to get he hooks to stick on the only two sailfish that bite, but did catch some consolation yellowfin for sushi.
We called it an early day the 17th, heading for the swimming pool having not caught a sailfish in rougher green water, with Scott Lund and friends Cory and Sue of Deerfield, Fl. The 18th saw us way out west in good water and we were able to scratch together 3 sailfish to make the day worth while.
Gary Hughes, his son Kyle, and friend David Minson all of Chile, had it tough the first day with only one fish, but released 6 from 8 their second day, and being the true sportsmen these guys are, never batted an eyelid, enjoyed it as it came and made the most of the trip never the less. We look forward to seeing Gary back in May, with his African mates and also to have David with his son Matt in May.
Dave Bartelt and Brain Seeger, put together a great group of 8 guys from Tampa, Fl, all involved in the property development game. We fished the group aboard the Decisive, and had the Intensity charted for them as their other boat. Wayne released a 125# blue on 20#, aboard the Intensity the first morning to make his trip. We released a sail early, and pulled the hooks on a nice blue around 450# at midday. Later that afternoon, we inexplicably broke off an even bigger blue on it's first run, but did release 3 more sails.
With quite a few blues being seen, I put out the bigger teasers with the biggest, a Moldcraft Magnum WideRange up short. We released a sail early. Caught 2 big dolphin, and 2 yellowfin around a large group of spinners, as well as pulling the hook on a very large tuna, which almost spooled us while fighting the others. Late in the day, the right short magnum teaser exploded with an inside going out bite from a massive marlin. We pitched the circle hook rigged bonito, with the immense fish wobbling back and forth outside the spread for a while then disappearing. With the bonito now way back in the spread, and for what seemed like hours latter, the bait exploded in a huge swirl. We missed the first bite, but were hooked up after the second. After the first burn and the second jump I was certain the fish was as close to a grand as one could comfortable call. In waters like this we don't see fish of this proportion very often, and hence calling the size on such monsters is tuff, but with years of blue marlin fishing in Africa and Brazil, and other trips to large marlin spots like Australia and Ascension Island I can say with assurance that the fish was by far the biggest we have hooked in my time here in Guatemala and was every bit of 1000#.
Dave Bartelt was the lucky angler on the rod, and did a superb job adjusting the drag from 15 pounds of drag on it's runs up to an eventual 30 pounds of fighting drag.
Not only was it an incredible fish, but on the 50# standup, a true achievement. We got the release in some 20 minutes with the fish fortunately never going deep, and spent another hour hooked up, with the leader being in hand 6 times trying to get more footage of the fish, before we broke her off as time faded in the day and we made the joyous run back the dock.
After the disappointment of breaking a nice fish off the day before, it really was just reward for the group to share in such an experience, and just goes to show that even when the fishing is slow, the top destinations and crews will always find something to make every trip memorable. In this game you never know unless you are out there trying.
There is a lot of talk about the El Niño this year, but rest assured, that it not what was affecting us, it is a long way from us. Even the worlds very best destinations have some slow periods. These fish are constantly moving, they don't always bite, and sometimes go down, the reasons are endless. The slow fishing the past 2 weeks was as a result of cooler green water, not hot water. This happens, but thankfully the water has again turned to a deep blue and is back to it's usual 83-84F temperature. We did not fish yesterday but boats saw up to 50 fish, so am sure things we'll be back in them tomorrow, and looking forward to it.
Until next report, tight lines, circle hooks and healthy releases.
Capt. Brad Philipps