Text and Photos By Elliott Stark
“You want some cervezas for the ride?” This was the message I received from Juan Francisco Barquero, or Tuti as he is known. He runs the Smoke, out of Los Suenos, and a transport company to and from the airport. As I wouldn’t be driving and the authorities in Costa Rica don’t frown on open containers, it seemed like a pretty reasonable approach. Sure, please I said. Tuti’s driver would transport me from the airport in San Jose to Los Suenos and the condo that Darryl Shroeder, owner of the 80′ Bayliss Dream Time, was generous enough to offer up. The situation was about as hospitable a start to a trip as you can get.
Then there was Los Suenos itself.
Day one of fishing produced something pretty fascinating. Captain John LaGrone was running the Pelese. A blue marlin came up and attached the teaser. LaGrone held on the line coming out of the teaser reel and dug in. This fish attacked the teaser forcefully and pulled quite a bit harder than most. Ultimately the fish switched and the boat released a 200-pound blue. As the crew redeployed the teaser, it swam strangely. Pulling it back in, they discovered the reason for the odd swimming of the teaser and why the fish pulled the teaser with such force.
Embedded in the teaser was a custom made four-pronged hook. It was fashioned by welding two fang hooks together. LaGrone know that Captain Devin Silas aboard the Shoe pulled a greenstick. At the dock, the guys compared notes and sure enough two days prior the Shoe released a 200-pound blue marlin that ate a rubber squid on the greenstick. The fish went nuts by the boat so retrieving the hook the first time was not safe.
Fast forward a couple of days, to day one of the tournament, one the exposed hooks lodged itself in the Pelese’s teaser. When LaGrone wrapped up on the fish, the force pulled the teaser out of the fish’s mouth, snatching out the greenstick hook as it went. Andy Moyes, who was working the cockpit on the Pelese, described the situation accurately, “He traded a treble hook for a circle hook.”
We had scheduled to present the International Division of the Captain of the Year Cup award to Capt. Victor Julio Lopez at the dock after day one. The Tranquilo team made great arrangements, inviting the families of Lopez and mates Daniel Arrieta and Hanzel Mendez. They also bought a daily platter from Jimmy T.
A tournament at Los Suenos is nearly as much about who is there as what is caught. This round was no different.
The Sea Angel went on to win the tournament. The Angel family’s awards speeches highlighted many of the great reasons why fishing is such a great family activity. A couple of days after celebrating his birthday at Los Suenos, Greg Angel, the family’s patriarch, found himself surrounded by his wife and sons describing how winning the tournament with his sons was a longtime dream of his.
During the tournament’s awards ceremony, Los Suenos was gracious enough to have us officially present the Captain of the Year Award to Victor. The bright lights and large stage provided a well-deserved platform for Lopez. As the first ever Costa Rican captain to win a Captain of the Year Award, it was the perfect platform to showcase his achievements.
After the tournament, we had the chance to visit the Maverick Yachts facility. It was a fascinating experience. In addition to building boats, Maverick operates an active charter fleet and is now the Central American distributor for BaitMasters. Larry Drivon provided a thorough run through of the new Maverick 50’ and explained how they can take a prospective boat owner to the forests of Limon and actually select the trees to use on the boat. The forestry service then harvest the tree, mills it and ships rough cut lumber to the factory. It is an interesting operation.
As the world usually works, before long the trip is over. Catching up with Tuti again, stopping to see the crocs in the Tarcoles River. Flying back with a mind full of fresh perspective. Wondrous.