“I had no idea I was going to win,” says Maria Magalhaes, who was named Top Angler Overall for the second year in a row at the 2022 Triple Crown Series. Magalhaes also took home Top Female Angler Overall.
Last year, Magalhaes not only took home the win for the 2021 Top Female Angler but the Signature Triple Crown Top Series Angler Overall, becoming the first woman to claim this achievement. Maria was named top angler for the 2021 Series thanks to catching 18 sails and five marlin for a total of 4,300 points.
This year her win came after catching 12 sails and nine marlin equally 5,700 points.
“That last leg a lot of other boats caught a bunch of marlins,” Magalhaes recalls. “I was fighting for every fish, I don’t give up until the last second. But I was like ‘oh I don’t know if we’ll do it this year.’ I did not expect it.”
Maria started fishing the tournament only a few years ago, noting that what pushed her to become better is her competitiveness, something, she says she and her husband, Uno Mas Captain Brooks Smith, share. Before this she had only bottom fished lakes with her sister in Brazil. The first time she went offshore fishing just so happened to be in Costa Rica.
“I was introduced into deep sea fishing with Brooks so I probably started in 2017 I just started to go on the boat and watch them fish,” she says. “I caught a few sails but I didn’t actually catch the sail I just reeled it in, I was learning the basics. But it was amazing, I fell in love.”
Smith, who is an accomplished angler himself, taught Magalhaes how to hold the rod, tease fish and understand how fishing changes depending on the location. And in 2018, Magalhaes was ready to step up her angling game.
“I told him, ‘listen I want to continue coming along but I’m not going to be sitting here on the bench, I want to fish.’ So he took me to Guatemala and we spent a weekend in Casa Vieja and there we caught a bunch of fish. That’s when I felt like, ok, now I can catch my own fish.”
One tournament led to another and as they say, the rest is history.
And while the Uno Mas team doesn’t usually come back to Costa Rica until the next season, that’s changing this year. They’ll be spending some time fishing the coastlines before heading to Bermuda in July and possibly onward to Madeira.
But it’s Costa Rica where Magalhaes says the fishing is different from any other place.
“My husband says that if you learn to fish in Costa Rica you can fish anywhere because the fish are sneaky, sometimes they just take little bites of your bait, sometime they take your whole bait,” Magalhaes explains. “You’ve got to have very sensitive fingers in order to feel the fish. We’ve had many anglers in the boat that have fished everywhere else but when they’re in Costa Rica they feel like they’ve got to relearn how to fish. It teaches you a lot.”
As for sportfishing in general, Magalhaes shares a sentiment that most anglers can probably agree with.
“That adrenaline when you catch a fish…it’s amazing.”