Cool video from Wire We Here fishing for marlin in Costa Rica with Capt. Scott Jones. Check it out!
Bayliss Boatworks is building a new GameBoat, sized at 62’ and named Tarheel. This build began in March of 2018.
Tarheel features the V.2 GameBoat layout – a healthy synergy of the first two GameBoats built by Bayliss; she combines the practicality of Mama C with the custom lower level layout of GameChanger. Bayliss Boatworks’ first demo boat, she will be fished heavily on the east coast tournament circuit and will eventually wind up in Costa Rica.
Exterior features include a variety of faux teak components, including a faux teak toe rail transom and drip molding. She will have a sleek profile, hard top, and white windshield. It’s all about symmetry on Tarheel: the flybridge will have the classic center console arrangement. A center door will orient the salon, and two peninsula cabinets will be featured in the galley for refrigeration and storage.
The lower level will be comprised of a simple three stateroom/two-head layout, along with an easily accessible dayhead and tackle room, each situated just off the main companionway. Systems will include two 20 kw Northern Lights generators, an FCI 1,800 gallon per day watermaker, and a Dometic Chilled Water A/C system (now standard on all Bayliss builds).
Beam: 18’ 2”
Draft: 4’ 8”
Fuel: 1,850 gallons
Water: 300 gallons
Power: Twin MTU M96L 10V @ 1600 hp each
Stabilization: Seakeeper 9
Tarheel will deliver in summer of 2019. Bayliss Boatworks has been building custom sportfishing yachts in Wanchese since 2002. Four builds are in progress at the company’s facility in Wanchese, including a Bayliss 75’, a 78-footer named Blue View, and two 62’ GameBoats – GameChanger and Tarheel.
For more information on Tarheel and all other builds, past and present, visit www.baylissboatworks.com
The InTheBite Captain of the Year Cup, presented by Hatteras, is the championship of sportfishing. The Cup is the world’s only quantifiable way to recognize the tournament success of professional sportfishermen. Comprised of 90-sanctioned events that span the world, there is nothing else like it. Winning an InTheBite Captain of the Year Award is a major achievement. From the winners to the Cup’s origin, it is an interesting tale.
Origins of the Cup
InTheBite Magazine started in 2003. Since its conception, the magazine has focused on providing useful, entertaining content for professional sportfishing crews. InTheBite’s publisher and founder, Dale Wills, was the son of a captain and himself ran sportfisher in Venezuela during the fishery’s heyday. Over the course of covering the sportfishing landscape in the magazine’s formative years, Wills began to notice that something was missing.
“We began realizing that each year as we covered the magazine that certain teams would get on winning streaks. There was no award for them at the time and we wanted to recognize guys for doing well, so we created the Captain of the Year,” Wills recalls. “There was nothing for crews that consistently placed in tournaments. The owners would get checks, but we wanted to do more. We wanted to recognize the crews and the success of our readership.”
The first ever InTheBite Captain of the Year was VJ Bell in 2003. It was Bell’s dominance that spurred the decision to act. “That year we watched VJ Bell cleaning everyone’s clock and we wanted to recognize him.”
In 2014, The Captain of the Year Cup took on its current multidivisional format. From 2003-2013, a single captain won the award based on voting by past winners. In 2014, to recognize the regional variations in the sportfishing landscape, the Captain of the Year Cup expanded to five divisions: East Coast Division , the Contender Florida Division, Gulf, Hawaii and the IGY Marinas International Division. Beyond the five divisions, InTheBite recognizes a winner of the World Wide Rankings, the captain who accrues the highest point total in the race each year. Each division is comprised of sanctioned tournaments, the results of which produce points for the COTY scoring.
Sanctioned events must meet a 12-boat minimum. Scoring is accumulated in the catch and release divisions of billfish tournaments: 500-points for first place, 300-points for second, 100-points for third place. For tournaments that include a heaviest marlin division, there is an additional 500-points awarded to the winning captain. The heaviest marlin points are in addition to and separate from the points awarded for the release divisions. In this way, a captain could theoretically win 1,000 points in the same tournament (by weighing the heaviest marlin and winning the release division). In tournaments that award top boat prizes through combined weighed fish and released fish, Captain of the Year points are awarded to the winner of the release division. An additional 250-points is awarded to captains who win series crowns in tournament circuits (Gulf Coast Triple Crown, the Los Sueños Triple Crown, etc.).
The point tallies follow the captain, rather than the boat. It is common for charter captains, especially in the Florida Division, to tally points on two or sometimes three boats in the course of the year. Not only do some captains score on multiple boats, some captains tally points in different divisions through the year. Multi divisional tallies were the key to the top two finishers in 2016’s World Wide Rankings—Captains Jon Duffie and Tommy Lynskey (each of whom scored in both the international and east coast divisions).
What Does it Mean to Win Captain of the Year?
Winning an ITB Captain of the Year Award is a big deal. From the early days of the award, when a single winner was chosen to the point-based divisional system of today, to win requires skill, consistency and dedication (nobody will turn down a little luck, either). Winning a Captain of the Year award requires a sizeable investment in tournament fishing by boat owners, skill and proficiency of mates, and anglers who are consistently ready when the bite happens. While all of these things must be present, it is the captain whose decision making keeps winning boats on the fish.
“It was awesome. I think it’s a pretty cool idea. With all of the new categories and areas, it has changed quite a bit since I won it,” says Captain Travis Butters the 2008 Captain of the Year. “The award was a great idea for the industry. It gives everyone something to strive for aside from just winning tournaments.”
When describing his winning year of 2008, Butters recalls, “First we won something in Key West. Then we won the Custom Boat Shootout and won a couple in Bermuda, and the Triple Crown. It was just one of those years when everything went your way.”
Captain Devin Potts is the 2016 Gulf Division Captain of the Year. Potts, who runs the Sea Mixer, a 66-foot Spencer, says “There are a lot of good, good fishermen here. Winning this is a huge career milestone for me. It has been a humbling experience.”
Captain Victor Julio Lopez runs the Tranquilo, a 57-foot Spencer. Lopez was the first Costa Rican born captain to win the award, winning the 2016 International Division. “The success of my efforts may be attributed to the blessing of God and the effort of our team and our anglers. My mate Daniel Arrieta has been here giving his best to keep us in this position. My wife Tania is by my side and has always been my good luck charm,” says Lopez describing his success. “It’s taken a great effort day to day to be in the position and it is a great honor to the first Costa Rican captain to be named Captain of the Year.”
So Now You’ve Won Captain of the Year… Now What?
It is standard practice that Captains of the Year host a party along with the presentation of the award. Just as there have been many different personalities who have won, the parties in the past have ranged far and wide. Captain Wink Doerzbacher won the 2013 Captain of the Year and the Florida Division Award in 2014. He celebrated in style with a reception at the Sailfish Point Clubhouse in Stuart, Florida. Captain John Dudas’ 2009 celebration was a catered affair at the legendary Miami Beach Rod and Gun Club. When Captain Ronnie Fields won it in 2010, the party was an epic affair hosted by Big Oh owner Gray Ingram at his home. The reception for Captain Victor Julio Lopez included a friends and family affair on the cockpit of the Tranquilo after day 1 of a Los Sueños tournament and a formal presentation at the tournament’s award ceremony. Captain Russell Sinclair’s reception was held at the Ocean Club Marina in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Some parties include pig roasts with guest chefs—like Captain Travis Butters (master of the pig roast), and some are a bit more low key. Compare this the bright lights and cocktail hours of some captains with the approach of back-to-back Hawaii Division Captain of the Year Kerwin Masunaga. Captain Kerwin prefers to live bait during tournaments and keep his head down. He lets his fishing do the talking for him. All of the diversity of approach is part of what makes the Cup so interesting.
The Sanctioned Events
The Cup consists of 90-sanctioned events. The largest division by number is the Los Suenos International Division with 23-tournaments. The Hawaii Division consists of 11. Sanctioned events are billfish tournaments that contain a minimum of 12-boats. While the award is meant to recognize the achievement of captains, the setup of the structure benefits a wide variety of those with an interest in sportfishing. Tournaments are chief among them.
Randy Bright is the Tournament Director of the Houston Big Game Club’s Lone Star Shootout. “We’ve been part of it since it started. I think it’s a great program. Captains love to compete and to compare themselves with other guys that they’re fishing with,” says the industry veteran. “It’s a great benefit to the professional tournament captains. Anything we can do to create a tie between tournament and tournament is a good thing. Captains really like the idea of being part of it. It also helps the tournament because it encourages captains to encourage their owners to fish multiple events.”
Amy Dukes is the Tournament Director for the South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series. The five events that comprise the series—this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament— are pivotal to the East Coast Division race. “It’s an honor to have captains that fish the South Carolina Governor’s Cup to be included in such a prestigious award,” says Duke. “The last couple of years we’ve had a great representation in the Captain of the Year standings. Captain Harvey Shiflet, the 2016 East Coast Captain of the Year, won two of our events last year. Before that, Captain Gary Richardson on the Reel Passion, turned success in the Governor’s Cup into a Captain of the Year Award in 2015. Captain Bobby Garmany on the Sportin’ Life placed well, too.”
The Cup Now
InTheBite.com is the source for current standings and the latest cup news. In the fourth year of its divisional format, the InTheBite Captain of the Year Cup, presented by Hatteras, is coming into its own. As the races heat up, the phone lines at the office ring with anticipation. “Who is winning?” “How am I doing?” “Do I need to fish any more events to keep my lead safe?” This is what makes tournament fishing fun and we’re honored to be able to recognize those who consistently produce.
InTheBite Inside the Lines Episode 5! Providing you with the latest news in big game sportfishing.
by Elliott Stark
With all of modern Costa Rica’s ease and amenity, it is easy to forget that Costa Rica hasn’t always been this way. The infrastructure enjoyed by residents and tourists are a relatively modern innovation. The first wave of traveling sportfishers came to the country in the 1980s. What these pioneers encountered upon their arrival was magical— virgin fisheries and rugged, untouched terrain. Sportfishing consisted of pockets of four boats here, six boats there, fishing without GPS or advanced bottom machines (rather as Captain Bubba Carter says— “using paper sounders and taking landmarks off of mountains.”)
What these early adopters may have lacked in marinas, logistics and the modern concept of civilization, was more than made up for in adventure. The incredible sailfish and black marlin bites is the stuff of legend. This is story of how Costa Rica of the late 1980s came to be the Costa Rica of today. It is told by those who were part of its evolution. If you do not find this fascinating, either I need to stop writing (for lack of skill) or you need to take up golf (because you do not like fishing)!
The Early Days
Bubba Carter is widely recognized as a central figure in the 1980s sportfishing scene. “My first time in Costa Rica was to Flamingo in 1985. We chartered Tom Bradwell on the Barbarella. At the time, there were four or so boats in Flamingo,” Carter reminisces. “I came down with Charlie Cippola from Canada the next year. He had a 43-foot Merritt and wanted to try something different. It started out as kind of a dare.”
“‘Can you get the boat down there?’ Charlie asked. ‘Well,’ I said, ‘there’s water between here and there…’” There was no GPS, no marinas and no range. Our first trip took 19 days from West Palm Beach to Flamingo,” Carter describes. “We had 300 gallons in deck and 300 gallons on deck. We had a range of about 350 miles… maybe 450 if we were chugging. We were so loaded down on our first trip that the tuna door started taking on water when we left he marina.”
Carter’s route would become a familiar one to the many who have since followed. He island-hopped his way through the Caribbean, transited the Panama Canal. From Panama City, he ran to Golfito; from Golfito to Flamingo. “At the time Golfito had a four-slip marina. Quepos had the banana boat pier. Tamarindo had four or five boats. Cocos had a couple, too. If everybody showed up all at one place for a tournament, there might have been a dozen boats,” says Bubba of the entire Costa Rican fleet.
“Flamingo was the place to be back then. You could fly into Tamarindo, but you’d have to chase the cows off the runway first,” Carter recalls. “It was kinda clannish back then. The group in Golfito and the guys in Flamingo, nobody really liked each other back then,” Carter recalls with a laugh.
Carter’s operation provided a testing ground for other of Costa Rica’s early entrants. One was Captain John Skubal, who now works as a yard manager at Merritt. “I headed to Costa Rica in 1990 for a couple of years. We were fishing out of Flamingo aboard the Ambush, a 46-foot Merritt,” Skubal recalls. “The fishery was unbelievable, everything else was pretty primitive. It was kind of jungle rules.”
“Flamingo was very quaint back then. There was one floating dock. You either tied up to it or anchored offshore. There were a couple of hotels, a couple of restaurants and basically that was it,” Skubal says of the old days.
Another of CR’s early adopters, and perhaps one of sportfishing’s nicest individuals, is Captain John LaGrone. His first trip to the country was in 1993 running the Magic for Tim Choate. “Flamingo was a thriving fishing village at the time. That was its heyday. Flamingo had a marina and a fuel dock and a maintenance section,” the veteran captain recalls. “Logistics were easy. The food truck came one day, the vegetable truck came one day, the coke truck came one day and the beer truck came another. Nobody drank bottled water then.”
Bubba Carter describes the early days of the fishery with a characteristic ease and understatement. After all, when you’ve done and seen as much as Carter, you don’t need to embellish anything. “The fishing was awesome. Now there are a lot more boats with a lot more tech, which make it seem good. Back then there were three or four boats fishing landmarks off the mountains. We had paper sounders. There were acres of sailfish—and the fishing was better.”
“Over 11 years, we averaged over 1,000 billfish per year. That was fishing around 200 days per year. Back then, many of the charters were record fishing on two and four pound. It wasn’t the numbers fishing like it is today,” Bubba describes. “My best day in the early days was 52 sails. My best year was 1,444 in 204 days. Last year was my best year overall—2,200 sails and 318 blues (in 46 days) in 198 days.”
While the fishing in Costa Rica was great then, as it is now, there were differences. John LaGrone provides context, “The size and number of sails and blue marlin were much different. In those days, it was very uncommon to catch a sailfish under 100-pounds. In the 1990s, they averaged 100-125 pounds. An average day was 15 sails and two blue marlin,” he describes.
“It was easier to target a black for your marlin— fishing the humps out of Flamingo. The average black was around 400-pounds, with some bigger fish around. You couldn’t fish ballyhoo for more than five minutes because there were lots and lots of dorado. Big dorado, too. Another difference was the size and amount of yellowfin tuna – there were lots of them. You could target the schools of yellowfin by following travelling birds. This was very common and there were lots of big tuna.”
“Some of the best days I had were a grand slam with my wife. We caught 35 sails, a black and a stripe. Fishing out of Cocos Island, we had 18 slams and two super slams in 43 days. The numbers were not the important part. It was the numbers, size, and variety of the fishery. I can’t say that the fishing was better then than now, but there were bigger fish before,” recalls LaGrone.
A Florida Keys native, Captain Randy Rode made his first fishing trip to Costa Rica in 1982 aboard a 31-foot Rampage. His first day of trolling, Rode caught eight big sails and two blue marlin in four hours. The experience was such that Rode shortly thereafter purchased a half acre tract in the town of Nosara for $1,200. Nosara, then with a population of 150 people, is located about 10 miles north of Carillo. Rode kept his boat in the half moon-shaped Garza Bay that was protected at its mouth by a stretch of reef with a gap in the middle. Getting to Nosara from San Jose in those days was a six to seven-hour drive that required crossing 13 rivers. Rode estimates that there were approximately 1,000 people living in the region at the time.
Randy ran his operation, Rode Runner Sportfishing, for the next 15 years. Rode placed moorings made of heavy equipment tires in the bay. He loaded and offloaded guests and fishing supplies to and from his boats via panga beach-launchings. For bait, he would fly 150-quart coolers full of Keys-caught ballyhoo down from the states. “In those days, you could bring anything down on the airplane,” Rode says.
The Story of Los Sueños
Just as the nation’s incredible fisheries draw tourists from around the world today, it was the great fishing and lifestyle attributes of Costa Rica that attracted investment and development. The story of how Costa Rica of the early 1980s became the Costa Rica of today cannot be told without first relating the story of Los Sueños. While there exist many other developments in the nation, Los Sueños Resort and Marina has been transformative. Just how impactful has Los Sueños been to the Costa Rica? Mr. William Royster is the founder, CEO and President of Los Sueños. He was also the man behind the vision for the project.
“In 1991 I decided to take a sabbatical. I had recently purchased a 92-foot long range sportfisherman. The marlin fishing is not great in southern California so he headed south in January of 1991, fished Mexico and Mag Bay. We kept heading south and got to Acapulco. We decided we didn’t want to go back so we went to Costa Rica. It is 1,100 miles from Acapulco to Playa del Coco, Costa Rica,” Mr. Royster recalls.
“We explored Costa Rica and kept moving south to get out of the Papagayo winds. We arrived to the tip of Guanacaste—around Nicoya. We were fishing about 60-miles offshore when we caught a roughly 800-pound marlin. At the time, there was not much in Costa Rica. We came into Herradura Bay and celebrated,” he says. Anchored in Herradura Bay celebrating the fish of a lifetime, Royster looked upon the coastline.
“I saw the Los Sueños property. It was an 1,100-acre cattle ranch. There was no infrastructure. I owned a large general engineering company with experience in development. I had the skillset,” Roster describes. “I contacted the owner of the property and began performing due diligence—country research, currency analysis. This was not my first development project, but it was my first time internationally,” Royster says.
“At the time there were around 120,000 travelers to Costa Rica each year. I scratched out the concept on a piece of paper. Over the next two years I travelled throughout Latin America to research resorts. We started predevelopment in 1994.” In 2015, an estimated 2.6 million tourists visited the country.
In the early 1990s Costa Rican law prohibited development within 50-meters of the coastline. Coastal construction setbacks are standard in many parts of the world, but make development of marinas a difficult task. “We had to legislate law through the Costa Rican congress to allow access within 50-meters of the coastline,” Royster describes. “In 1998, the president signed the Marina Law. It was the first time that a law was passed by 100% of the Costa Rican congress. We are pretty proud of that.”
“Since that time, we’ve grated over four million cubic meters of rock for the breakwater,” Mr. Royster details, providing scope of the project. “We put in all of the infrastructure—it’s similar in scope to the backbone of a small city. There’s a hook up for telecom and power at the gate, but we manage everything else.”
“In 2001, we created a completely vertically integrated company—everything is in house. We operate all restaurants, own the hotel, which is managed by Marriot. We own everything else,” he says. Vertical integration describes the fact that Los Sueños controls all variables of the construction, development, landscaping, etc. on the property. This integration provides quality control and the ability to deliver products and services as demanded by the market.
Today Los Sueños is the setting for 600 residences (the output is to be capped at 1,000 units—with 600 of the 1,100-acres of the development to remain rainforest in perpetuity). The marina contains 200 wet slips and 118 dry slips. The marina is at 100% occupancy, with some 64% of occupants also owning a home within Los Sueños.
When asked about the evolution of the property, Royster is reflective. “The Master Plan has been achieved. In many ways, we’ve achieved more than I thought. The demand has created a higher end product than we imagined. The profile of our customer has driven the increase.” Whereas Royster initially envisioned units ranging from $250,000 to $750,000, demand for larger, nicer outputs have steered production to units ranging from $750,000 to five million. “A vertically integrated company allowed us to control all of the variables and to steer to where the market dictated. People wanted bigger, nicer products,” Royster says. Los Sueños has delivered.
Modern Costa Rica
The Costa Rica of today is a veritable fishermen’s paradise. The elements of mystery, danger and isolation of the mid-1980s have been replaced by amenity and ease of access. The isolated natural bays that once sheltered handfuls of adventurous souls—fishermen, hippies and surfers— have been replaced by marinas, hotels, and tourism infrastructure capable of comfortably hosting even the least adventure-minded of individuals.
How does the modern fishery compare to the way it once was? Captain Terry Robinson provides a great bit of perspective on the relationship between the fishing then and now. Robinson’s first season in Costa Rica was in 1995 when he worked the cockpit on the Tyson’s Pride under Captain Timmy Hyde. “The fishing was fantastic. We fished what we knew. We fished the areas with infrastructure. The biggest change is that now there are so many boats and marinas. In the early days, you just wonder what was out of reach,” Robinson recalls.
“In the early days, we fished shallower, closer to the beach or on the edge. We caught more blacks. As more boats came, fishing expanded offshore. Now there’s no rhyme or reason for where fish congregate—it’s about finding bait and birds. Today radar, range, and gyro binoculars make it so much easier to find things offshore.”
“Today most of the winning boats in the Los Sueños tournaments are now fishing the 50-mile boundary. You just wonder what we would have found out there with a larger fleet in the early days,” Robinson ponders intriguingly. The answers to such questions are indeed the thing of legend.
The pockets of four boats here and six boats there described by Bubba Carter are now world class marinas in Golfito, Quepos, Los Sueños, Flamingo and other locations. The sportfishing fleet in Costa Rica these days compares favorably to Palm Beach or most anywhere else in the world. The flavor of Costa Rica may be different, but the charm remains and it is undeniable.
How about the fishing? In nine days of fishing, 43 boats fishing the three Los Sueños Signature Series Tournaments released 6,700 billfish. Yes, 6,700—that comes to around two fish per minute of fishing. Then there are the FADs. The numbers of blue marlin released out of Golfito are most normally reserved for days of dorado fishing, not targeting stick nose.
It is always tempting to long for the past. For most anyone who has ever fished, there is a desire to experience what captains Bubba Carter, John LaGrone and others witnessed in the early days of Costa Rican sportfishing. The paths blazed by the likes of Skubal, Rode, Royster and others have had the effect of opening Costa Rican sportfishing opportunities to the world at large. Pura Vida is open for business. While there are many differing opinions on the matter, one thing can be said with confidence. Costa Rica was… and Costa Rica is one hell of a place.
Reel Addiction Wins the Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic with 796.9-Pound Blue Marlin
After a pursuit lasting more than a decade, Team Reel Addiction finally topped the field of 117 boats to win the 2018 Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic. Angler Chase Pate of Pensacola, Florida, Capt. Scooter Porto, owners Rocky and Laurie Jones, and mates Zach Taylor, Seth Brennan and Nate Dennis boated a 796.9-pound blue marlin after a 30-minute fight Saturday morning. The largest marlin of the week earned the team $405,705 for the top tournament award and optional entries. The overall tournament prize money was nearly $2.2 million.
“Winning this one was on my bucket list,” Rocky Jones explained before Sunday’s awards breakfast. “We won top release boat 12 years ago and I’ve been trying to win the whole shooting match ever since. We finally did it!” Reel Addiction, a 56 Viking and regular on the Gulf big-game circuit, is based in Pensacola Beach. With the win, the team also earned an invitation to compete in the 2019 Offshore World Championship in Quepos, Costa Rica.
Team Supreme, with anglers Alex Krake, Chris Howell and Capt. Chase Lake, didn’t go home empty-handed, even though their Friday night marlin weighed 739.1 pounds. The 76 Viking from Destin went back out and caught a 156.6-pound yellowfin to boost the overall winnings to $313,115 for the second-place tournament award and optionals.
Pearl took the third-place tournament award and pocketed $122,970. Angler Edgar McKee and Capt. Shawnie Clemons and the team aboard the 48 Viking based in Orange Beach boated a 611.5-pound blue to earn that payout.
The Catch and Release Division was close and final standings were determined by time of catch. Relentless Pursuit (Capt. Robbie Doggett), was the overall winner with 1,800 points (three blue releases), earning a check of $265,050. The 95 Jim Smith calls New Orleans home. Done Deal (Capt. Jason Buck) came in second in the division, also with 1,800 points. Angler Katie Gonsoulin took top Lady Angler honors and the team won $133.830. Money Shot (Capt. Dale Bergeron) was the third-place release team with 1,200 points, good for a $12,000 payday. A Work of Art, Born2Run and Wynsong also won optional money in the release division. Ryan Cooper, fishing on CE, was named the top junior angler based on his two white marlin releases.
Angler Robeau Whibbs and the family/friends team aboard Swee Pea, a 50 Topaz from Pensacola, captured the top tuna. Their yellowfin weighed 182.3 pounds, good for $24,000. No tuna topped the current Mississippi record of 205.8 pounds, so the special $500,000 bonus went unclaimed. Bennie Goldman and his team on Reelentless, a 37 Freeman from Dauphin Island, took second place tuna honors with a 172.8 yellowfin. That fish was worth $139,725 in category and optional money. Fourteen-year-old Sawyer York, competing aboard First Choice, a 60 Hatteras based in New Orleans, whipped a 166.3-pound yellowfin tuna to earn his team $90,585 in prize money. Triple Threat also won optional prize money for its 159.2 tuna.
Anthony Stauffer (Hayride) boated the largest swordfish, a 144.1 broadbill, good for $39,600 in tournament and optional money. Matt Carpenter, on Long Straw, was second with a 125.2-pounder ($20,160), followed by Anthony Lopez on Titan Up (123.5 pounds/$26,940).
Johnny Moore, fishing aboard Alma-Ann, a 48 Cabo (Capt. Nick Jones), made MGCBC tournament history when he finally landed the new record dolphin after a two-hour waiting game. The 57.2-pound bull earned the team $66,750. Kevin Berry, on Deadline, a 52 Viking, was second with a fishing weighing 45.2 pounds ($18,000), while Michael Burroughs whipped a 44.6-pound dolphin for Team Quicktime ($37,650). Amnesia, Big Torch, Heads N Tails and Questionable Judgement also took home optional prize money for their dolphin.
The wahoo this year didn’t quite meet normal Classic averages but were respectable fish nonetheless and earned nice payouts. Lined Out and Jeff Dees caught the largest, 61.4 pounds, good for $48,300. Seament’s Doug Lake was second with a 48.5 wahoo ($37,125) and Neal Foster, betting heavily on Team Intensity, took home $82,425 for three entries in the optional categories.
“We had great weather and some exceptional fish brought to the scales this week,” said Tournament Director Bobby Carter. “I’d like to congratulate our champion Reel Addiction and thank all the teams, our wonderful sponsors and my staff for making this 22nd annual event so special. We hope you’ll join us again next year from June 3-9, 2019.”
The Golden Nugget Casino and Hotel was this year’s tournament host. High Roller sponsors included the City of Biloxi, Release Marine, Visit Mississippi Gulf Coast, Gorenflo’s Tackle and Marina Store and Yeti Coolers.
When it comes to fishing regulations, changes in Costa Rica are usually slow and deliberate. The government typically requires extensive technical and scientific support before it considers adding or changing fishing laws or agreements. The studies are also usually conducted in Costa Rica territorial waters.
Greenstick fishing or “palo verde” as it is known in Spanish is not a new technique. It has been used successfully for years in Japan and the United States in commercial and sport tuna fishing. The set-up of a tall single center outrigger trailing surface baits behind the boat’s stern is an effective way to harvest tuna without almost any bycatch.
Studies on local greenstick fishing were directed by fisheries biologist Moises Mug of FECOP (a Costa Rican sport fishing advocacy group), INCOPESCA, (the government agency in charge of fisheries) and INA, the technical learning institution that teaches different trades including preparing students to work in the fishing industry. The joint project to study greenstick fishing began in late 2016 with the purpose of offering an alternative method to capture tuna by the national fleet and reduce bycatch at the same time. Mug was appointed last month to head INCOPESCA by Costa Rica’s new president, Carlos Alvarado.
The required criteria was submitted to the government by FECOP in December 2017, approved this past March and recently published in the Government Gaceta, the official publication of Costa Rica’s Laws and Decrees. Commercially, only yellowfin tuna, bigeye tuna, skipjack tuna, swordfish and dorado (dolphinfish) can be harvested using the greenstick method and all other species must be released alive.
“The possibility is approved that, for a period of 12 months counted from the publication of this Agreement, any interested party that holds a longline fishing license, whether commercial or medium-scale commercial fishing, may request INCOPESCA to add it to their vessel the art of Green Stick; or completely change the traditional longline for the art called Green Stick. For this purpose, the interested parties must comply with all the requirements established by INCOPESCA for this purpose,” the agreement states.
“These boats will be authorized to carry up to six lures with lines attached to the rod and reel or winch. In no case shall INCOPESCA allow a boat that uses the Green Stick to carry and use other fishing gear in the same boat, except for the traditional longline and the hand rod (rod and reel).
“In cases in which INCOPESCA serves as certifier that the catches have been made using the Green Stick art on a vessel that also has traditional fishing gear, the Institute should require that the vessel carry an observer on board or a technological device that guarantees the traceability of the product. In this case, when the longline vessel has an observer on board, catches of non-target species made with Green Stick, should be released alive in the best possible condition.”
Recreational fishing in Costa Rica is divided into two categories: sport-fishing and tourist fishing for those that hire for charter. The new agreement allows boats with tourist fishing licenses to fish green sticks but not boats with regular sport-fishing licenses. The charter boats are allowed to pull three lures at a time attached to rod and reel. No type of winch is allowed.
Changes to better protect Costa Rica’s marine resources are slow coming and this one regulating greenstick fishing will need to be fine-tuned. But the country also recently joined Global Fishing Watch to combat illegal fishing and the equivalent of the Supreme Court upheld the ban on shrimp trawling for the second time, outlawing the practice. So FECOP and concerned citizens are hopeful the country continues in this positive direction.
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Located in the Golfo Dulce of southern Costa Rica, the Golfito Marina Village offers world class amenity surrounded by some of the best inshore and offshore fishing in Central America. A full service marina, with slips up to 265’, the Golfito Marina Village offers berth ownership and private residence options as well. Golfito is an offload point for yacht transport services and a focal point for sportfishing and mega yacht traffic in Central America. The Golfo Dolce provides a naturally-protected harbor and is home to an incredible fishery for roosterfish and other inshore species. The proximity to the sea mounts provides a world class blue marlin fishery that is complemented by consistent sailfish numbers and a highly productive yellowfin and trophy dorado fishery. Beyond the great fishing, the marina is a perfect place for touring the rainforest or paddle boarding around the protected waters.
Leg three featured 43 boats. For the third leg, the Gunsmoke (3800 points) out dueled the Geaux Fly (3700), catching the winning sailfish with 20 minutes of fishing remaining. The Geaux Fly’s second place finish was highlighted by a grandslam on day two– a black, two blues and a pair of sails. The Jaruco, the new 90′ Jarrett Bay, rounded out the top three with 2800 points.
Leg three also decided the Triple Crown winner for 2018. With all said and done, it was Tarheel (10,600 points) with Captain John Bayliss taking home top honors. The Agitator and Capt. Jon Duffie, 2016 and 2017 series champions, fell a sail and a marlin short of a third straight crown, with 10,100 points. Geaux Fly wins third place honors in the series with 10,000 even.
InTheBite congratulates the winners. Please enjoy the following photos and videos from the 2018 Triple Crown.
Congrats to all the winners of leg III of the Los Suenos Signature Series Billfish Tournament in Costa Rica this past weekend. Here were the top teams for Leg III.
For full results CLICK HERE.