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$EA DOLLAR$ Tuna Tradition Endures

seadollarscrew $EA DOLLAR$ Tuna Tradition Endures

The winning crew of $EA DOLLAR$, from left to right, Mark Yamaguchi, Mark Budzise, Brandon Rowan, Brandon Nelson, Adam Lewis, Brad Bull, Gary Hervey, Scott Pantle, Randy King, Kurt Pantle, Matt Taylor, Jack Beal, Ace Nelson and Fred Pyle.

Good karma and tuna tenacity fuel a continued tradition of wins at the Texas Billfish Classic

By Brandon Rowan

High stakes and hot fishing are the name of the game every year at the Texas Billfish Classic and 2019 was no different. I was back on board Jack Beal’s 60’ Bertram, $EA DOLLAR$, to keep the night crew’s tuna win streak going. Last year, we hauled in a 90 lb yellowfin tuna that fell just three pounds short of first place. That was tough. We had our sights set on being No. 1 this time around.

Jasen Gast and the whole TBC team put on a killer kick-off party at Freeport RiverPlace the night before fishing started. The next day, we were locked, loaded and ready to head out far into the wild blue of the Gulf. We had a game plan and wasted no time putting it into action.

There were old and new faces on board for this year’s tourney. Introductions and catching up were in order as we roared out to pelagic possibilities. Plenty of laughs and colorful conversation (you guys know who you are) kept us entertained as we neared our first stop.

juvenile mahi mahi $EA DOLLAR$ Tuna Tradition Endures

You never know what you will find out there. Adam Lewis holds up our “trophy” mahi.

TUNA MACHINE

As the sun set on our fishing destination, the night crew geared up and went to work. We had Capt. Mark Yamaguchi at the wheel, Matt Taylor, Kurt Pantle, his cousin Scott, and myself down in the cockpit. Several of the guys on the day crew helped out early in the night and first mate Adam Lewis made many important gaff shots.

It didn’t take long for us to put a nice yellowfin on the deck and crack open the celebration brews. $EA DOLLAR$’ night crew is a well-oiled machine of jig, pop, chum, drift, catch, gaff, rinse and repeat.

The night stayed lively as schools of fish periodically found their way into our chum line and lights. Multiple hook ups on yellowfin and big bruiser 20-30 lb blackfin tuna kept us going until sunrise.

I was absolutely stoked for Kurt’s cousin, Scott, when he landed his first yellowfin tuna, on topwater no less!

“I saw tuna busting on top, luckily I had the popper rod right next to me. I quickly cast it out and after the second pop it was on!” Scott Pantle said.

I’m real happy he got a warm welcome to Texas

 tuna fishing. Scott is from Florida, where blackfin tuna is the target species, not the bait. I was lucky enough to witness that tuna crush the OTI Wombat Popper he had tied on and oh man, it was a beautiful sight to behold.

Every one of us put a yellow on the deck that night. At sunrise, it was time to tally things up. We had 6 yellowfin in the box, including an odd fish I caught on a Williamson Benthos jig. All other fish came from drifting chunks and Scott’s one on the popper. The flying fish piercing parlor was open for business but the tuna were indifferent to our winged offerings.

After a hot shower and a good meal, I hit the bunk with explicit instructions for the trolling guys to come smack me awake if they got into a good fish. The chance to photograph a big blue marlin jumping for the sky takes priority over sleep. I’ll sleep when I’m dead.

MEET JJ: The legend himself, JJ. We rescued this Pelican from the middle of the Gulf during the tournament. We were ready to turn him over to Parks & Wildlife but he jumped ship when we reached land.

FREE BIRD FRIDAY

After a good day’s rest, I was back up with camera in hand, waiting for the afternoon billfish bite. The marlin never materialized, but things stayed interesting nonetheless. We spotted a brown pelican bobbing up and down near the rig as we trolled around. We were a good 170 miles out in the middle of the ocean. This bird was in trouble.

We maneuvered over and tried to lure the pelican in through the tuna door with some bait. The poor guy was so weak, he couldn’t even muster the energy to come on board. Our flying fish net became a bird net and we scooped him up and in. We made a cozy spot in the corner with an old towel and named him “Jack Jr.”

We fed JJ as much fish as he wanted and after about 10 pieces and some water, he was content. We don’t know how he got so far out, but this lucky bird nearly became shark bait. JJ rested happily in the corner and regained his strength as he oversaw our tuna operation.

This night began much the same as the last one with a hot bite early. Line peeled away from my reel on the first drift and after a surprisingly short fight I had a respectable yellowfin tuna on the deck. The wheels of our tuna machine kept turning but that was the last yellow of the trip. But again, things stayed interesting.

JJ quickly regained his vigor and, well, actually became something of a terror. He bit Fred and a few others as they walked past. Them birds have some range with that neck! JJ’s happy little corner was on top of the livewell, so depositing flying fish in the tank became a careful procedure.

They say you don’t bite the hand that feeds you, but we forgive you JJ. A sportfisher is no place for a pelican.

JJ stayed on board for the rest of the night and watched the day crew score a white marlin and wahoo at sunrise. He didn’t care at all for the way we screamed back towards land for the weigh-in. Jack Sr. had Parks and Wildlife on the phone, but once we broke the jetties, JJ spotted some of his pelican brethren and left us behind.

“Fishermen and hunters always get a bad rap but we’re all about conservation,” Jack Beal said.

Matt Taylor, Scott Pantle and Kurt Pantle at the Texas Billfish Classic weigh in.

MOMENT OF TRUTH

Good karma paid off. When it was all said and done, we had 7 yellowfin tuna on ice, although no hundred pounders. We weren’t sure what to expect since our 90 lb fish last year was only good enough for second place. We held our breath at the weigh-in as they hung up our first fish. The scales’ flashed “49” and it was high fives and shouts all around! Not only was our win confirmed, but we also took second place with a 47 lb fish.

“If your next paycheck depended on catching a big yellowfin tuna, I would recommend you call the night crew of $EA DOLLAR$!” Matt Taylor said.

$EA DOLLAR$ was presented with a check for a cool $40,500 at the TBC awards dinner later that night. As a bonus, the whole crew walked away with bags of fresh tuna and a story we won’t soon forget.

You never know what you may see when you venture out into the Gulf of Mexico. I can’t help but imagine the sideways and disbelieving glances the other pelicans throw at JJ when he tells his tale. He came away with a strange new story to tell his buddies and so did we.

Fred Pyle and Jack Beal show off the goods.

Dolce Coco Wins Swordfish Cup in the Dominican Republic

DulceCoco 683x1024 Dolce Coco Wins Swordfish Cup in the Dominican RepublicThe 1st Annual Swordfish Cup, a single-species tournament with a 24-hour global format, was held July 27-28, 2019, with 23 boats in the initial fleet. Paco Vela and his crew aboard Dulce Coco, a Hatteras based in the Dominican Republic, were declared the winners with a 381-pound broadbill. The Swordfish Cup was presented by Fly Zone Fishing and RJ Boyle Studio. Updates were broadcast on FaceBook every two hours during the 24-hour tournament.

Dulce Coco’s fish was caught on a whole de-boned and butterflied bonita near Isla Saona off the southeastern tip of the Dominican Republic. The 95-inch sword was boated late the first night and was weighed at Casa de Campo in the early hours of the morning. Vela and his team won a cash prize and the $1,500 Hooker Electric Bounty for their efforts.

With boats fishing Grand Cayman, St. Maarten, Cancun, the Gulf of Mexico and the Florida Keys and East Coast, competition was intense. Luna Tico brought a 291-pounder to the Sailfish Marina in Palm Beach at 11 am. Tournament sponsor and local expert RJ Boyle, competing aboard Hooked Up, brought an 80-inch 250-pound entry to the Lighthouse Marina in Pompano Beach around 6 pm.

Aussie Rules fished during the day off Cancun, Mexico and caught a non-qualifying fish. The minimum weight was 200 pounds. The crew reported a very low-key, fun and relaxing day of fishing, however. Because of the time-zone differences, many boats communicated with tournament control via text or WhatsApp.

In the Gulf of Mexico, The Duke captured some smaller swords along with a very large mako shark. Tighten Up, based on the Texas coast, went five for five on swordfish with the largest measuring 72 inches from the fork of the tail to the tip of the lower jaw. All line class weights were allowed. Anglers could only use conventional rods and reels, including electric mounted on rods. Weigh-ins were conducted at approved scales certified by governmental authorities within the last year.

Yellow Whip, fishing out of St. Maarten, staged a determined and late challenge. After the crew fished all day in extremely rough conditions, they returned to port to rest and eat. The boat went back out around midnight and hooked up right around dawn. After a battle lasting 2 hours and 40 minutes, they finally boated the swordfish which tipped the scales at 291 pounds.

“Everything went really, really well for a first-time event,” says Tournament Director Robert “Fly” Navarro. “I’m happy with the participation and the geographic spread. All the teams reported having a good time and the number of boats will only increase based on the feedback and inquiries. Congratulations to Dulce Coco and thanks to all the teams and our sponsors. I look forward to the second edition next summer.”

The 2020 Swordfish Cup will be held July 25-26, 2020. For more information, please visit www.swordfishcup.com

Relentless Pursuit Repeats as Gulf Coast Triple Crown Champion

Relentless Pursuit Triple Crown hi res 1024x819 Relentless Pursuit Repeats as Gulf Coast Triple Crown Champion

Photo courtesy of the Gulf Coast Triple Crown Championship

In another close finish, Relentless Pursuit, a 95 Jim Smith based in Venice, Louisiana, was named the 2019 Gulf Coast Triple Crown Champion. This season marks the second time the boat has earned top honors, following a 2015 championship run. Relentless Pursuit is owned by Dennis Pastentine, with Capt. Robbie Doggett the boat’s long-time skipper. In addition to bragging rights for another season, the team takes home a custom Frank Ledbetter metal marlin sculpture and $31,625 in cash including optional entry categories.

The Gulf Coast Triple Crown Championship is composed of the top five big-game tournaments in the region. The Blue Marlin Grand Championship is historically the last leg, but with Tropical Storm Barry moving west across the prime offshore waters, the tournament was cancelled for safety reasons. Done Deal, a three-time Triple Crown Champion, was tied with Relentless Pursuit before fishing started. Ties are determined by the largest marlin landed, which gave Relentless Pursuit the winning combination.

“During the Orange Beach Billfish Classic we left the dock at noon and ran four hours to reach 130 miles offshore,” Doggett explained. “Within 45 minutes we were already hooked up by the time other boats got there. The fight lasted an hour and 45 minutes. We slowly eased back in and weighed the fish the next morning.” That winning 658.2-pound blue marlin was caught on a trolled ballyhoo skirted with a pink Islander lure.

“We call it Stinky Pinky once the ballyhoo is added,” Doggett says with a laugh. “We strictly troll to cover more water and have an arsenal of 60 lures in various shades of blue, silver, purple, green and yellow. We run two rods each off the outriggers and two flat lines. We don’t have the patience to live bait, but we’ve been pretty successful with our style of fishing.”

In addition to the OBBC win, Relentless Pursuit won the Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic with three blue marlin releases (no billfish were weighed) and earned series bonus participation points. Done Deal also finished with 625 points from second place release awards in the Cajun Canyons Billfish Classic and the Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic, plus bonus points. Katie Gonsoulin was the angler on Done Deal’s big fish, a 535.5-pound blue, good for a second-place finish in the CCBC. Jason Buck is the boat’s captain and Jon Gonsoulin is the owner.

Fleur de Lis, a 72 Viking run by Capt. Scooter Porto and owned by Jeff Landry, was the third-place team in the 2019 GCTC standings with 500 points. The boat weighed the heaviest blue (602.7 pounds, angler Hunter Myers) in the CCBC, along with bonus points. Fleur de Lis is based in Grand Isle, Louisiana.

“This was a total team effort,” Doggett says of the 2019 Championship run. “This season was all about our former team mate, Dale Artigue, who passed away just before the holidays. His spirit was always with us in the cockpit. There are so many talented and hard-working crews fishing the Gulf that it makes competing against guys of this caliber such an incredible experience.”

Marking its ninth season, the 2019 Gulf Coast Triple Crown Championship was presented by Invincible Boats and Grander Marine. The five legs include the Orange Beach Billfish Classic, the Cajun Canyons Billfish Classic, the Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic, the Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic and the Blue Marlin Grand Championship.

For 2019 GCTC Director Scott Burt commissioned a commemorative trophy that will be on permanent display at The Wharf Marina’s Outfitter’s Store. Created by marine metal artist Frank Ledbetter, the perpetual trophy will sit atop a rotating base and will feature all previous Triple Crown Champions. Relentless Pursuit will now have to decide where to display its second GCTC Championship blue marlin.

“It was a tough season with all the weather issues, but Capt. Robbie, Dennis and Team Relentless Pursuit once again lived up to the boat’s name and came out on top,” Burt said.  “Congratulations to them and well done to all the competing boats. We look forward to another exciting finish as the Gulf Coast Triple Crown Championship celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2020.”

Sorted Wins The 2019 Blue Marlin World Cup

 Sorted Wins The 2019 Blue Marlin World Cup

Photo courtesy of the Blue Marlin World Cup

With an angler who flew halfway around the world to participate, Sorted, a 32 Luhrs based in Madeira, Portugal, claimed the winner-take-all $600,000 prize in the 2019 Blue Marlin World Cup fishing tournament. Sorted’s blue, caught by Craig Watson of Melbourne, Australia, weighed 541.2 pounds. Only one other fish was weighed, but it fell 23 pounds short of Watson’s entry.

Capt. Howard Williams is the Sorted’s skipper. The fight lasted 2.5 hours and the fish was caught on a one of Watson’s lures called a Bluedog Turtle. The boat was not entered in the optional $8,000 Big Blue Challenge jackpot, which would have boosted the overall payout to more than $1,000,000.

Mystic Blue, fishing in the Cape Verde Islands, caught the other qualifier, a 518-pound blue marlin. Female angler Aylin Karahan was in the fighting chair for that fish, with Capt. Giorgio Assolari at the helm.

The hook-ups of the two fish were only 40 minutes apart, but Mystic Blue actually boated their fish 20 minutes before Sorted. The lengths were very close, yet Sorted had the slight weight advantage. As the fishing progressed across the remaining time zones the other teams could see those entries were beatable. But no other boat managed to catch a qualifier.

“Mr. Watson flew to Madeira specifically to fish the World Cup and his victory really has a lot of folks excited in Australia,” said Tournament Director Robert “Fly” Navarro. He noted that the win was a significant milestone for the country’s fishing community.

The Blue Marlin World Cup is a one-day fishing tournament held around the world. Blue marlin weighing more than 500 pounds are the only eligible species and competing teams fish in their respective time zones from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. The fish must be caught on conventional sport-fishing tackle with tournament-rated line with a breaking strength of 130 pounds or less. Entries are weighed on certified government scales in their respective locales. A total of 150 teams, competing in eight different time zones, made up this year’s tournament fleet.

Trouble Maker, fishing out of Kona, Hawaii, recorded the only eligible entry in 2018, a 760.5-pound blue. Done Deal, a 70 Viking based in Houma, Louisiana, earned more than $1 million in prize money combined with a 600-pound fish in 2017. The largest marlin ever weighed in World Cup history tipped the scales at 1,195 pounds. It was caught aboard Challenger in Bermuda in 1993. Two other “granders” or fish weighing more than 1,000 pounds are also in the World Cup win column. They were caught in Bermuda and Cape Verde.

The 2020 Blue Marlin World Cup will be held July 4, 2020. For more information or to register, please visit: www.bluemarlinworldcup.com

Fishing Offshore Weedlines

bull dorado Fishing Offshore Weedlines

A well formed weed line is a favorite sight for many offshore fisherman. They are known best for holding Dorado (pictured) but ling, wahoo, sailfish and marlin can be caught here as well.

By Capt. Joe Kent

For the last 20 years or more offshore seaweed, which forms weedlines in the Gulf of Mexico, has been either over abundant or virtually nonexistent.  When abundant, many species of fish follow the sargassum, or seaweed as it is more commonly called, as the patches, clumps and organized lines reflect the basics of the marine food chain.

During lean times, such as offshore Galveston anglers have experienced for several years now, there is a conspicuous absence in the number of pelagic fish in the nearshore waters of the Gulf.  Most notably absent are the Dorado, Dolphin fish or mahi-mahi, as they are called interchangeably.

Dorado of all sizes hover around masses of seaweed and along with them are just about all other fish that roam the Gulf waters.

This year it appears that we may have more seaweed in our near shore waters and if so, look for a banner year of offshore fishing along the upper Texas Coast.

Seaweed attracts and is a refuge for small crustaceans and fin fish.  Watching carefully from close range are larger fish waiting for an opportunity to feast.  Behind those are billfish, huge Dorado, ling, wahoo, sharks and as mentioned earlier almost every species of pelagic fish in the Gulf.

Just about all marine life in the Gulf of Mexico waters can be found in the vicinity of this vegetation.

Now that we know what is offered in the way of fish around the seaweed, how do we take advantage of it and catch some of the fish?

chicken dorado Fishing Offshore Weedlines

Chicken Dorado can provide fast action on weedlines.

Dorado, especially the smaller chicken Dorado, are one of the most common fish hanging around the shade and protection.  Tripletail, small amberjack, king, ling, shark, wahoo and sailfish are others that are commonly found just outside of the masses of weed.

Anglers experienced at fishing the weed lines know that there are two ways to find the fish.  One is to quietly move close to big concentrations of weeds and toss out small pieces of squid or cut bait.  Any chicken Dorado close by likely will come out of hiding to pursue a quick and easy meal.

When this occurs, anglers using light to medium tackle will toss free-lined squid or other bait toward the seaweed and bingo, most of the time a group of small Dorado will inhale it.  While battling the small Dorado many others will follow close by and the key is to keep the fish hooked while others in your party toss similar baits into the water.

On one occasion years ago my group of four landed over 100 while employing this technique.

Once the Dorado have scattered, slowly maneuver your boat along the edges of the weed line and look for either more Dorado or tripletail.

Often at some point large Dorado and ling will appear searching for the same chicken Dorado you are pursuing.  Both ling and Dorado are curious fish and tend to check out noise.  One technique that works in getting their attention is to pound the side of the boat with your hands.

If no fish appear, move on to another clump or line or begin trolling. Trolling is another way to find the fish.  Try trolling the outer edges of the weed concentrations keeping enough distance to prevent the trolling lure for getting tangled in the seaweed.

The most active seaweed lines are going to be found in blue or blue/green waters.  Lines found in off color water are hardly worth the time to check out.

Most of the strikes are going to be near the surface and visible.  Every ling I have caught while working seaweed has come to the surface to check out the bait.  Sometimes they just smell it and take off, other times they take it.

One mistake that newcomers make when larger fish like ling first take the bait is to try to set the hook too quickly.  Free spool enough line that the large fish can take the bait and start swimming away before setting the hook.

For the chicken Dorado and smaller fish, setting the hook immediately is imperative.

One pointer for boats, especially those propelled by outboard engines, is that when working seaweed areas often the props get tangled in the vegetation.  When this occurs put the engine in reverse and it should remove the clutter.

Hopefully we will see a good balance of weed lines in the Gulf this summer and we can enjoy the bounties of seafood they offer.

2019 Texas Billfish Classic to be the best yet

tbc draggin up 2019 Texas Billfish Classic to be the best yet

The TBC continues to live up to its name as the fastest growing billfish tournament in Texas

By Brandon Rowan

In its fourth year of bringing highly competitive billfishing back to Freeport, the Texas Billfish Classic continues to grow, with the 2019 tournament promising to be the largest one yet.

Usually an August tournament, the Texas Billfish Classic changed dates to July 16-20 by popular demand. With the unfortunate cancellation and indefinite hiatus of Poco Bueno, many of the Gulf’s best fishing teams were still ready and hungry to fish those dates.

Those teams who have never fished the TBC are in for a treat. Tournament director Jasen Gast and staff produce one of the most popular and enjoyable tournament formats on the Texas Gulf Coast. Many participants appreciate the start time, which allows boats to leave during the day and avoid dangerous runs at night. The camaraderie of the kick off party, a spirited weigh-in and awards dinner are well known and anticipated events of the tournament.

Fishing was smoking hot last year. Draggin’ Up set a new tournament record by weighing a 514-pound blue marlin. The competition for tuna was tight with Smoker II’s first place fish weighing 93 pounds and $ea Dollar$’s 90-pound tuna nabbing second place.

“But one of the biggest success stories of the TBC is not the fishing, but what we are able to do on land,” Tournament Director Jasen Gast said.

The tournament works closely with three charities; the Billfish Foundation, the Freeport to Port O’Connor Toy Run and the Freedom Alliance, and has donated thousands to charity over the years. The 2018 Awards Banquet ended with Jasen and the Freedom Alliance’s Pepper Ailor presenting a donated all-terrain wheelchair to veteran Jacob De La Garza, who lost his leg in Afghanistan.

Don’t miss one of the year’s best tournaments and come on down to Freeport. The general public is invited and welcome to join the weigh-in.

For information on the Texas Billfish Classic and its schedule of events, visit www.TexasBillfishClassic.com or contact TexasBillfishClassic@yahoo.com

Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic Sets Single Team Payout Record

ECBCChamps 300x200 Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic Sets Single Team Payout Record

totals in the Gulf of Mexico.
Photo credits: www.maximpactphotos.com

Sunday night couldn’t come soon enough for Nick Pratt and the crew aboard It Just Takes Time, a 62 Viking based in Orange Beach, Alabama. After weighing a 574-pound blue marlin on Saturday night, the crew had to wait it out to see if any other qualifiers would make it to the scales Sunday. None did. As a result, the team swept the blue marlin division, multiple optional entries and won the 2019 Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic, earning $596,025. That single team payout is the new ECBC record and one of the largest ever for a Gulf big-game fishing tournament. A total of 80 boats competed in the 17th annual event for more than $1.86 million in cash prizes.

“There are a lot of good boats in this fleet,” Pratt said at the awards ceremony at the Baytowne Marina. Pratt was the angler on the fish and also owns It Just Takes Time. It was the first marlin caught on the new boat and only the second blue he’s landed. “So we were very nervous today. We spent it fishing and actually released a blue and caught a dolphin. But everyone was clock-watching.” Capt. Chris Hood was at the helm during the fight, with mates Boone and Donnie Shear in the cockpit. Chapman Cook and Brandon Myer were the other anglers.

“We’re very fired up. Winning this kind of money is a once-in-a-lifetime event,” Pratt added. “But I always believe in bet big to win big. This is the best week, by far, I’ve ever spent fishing and the ECBC is the greatest tournament ever!”

There was plenty of action in the billfish release division. Past ECBC champion Done Deal, with Katie Gonsoulin in the chair and Capt. Jason Buck on the bridge, won Top Release Angler, Top Lady Angler and Second Place Release Boat by letting three blues swim away. With optional entries, the team is taking home $163,939. Done Deal is a 70 Viking based in Houma, Louisiana and a perennial contender on the Gulf blue-water circuit. Capt. Clayt James and his crew aboard Chasin Tail, an 80 Weaver Boat Works, claimed top honors in the Release Division, also with three blues on time, for an impressive $229,145 payout. Southern Charm, a 63 Hatteras run by Capt. Bo Keough, was the third-place release team with two blues credited ($75,980).

Jeff Cultan and Triple Threat (Capt. Chilli Willams) cranked in the largest tuna for the week, a 167.5-pound yellowfin. That catch earned the team a $126,310 payday. Capt. Cricket Crochet, Christa Forrester and the anglers aboard Restless boated the second-largest tuna at 157.2 pounds, worth $47,872. Hunter Ryan, Capt. Bennie Goldman and Reelentless took third-place tuna honors with a 148.2-pounder, good for a $90,497 check.

Local team Mollie, with Capt. Jeff Shoults on the throttles, boated the largest of many dolphin weighed in Sunday. Mollie’s fish, caught by Hugh Flanagan, tipped the scales at 44.8 pounds, paying $25,600. Phen-Syn (Capt. Hall Bohlinger) and Arti Davenport whipped a 40.6 pound dolphin, which won $51,540, while Dennis Pasentine, Capt. Robbie Doggett and the Relentless Pursuit team pulled a 40.5-pound bull off a weed line to earn $127,015 with optional entries.

No monster wahoo came to the scales, but the top three fish still were nice money-makers. Captain/angler Kirk Ogren whipped the biggest at 55.8 pounds for $25,600 aboard Pair-A-Dice. Capt. Dusty Parrish, angler Chris Patroni and the Ultimate Lure crew earned second place honors and $23,550 for a 49.4-pound fish. Sage Mount, Capt. Dylan Gandy and the buddy team fishing on Dream’s Wake IV, a Yellowfin 36-foot center console, landed the third biggest ‘hoo at 42.9 pounds, for a $10,240 consolation prize.

ChampagneShower 300x200 Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic Sets Single Team Payout Record

totals in the Gulf of Mexico.
Photo credits: www.maximpactphotos.com

In the unofficial “It Pays to Play” category, Squid Row took home a check for $84,285 for a 24.9-pound wahoo in a perfect example of why entering optional jackpot divisions can be so lucrative.

Jackson Moore, fishing on BuggyWasher, was named the top Junior Angler—Billfish by releasing a blue marlin. Logan “Mule” Reeder earned top Junior Angler—Game Fish honors by whipping three dolphin weighing 86.1 pounds. Reeder was competing on Cotton Patch, another previous ECBC tournament champion.

“The week started out crazy thanks to the weather,” said Tournament Director Adam Alfonso. “But it all worked out and another successful ECBC is in the books. Congratulations to the It Just Takes Time team and all the other winners. I’d like to express my gratitude to the entire fleet for participating and our wonderful sponsors for their incredible support. My fantastic staff and I look forward to welcoming everyone back next June for our 18th season of exciting big-game tournament action here at the Emerald Coast.”

Tournament host, Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort and Presenting Sponsor Wind Creek Casino & Hotel-Atmore were joined this year by Tourism Partner Visit South Walton and Tournament Partners Mojo Sportswear and Gulf Coast Yacht Group. Galati Yacht Sales returned as the Founding Sponsor while Sportfish Outfitters came aboard for the first time as the Concierge Provider. Ten Emerald, 14 Platinum, 11 Gold and 32 Silver sponsors rounded out the many businesses and services that make the ECBC possible. Sponsor display booths were located at the Baytowne Marina during the weigh-ins.

About Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort:

Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort is a major destination for all seasons and all ages and was named the #1 Resort on Florida’s Emerald Coast. The resort invites guests to a world of 2,400 acres and 30 charming neighborhoods featuring 1,300 vacation rentals, condominiums, villas, town homes and the best in hotel accommodations. As a member of Visit South Walton and Visit Florida, the resort features more than seven miles of beaches and pristine bayfront, four championship golf courses, 15 world-class tennis courts, 19 swimming pools, a 123-slip marina, a fitness center and spa, meeting space and The Village of Baytowne Wharf, a charming pedestrian village with events, shopping, dining and nightlife. Follow @Sandestin on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for the latest events and news.

Relentless Pursuit Tops the Field in the 2019 Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic

RelentlessPursuit 1024x683 Relentless Pursuit Tops the Field in the 2019 Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic

Relentless Pursuit

Relentless Pursuit, a 95 Jim Smith owned by Dennis Pastentine, won the top honors in the 2019 Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic, which concluded Sunday evening at the Point Cadet Marina. Led by Capt. Robert Doggett, anglers Josh Jones and Mike Akue and the team scored 1,800 points in the billfish catch and release division to take the overall tournament award. They also won optional prize money in the tuna and dolphin divisions for an overall payout of $116,675. Relentless Pursuit calls Venice, Louisiana, its home port.

No blue marlin were weighed during the tournament, which convened during inclement weather offshore. The original field included 115 boats, but only 25 opted to compete in the heavy seas. Conditions were compounded by massive amounts of flood water pouring out the Mississippi River and floating debris, which made navigation difficult. Several impressive game fish catches were tallied, nonetheless.

Easy Rider II, a 61 Buddy Davis based in Galveston, Texas and skippered by Capt. Leslie Van Norman, was the second place catch and release team. The 1,200 points accrued, plus optional entries, earned the Texas anglers $28,382 in prize money. Pullin Wire, another 61 Davis from Panama City, Florida, also scored 1,200 points, good for the third place tournament award. Brennen Moore is at the helm of Pullin Wire. Sancha, a 68 Viking from Port Aransas, Texas, and Fleur de Lis, a 72 Viking from Grand Isle, Louisiana, won optional money for releasing marlin.

The game fish categories were tightly contested with the leaderboard changing several times during the weigh-ins. Owner/angler Robert Burroughs on Quick Time, a 70 Viking from Orange Beach, Alabama, took home $44,474 with the top tuna, optional dolphin and wahoo. The 142.87-pound yellowfin was the biggest fish weighed. Capt. Shelby Johnson is Quick Time’s skipper.

Deb Hebert, fishing aboard her 57 Gillman, Doctors Orders, took second-place tuna honors with a 137.16 yellowfin. Angler Toby Berthelot whipped the third-largest tuna at 128.49 pounds on Get Reel, a 60 Hatteras. The team also added optional dolphin and tuna for a $35,559 payout.

In the tournament dolphin category, Andre Feucht on Split Decision, a 37 Freeman (Capt. Scott Robichaux), wound in the biggest bull, tipping the scales at 35.8 pounds, worth $10,535. Iona Louise (68 Hatteras), with Tami Hudson in the chair, scored the second heaviest dolphin at 35.72 pounds. Combined with an optional wahoo, owner Joe Hudson, Capt. Clip Hopkins and the team earned $26,816. Angler Abbigal Weidenharf and Team Snafu, a 74 Viking, were third place in the dolphin division with a 35.44-pound entry.

Josh Collier and Intense owner Neal Foster captured the first- and second-place wahoo aboard a 39 Contender center console. Their fish weighed 89.83 and 59.68 pounds, respectively, good for a $53,056 payout.

“It was a very tough week due to circumstances beyond our control,” says Tournament Director Bobby Carter. “I’d like to thank everyone who participated and I’d also like to thank my team for pulling this one off.”

The 2020 Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic, hosted by Golden Nugget Biloxi, is scheduled for June 1-7, 2020. For more information, please visit: www.mgcbc.com

Photo courtesy of FredSalinas.com

 

QuickTime 1024x683 Relentless Pursuit Tops the Field in the 2019 Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic

QuickTime

Easy Rider II

Intense

Split Decision

Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic Poised for New Records

ECBC logo 300x118 Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic Poised for New Records
ECBCStart 300x169 Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic Poised for New Records

Photo credit: Capt. Dave Lear

With just over a month until the kick-off of the 17th annual Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic, boat registrations for this world-class fishing event are on pace to eclipse previous highs. The final field is expected to top 100 teams and if that does happen, a new $2.5 million dollar-plus benchmark in cash prizes would be established. The ECBC is hosted by the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort and presented by Wind Creek Casino & Hotel-Atmore, AL. The tournament runs June 19-23, 2019.

“At the current pace of registrations, I’m confident we’ll exceed our 100-boat goal,” says Tournament Director Adam Alfonso. “And when we do, we’re likely to exceed last year’s overall record purse of $2 million as well. We have another great group of sponsors to help us celebrate 17 years and lots of activities to make the entire week a memorable one.” The Early Bird deadline for registering for the tournament is May 31.

The 2019 tournament will again make a strong statement for marine conservation. In the Gulf of Mexico the federal minimum length for boating a blue marlin is 99 inches. For ECBC anglers blue marlin must be at least 110 inches long to qualify in the weight division. That minimum is measured from the tip of the fish’s lower jaw to the fork of the tail. This increase in length will ensure the release of marginal marlin and result in only true trophies coming to the scales at Baytowne Marina.

“Raising the minimum length requirement was an easy decision,” Alfonso says. “The ECBC has been committed to conservation since the beginning and this new rule will ensure these magnificent fish are here for future generations. As a result, fewer fish will be sacrificed and those that are boated will truly reflect the caliber and skills of our contestants.” Can’t Deny It, the 2018 ECBC champion, took top honors with a blue marlin that was 118.5 inches and weighed 699.2 pounds.

In addition to the blue marlin weight division, smaller blues, white marlin, sailfish and spearfish that are successfully released earn points in the competitive release division. Releases are verified by video footage. Yellowfin, bigeye and blackfin tuna, wahoo and dolphin are scored one point per pound. The ECBC attracts multi-million dollar sport-fishing boats from across the Gulf of Mexico as well as the southeastern United States. Fishing begins after Thursday’s noon blast-off from the Destin Pass and concludes Saturday afternoon. Eligible fish are weighed Friday and Saturday evenings. Viewing is free and open to the public.

Even though the weigh-ins are popular crowd-pleasers, the festivities begin long before the boats leave the dock. Hancock Whitney Bank is sponsoring the ECBC Golf Scramble, which is open to participants and sponsors. Tee-time is 9 a.m. at The Links Golf Club on Wednesday, June 19.

Junior anglers get in on the fun on Friday, June 21, with the Kid’s Catch & Release Fishing Tournament. Prizes will be awarded to the winners who catch and release the longest fish from the resort’s many stocked ponds. Participants need to check in at the Baytowne Marina weigh scales by 10 am.

Tournament host, Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort and Presenting Sponsor Wind Creek Casino & Hotel-Atmore are joined this year by Tourism Partner Visit South Walton and Tournament Partners Mojo Sportswear and  Gulf Coast Yacht Group. Galati Yacht Sales returns as the Founding Sponsor while Sportfish Outfitters comes aboard for the first time as the Concierge Provider. Ten Emerald, 14 Platinum, 11 Gold and 32 Silver sponsors round out the many businesses and services that make the ECBC possible. Sponsor display booths will be located at Baytowne Marina.

The 2019 Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic runs June 19-23 at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort. For registration, dockage, rules and schedule of events, visit www.fishecbc.com. Reservations for golf carts need to be made directly through the Baytowne Marina office. Book now to get the best location and rates for the event weekend. Call 800-320-8115 or book online at sandestin.com. Use GROUP Code FISH19.

About Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort

Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort is a major destination for all seasons and all ages, and was named the #1 Resort on Florida’s Emerald Coast. The resort invites guests to a world of 2,400 acres and 30 charming neighborhoods featuring 1,300 vacation rentals, condominiums, villas, town homes and the best in hotel accommodations. As a member of Visit South Walton and Visit Florida, the resort features more than seven miles of beaches and pristine bay front, four championship golf courses, 15 world-class tennis courts, 19 swimming pools, a 120-slip marina, a fitness center and spa, meeting space and The Village of Baytowne Wharf, a charming pedestrian village with events, shopping, dining and nightlife. People are invited to download Sandestin’s APP for iPhone and Android devices, or become a Facebook Fan or Twitter follower for the latest events and news.

 

Gulf Coast Triple Crown Championship Announces Changes for 2019 Season

2019 GCTC logo 300x198 Gulf Coast Triple Crown Championship Announces Changes for 2019 SeasonThe Wharf; Orange Beach, Alabama:

Celebrating its ninth season in 2019, the prestigious Gulf Coast Triple Crown Championship will feature a couple of important changes to the series, including new sponsors. Grander Marine and Invincible Boats are coming aboard as the new 2019 Presenting Sponsors. The pairing is a good synergy on several levels.

“I personally like to fish the Triple Crown tournaments and have been part of a team that was in contention previously,” says Grander Marine owner and angler Chris Bazor. “Our company sells new boats, brokerage boats and offers service, so sponsoring the series is a good way to help fellow contestants and promote our business. We’ll be competing aboard a 40 Invincible catamaran this season, so we figured why not? The owner of Invincible Boats is a passionate offshore angler too and the company builds some of the best quality mono-hull and catamarans in the sport-fishing industry, so it was a natural partnership.”

Grander Marine has a showroom and full service facility on Canal Road in Orange Beach, Alabama. Another satellite facility is scheduled to open later this summer. In addition to being the Gulf Coast dealer for Invincible Boats, Grander Marine also carries a full line of premium fishing and pleasure boats as part of its line-up. The Blue Marlin Grand Championship, the final leg of the five-tournament series, is held at The Wharf Marina in Orange Beach.

GCTC Director Scott Burt also commissioned a commemorative trophy that will be on permanent display at The Wharf Marina’s Outfitter’s Store. Created by marine metal artist Frank Ledbetter, the perpetual trophy will sit atop a rotating base and will feature all previous Triple Crown Champions. The team trophy, another stunning marlin sculpture crafted by Ledbetter, will be awarded annually to each champion.

There will be no rule changes for the 2019 season, Burt announced. Feedback from teams indicated satisfaction with the status quo. There will be an added financial component in the Optional Cash Award category, however. A new $25,000 winner-take-all prize will be awarded to the top team entered in the optional category. Teams wishing to participate in the Optional Division must sign up prior to the first event, the Orange Beach Billfish Classic, May 16-19, at The Wharf Marina. The scoring format for the Triple Crown points will remain the same as 2018.

Following the OBBC, the Triple Crown focus shifts to Venice, Louisiana, May 28 through June 2, for the Cajun Canyons Billfish Classic. The Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic kicks off June 3 through 9 in Biloxi, followed by the Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic later in the month (6/19-23) at Sandestin. The Blue Marlin Grand Championship wraps up the Triple Crown competition July 9-14.

For more information on rules or the optional cash award levels, please visit: gulfcoasttriplecrown.com

Cindy’s Smoked Amberjack Fish Dip Recipe

fish dip recipe Cindys Smoked Amberjack Fish Dip Recipe

CATCH! CLEAN! COOK!

tx amberjack Cindys Smoked Amberjack Fish Dip Recipe

Turn hard fighting Amberjack into delicious smoked fish dip.

By Cindy Nguyen

Though darker meats of the Gulf like Amberjack and Kingfish are not the most sought table fare, it’s hard for me to release a nice Amberjack knowing what a crowd pleaser these bruisers can be! It’s taken me a few tries to get this dip the way I like it and I hope you all enjoy it as well!

Marinate overnight:

  • 1lb – Amberjack fillets
  • Italian Dressing
  • 1 Tbs Brown Sugar
  • Dash of Old Bay

Smoke at 200° for 2 hrs on your Traeger Grill.

After removing from the smoker, using gloves, break the fish down into a bowl of flaky meat.

Add the following ingredients one at a time and blend until consistency reaches a nice heavy spread.

  • 1 Tsp Minced Garlic
  • 3 Stalks of Celery Chopped
  • 1 Chopped Jalapeño
  • 1/2 Chopped Red Onion
  • 1/2 Cup of real Mayonnaise (I use Duke’s)
  • 1 package of Cream Cheese
  • 1 handful of Chopped Cilantro
  • 1 Tsp of Saté Chili (this will give it a little heat and nice color)

Tip: Using a stand mixer will make this much easier.

Refrigerate and serve chilled with your favorite chips or crackers.

Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic Creates Special Lure Incentive

91043FF9 6DE3 4E35 AFC1 981007A3F881 263x300 Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic Creates Special Lure Incentive

Photo courtesy of www.MGCBC.com

With 105 boats already pre-registered for the 2019 Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic and many more expected before the June 3 kick-off, the stakes will again be high for this popular sport-fishing event. More than $2 million in prize money was awarded in 2017 and 2018. Yet tournament organizers are sweetening the pot just a little more this year.

“We’re adding a special $25,000 incentive that will be paid if the winning fish is caught on a lure,” says Tournament Director Bobby Carter. “It has to be strictly a lure with no meat or bait attached. Dozens of genuine trophy blue marlin have been caught on plastics in the Gulf over the years, so including this special payout adds an interesting wrinkle to this year’s event.”

The Classic was the first tournament in the Gulf to increase the minimum length requirement to boat a blue marlin to 110 inches. Fish are measured from the tip of the lower jaw to the fork of the tail. Smaller billfish can still be caught and released as part of the competition. Teams can also enter optional release division categories for a chance at six-figure prize payouts. Qualifying catches are verified by video confirmation.

“We are continuing to work with the other Gulf tournaments to standardize the catch and release rules,” explains Tournament Coordinator Bert Merritt. “That aspect is a major component as we all move forward, especially with the levels of prize money involved. Our catch data bears this out. In today’s climate, raising the length to 110 inches to boat a qualifying blue makes sense.”

In addition to the blue marlin weight category and the release division (smaller blues, white marlin and sailfish/spearfish), teams can also weigh yellowfin tuna, wahoo and dolphin. The swordfish category has been retired after the new Mississippi state record was set in 2017.

The Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic is hosted by the Golden Nugget Casino & Hotel in Biloxi. Besides world-class gaming, the area offers beaches, golf, shopping and fine dining for family members who choose to stay ashore.

The 2019 MGCBC will be held June 3-9 at the Golden Nugget Casino & Hotel/Point Cadet Marina in Biloxi, Mississippi. To enter or learn more about the rules and tournament history, please visit www.mgcbc.com or through social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter).

Contact: Bobby Carter, 228-239-2575; bobby@mgcbc.com

The 2019 Los Sueños Signature Triple Crown Comes to an End

lstcsail The 2019 Los Sueños Signature Triple Crown Comes to an End

©Los Sueños Resort and Marina • Photographer: Pepper Ailor

The number of billfish released in Leg 3, brings the three-leg combined total to 3,945 billfish overall

Los Sueños Resort and Marina, located at Playa Herradura on Costa Rica’s Central Pacific Coast, held the third and final leg of its sixth annual Los Sueños Signature Triple Crown billfish series, presented by Chantilly Air, March 27-30, 2019. Forty seven of the best and most competitive teams came together to release a total of 1,234 billfish over three days.

Going in to this event, the reports were that fishing was slow with 3-6 fish a day being average. But the teams found the fish and the radio went off with an early bite on Day 1 and ended with a nail-bite inducing finish on Day 3. With 100 points awarded for each sailfish release and 500 points for each marlin release, marlin always end up making a difference for the podium finishers. After all the scorecards were reviewed, a three-leg Triple Crown total of 3,945 billfish were released (3,820 sails and 125 marlin) – or 444,500 points achieved by the 51 teams that participated this year, 38 of which were registered in all three events.

TRIPLE CROWN DAY 1

It was Tarheel to call in the first fish of the tournament just eight minutes after lines in, followed in the same minute by a triple sailfish release by Shoe. By 8:37 am four marlin had been released, with another two released in the following hour. In the same amount of time nine doubles were called in a three triples. Needless to say, fishing started off promising. By 10 am a total of 117 billfish had been released (111 sails, 6 marlin) and Fish Tank was in top position, followed by Sea Angel in second, and Tarheel in third. At the end of the day though, Uno Mas had taken first with 2,100 points (16 sails, 1 marlin), Sea Angel remained in second with 1,900 points (9 sails, 2 marlin), and Blue Eagle finished third on time with 1,700 points (17 sails), over Scandalous and Dragin Fly. The fleet achieved 373 billfish releases on Day 1, including 361 sails and 12 marlin.

TRIPLE CROWN DAY 2

Just four minutes after lines in, it was Pez Collector to report the first sailfish release of the day to Tournament Control. Funny enough, they also released the last fish of Day 1 at 4:02 pm on Thursday! At precisely 11:24 am Fish Tank released a marlin, starting a flurry of marlin releases with 5 in under 12 minutes. Fish Tank was in top spot at noon with a two-day total of 3,200 points, followed by Hey Chama with 3,100 points, and Uno Mas in third with 3,100 points. In the end though, Uno Mas pushed their way back to top spot with 16 sails and 1 marlin on Day 2 alone for a two-day total of 4,200 points (32 sails, 2 marlin), followed by Hey Chama with 3,900 points (34 sails, 1 marlin), and Fish Tank finishing in third with 3,800 points (23 sails, 3 marlin) on time, over Sea Angel. A total of 531 billfish were released on Day 2 alone (517 sails, 14 marlin) for a two-day total of 904 billfish (878 sails, 26 marlin).

TRIPLE CROWN DAY 3

The first hour of Day 3 was an explosion of marlin hook ups and releases, with the first call of the day a marlin hook up by Reel Pushy at 8:05 am, which was released only five minutes later. By 8:40 am, a total of 8 marlin had been released, including a double header striped marlin by Numero Uno, who went on to win the day with an impressive 2,100 points after releasing 6 sails and 3 marlin. By 2 pm the fleet went on to release 212 billfish, with Hey Chama then in first with 3,400 points, followed by Blue Eagle with 3,400 points, and Fish Tank also with 3,400 points. Off Duty finished the day off nicely with a triple sailfish release at 4:04 pm, bringing the total billfish releases for the day to 330 (318 sails, 12 marlin) and the three-day combined total to 1,234 (1,196 sails, 38 marlin). Uno Mas finished first for the tournament with 5,000 points (40 sails, 2 marlin), followed by Big Oh in second on time with 4,900 points (39 sails, 2 marlin), and Hey Chama in third with 4,900 points (44 sails, 1 marlin).

CASH PRIZES & AWARDS

Nearly 700 guests came together under the stars at the Los Sueños Beach Club to enjoy a phenomenal buffet dinner and live music by Acustica Lounge’s Coco Hits. Immediately preceding the presentation of trophies, prizes and checks to the tournament winners, guests enjoyed the highly anticipated dock show filmed and produced by Rich Christensen and Michael Butler. The ceremony was closed out by a spectacular fireworks display by La Trinidad. Tournament winners took to the stage to receive a total of $240,000 in cash prizes, as well as other awards provided by tournament sponsors, including custom trophies by Gray Taxidermy, apparel by Tunaskin, framed prints of this year’s tournament art by Steve Goione, YETI coolers and tumblers, Huck buckets, Costa Del Mar, and Flor de Caña aged rum.

unomas The 2019 Los Sueños Signature Triple Crown Comes to an End

1st Place: UNO MAS

5,000 points, 40 sails and 2 marlin

Uno Mas is a 60’ Bayliss captained by owner Brooks Smith, with anglers Sam Peters, Matt Traber, Justin DeBoom, Terry Robinson, and Jeremy Agüero. Uno Mas came in sixth in Leg 1 this year and eighth in Leg 2. They previously took first in Leg 2 in 2018, as well as second in Leg 3 in 2015, where Brooks was crowned Top Angler.

2nd Place: BIG OH

4,900 points, 39 sails and 2 marlin

This is Big Oh’s first win since 2015 when they fished on Trophy Box and took third both in Legs 1 and 2. Big Oh is a 63’ Scarborough captained by Ronnie Fields, with anglers Gray Ingram (owner), Jimmy Fields, Anthony Rizzo, Rodney Ingram, and Bo Ingram. Big Oh previously won several of the Signature Billfish Series and Marlin Invitational tournaments, which were run by Los Sueños prior to the formation of the Triple Crown.

3rd Place: HEY CHAMA

4,900 points, 44 sails and 1 marlin

Hey Chama, a 65’ Bayliss captained by Irving Irausquin, with anglers Leonard Chapman, Manoel de Silva, and Marlon Prendas, comes to us from Curacao. They fished the Triple Crown for the first time in Leg 2 of the 2018 series. These young up and comers finished 39th in Leg 1 and 44th in Leg 2, and gave a tremendous show in Leg 3 for a podium finish.

Series Champion: FISH TANK

17,400 points, 144 sails and 6 marlin

Fish Tank, a 63’ Hatteras captained by Ben Horning, with owners/anglers Chris and Laura Jessen, and their fellow anglers Kitt Toomey, Mike Ivancevic, Darren Helwig, and Joe West. Despite not making the podium for Leg 3, Fish Tank was the clear and undisputed Series Champion of the 2019 Los Sueños Signature Triple Crown, finishing with an almost unbelievable 17,400 points (144 sails, 6 marlin), 3,500 points ahead of the closest runner up, Sea Angel (on time ahead of Uno Mas with the same 13,900 points). Going in to Leg 3 Fish Tank already had a 2,900-point lead, and the 31 sails and 3 marlin they released in Leg 3 alone sealed their fate. Kudos to Laura Jessen who, despite a broken foot, released 6 sails this tournament alone and 34 sails over all three legs!

ABOUT THE LOS SUENOS SIGNATURE TRIPLE CROWN

2019 marks the 6th Annual Los Sueños Signature Triple Crown billfish tournament series. The Triple Crown consists of three annual tournaments, in January, February and March each year, and is fished out of the world class Los Sueños Resort and Marina in Costa Rica. Mark your calendars for the 2020 Triple Crown! Leg 1: January 15-18, Leg 2: February 26-29, Leg 3: March 25-28.

ABOUT LOS SUEÑOS RESORT AND MARINA

Los Sueños Resort and Marina is the premier luxury real estate resort in Costa Rica. Nestled on the Central Pacific Coast, Los Sueños is an 1,100-acre oasis offering incredible ocean, rainforest and golf course view properties; a gorgeous waterfront Marina Village commercial area with restaurants, shops and lively entertainment; a large private beach club for residents; an 18-hole championship golf course; a superb 201-room Marriott Hotel; and much more, all within close proximity to world record-setting sport fishing waters. Information on Los Sueños Resort and Marina is available online at www.lossuenos.com. Information on Los Sueños real estate properties is available online at www.lossuenosrealestate.com. For further information, please contact Ashley Bretecher, Executive Director of Marketing and Communications, Los Sueños Resort and Marina, Toll-free: 1-866-865-9759, Direct Tel: 011-506- 2630-4005, or e-mail: a.bretecher@lossuenos.com.

Texas Billfishing Lures

Four top captains talking about the Texas billfishing lures that are always in their spread and should be in yours, too.

texasbillfishing Texas Billfishing Lures

Moldcraft Wide Range

moldcraftwiderangeblkpurp Texas Billfishing Lures

Moldcraft Wide Range with black/purple skirt. (no. 26)

Capt. Darrell WeigeltCapt. Darrell Weigelt – PATRON

“My favorite lure for Texas billfishing is the Moldcraft Wide Range in black and purple. I can pull it anywhere in the spread and get good action from it in almost any condition. This lure catches a lot of big blue marlin. It is responsible for a massive 1,742-pound marlin, as well as the 80 pound line class world record blue of 1,189 pounds.”

Wide Ranges

Some of Capt. Deerman’s favorite Wide Range color combos.

Capt. Kevin DeermanCapt. Kevin Deerman – LEGACY

“On the Legacy, we have about 20 lures that I would consider our ‘A Team.’ These are the lures that have been productive for us on the Legacy and also on other boats that I have been on in years past. As far as picking a favorite, I would have to say the Moldcraft Wide Range would be my choice in any color combo. This one always finds a spot in our spread either as a lure with hooks, at the end of a daisy chain or by itself as a hookless teaser. Because it’s a soft lure we get more bites out of a fish and more opportunities at hookups.”

Marlin Magic Baby Ruckus

Marlin Magic Baby Ruckus

Marlin Magic Baby Ruckus 03/46 skirt combo at Melton International Tackle.

Capt. Troy Day

Capt. Troy Day

Owner Jasen Gast – REHAB

“My favorite lure for Texas billfishing is the Marlin Magic Baby Ruckus. It was designed by fishermen in Hawaii who catch more big blue marlin on lures than potentially any other place in the world. Run off the short or long rigger position, this lure is a proven billfish raiser for us. It creates a lot of noise in the water and pulls extremely well in a variety of weather conditions we see here in the Gulf of Mexico. Both the Ruckus and Baby Ruckus models are very aggressive and create quite the billfish attracting commotion.”

Makaira 19 - Chartreuse Paua Shell - Blue/Silver over Green/Chartreuse

Makaira 19 – Chartreuse Paua Shell – Blue/Silver over Green/Chartreuse

Brutus - Blue Paua Shell/Silver Mirror w/ Silver Eyes - Blue/Silver/Black Bars over Purple/Black

Makaira Brutus – Blue Paua Shell/Silver Mirror w/ Silver Eyes – Blue/Silver/Black Bars over Purple/Black

Capt. Brett HoldenCapt. Brett Holden – BOOBY TRAP

“Due to weather, we only have so many days to fish here in the Gulf. So if I’m chasing billfish I’m going to make it count. Makaira Pulling Lures, custom handmade lures by Justin Roper in Louisiana, are my first choice for trolling. Justin has 19 different lure heads, from slant to yap to chugger, in a variety of colors and weighted in couple different ways. My favorites are the 19, Brutus and Mars. I prefer to rig them with a single stiff or single semi-stiff hook. I’ll always the remember the first day I trolled a Makaira. We were in 400–500 feet of water and a big blue marlin inhaled the lure off the flat line right away. We ended up catching 12 wahoo and four big dolphin in an hour and a half after that first big blue. Since that day, I’ve made it a point to always have Makairas in my spread.”

Deep Drop Techniques for Grouper and Tilefish

chelholden Deep Drop Techniques for Grouper and Tilefish

Chelsey Holden and a very colorful tilefish.

captholdengrouper Deep Drop Techniques for Grouper and Tilefish

Capt. Brett Holden with a real nice yellowedge grouper.

By Capt. Brett Holden

Deep dropping for tilefish and grouper is becoming more and more popular by the day here in the Gulf of Mexico. I began fishing for these deep-water critters in the mid-1980s, and the sport has grown into a daily routine for many Gulf anglers.

Faster boats with longer range have now made fish like warsaw grouper, snowy grouper, yellowedge grouper, longtail sea bass, barrelfish, tilefish and others easier targets for many Texas sport fishing vessels. These deep drop techniques will help you find these fish in 400–1,300 feet of water.

warsaw

Capt. Matt Reed, left, and Capt. Jeff Wilson with a warsaw grouper.

Species of the Deep

Mike Parsons with the new Texas state record tilefish. 43 inches and 33.08 pounds.

Mike Parsons with a huge tilefish that measured in at 43 inches and 33.08 pounds.

Warsaw, yellowedge and longtail sea bass are commonly found around mountain tops, hard spots and deep water oil rigs in the 400–900 foot range. Warsaw grouper, on average, run anywhere from 40–100 pounds. But over the years I’ve seen several fish up to 250 pounds and a couple in the 300-pound range. Regulations have changed and now only one warsaw per-vessel is allowed.

Yellowedge grouper are delicious and average 8–18 pounds, with a few 20–30 pounders still caught fairly regularly. The largest one we ever caught was around 50 pounds.

'Bubba' with a longtail sea bass.

‘Bubba’ with a longtail sea bass.

Longtail sea bass are another fish that seem to inhabit the same area. They are good eating but hold a little stronger taste than the deep-water grouper. Once again, these fish are mostly found in the 400–900 foot range.

Barrelfish and tilefish run a little deeper on average. For big barrelfish, you want to fish down current from the edges and walls of deep water mountain tops. The edges will have well-defined drops and barrelfish can stack up very thick at the top and bottom of this structure. They’re usually found a bit higher off the sea floor and mark well on a good bottom machine. These fish are most often found between depths of 850–1,200 feet.

Capt. Jeff Wilson and Mike Parsons with a trio of barrelfish.

Capt. Jeff Wilson and Mike Parsons with a trio of barrelfish.

Many times the deeper you drop for barrels, the bigger the fish tend to be. Last year we found a pile of barrels at 900 feet that ran 3–8 pounds. We moved off that ridge and found another school in 1,170-to-1,225 feet of water. All of the barrels off that ridge were running 12–18 pounds on average. These fish are a blast; they fight all the way to the surface, unlike many deep water species that tend to “blow up” as they near the surface. The barrels fight hard and really put a bend in the rod.

Tilefishing is a fast growing sport and produces exceptional table fare. Not long ago, tilefish were pretty much unheard of as a rod and reel fish. I caught my first one in the mid-1980s and have been targeting them every since. This fishery was kept very quiet for a long time and was a pretty big secret. Back in the 1990s, there were no limits on tiles, and that is what we filled our freezers with. But still to this day, they are a fish you can actually go target and pick up a few meals.

We have bigger tilefish here in the Gulf than most people would think. Just a few years ago, the record tilefish was only around four pounds. But I have caught uncountable tilefish running 25–35 pounds

and several that have been 35–45 pounds, including a couple near 50 pounds. Now that eyes are opening to the new daytime swordfishing industry here on the Texas coast, more and more tilefish are being boated.

Tilefish are probably the easiest of all the deep water fish you can target. The golden tilefish is most commonly found in the 900–1,250 foot range. Smaller tiles, averaging 2–10 pounds, can be targeted on the continental shelf wall without any special areas or specific “numbers.” Muddy areas anywhere from 900–1,000 feet of open water will hold tilefish.

Finding better average sized fish will take a little more work. Tilefish will typically get bigger off the shelf, or in valleys against the shelf. Drop on the down current side of small dips and slopes in 1,000–1,250 feet of water. Tilefish tend to feed right on the bottom, so try to stop your bait and hold the boat on an area as tight as possible.

However, slow drifting will also produce tilefish and is great for covering ground. Drag the bait against the bottom, stopping often, and then continuing the drift to explore new areas.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Finding bigger tilefish is another story altogether. I have learned a lot over the past few years about these large fish. The biggest ones will hold against ridges at 1,200 feet and are bold enough to follow baits headed for deep water. Drop your bait near the edge of a ridge that looks over 1,500–1,600 feet of water and be ready. The biggest tiles, those from 35–50 pounds, seem to live alone. I have caught most of these big fish away from the schools and many times, several feet off the bottom feeding in schools of squid or dragonfish. The big tilefish really don’t seem to like a lot of leader in their face. Single rigs with the weight above the bait seem to work best. A whole squid, about 14-inches-long, works very well. Use a large hook and bait to avoid the smaller fish when targeting big tiles.

I seem to catch lots of big tiles early in the year, April through May, and sometimes in as shallow as 850–1,000 feet. I’m not sure if it was due to spawning or what, but I’ve caught several in the 30–45 pound class during these months.

Other Species

Josh Graves carefully holds up a scorpionfish.

Josh Graves carefully holds up a scorpionfish.

Beware of spiny, toothy and venomous critters that you might pull up from the deep. Spiny dogfish are small, deep water sharks that have spikes near the dorsal fins that can cause a painful sting. The spines on scorpionfish can also sting if you’re not careful. But these bright orange fish are pretty good to eat.

Once the sun goes down the tilefish stop biting and the eels take over in force. Conger eels have nice white meat but lots of bones.  Banded shrimp eels and moray eels have mouths full of big teeth so watch out.

Spiny Dogfish

Spiny Dogfish

Hake, a small brown fish averaging 1–3 pounds, also bite at night and can be a nuisance. They will eat pretty much anything. Their meat is good and tasty but very soft. I use hake filets to replace crab meat in gumbo.

Hake

Hake

The tilefish don’t bite at night but grouper will if you’re in an area free of eels. Snowy and yellowedge grouper will take baits and warsaw will feed as high as 400 feet off the bottom in 900 feet of water.

Triple deep drop leader with LP circle hooks.

Triple deep drop leader with LP circle hooks.

Rigging

For years I never used any kind of light or strobe to catch tilefish and did okay. But over the past 10 years or so, I’ve started rigging them up and I think it does work better. I also found that rigging the light further from the bait will produce bigger fish. If we are targeting BIG tiles I will rig the weight and light 15 to 20 feet above the bait. Big tilefish will eat regular double and triple bait rigs, but once again, you’ll do better on a clean single rig. The standard double and triple bait drops work well for yellowedge grouper and smaller tilefish.

Your size of leader and weight will all depend on how much current you are fighting. The bite and fishing will be best when using less weight and smaller line. Thinner line means less bow in the line and that makes it easier to see bites. On the Booby Trap, we use Diamond braid made by Diamond Products. I like the orange 80 pound braid because it is easy to see.

weights

Cannonball weights and lead stick.

With a light current and this braid, 3 pounds is a good weight to start with on your standard double bait leaders. I use cannon ball style weights because they don’t get hung up as easy on rough, rocky bottoms. If the current is strong then move up in weight size to 4 to 5 pounds. If it really cranking move up to 7 pound window weights or lead stick weights.

Some of these deep water fish have sharp teeth, so heavy mono leaders are a necessity. Yellowedge, longtail sea bass and other smaller grouper are not so bad but tilefish, eels and small sharks have sharp teeth. The grouper will wear through light leaders eventually and the tiles will bite clean through them. I use 300 pound LP or Momoi mono leader for our deep drops.

Use caribbean swivels to help keep the twist out of the leader and line. Most bottom fish will go into a spin on the way up.

Heavy duty circle hooks, from 8/0 to 16/0, work best for deep dropping. Tilefish and grouper have no problem snagging themselves on a circle hook and I would say it definitely helps keep the fish on when cranking them up from the deep. A sharp hook is also important. It’s a long way up and down, so a needle sharp edge is very important.

Be sure to take plenty of extra tackle when deep dropping. It is a long ride to the deep water fishing grounds and you might lose tackle to rocks and snags. Also, carry an extra spool or two of braided line. One break off at 1,000 feet can end the day if you are without replacement line.

When it comes to reels, the Lindgren Pitman S-1200 electric reel is the reel of choice on the Booby Trap. The LP is a deep dropping fishing machine that also has the strength and drag system to handle big warsaw grouper and swordfish. You can also hand crank tilefish and grouper on conventional tackle but it is a long way up and down.

reelcrankie

Reel Crankie in action.

The Reel Crankie is a must have, great product that can assist in getting your rig up from the bottom fast. It’s not made for fighting fish but for retrieving your heavy weight and empty hooks when you don’t catch a fish. It does a great job of winding up all the line, instead of you wearing out your arm on empty hooks. The Reel Crankie fits on a cordless drill and clamps onto several different makes of conventional reel.

You can also deep drop with two lines but it can be tricky fishing and requires some boat handling. The more bow in the lines you have, the more likely you are to tangle your expensive gear.

What Bait?

Over stuffing your hook with bait can result in fewer hookups. It is more important to get less bait nicely hooked rather than too much bait, which will result in missed fish. Avoid hard, bony, bulky baits that can push a fish off the hook. Softer baits like fish fillets and squid will result in better hook ups. Larger squid are usually tougher and stay on the hook better than the small ones. I like to take a 12–16 inch squid and cut chunks for tilefish. Squid wings work well too but not as a whole squid or chunks.

Preparing Your Catch

Gut your grouper and tilefish ASAP for better table fare. These fish eat lots of shellfish, which can result in some nasty strong tastes in the meat if not taken care of properly.

Wash down your fish after gutting them and keep on ice. Try and keep cooler drained at all times so the fish don’t soak in water.

Connor Weigelt holds up a beautiful colored tilefish.Go Get Them

Now you’re ready to go out and find your own tilefish and grouper. The entire continental shelf from Texas to Louisiana holds great bottom structure, supporting tons of deep water species.

Some fish stay directly on top of structure, some live on the walls, slopes and drop offs and some species are found on flat bottoms. Don’t forget to mark your hook ups on your GPS and keep a track record of your best catches. This is the best way to build and notice patterns on the different fish.

It is a fun way to spend the day with miles and miles of perfect habitat for multiple types of great eating fish. You never know what you will come up with and that alone makes deep dropping fun in itself.

Brett Holden is the captain of the Booby Trap, which holds the record for largest swordfish in the Gulf of Mexico. Holden is a pioneer in daytime swordfishing along the Texas coast; he holds numerous billfishing records and shares his deep drop techniques every year at the Texas Swordfish Seminar. 

Winter Wahoo

 

DSC 0012 300x200 Winter Wahoo

Photo: Kelly Groce

DSC 0067 227x300 Winter Wahoo

My first wahoo weighed in at 36 pounds. (Check out those seas behind me). Photo: Shayne Ellis

BY KELLY GROCE

I was lucky enough to tag along with Team Pay Czech as they went searching for wahoo out of Freeport Marina for the 2019 Winter Wahoo Championship. Despite the howling winds and 4-6’ seas, we caught wahoo, blackfin tuna, amberjack and barracuda and had an absolute blast while doing so. Huge thanks again to Joe Schiller, Joey Schiller, Shayne Ellis and Collin Ferrera for inviting me along my first overnight offshore trip as well as my first wahoo. Go Team Pay Czech!

 

Collin Ferrera stuck this beautiful wahoo. Photo: Kelly Groce

2019 LOS SUEÑOS TOURNAMENTS BEGIN WITH THE LADIES

 

costa rica sailfish 2019 LOS SUEÑOS TOURNAMENTS BEGIN WITH THE LADIES

©Los Sueños Resort and Marina • Photographer: Pepper Ailor.

Los Sueños Resort and Marina, located at Playa Herradura on Costa Rica’s Central Pacific Coast, held the first leg of its sixth annual Los Sueños Signature Triple Crown billfish series, presented by Chantilly Air, January 16-19, 2019.

A total of 44 of the world’s most competitive billfishing teams comprised of 210 individual anglers challenged each other over three days of fishing, releasing a total of 648 billfish, including 582 sails and 66 marlin for a per boat average of 15 billfish releases.

fish tank los suenos 2019 LOS SUEÑOS TOURNAMENTS BEGIN WITH THE LADIES

Fish Tank, owned by Chris and Laura Jessen and captained by Ben Horning, took first place in both the Ladies Only Tournament and the Los Sueños Signature Triple Crown. ©Los Sueños Resort and Marina • Photographer: Pepper Ailor.

LADIES ONLY ONE-DAY TOURNAMENT

Held on Tuesday, Jan. 15, the first annual Los Sueños Ladies Only Tournament, presented by Chantilly Air and sponsored by Maverick and Galati Yacht Sales, brought together 49 individual anglers participating on 17 boats. It seemed like a clear battle between Family and Friends and D.A. Sea who were tied both for points and on time just half an hour before lines out.

Fish Tank (anglers Laura Jessen and Michelle Keeney) surprised everyone though, calling in a marlin hook up which they went on to release at 4:04 p.m. for the win, having released 8 sails and 1 marlin for 1,300 points. D.A. Sea (anglers Valerie Dunn, Susan McCart, and Judy Duffie) ended up second with 1100 points with 6 sailfish and 1 marlin release, and Family and Friends (anglers Jackie Kopp, Kristin Feller, and Andrea White) rounded out the leaderboard in third with 1,000 points after releasing 10 sails.

Awards were presented the following day and the ladies took to the stage to receive their cash prizes and trophies, sponsored by Gray Taxidermy. A total of $27,500 was handed out, 50% going to first, 30% to second, and 20% to third. Individual angler points follow the ladies through the Triple Crown and will be tallied to their total scores from that event to determine the Top Female Angler Overall. So far, Jackie Kopp of Family and Friends is well in the lead with 700 points from the Ladies Only and 1,500 points from the first leg of the Triple Crown.

©Los Sueños Resort and Marina • Photographer: Pepper Ailor.

TRIPLE CROWN DAY 1

It was Numero Uno who fittingly released fish “numero uno” of the tournament at 8:05 am on Day 1, Jan. 17. By 10 a.m., the competitive fleet of 44 teams and 210 anglers had released 89 billfish, including 84 sails and 5 marlin. Tarheel took an early lead with 800 points, over The King and I and Blue Eagle, each with 700 points. The King and I showed their stripes early with 1,800 points by noon, taking a 600 point lead over Tranquilo with 1,200 points and Outlaw with 1,100 points.

Over 40 fish were released in the next two hours, but the leaderboard changed very little. The King and I ended the day in first with 2,000 points, Wire We Here ended up releasing 6 sails and 2 marlin for 1,600 points and second place, and Blue Eagle released the same fish for the same points, just 13 minutes later to take third for the day.

TRIPLE CROWN DAY 2

The King and I had a slow start to Day 2 with zero releases by 10 a.m., but managed to hold on to their first place spot. Wire We Here released four sails in the same period to tie The King and I with 2,000 points, just one sailfish release and 100 points ahead of Reel Pushy. By noon the fleet had released a two-day total of 380 billfish and Fish Tank had pushed The King and I down to third on time after Wire We Here, both with 2,100 points, and taking top spot with 2,300 points. Family and Friends were keeping their name in front of spectators, taking top spot with 2,600 points by 2 p.m., followed by Fish Tank with 2,400 points and Reel Pushy in third with 2,300 points. By the end of the day Family and Friends had earned enough points after releasing 7 sails and 2 marlin for a two-day total of 2,600 points, to keep their first place position. Reel Pushy released 7 sails and 2 marlin on Day 2 for a two-day total of 2,500 points, and Fish Tank rounded out the top three with 2,400 points after releasing 9 sails on Day 2. The top nine teams were all within one marlin and one sail of the lead going in to Day 3.

TRIPLE CROWN DAY 3

Day 3 followed the same trend as the first two days with a good morning bite. By 10 a.m. the fleet had released 61 billfish for a three-day total of 522 billfish (469 sails and 53 marlin). The King and I were vying for the leaderboard and had amassed 3,300 points to take first over Reel Pushy in second with 3,100 points, and Tranquilo in third with 2,800 points. At noon it was still anyone’s game. Fish Tank was in first with 3,500 points. The King and I was in second, now with 3,400 points, and Reel Pushy in third with one more sailfish for 3,200 points. The 2 p.m. leaderboard would end up being a prediction of the Leg 1 finishers, showing Fish Tank in first with 4,200 points, The King and I in second with 3,400 points, and Reel Pushy in third with 3,300 points. Fish Tank went on to release four more sails, ending the day – and the tournament – with 4,600 points.

RESULTS

Los Sueños Ladies Only Tournament

1st Place: FISH TANK

Fish Tank, a 63’ Hatteras captained by Ben Horning, with anglers Laura Jessen and Michelle Keeney. Michelle was the top angler for this event, with 900 individual points after releasing 4 sails and 1 marlin.

2nd Place: D.A. SEA

D.A. Sea, a 60’ Viking captained by Climaco Rodriguez, with anglers Valerie Dunn, Susan McCart, and Judy Duffie.

3rd Place: FAMILY AND FRIENDS

Family and Friends, a 50’ Craig Blackwell captained by Joshua Porras, with anglers Jackie Kopp, Kristin Feller, and Andrea White

Los Sueños Signature Triple Crown

1st Place: FISH TANK

4,600 points, 31 sails and 3 marlin

Fish Tank, a 63’ Hatteras captained by Ben Horning, with owners/angler Chris and Laura Jessen, and their fellow anglers Kitt Toomey, Mike Ivancevic, and Darren Helwig. Fish Tank also took third place in Leg 1 of the 2016 Triple Crown and third place in Leg 3 2017. Laura Jessen is familiar with the stage, having also been the Top Female Angler in 2017.

TOP ANGLER

Chris Jessen of Fish Tank achieved the highest points out of all participating non-professional anglers after releasing 6 sailfish and 2 marlin for 1,600 points.

2nd Place: THE KING AND I

3,400 points, 9 sails and 5 marlin

The King and I, a 50’ Ocean Yacht, captained by Victor “Pia” Ceballos is from Guatemala and first started fishing the Triple Crown in 2018. Anglers Pablo Sechel, Sergio Alvarado, Juan Pablo Ramos, Juan Andres Morales and Charles Donato finished in second place in Leg 1.

3rd Place: REEL PUSHY

3,300 points, 18 sails and 3 marlin

Reel Pushy, a 58’ Monterey co-captained by Chris Workmon and Dave Dalfo also just started competing in the Triple Crown in 2018. This is their second year and angler/owner Robert Banker along with his fellow anglers Patrick Lanahan, Samantha Mumford, Tyler Wall, and Kevin O’Connor.

ABOUT LOS SUEÑOS RESORT AND MARINA

Los Sueños Resort and Marina is the premier luxury real estate resort in Costa Rica. Nestled on the Central Pacific Coast, Los Sueños is an 1,100-acre oasis offering incredible ocean, rainforest and golf course view properties; a gorgeous waterfront Marina Village commercial area with restaurants, shops and lively entertainment; a large private beach club for residents; an 18-hole championship golf course; a superb 201-room Marriott Hotel; and much more, all within close proximity to world record-setting sport fishing waters. Information on Los Sueños Resort and Marina is available online at www.lossuenos.com. Information on Los Sueños real estate properties is available online at www.lossuenosproperties.com. For more photos from Los Sueños tournaments, please click here

Top 5 Winter Billfish Destinations

Spend your winter at one of the five hottest fishing grounds this side of the globe.

tropic star lodge Top 5 Winter Billfish Destinations

PANAMA

The Tropic Star Lodge in Piñas Bay has been producing world-class inshore and offshore fishing since 1963. Nestled 150 miles southeast of Panama City, this remote destination offers access to the abundant fishing grounds of the Pacific and splendor of the pristine Darien Jungle.

Expect hot action on some of the most sought-after pelagic fish during January and February. Black and blue marlin fishing will be excellent, as are the prospects for hooking into large pacific sailfish, big cow yellowfin tuna and bull dorado.

Despite its far-removed location, the Tropic Star Lodge has accommodations and amenities to please the most persnickety of travelers.

Visit TropicStar.com for more information.

SergioPucci Top 5 Winter Billfish Destinations

Photo by Sergio Pucci

COSTA RICA

The Los Sueños Resort and Marina is a 1,100-acre master planned destination resort, offering all the services and amenities of a small city. Calm waters and short distances to one of the healthiest billfisheries in the world make it a highly popular sportfishing destination. The main attraction during winter is unrivaled action on big pacific sailfish, but yellowfin tuna and dorado make appearances as well. Visit lossuenos.com for info on charters and lodging.

GUATEMALA

Sailfish Oasis in Guatemala, “The Sailfish Capital of the World,” is home to one of the largest breeding grounds for Pacific sailfish. Guatemala holds both the conventional and fly fishing records for most sailfish released in one day. The Sailfish Oasis lodge is situated in a secure, tree-lined, residential development, on the edge of a canal that overlooks the mangroves. Their fleet of sportfishing yachts can accommodate the needs of every angler. Visit SailFishOasis.com for more information.

Famous arch in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

MEXICO

Cabo San Lucas is host to a strong striped marlin bite during the winter months. The action on these acrobatic fighters continues through spring and into early summer. This popular Baja destination has no shortage of accommodations and fishing charters. We recommend RedRum Sportfishing (redrumcabo.com) and Chupacabra Sportfishing (chupacabrasportfishing.com)

Fort Lauderdale, Florida is a winter sailfish hot spot.

FLORIDA

South Florida’s peak Atlantic sailfish season begins in January and sets off a flurry of fishing activity in Fort Lauderdale, the Florida Keys and as far north as Fort Pierce. The prospect of a multi-fish day is good, as large schools of these spirited fish move up and down the coast all winter long. Trolled lures are effective but live bait fished under a kite is the most popular method.

Coastal Artist Anastasia Musick

musick tarpon Coastal Artist Anastasia Musick

Anastasia Musick with her tarpon painting “Eyes on the Prize.”

Interview by Kelly Groce

Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from and when did you start painting?

Originally I am from Kazakhstan but I have lived all over Europe and Asia (11 countries to be exact) before I was even 17!  Shortly after I came along, my family endured many hardships from the changing times, causing us to constantly move.

Like many young kids, I was fond of drawing, painting and anything artistic, but I tended to dedicate all of my time to this interest over anything else.  Certainly it was a good focus, as no matter where we lived or what the language, I had to start learning that particular year(s), I had consistency and stability in my artwork. I think was more beneficial to me than anything.

When I was around 11 years old, I was starting to paint and draw animals and floral art at a very rapid rate.  My mother would place the finished works in shops wherever we were living at the time.  By the time I was 15, I was being contacted for commissioned pieces of a very wide array of subjects, including freshwater fish, birds, and a lot of floral works.

How did you get into painting wildlife?

I have from the very beginning painted a host of subjects without boundary, but I would say that the time period I started focusing mostly on marine and wildlife was 2-3 years ago. My first saltwater piece was around that time as well.

musick swordfish Coastal Artist Anastasia Musick

“Dancing in the Moonlight”

Aside from art, what else are you passionate about?

Well to be completely honest, I don’t really have much time to do much else!  I paint 8-12 hours a day, 7 days a week, and when I am caught up I try to go fishing or enjoy my time on the water.  I take what I do incredibly seriously and try to give every ounce of energy I have to becoming better. After all, I have a lot of folks who have invested in me by owning originals.  I would be doing them a disservice if I did not increase their piece’s value over time.

I do love to fish but unless it’s a subject I am completely new to, it really does not make the artworks any better to continually see the same species—at least for me it doesn’t, but what does improve the paintings is pure repetition. This is the only requirement needed to have the knowledge or capability to paint or draw anything with success.

“Nine Lives”

What is your favorite fish to catch?

Redfish and Mahi.

Favorite location to fish or travel?

When time allows, I like to take either my paddle boat or kayak to a tiny little area in Charlotte Harbor that always is harboring at least a few hungry reds!  Within the last two years my vacationing has been sort of limited, but I have really enjoyed the various beaches I’ve visited in Texas and of course the boardwalk in San Antonio was a fun time.

Favorite fishing moment?

The very first redfish I caught had a little over 13 spots and I think that’s when I fell in love with fishing and wanted to dedicate that as my predominate focus.

“Ambush Queens”

How can our readers purchase and enjoy your art?

I have hundreds of pieces that I do reproductions of in small numbers, apparel and a host of other things available.  Easiest way to contact me is either to go to Facebook and search me out: Anastasia Musick. Also feel free to contact me on my business page: Musick Art Corporation. You can also find my website at www.AnastasiaMusick.com

Are there any foundations or organizations you are involved with that you would like to tell our readers about?

I work with CCA Texas, Florida and several kidney research foundations.  In 2019 I was selected to be the Texas CCA STAR Platinum Print Artist and would like to continue working with them and others.

“The Prospectors Bill”

Fishmas Gift Guide

redfish earrings Fishmas Gift Guide

Gone Coastal Jewelry

Gone Coastal Jewelry features the highest quality nautical and coastal jewelry along with exceptional customer service. No matter which design you choose, their necklaces, bracelets, earrings, charms, pendants, rings and more fully embody the excitement, beauty and peacefulness of coastal life. GoneCoastalJewelry.com

columbia megavent2 Fishmas Gift Guide

Columbia Men’s Megavent™ II PFG Shoe

It dries quickly, drains water easily, and laces up fast. The latest Megavent™ hybrid shoe is made for the professional angler who needs an outsole that grips when wet, an upper that resists stains, and an overall design that performs when the excitement hits. Gulf Coast Mariner put these shoes to the test all summer in Cabo San Lucas and during the Texas Billfish Classic. They are extremely grippy boat shoes that don’t sacrifice comfort or durability. Columbia.com

Studio Abachar Pinup Girl Stickers

Impressive vintage-styled stickers from world-famous marine artist Amadeo Bachar. These 8” Clear vinyl stickers are printed with white ink behind Amadeo’s fish illustration to preserve opacity and unmatched level of detail. Each is coated with heavy UV to stand up to the elements— rain, wind and sun without fading. Also available in prints. Visit studio-abachar.myshopify.com

Cold Steel Bird & Trout Knife

The Bird & Trout knife is a much loved, lightweight tool that is enjoyed by hunters, fisherman and outdoorsmen the world over. Its lightweight one-piece construction and its versatile, ultra-skeletonized sheath make it effortless to carry and a joy to wear all day long. Made of Japanese AUS 8A Stainless Steel. Overall length 6 5/16” Blade length is 2 1/4” ColdSteel.com

Avid Angler Jewelry

Avid Angler Jewelry provides unique, realistic jewelry that has been designed and hand-crafted by fellow fishing and hunting enthusiasts. Be it sterling silver or 14k gold, these pendants, charms, pins, earrings, bracelets, tie-tacs and rings can be created to customize your collection. These inshore or offshore pieces express a love of nature and the outdoors and make a perfect gift. @AvidAnglerJewelryDesigns

YETI Rambler Half Gallon Jug

With rugged construction, FatLid™ insulation and a stainless steel handle, the Rambler® Half Gallon Jug is built to take on the wild. Whenever and wherever you need it, count on an ice-cold (or piping hot) sip from your Rambler to come to the rescue. Available in 2 DuraCoat™ colors and stainless steel. Yeti.com

Avet Patriot Series Reels

Give the gift of American Pride! All of your favorite Avet reels are now available in red, white and blue. The 6061 T-6 marine grade aluminum frame proudly displays our flag and features an anodized finish for superior corrosion resistance. Avet reels feature precision machined stainless steel gears and components and are proudly made right here in the good ole’ U. S. of A. AvetReels.net