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Costa Rica Fishing Team FECOP Surprises With Success in Lake Okeechobee Pan-American Bass Tournament

When FECOP sponsored three teams to compete in the first Pan-American Delegation bass tournament on Lake Okeechobee in Florida last week, it was akin to David meets Goliath. The Jamaican bobsled team participating in prior Winter Olympics is a similar analogy. The Pan-American anglers were fishing against experienced pros like Roland Martin and his son, Scott, in a tournament hosted by USA Bass and Fishing League Worldwide. Teams representing the United States, Canada and Mexico also competed, yet Costa Rica was the only country without its own bass fishery and local knowledge.

Henry Marin is a project manager and sociologist for FECOP. FECOP is a conservation association representing sport-fishing interests in Costa Rica. Marin fully understands the socio-economic aspects of the sport and its value to the men and women who work in the industry. But the expert academic had no prior experience actually fishing, so he was quite surprised when he was asked to join a team.

Marin partnered with Carlos Cabero, FECOP’s president and an avid angler. The other two Costa Rica teams were from the National Fishing Club, which is a FECOP member organization. Marin read up on largemouth bass and watched videos before departing for Florida. Upon arrival the team stopped off at Bass Pro Shops and Marin bought his first fishing rod. “When we were not fishing, I asked a lot of questions of the other anglers. They were extremely helpful about the habits of bass,” Marin says.

The two practice days improved Marin’s casting, although he was still not as accurate as he thought he needed to be. “I knew I could not hit the spots I wanted, so my strategy during the tournament was to cast beyond and bring my lure back to the spot.” That technique paid off. Marin ended up catching more bass than his partner, but Cabero landed the largest fish.

Once all the catch logs were tallied, Team Cabero and Marin had scored enough points for a fourth-place finish. The team of Ronny Villalobos and Mauricio Monge came in ninth and the combined scores allowed Costa Rica to take the bronze medal or third place overall in the competition. Roland and Scott Martin earned first-place honors and the gold for the USA, while Canada won the silver medal for its second-place finish.

When the teams returned to Costa Rica there were no screaming fans flooding the streets like after a soccer match. Still, this little country is proud of its anglers. When FECOP was asked to represent Costa Rica in the Pan-American delegation last November, the goal was to first include sport-fishing in the Pan-American Games before eventually being added to the Olympic roster. And in the process, FECOP’s Marin now appreciates the emotional and competitive aspects of the sport, too.

For more information, contact: www.fishcostarica.org or info@fecop.org

Results and Teams

1. USA – Scott Martin and Roland Martin – 15.51 kg (34-3)

2. USA – John Cox and Keith Carson – 14.68 kg (32-6)

3. Canada – Cole Bailey and Bruce Leeson – 12.98 kg (28-10)

4. Costa Rica – Carlos Cabero and Henry Marin – 12.86 kg (28-6)

5. Canada – Phil Hegarty and Stephen Hegarty – 12.46 kg (27-8)

6. Canada – Rob Lee and Dave Chong – 12.41 kg (27-6)

7. USA – David Dudley and Mark Schlarb – 12.38 kg (27-5)

8. USA – Shirley Crain and Michelle Jalaba – 11.47 kg (25-5)

9. Costa Rica – Ronny Villalobos and Maricio Monge – 11.37 kg (25-1)

10. Canada – Dave Bairstow and Matt Hubble – 11.25 kg (24-13)

11. USA – Alan Boyd and Kyle Alsop – 10.62 kg (23-7)

12. Canada – Joey Ford and Shawn McCaul – 10.51 kg (23-3)

13. Canada – Spiro Agouros and Fern Campeau – 10.5 kg (23-2)

14. Canada – Brian Hughes and Anais Chaves – 10.27 kg (22-10)

15. Canada – Bob Izumi and Darren Izumi – 10.27 kg (22-10)

16. Mexico – Richie Gonzalez and Arturo Saldana – 9.78 kg (21-9)

17. Mexico – Jorge Bruster and Luis Flores – 9.36 kg (20-10)

18. Mexico – Victor Concha Jr. and Gerardo Ibarra – 8.25 kg (18-3)

19. Mexico – Gabriel Torres and Eduardo Yoshii – 8.14 kg (17-15)

20. Mexico – Alex Salinas and Fernando Salinas – 7.52 kg (16-9)

21. Mexico – Tomas Santos and Cruz Alejando Salinas – 5.8 kg (12-13)

22. Costa Rica – Jonnathan Arroyo and Vincente Naranjo – 4.78 kg (10-9)

Top 10 Patterns from the PanAmerican

From Fishing League WorldWide

Intimate knowledge of Lake Okeechobee bass not only led Scott Martin and Roland Martin to productive areas; it also helped them decipher a tough bite and amass the winning two-day total of 15.51 kg (34 pounds, 3 ounces) at the inaugural PanAmerican Black Bass Championship at Roland and Mary Ann Martin’s Marina & Resort on Lake Okeechobee.

Sanctioned by the PanAmerican Sportfishing Delegation and hosted by USA Bass, a branch of United States Angling Confederation (U.S. Angling), the event was presented with assistance from FLW. Part of an ongoing effort by the Confederation Internationale de Peche Sportive (CIPS) to make bass fishing an Olympic sport, the tournament fielded 22 two-angler teams from the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Costa Rica.

En route to taking the individual gold medal and leading Team USA to overall gold, the Martins caught most of their fish in the Monkey Box – a large bay surrounded by reed lines and interspersed with lily pads, pencil reeds and junk mats. The winners fared best by throwing Yamamoto Senkos and D Shads on 5/0 Trokar offset hooks into the reeds and meticulously working them with a slow pace.

Martins’ Winning Pattern

 

2. Second-place finishers Cox and Carson opvercome early mishap

Right out of the gate, fate seemed to stack the odds against FLW Tour pro John Cox and his teammate Keith Carson, as an engine issue crippled them at takeoff on day one. Fortunately, fellow Tour pro Brandon McMillan, who lives in Clewiston, loaned Cox a boat, and, despite the late start and rattled nerves, the U.S. duo sacked up 6.8 kg and placed fourth.

Cox and Carson would go on to add 7.88 on day two and rise to second place with a total weight of 14.68 kg (32-6) to earn the silver medal. They caught their fish in the Monkey Box flipping reeds and mats, but most of their bites came from isolated reed heads.

Carson described a key point that proved impactful both days, particularly on day one, when windier conditions challenged casting.

“We were fishing the same baits on two different lines. I was using 6-pound braided line, and John was using 15-pound fluorocarbon,” Carson says. “My line was so thin it wasn’t catching the wind, so my bait was staying in the strike zone, while the wind was pulling John’s bait right out. I fished behind him and picked up the ones he missed.”

Also, Cox noted the day-two importance of long casts. With the wind dropping to barely a breeze and sunny skies maximizing visibility, fish were on high alert.

“They were so spooky, especially in the slick, calm conditions, so we had to stay way off the reeds when we were casting,” he says. “Also, when we’d move into a new area, we had to let it settle down before we started fishing.”

 

3. Bailey and Leeson flip the script for third

Team Canada’s Cole Bailey and Bruce Leeson turned in a consistent performance by taking fifth on day one with a limit of 6.5 kg and then following with 6.48 on day two. Earning the bronze medal, they ended with a tournament total of 12.98 (28-10).

Bailey says their success hinged on shifting gears and adapting to changing conditions. Day one saw the anglers catching their fish on 1/2-ounce Dirty Jigs Swim Jigs with Gambler EZ Swimmer trailers, but the second day required a different approach

“That swim jig was our primary bait the first day when it was a little cloudy and overcast,” Bailey says. “Today [Thursday], I figured the flipping would come into play because when it gets really hot and sunny, those fish pull into the mats.

“Today, we got on a pretty good punching bite in the mud mats [dead lily pad roots]. We were flipping 3/4- to 1 1/2-ounce weights and rubber punch skirts with either a Gambler BB Cricket, Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver or a Set the Hook Zaga Craw.”

 

4. Costa Rica’s Cabero, Marin learn the largemouth game

Anytime a team fares well on unfamiliar water it’s impressive, but Team Costa Rica’s Carlos Cabero and Henry Marin hail from a nation with no black bass fisheries within its borders. Therefore, finishing fourth with 12.86 kg (28-6) proved to be one of the event’s most impressive story lines.

Cabero, captain of Team Costa Rica, says he and Marin used 5-inch Gambler Ace stick baits in junebug. Their tactics produced 7.99 kg of bass on day two, which pushed them up from 12th on day one. Their final-day catch included a 5-pound, 7-ounce kicker.

“We were worried, because around 10 o’clock we had only caught little ones,” Marin says. “But we moved to another spot, and it went really well for us.”

Marin noted that precise casting proved essential to their success.

“It was trial-and-error the first two practice days because we didn’t know how to fish for bass,” he says. “At the first part, we tried drifting and letting the baits sink through the hydrilla. That didn’t work that well for us, so we tried to use topwaters, but that didn’t work either.

“Then, we noticed that there was a lot of breeze coming in between the pads and cattails. We started making precise casts, and that started working. We got three big ones in the same spot.”

 

5. Patience pays for Hegarty duo

Sharing the Martins’ family connection, the father-son team of Phil Hegarty and Stephen Hegarty represented Team Canada by climbing 12 notches on day two to finish fifth with 12.46 kg (27-8).

With day two starting strong, the team secured a limit fairly quickly, but then the bite fizzled. Overcoming the urge to relocate paid big dividends.

“We were going to run, but we said, ‘We know there are big ones here, so let’s stick around,’” Stephen says. “We stayed, and I stuck that big one that was 5-15.”

They tried different baits, but they caught all of the fish they weighed on 3/8-ounce Z-Man ChatterBaits with black/blue Yamamoto Zako trailers.

“I threw a Senko when my arm got tired, but all of the fish we weighed came on the ChatterBait,” Stephen adds.

 

6. Muddy water drops Chong and Lee to sixth

After a strong start that put them in second place on day one with 7.48 kg, Team Canada’s David Chong and Rob Lee struggled on day two when their area turned stingy. After catching 4.93 kg, they dropped to sixth with 12.41 kg (27-6) total.

“We caught them on day two the same way we did on day one. All the fish came on ChatterBaits,” Chong says. “Unfortunately, our area where all our big fish were muddied up today [Thursday]. We checked it a couple of times throughout the day, hoping it would clear up, but by the time we got on some fish, we were on Plan D.

“We stayed south all day. I’ve never been here before, so for me to look at too much of the lake would have been counterproductive. The south is really what we knew, so we stuck with it.”

Chong and Lee used 1/2-ounce Z-Man/Evergreen Jack Hammer ChatterBaits in the bruised pumpkin color with Z-Man Razor ShadZ trailers. Adding Liquid Mayhem attractant helped the fish find their baits in the lower visibility.

 

7. Dudley and Schlarb slip to seventh

After leading day one with 7.59 kg, FLW Tour pro David Dudley and his partner, Mark Schlarb, struggled on day two. They weighed a limit that went 4.79 kg and slipped to seventh with a tournament total of 12.38 kg (27-5).

Admitting that the frustratingly fickle tendencies of Florida strain largemouth bass often stump him, Dudley says he probably spent too much time moving when a more stationary strategy might have better served his team.

“I’ve been fishing for a long time, and Florida bass have my number; they are a different breed,” Dudley says. “I think I get a little too antsy. I want to move around and make something happen. But in Florida, you have to get in an area and let it happen.

“We were in the right area [the Monkey box], but if I had to blame anybody, I’m going to point all my fingers at me.”

Dudley and Schlarb caught their fish on a topwater frog, Zoom UV Speed Worms buzzed over hydrilla and a Texas-rigged craw flipped into holes in weed mats and reed heads.

 

8. Repositioning helps Crain and Jalaba rise to eighth

Making the biggest move on day two, Team USA’s Shirley Crain and Michelle Jalaba rose 13 spots from 21st place to eighth by sacking up the event’s second-heaviest catch (behind the Martins’ 23-3 on day two). The only all-female team caught a limit of 8.63 kg (19 pounds) to finish with a total of 11.47 kg (25-5).

Crain and Jalaba caught most of their fish by casting Senkos to isolated reed heads, but when the afternoon brought a little more wind, a Rapala Shad Rap produced a couple of their keepers. Their day-two bag included Jalaba’s kicker that went 5-12.

“We fished south yesterday [Wednesday], and I pretty well wore out my spot,” Crain says. “So we decided we would go north today and fish the Monkey Box. We got into the area, and my second or third cast, I got a 5-pounder. We thought, ‘Well, we made the right decision,’ so we just squeaked it out.

“David Dudley was instrumental in my decision to go north, because he shared the information with me about what he had done the first day. Otherwise, I would not have gone there.”

 

9. Senkos land Villalobos and Monge in ninth

Gaining two spots from 11th on day one, Ronny Villalobos and Maricio Monge finished in ninth place with a final-round catch of 6.4 kg, which included a 5-pound kicker. Fishing with unweighted junebug Senkos, the Costa Rican anglers tallied 11.37 kg (25-1).

“We went to the Monkey Box and fished the tall reeds,” Villalobos says. “We were casting the worms and bringing them slowly.

“We fished two ways: We cast the worms into the tall reeds, but we did better by casting into the small patches [pencil reeds].”

 

10. Bairstow and Hubble rise to 10th

After nabbing a limit on Senkos, green pumpkin ChatterBaits with black/blue trailers enabled Team Canada’s Dave Bairstow and Matt Hubble to sack up a day-two limit of 6.91 kg and move up from 16th place to finish 10th with 11.25 kg (24-13).

“We fished the baits on 7-foot-11, medium-heavy rods with 55-pound-test Daiwa Samurai braid and slow-rolled them,” Bairstow says. “We were touching the tops of the grass, and that’s how we got most of our bites this morning. Around 11 o’clock, we moved outside the hard line and started tying into some fish out there.”

Hubble, who caught a 5-pound, 10-ounce kicker around noon on day two, says he often complemented Bairstow’s ChatterBait with a Gambler Big EZ swimbait.

 

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FECOP Coastal Angler Magazine Costa Rica Edition

Coastal Angler Costa Rica Edition

On The Water with FECOP

From Coastal Angler Magazine Costa Rica Edition

FECOP Submits Criteria to License Greenstick Fishing in Costa Rica

Greenstick or “palo verde” as it is known in Costa Rica is not a new art of fishing. It has been used successfully for years in Japan and the United States in commercial and sport tuna fishing. Although not legal in Costa Rica, it has been used for several years in this country. The greenstick allows anglers to target tuna without almost any bycatch.

FECOP, Costa Rica’s sport fishing advocacy and conservation group’s Director of Science Moises Mug is a Masters of Science in Fisheries Biology and has been studying the tuna purse sein industry since 2001. His work convinced President Laura Chinchilla to sign a decree at the end of her term in 2013 that moved tuna purse sein operations 45 miles off the coast and protected a total of 120,000 square miles of ocean from tuna boats. Her predecessor, President Luis Guillermo Solis published the decree and it became law. Mug’s science convinced the government this year to reduce tuna licenses issued from 43 to 13.

100 kg yellowfin tuna taken on greenstick during research

Since late 2016 he has headed up a greenstick study involving FECOP,  INCOPESCA,(the government agency in charge of fisheries), and INA, the technical learning institution that teaches different trades in Costa Rica including preparing students with the government requirements to work in commercial and sport fishing trades. FECOP has spent over $100,000 on equipment, and refurbishing and outfitting INA’s floating classroom, the Solidaridad. The research team is testing the efficiency, amount of bycatch of greenstick as well as vertically dropped lines for tuna. The plan is that eventually INA will add a “Green Stick” course to their fishing trade agenda training Costa Ricans on the proper use of them.

In Costa Rica all new or changed fishing rules must be backed by technical support. Rarely do they accept studies not done in Costa Rican waters. So even though greenstick fishing has proved successful in other parts of the world as a sustainable art of fishing, Costa Rica has yet officially approved their use.

“Costa Rica will greatly benefit from a wide adoption of green stick for tuna fishing, not only for commercial fishing but for sportfishing as well. A proper adoption and promotion of green stick fishing not only will provide social, economic and environmental benefits but will set an example for sustainable fisheries in Costa Rica”, said Mug.

Once this project is in the hands of the board of directors of INCOPESCA, a vote is expected soon. With the demand for sustainable caught tuna on the International market it is expected tuna exporters will also support this license.

Sportfishing in the Olympics?

FECOP to Represent Costa Rica in Panamerican Sportfishing Delegation

Sportfishing groups from the United States, Mexico and several Latin American countries met in Cancun, Mexico in late November for the inaugural assembly of the Panamerican Sportfishing Delegation. The purpose of the group is to promote sportfishing as a competitive sport and have a common front of on fisheries conservation. Goals are to have sportfishing placed in the Pan American Games and with cooperation from European countries, the long-term goal is to make sportfishing an Olympic sport. With golf, table tennis, and handball already Olympic sports and skateboarding, surfing, sports climbing, and mixed gender competition introduced to the 2020 Games, it is time to introduce sportfishing to the event.

According to the Confederation International of Sport Fishing, (CIPS) founded in 1952 in Rome Italy with 50 million members from 77 countries, the America’s are not yet sufficiently organized for sport fishing to be considered for the Olympics. The America’s include all countries from North, Central and South America.

The Federacion Costarricense de Pesca Turistica (FECOP) a Costa Rica non-profit which represents 8 Sportfishing Associations as well as the National Fishing Club and the Club Amateur de Pesca was asked to represent Costa Rica in the Panamerican delegation.

“It is very exciting to be chosen to represent Costa Rica,” said Carlos Cavero, President of FECOP. “We now have an open line of communication with other countries and will join the Americas in a single agency that represent sport fishing interests. Costa Rica has so much to offer the sport fishing world and has many anglers with the skills to compete on an International level.”

Four Panamerican tournaments are scheduled in 2018 representing different types of sport fish. A largemouth bass event will be held on Lake Okeechobee, Florida, snook in Tabasco, Mexico, and an offshore tournament at Isle Mujeres, Mexico. Costa Rica and FECOP will host the 2018 Panamerican Assembly next November followed by a 3-day International roosterfish tournament.

Costa Rica is world famous for its Pacific side billfish action. Marina Pez Vela and Los Suenos host several world class events. FECOP decided to pick a species accessible to many that offers anglers without big game skills a chance to do well and highlight the country’s fishery at the same time. Two species came to mind for a catch and release style tournament. All fish released will be marked with a spaghetti tag for scientific study. Roosterfish on the Pacific and tarpon on the Caribbean side of the country. FECOP decided to get a roosterfish tournament under its belt and add an International tarpon tournament in 2019.

The Hero Shot . . . A Call for Help!

For the last 9 years it has been against the law in Costa Rica to remove a billfish from the water to take a photo. Everyone wants to go home with a picture of their prized fish for bragging rights. A fine of 2 million colones, (around $3500.00) can be imposed if you do in Costa Rica. Science has shown the survival rate is lower on fish dragged over the gunnel and taken out of the water. Sadly, if you Google “sailfish Costa Rica” you will come up with site after site with photos of sailfish dragged over the gunnel for the “hero shot”

Costa Rica’s history of poorly enforcing fishing regulations works to the advantage of sport fishermen this time but that does not make it right. I have yet to know anyone prosecuted for breaking this rule although there are examples plastered all over the internet of billfish out of the water. There was a time when charter operations felt they needed lots of fish nailed to a board at the dock to attract charters.

I have always thought there is a lot more to charter fishing than driving a boat and catching fish. A good charter operator is an Entertainer, Educator, and Communicator. What a horrible day on the water if fishing is slow and your crew hardly talks to you. A good and brief orientation before you leave the dock explaining to your customers, the position of safety equipment, types of fishing to be done that day and how, as well educating them on the law of removing fish from the water will go a long way in being considered a true professional with a concern in safe-guarding your catch and release fishery.

Your customers can still get a great photo at the side of the boat if you plan ahead. Tell them to have their camera ready and if someone is going to shoot a photo for them with their camera to make sure they know how to use it first. With the technology in cameras always changing it is easy to get great action shots these days.

From Coastal Angler Costa Rica Edition January 2018

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Baseball Legend, All-Star Fisherman: Wade Boggs in Costa Rica

Wade Boggs with a Costa Rican snook. (Todd Staley / The Tico Times

I have never been inside a NFL locker room, but I can image what it sounds like. I sat in the restaurant area of Crocodile Bay Resort and listened to huge men who once wore uniforms from NFL teams in Miami, Tampa, Oakland, Denver, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Cincinnati. They were there to fish and raise money for cystic fibrosis in the Redbone/Boomer Esiason tournament and were throwing some humorous jabs back and forth at each other.

In the corner sat a superstar in his own right, but in baseball, not football. He was talking intently to a 10-year-old kid, not about sports played with a ball, but about fishing.

Considering his age, this kid was a walking Wikipedia when it comes to fish. He knew species, their habits, what they ate, and what waters they were found. Just name a fish and he could tell you all about it. The reason he cornered this man he was talking to for was that he saw him carrying a fly rod down the pier. He wanted to know how you to catch big fish on a fly rod, and was not too shy to ask.

Mark Cooper, a giant of a man and former lineman for the Denver Broncos, hollered across the room towards the man talking fishing with the kid.

“Now Boggs over there,” he laughed, “played a sport that you play in your pajamas,” referring to the uniforms of big league baseball players. Wade Boggs just grinned and continued talking fishing. The joke was all in fun, as Boggs and Cooper were fishing partners in the tournament.

Bogg finesses a sailfish on a fly rod. Courtesy of the Crocodile Bay Resort

Boggs, whose Major League baseball career lasted 18 seasons, was inducted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in a first-round ballot in 2005. His career started with the Boston Red Sox in 1982; he finished the season with a .349 batting average. He followed that with a string of seasons batting over .350, and he is the only player to have seven consecutive 200 hit seasons.

He had two World Series appearances, winning with the Yankees in 1996; played in 12 consecutive All-Star games; and won two Golden Glove awards and five batting championships. He hit a towering home run to collect his 3000th hit playing for his hometown Tampa Devil Rays, where his finished his career in 1999. On May 26, 2016 the Boston Red Sox officially retired his number, #26, and hung his jersey in Fenway Park beside the great Ted Williams’.

Boggs was considered not only one of the most talented players in history, but also one of the most superstitious. He never faltered in his game day regime. He would wake up at the same time on every game day, start the day with a meal of chicken in some form, or another and always left his house at the same time. He always took batting practice at 5:17, always took 150 ground balls, and always did his wind sprints at 7:17.

While he is not Jewish, he always used his bat to write the Hebrew word “chai” (life) in the batter’s box before stepping up the plate. A definition for “chai” I found that suits Boggs is, “Here I am” or “Here am I.” It’s about being here, and close by, and present, but also about readiness, awareness, awakeness. So perhaps it’s more of a “Here I am! Look, it’s me! I’m present, listening, and ready to roll.”

Hall of Famer Wade Boggs (L) and Mark Cooper of the Denver Broncos (R) make the author look like a little guy. Courtesy of the Crocodile Bay Resort

Boggs is generous with his time for causes he feels are worthwhile, especially when they involve youth. He and his wife, Debbie, started The Wade Boggs Foundation for Youth Athletics, a National Heritage Foundation. It raises money to help children in the Tampa area participate in sports. In 2013, Wade became a partner/investor in Field of Dreams/All-Star Ball Park Heaven, a youth baseball and softball complex adjacent to the iconic cornfield in Iowa where the Field of Dreams movie was filmed.

What most people don’t know about Wade Boggs is that he is an all-star fisherman. He only lacks swordfish and spearfish to have every type of billfish that swims under his belt. An avid fly-fishermen, he donates his time and travels all over the world to fish in charity events to raise money to fight cystic fibrosis. He is a frequent visitor to Costa Rica.

In 2016, he received the International Game Fish Association’s Chester H Wolfe Sportsman of the Year award for his participation with youth and marine conservation. He has a special affection for Costa Rica and serves on the Board of Directors of FECOP, the sport fishing advocacy and conservation federation, representing seven sportfishing associations and two fishing clubs in Costa Rica.

Along with his wife Debbie, Wade hosts “Finchasers,” which airs Saturday morning on the Destination Channel. They travel to different areas chasing IGFA world records with success. On one program Debbie broke 4 existing largemouth bass records.

One of the most accessible celebrity athletes, Boggs is in great demand for speaking engagements across the country. As the little 10-year-old in Costa Rica – who had no idea what a star he was talking to – learned, Boggs loves to talk about fishing. It doesn’t matter who you are. If it’s fishing, you’ll have a great conversation.

Oh, is Boggs superstitious about his fishing? You betcha! He always wears a necklace of the species he is chasing, wears his lucky hat, and tosses 26 cents in the water over his right shoulder. Then he is ready to catch fish.

Todd Staley is a Tico Times columnist and director of communications for FECOP, a sport fishing advocacy federation recently chosen to represent Costa Rica in the Panamerican Sportfishing Delegation, formed by groups from the United States and all Latin America countries. One of the group’s goals is to get sportfishing recognized as a competitive sport and to organize teams from various nations to compete in the Pan-American games. The group also seeks a common front on conservation issues. Costa Rica will host the Federation Assembly in November 2018 followed by a roosterfish tournament with competitors from the different nations. Learn more at fishcostarica.org.

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Fishing as an Olympic Sport?

Fishing as an Olympic Sport?

Recreational groups meet at Pan-American Delegation to discuss sport being added to Olympics and Pan-American Games

Winter sailfish off Stuart, Florida

Could sport fishing be in the next winter Olympics?

Recreational fishing groups from the United States, Mexico and several Latin American countries hope to make sport fishing an Olympic sport in the near future.

According to a press release from FECOP, a Costa Rican non-profit sport-fishing organization, the groups met in Cancun, Mexico, in November for the inaugural assembly of the PanAmerican Sport-Fishing Delegation. The purpose of the group is to promote sport fishing as a competitive sport, with hopes of it being added to the Pan-American Games, and share a unified front on fishing conservation. FECOP represented Costa Rica during the meeting.

The release states the Olympics addition would be reliant on cooperation from the European countries. Golf, table tennis and handball recently were added as Olympic sports. Skateboarding, surfing and climbing will be included in the 2020 Games.

The release cites the Confederation International of Sport Fishing, which says the countries from North, Central, and South America making up the Americas “are not yet sufficiently organized for sport fishing to be considered for the Olympics.” An international governing body for fishing applied for the sport’s inclusion in the 2020 Olympics, but it was denied. According to BBC.com, fishing was part of the 1900 games in Paris but it was an unofficial sport and there was no winner — and only six countries participated.

There are four Pan-American tournaments — three saltwater — scheduled for 2018. A snook tournament will be in Tabasco, Mexico, and an offshore tournament will happen at Isla Mujeres, Mexico. Guatemala also might host another snook tournament. – Article from www.saltwatersportsman.com

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Sustainable Fishing News: Green Sticking in Costa Rica

Green sticking or “palo verde” as it is known in Spanish is not a new form of fishing in Costa Rica. It has been used successfully for years in Japan and the United States in commercial and sport tuna fishing. The method allows anglers to target tuna with very little bycatch. It involves mounting a long fiberglass rod, tinted green, on the boat to drag squid lures above the surface of the water. The tuna are drawn to the lures by the commotion of the trailing “bird” teaser lure-weight and competition for food.

FECOP, Costa Rica’s sport-fishing advocacy group’s Director of Science, Moises Mug, holds a Masters of Science degree in Fisheries Biology and has been studying the tuna purse seine industry since 2001. His work with FECOP persuaded President Laura Chinchilla to sign a decree at the end of her term that moved tuna purse seine operations 45 miles off the coast and protected a total of 120,000 square miles of ocean from commercial tuna fishing. Her predecessor, President Luis Guillermo Solis, published the decree and it became law. Earlier this year Mug’s studies helped persuade the government to reduce tuna licenses issued from 43 to 13.

Costa Rica Green Stick fishing

Since late 2016 Mug has led a green-sticking study involving FECOP, INCOPESCA,(the government agency in charge of fisheries), and INA, the technical training institution that teaches different trades in Costa Rica including commercial and sport-fishing as a business. FECOP has spent over $100,000 on refurbishing and outfitting INA’s boat, Solidaridad, which was once used to teach longline fishing. The research team will be testing the efficiency, amount of bycatch of green-sticking as well as vertically dropped lines for tuna. Eventually INA will add a “Green-Sticking” course to its fishing trade agenda, training Costa Ricans on their proper use.

In Costa Rica all new or modified fishing rules must be backed by technical support. Studies not conducted in Costa Rican waters are rarely accepted. So even though green-stick fishing has proven successful in other parts of the world as a sustainable method, it has not yet been officially approved for Costa Rica.

“Costa Rica will greatly benefit from the adoption of green-sticking for tuna for the commercial market and sport-fishing as well. The adoption and promotion of green-stick fishing not only will provide social, economic and environmental benefits but will set an example for sustainable fisheries in Costa Rica,” Mug says.

Once this project is before the board of directors of INCOPESCA, a decision is expected soon. With the increasing demand for sustainable-caught tuna on the International market, the tuna exporters are also expected to support this license.

For more information, contact: www.fishcostarica.org or info@fecop.org

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Costa Rica Marine Protected Area

Costa Rica Fishing Groups Reject Proposed Marine Reserve

Eight sport-fishing associations and two fishing clubs represented by FECOP, the sport-fishing advocacy group in Costa Rica, voted unanimously against the Alvaro Ulgalde Marine Reserve even though its promoters claim sport-fishing will be allowed in the proposed law sent to the Costa Rica’s Congress.


FECOP has asked the government to reject the bill, which would create the nearly 2,390-square-mile reserve.

“We (FECOP) are very much in favor of marine conservation and management of marine resources but we like it done correctly,” said Carlos Cavero, the FECOP President.

The proposed law would create a nearly 2,390-square-mile reserve.

The group sent a press release citing several reasons why it cannot support the bill, which are listed below:

• There wasn’t a complete technical study done consulting with Costa Ricans who would be affected, as required the law.

  • The area is larger than all other marine protected areas and encompasses areas already under protection. Proper analysis to make that change has not been completed, according to the group.

• There is no management plan or budget for proper control for an area that size effectively, which would make it only a “paper reserve.” Proponents are urging passage of the law with the management plan developed afterwards.

• The new law would change control of the area to another government agency, one that has not been so favorable to sport-fishing interests in the past.

• The proponents of this bill have used the FECOP name without authorization, making it appear that FECOP supported the bill and would be involved with management of the reserve. The affiliation continued even after FECOP requested it to stop.

• There are already procedures in place to create management areas. In 2015, 35 activities with 190 participants had workshops to create a Marine Area of Responsible Fishing. FECOP supports this procedure, which offers protection without changing control to another government agency.

A total of 10 groups represented by FECOP oppose the reserve and asked Costa Rica’s Congress to vote against it.

Courtesy FECOP

The FECOP listed its accomplishments at the end of the press release:

• Stopped the exportation of sailfish from the country in 2009

• Sponsored the Tuna Decree, which protected 120,000 square miles of territorial waters from tuna purse seiners in 2014

• Backed by scientific data, FECOP lobbied the government to reduce purse seine licenses from 43 to 13 in 2017, saving 25 metric ton of marlin that would have been bycatch as well as other pelagic species and marine mammals.

For more information about FECOP or the proposed law, contact info@fecop.org or visit the organization’s website.

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FECOP to Represent Costa Rica in Panamerican Sportfishing Delegation

FECOP Costa Rica SportfishingSportfishing groups from the United States, Mexico and several Latin American countries met in Cancun, Mexico in November for the inaugural assembly of the Panamerican Sportfishing Delegation. The purpose of the group is to promote sportfishing as a competitive sport and have a common front of on fisheries conservation. Goals are to have sportfishing placed in the Pan American Games and with cooperation from European countries, the long-term goal is to make sportfishing an Olympic sport. With golf, table tennis, and handball already Olympic sports and skateboarding, surfing, sports climbing, and mixed gender competition introduced to the 2020 Games, it is time to introduce sportfishing to the event.

According to the Confederation International of Sport Fishing, (CIPS) founded in 1952 in Rome Italy with 50 million members from 77 countries, the America’s are not yet sufficiently organized for sport fishing to be considered for the Olympics. The America’s include all countries from North, Central and South America. The Federacion Costarricense de Pesca Turistica (FECOP) a Costa Rica non-profit which represents 8 Sportfishing Associations as well as the National Fishing Club and the Club Amateur de Pesca was asked to represent Costa Rica in the Panamerican delegation. FECOP has been a pioneer in conservation in Costa Rica including, stopping the exportation of sailfish, sponsoring and supplying the science to protect over 200,000 square kilometers of territorial water from tuna purse sein boats in 2014. A reduction of tuna licenses sold to foreign fleets (43 down to 13) in 2017 saved 25 metric tons of marlin bycatch this year. “It is very exciting to be chosen to represent Costa Rica,” exclaimed Carlos Cavero, President of FECOP. “We now have an open line of communication with other countries and will join the Americas in a single agency that represent sport fishing interests. Costa Rica has so much to offer the sport fishing world and has many anglers with the skills to compete on an International level.”

Four Panamerican tournaments are scheduled in 2018 representing different types of sport fish. A largemouth bass event will be held on Lake Okeechobee, snook in Tabasco, Mexico, and an offshore tournament at Isle Mujeres, Mexico. Guatemala was also suggested as a possible location for a snook event. Costa Rica and FECOP will host the 2018 Panamerican Assembly next November followed by a 3-day International roosterfish tournament. Site has yet to be determined. Luis Garcia will head up the events with the following representatives in charge by species.

  • Largemouth bass, John Knight USA
  • Snook, Rolando Sias , Mexico
  • Offshore Big Game, Jose Espinoza, Mexico
  • Tarpon, Carlos Cavero, Henry Marin, Costa Rica
  • Roosterfish, Todd Staley, Costa Rica

Costa Rica is world famous for it’s Pacific side billfish action. Marina Pez Vela and Los Suenos host several world class events. FECOP was asked to pick a species accessible to many that offers anglers without big game skills a chance to do well and highlight the country’s fishery at the same time. Two species came to mind for a catch and release style tournament. All fish released will be marked with a spaghetti tag for scientific study. Roosterfish on the Pacific and tarpon on the Caribbean side of the country. FECOP decided to get a roosterfish tournament under it’s belt and add an International tarpon tournament in 2019. Of course, you can’t travel all the way to Mexico and not wet a line in the Gulf of Mexico. The group boarded the EL Patron not really feeling optimistic about catching. It was not yet quite the season for the big pelagics and the red small craft warning flags had been blowing in the breeze
the last couple of days. The bonita and small king mackerel were there to play. The breeze picked up and Ben Blegen, a tournament ice fisherman from Minnesota soon laid out a chum line of scrambled eggs, tortillas, and Mexican choriza. The color returned quickly when despite that awful queasy feeling he managed to land a mackerel over 30 lbs. Later while looking out at the turquoise waters at Puerto Morales, the Mexican’s put on a seafood feast of lobster, fresh mackerel and Mexican rice. Amazing how Ben’s appetite returned.

You can learn more about FECOP at www.fishcostarica.org

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Why I sometimes hate conservation – or, the ‘dolphin breeding ground’ debacle

Why I sometimes hate conservation – or, the Dolphin Breeding Ground Debacle

The Dolphin Breeding Ground Debacledolphins deserve our protection, an ongoing petition regarding a new development is misleading, according to the author Todd Staley

Todd Staley FECOP

Todd Staley- Special Content Contributor

This fisherman is about to open a can of worms here for the second time.

The first time was when I agreed with a national legislator who suggested opening the National Parks to sport and small-scale artisanal fishing. Thirty-eight NGOs screamed, “No!” I suggested they open them and charge a fee to fish there to raise money for enforcement patrols, which were, and still, are nearly non-existent.

Here I go again, about to raise the hair on the backs of the necks of many in the environmental crowd. It started when a post hit my inbox with a petition sponsored by Planet Rehab.org on the Change.org website, which allows anyone in the world to start an online petition for free. This petition urged people to help stop a Hilton Curio hotel from being built in Puerto Jiménez, in the country’s Southern Zone.

The petition’s headline read, “Prevent Hilton from building a hotel on top of a Dolphin Breeding Ground.” The sub-headline that followed was a stern message to Hilton which read, “Hilton, we’re breaking up with you, so we can save the dolphins before it’s too late!” Over 50,000 people have signed the petition, and they appear to be gaining more signatures every day.

A very wise man once gave me some very sage advice when he told me, “Always put your cards on the table, because once they are on the table, they are off the table.” So here come my cards.

I am very well-versed on this subject. For the last 18 years I have walked the pier at Crocodile Bay as Fishing Director, sending thousands of tourists out sport fishing. The Crocodile Bay property is the site where the Hilton will be built. I also know the person behind the petition very well. After five decades on the water, I also know a little bit about dolphins.

If you think I am going to defend the Hilton project in this article, you will be sorely disappointed. The developers are big boys and can do that for themselves. Because I spend a lot time working with marine conservation and am employed by the developers, people often corner me looking for my opinion. I have never given an opinion pro or con; it’s not my place to defend the project. What I have defended against many times is fabricated statements from environmental zealots who prey on uninformed or uneducated people to support their opinion for whatever their cause is.

The Change.org petition states that the area in question is “essential for the reproduction of many marine species, potentially destroying endemic dolphin breeding grounds and putting all aquatic marine life in imminent danger.”

It continues, “This large-scale Hilton Hotel Botanika Resort can only be stopped by an urgent appeal to the directors of Hilton Curio Worldwide, alerting them to the potential damage their project will cause.”

The key word in both those statements is “potential.” It is a word that can be used as a giant loophole to cover one’s tail when making outlandish statements.

Maybe I could post a petition on Change.org to my own advantage. It would read something like this. “Todd Staley is a fisherman and mediocre writer. He has a couple of tattoos and on the weekends when it is not raining, he rides his Harley Davidson. Staley could potentially roust up a bunch of bikers and pillage your pueblo. Please donate today to buy him a new boat to keep him on the water and off the street.”

I slowly waded through many of the comments left by people who signed the Hilton petition. After I got through the vulgarities and the threats to never sleep in a Hilton again, I stumbled on some I really liked:

“Please verify the findings on marine biologists for the claim in this petition and look to relocate to a less fragile location.”

“This is unacceptable if these dolphins loose there breeding ground were would they Go, for all we know if would take them years or months to find a new place to breed and are dolphins would be more endanger then ever.”

“Apparently they ( Hilton) did not research this very well to even think about building on a Dolphin breeding ground.”

And my personal favorite, “Dolphins are people too.”

Why is that my favorite? Because “dolphins are people too” is a lot closer to the truth than anything else I read. After observing dolphins while fishing for over fifty years, I decided to ask some marine experts, “What exactly is a dolphin breeding ground?” I sought the opinion of a marine biologist, a marine mammal expert, and a woman who has worked alongside dolphins and whales here in Costa Rica for years.

They told me that reproductive habits of dolphins are not defined exclusively by the need to perpetuate the species: like humans, these cetaceans mate for pleasure with individuals of the opposite sex, of the same genus or even a different species from their own, so talking about reproductive habits in strict terms does not apply to dolphins. Some researchers think that their recreational sexuality has social purposes. When a female feels she will deliver her calf, she tends to move away from her pod and separates herself to an area near the water surface to facilitate the first breath of her calf. There is no particular area dolphins go to mate or birth.

There are no dolphin “no-tell motels” or maternity wards. They mate whenever and wherever they happen to be when the mood hits them, and birth wherever they are when the time comes. There is no such thing as a “dolphin breeding ground.”

If the people who posted that petition are really just concerned about dolphins, I suggest they push away their tuna salad and worry about the large pods of dolphins that are netted hundreds of times to catch the tuna that swim under them. The dolphins are later released. A few dolphins die in the process; I’m sure the dolphins don’t like it. Thankfully, there is a fast-growing trend and demand for sustainably caught fish, and tuna fishermen are beginning to search out selective gear with little or no bycatch.

Anger or fear are great motivators. But in this case, 50,000 people – and counting – have been misled.

I really love conservation work. The politics of conservation can at times be quite frustrating, and the business of conservation can be at times disgusting. NGOs will sometimes work on similar projects but never communicate with each other for fear of losing credit for a success or even potential donor money. If they communicated, they could get things done faster and more cheaply, but conservation and environmental work are sometimes big business. Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous people out there who will misuse donor money or even advertise for fake causes to raise money.

Sadly, this “dolphin breeding ground” petition, and the reaction to it, only fortifies an opinion I have held for some time. That is the difference between a conservationist and an environmentalist: a conservationist makes decisions based on science, while an environmentalist at times makes science based on decisions.

Read Todd Staley’s Wetline Costa Rica columns here.

Todd Staley has run fishing sport operations on both coasts of Costa Rica for over 25 years. He recently decided to take some time off to devote full time to marine conservation. Contact him at wetline@hotmail.com.

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Gray Roosterfish Tagging Update by Todd Staley

Tagging Roosterfish with Gray Fish-Tag by Todd Staley

Todd Staley FECOP

Todd Staley – Special Content Contributor

I have never enjoyed fishing under pressure. I prefer to fish for fun. There was a time in my life I fished a few money tournaments and even won one or two. Nowadays, if I am fishing a tournament, it’s a charity event, where the winners are generally children with illnesses.

Even when fishing a client, I like to fish with someone who was more interested in having a good time on the water rather than catching a ton of fish or a giant fish. A much better fisherman than myself who actually was just inducted into the IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame explained it very simply to me. Larry Dahlberg said, “Your chances of catching a really nice fish is directly related to how much you deserve it.”

I have noticed over the years that a good attitude catches fish and a bad attitude eats dirt. One’s relationship with the fish gods play a big part. Inexperienced anglers with good mojo have better luck than a good angler with a bad attitude.

On this particular day, the pressure was on. Gray Fish-Tag research center coordinator Bill Dobbelaer and marine scientist Travis Moore were down from Ft. Lauderdale to place another archival electronic tag in a roosterfish. Usually this would be a simple task, today was different. An ominous gray sky loomed on the horizon and the breeze was much stronger than usual for an early morning. We needed a fish around 30 lbs so it could comfortably wear the device that needed to be implanted.

 The event was co-sponsored by Crocodile Bay Resort and FECOP, the sport fishing advocacy and marine conservation group in Costa Rica. Crocodile Bay Resort’s crew was Oldemar Lopez and Sharlye Robles. Anglers, Christian Bolanos from Gray Taxidermy in Quepos and myself. Capt. Lopez suggested we try Matapalo Rock a popular roosterfish at the mouth of the Golfo Dulce. The overnight showers had muddied up some other popular inshore spots so it made sense.

Roosterfish is the perfect choice for this kind of study. It is a strong fighting fish, popular inshore game fish and Gray Fish-Tag has already learned a lot about them from the traditional spaghetti tag. Because it is a coastal animal, a good number of tagged fish have been caught again. The spaghetti tag is inserted on the shoulder of a fish and has a serial number. The number is reported to the research center by sport fishermen who recapture the fish. With this method, the information is limited to where it was caught and what size it is. When recaptured we learn how much it has grown over the period of time between captures and how far it traveled. The electronic tag records much more information but the fish must be recaptured also. The success with spaghetti tags made it worth the bet because they cost $1500 a piece. Four have been placed first time around. One in Quepos, one in Herradura, and two in the southern zone around Golfo Dulce.

As we reached the mouth of the gulf we were hit by a wall of wind in our face. Still a half mile from Matapalo Rock we trudged on. As we finally arrived I thought about renaming the famous landmark, at least for this day, Whirlpool or Maytag. It stood like the spindle of a washing machine and the surrounding waters were in the agitate cycle. We worked a nearby pinnacle but it was almost impossible to do a decent drift over the spot. Over and over we worked the area, fishing with one hand and holding on with the other. Somehow the conversation turned to the relationship between biologists and fishermen. A lot of biologists have never fished and a lot of fishermen don’t know the difference between an otolith and an eyeball. They are at times at wits end with each other because sometimes neither respects the opinion of the other. Travis laughed and said, “I can tell you a whole lot about roosterfish, but to be honest I have never caught one.

Costa Rica roosterfish taggingAbout that time Bolanos’s rod twitched and then slammed down towards the water and line screamed of the reel. After a 20-minute balancing act he had a 35 lb roosterfish on the surface. Travis jumped into action, made an incision in the fish’s belly and had the tag inserted and stitched up in less than two minutes while running water over the fishes gills. The rooster took off like he had a firecracker under his butt when placed back in the water. Mission Accomplished!

We had heard some chatter on the radio about a school of tuna working a couple miles off the beach so we ran out. We found the dolphins and tuna but the tuna wasn’t interested in anything we had to offer. Then we made a unanimous decision. Let’s go back to the rock and see if we can get Travis a rooster. Back to the washing machine!

It took about thirty minutes but finally Travis was hooked into his first rooster. He got the fish to the boat a dozen times and each time it would peel off another 50 yards of line. Eventually he had the fish to the boat and it went an easy 50 lbs. That is like winning the lottery the first time you by a ticket. I think we made a fisherman out of Travis. I know one thing. My biologist friend knew a hell of a lot more about roosterfish than he did when the day started.

Costa Rica Roosterfish Tagging

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Your Dream Photo Isn’t Worth It – Leave the Fish in the Water

Note: I first wrote about this many years ago in The Tico Times, but it seems not much has changed since then, and it is time to rethink our actions once again.

Bragging is part of human nature. We all do it, no matter what activity we partake in. I’ve seen bird-watchers nearly exchange punches as they reviewed their sighting scorecards at the end of the day, accusing each other of inventing the number of different species they saw. Fishermen, I believe, were born with a more dominant bragging gene than most of the public. For any type of bragging, photographic proof is the most convincing tool of all. Thus, the “hero shot” was born.

The traditional hero shot shows an angler posing in front of the camera with a giant smile, proudly displaying in his hands – or on his lap, if the fish is too heavy to lift – the trophy he or she has caught. If one is keeping the fish as a food item, it doesn’t much matter how you take the picture, because the fish is going in the icebox. If the fish is going to be released, however, it is a different story altogether, especially a fish the size of a sailfish or marlin.

As 90 percent of anglers coming to Costa Rica are after sailfish or marlin, and all sailfish must be released by law, let’s talk about these species.

You can go to almost any website that features fishing in Costa Rica and see photos of sailfish being dragged across the gunwale of the boat and posed with the angler for the “hero shot.” Then the fish is put back in the water. This had been the norm for more than two decades. Most marine biologists agree that pulling the fish overboard for pictures can severely harm the fish. Air exposure reduces intake of oxygen and offload of carbon dioxide, which causes stress to the fish. Dragging a big fish across the gunwale can damage internal organs as well as remove the protect slime making them susceptible to bacteria and parasites.

This photo, taken legally 12 years ago before new regulations were passed, is typical of the “hero shots” taken at that time.

(Courtesy of Todd Staley)

Over eight years ago, in December 2008, Costa Rica passed regulations making it illegal to remove sailfish from the water for the purpose of taking a photo. A fine of ₡2 million (around $3,500) can be imposed on those found in violation. For the most part, this regulation has been ignored by the sport fishing fleet for various reasons.

First, I’d bet you a boatload of ballyhoo most people don’t even know this regulation exists. Website and brochure photos with happy people posing with big sailfish out of the water sell fishing trips, just like years ago a bunch of dead fish hanging at the dock sold trips. When tourists see these types of photos advertised, they want to bring home their own hero shot, with the sailfish onboard, to show all their friends back home. Fishing crews oblige them in hopes of getting a good tip.

The original “hero shot.” Lots of fish hanging on the dock usually sold a charter for the next day.

(Courtesy of the Sailfish Club via Todd Staley)

A good crew does an orientation with the client before leaving the dock. This includes discussing the boat’s safety equipment, the level of the angler’s experience and how we fish billfish in Costa Rica. I have found that when clients are informed before leaving the dock that removing billfish from the water is not permitted in Costa Rica, and why, they are very receptive. A good owner or manager insists that his or her crews give a good introduction. Good communication is a big part of the whole experience, and it should start at the dock.

The Costa Rica government is finally starting to get its feet wet in marine conservation that is long overdue. So far, all their major decisions have continued to allow sport fishing in the new management areas. The Costa Rican Fishing Association (FECOP), a sport fishing advocacy project that started with President Laura Chinchilla, has protected over 200,000 square kilometers from tuna purse sein activity as well as moving them 45 miles from shore. Sport anglers have reported better tuna fishing as well as larger pods of spinner dolphins which are often associated with yellowfin tuna.

FECOP is currently investing more than $100,000, and the government even more, in a joint project with INCOPESCA and the National Training Institute (INA) to teach the use of “Green Sticks,” a selective type of commercial fishing for tuna which eliminates bycatch of sailfish. This also includes proper handling of the catch to receive the best market price.

The regulations are far from perfect in this country, and way too many billfish die each year as bycatch in commercial operations, but that does not give us the right to not follow the regulations in place. It is not difficult at all to leave them in the water and still get a good hero shot.

Taking a good photo of a billfish: After your crew has a calm fish alongside the boat.

1.      Leave it in the water.

2.      Have your camera ready. Most people want a shot with their own camera, so make sure your friends know how to use it. Valuable time is wasted explaining how to use it and the chance of a bad photo increases.

3.      Always touch a fish with a pair of fishing gloves on. Lean over and gently place one hand on the bill and the other hand on the dorsal fin.

4.      SMILE and click. All this can be done in less than a minute if you are prepared.

5.      Then you can either pass the fish back to the crew or hold it yourself while the boat moves slowly forward to pass water over the fish’s gills. When you can feel the fish resist, gently push it away from the boat and watch it swim away.

6.      High-five your friends and crew and keep fishing.

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