It was another beautiful day in Playa Del Coco, Costa Rica. The usual early morning sounds were beginning to stir, melding with the waning sounds of nights creatures outside the dew adorned window. The aroma of strong and delicious costa rican coffee dominated the air ways, but it was the excitement and anticipation that filled the room, after all it was another day fishing the bat islands in northern Guanacaste. Gear was checked and re-check, special attention paid to every knot, hook, and florocarbon leader. No fish were getting away on a technicality this day.
The morning ritual continued to take place, involving a myriad of loose traditions until it was time to depart.
“Do we have everything?” Jeff said,
A last minute rustle and the green packaging of wasabi sliding into a bag pre-empted the answer
“Now we do!” said Ben as the dock locked with a loud ‘clink’
The walk wasn’t a long one, as rarely there is along an empty beach. The few people out were a variety of fisherman, beach runners, and borracho’s from the night before debating the impact of sunrise. The waves laped up calmly inthe semi protected bay which made it slightly more easy to board the tiny panga. The blue and black hull with a white johnson 140 on the back distinguished Captain Geraldo Reyes’, other wise known as ‘Comi’ to his friends, boat from the other pangas. The smell of the beach and ocean fueled the anticipation making for a quick departure.
The ride to the bat islands from playa del coco is not a short one, but when the wind dies down and the swell is low it only takes slightly longer then one hour, watching the splash and wake of the boat in relative silence a few beers were drank. The farther the boat traveled the more life was to be seen, turtles locked in a 24 hour tango of love, porpoise playing in the wake, and even distant humpbacks breaking the surface.
“Its going to be a great day!” Ben yelled across the rumble of the johnson and slap of the boat on the sea. Smiles around and a ‘salute’ brought us close to the end of one and beginning of another journey. The smell of fish was heavy in the air. Arriving near low tide poppers began to hit the water, the sound of braided line peeling off, splashes. chugs, and “fish fish!” replaced the now silent hum of the motor. It wasn’t long before blood was in the boat, it was breakfast time.
Already a decent day of fishing building, Jeff took to the bow of the boat hooking a jack travel, a frequent companion this day, the fight had begun, Comi also had a fish on as Ben steadily video taped both men in a double hook-up. The jack sounded and Jeff felt the lure slip from the fish The agony of defeat taking verbal form “Fuck, Fuck, Fuck”. Begrudgingly jeff begin to wind in his remaining line. Less then 5 rotations on a shimano 20,000 reel the line gave a sharp tug, and then a screaming run was heard around the boat
“Fish On!” Jeff yelled, the former agony quickly usurped in a boost of adrenaline.
“Whew! Big fish man!” followed Ben as more and more line continued to barrel out the drag whining a reminder of the struggle just beginning. Seconds to minutes, as the initial rush subsided the true battle had begun. Retrieving some ground Jeff fought the unknown fish only to see it vanish bank into the blue minutes later. As the white water of a splash against the rocks blew over us caught on the wind the fight began to reach the hour mark. The violent shaking of the head could be seen by even a novice fisherman, and following the 3rd gigantic bounce came… nothing. The sudden slackness of the line revealed the last effort of the fish won it its freedom.
Silence came over the boat frozen for a moment in time, shock. The shattering came in the form of foot pounding on the deck and a slurry of cussing that was apropro for the moment. One cast, Two fish hooked, two fish lost. The only redeeming aspect to the whole situation being that it would make a good fishing story.
This tale however, had a third act. On a slow retrieve, competitiveness like fire in the veins, and a myriad of what if’s in mind, the unimaginable happened. The rod tip bent and the front of the boat broke into shouts of excitement.
“Another fish! Fish On!” Jeff yelled back half bedazzled, but all excited.
The rest of the boat’s stupor quickly melted as for one more time on just one cast a fish was tugging at the lure
“Remind me to write williamson a letter” Said Ben while video taping the final moments of a cast that last over an hour and a half and cycled through three different fish. Laughter turned to cheers as the third fish broke the surface, a beautiful dog tooth snapper, or in these waters, pargo! Fish on board, and dinner settled for the evening the lure waas examined. 2 completely crushed treble hooks and one nearly straightened.
The hooks received and upgrade, the snapper made the table, but its the story of the Ultimate Cast that made the day.
By Ben George