By Jordan Ellis
Four hours after taking off from a seemingly frozen Atlanta airport, I found myself in Guanacaste, Costa Rica with a cold Imperial beer in hand. As the sun set over Tamarindo’s bay casting a red, orange and yellow masterpiece over the sea, I knew there was something special if not magical about this place - and sport fishing tomorrow would be even better.
The next day, I set out to sea with Captains Chris and Peter and prepared the boat for billfish. As we made our way farther from land, the water slowly changed from a clean green color to that shade of blue that all anglers dream about. Something started to feel different: a pleasant tension. I climbed up onto the fly bridge to get a better idea of our surroundings: turtles, dolphin and birds hunted for food as we searched for our next catch.
Just as we cleared 1,500 feet of water, it happened. Now I’m no Spanish scholar; I can order a beer and dinner and ask for a pretty woman’s name, but after that, I’m pretty much done. Despite my lack of Spanish vocabulary, I knew exactly what was happening on deck below when the Tico mate yelled “marlin azul, marlin azul!”
To this day I am still not sure how I made down the tower ladder so quickly, how I got the belt around my waist or how I got myself appropriately situated. I do however remember the fury at which the line was leaving the reel, and the intense whizzing sound it made. I felt hopeless watching the spool shrink with each rotation, yelling, “we’re getting spooled, he’s taking it all!” to the group of silent onlookers. Just when I thought all hope was lost, the spool slowed and slowed and finally stopped.
It was my turn to fight.
The boat began making way in reverse and I reeled and reeled and pumped and reeled, getting back as much of the line as I could. As water crested the transom of the boat I received constant reminders from the crew. With the spool three-quarters of the way full, the boat slowed and the rod got heavy.
Pumping and reeling, pumping and reeling. With intermittent displays of power and rage from the fish jumping, slowly but surely it was giving in and heading toward us. Forty minutes later I was shaking, with my hands and forearms cramping and sweat pouring down my face – but smiling the biggest, goofiest smile ever. “There’s the leader,” Captain Chris said, and the mate quickly began to gently lead the line up. “There he is. My God he’s big,” added the mate. He took the rod as I made my way to the side of the boat.
Never in my life had I seen such a beautiful and majestic fish. It was huge – more than 500 lbs. I reached down and placed my hand on the side of the monster Marlin for a quick photo, then the mate released this first big catch of my life back into the blue. It swam alongside for a moment before suddenly jetting away as if nothing had happened. Exhausted, high fives went round the boat as I smiled and reached for a much-needed beer.
For more information contact Go Fish Costa Rica at www.gofishcr.com.