For the fifteenth straight year the Ship of Fools Tournament attracted Costa Rica’s top anglers to Playa Garza; for the second time in three years the FishingNosara team took home the hardware.
Captain Alex Moreno on the 32-foot mega panga Harvester topped the leaderboard with 1700 points (11 Sailfish releases, one Black Marlin release, and one Blue Marlin release) during the two day event.
“Alex is the dude,” exclaimed Captain Patrick Humphrey of Ft. Lauderdale. “He has the best eyes I’ve ever seen and fishes as aggressively as we do in South Florida.”
Captain Humphrey runs trips for Lady Pamela II Sportfishing in Hollywood, FL. He was joined by wife Jennifer, daughter Amelia, and angling legend Patrick Irwin.
The Ship of Fools Tournament is one of the last true billfish release tournaments in Costa Rica. Each scoring fish must be billed and photographed by hand (no snatch-leader releases) which increases the difficultly tremendously.
On the first day of the tournament, eleven boats set out from Playa Garza and set up shop twelve miles offshore in 2100 feet of water.
Captain Alex was first boat to the spot and put three Sailfish releases on the board in the opening hours of the first day. As the rest of the field lagged behind, the mega panga hooked up a Blue Marlin for a two hour fight.
After the photograph and safe release a second Marlin entered the spread, this time a big bad Black. Captain Patrick belted up for the battle of a lifetime, conquering the fish in two-plus hour fight that saw eight leader grabs before the successful release.
“I had a trip planned for Hawaii in the winter to cross Black Marlin off my list,” said Patrick, smiling. “I guess that’s off”
Their total of 1000 points is a single day record for the event, and lost in the shuffle is that they scored the ultra-difficult Billfish Grand Slam.
The second day was just like the first, with the Harvester scoring early and often. They snagged seven more Sailfish release including one at 3:59pm, one minute before lines-out.
The Harvester’s haul is an all-time best for this tournament, eclipsing the winning score of 1200 posted two years ago by FishingNosara teammate the Explorer.
For Captain Alex it is the culmination of perseverance through years of adversity in this event. In 2011 as mate on the Wanderer he recorded 14 Sailfish releases during prefishing only to get zero during the actual event. In 2016 he had the thing won until the camera with all the proof-photos fell overboard late on the second day.
“I’m incredibly proud of what Captain Alex has done with the Harvester,” beamed Craig Sutton, founder of FishingNosara and architect of the mega panga design. “He pushed himself and his boat to the edge during months before this event.” (ed. note: The Harvester ran 47 trips in February and March)
“He has honed his instincts and advanced his craft,” Sutton continued. “Captain Alex has paid the price to reach to top of the mountain.
The FishingNosara team looks forwarded to challenging the Harvester in the 2020 Ship of Fools Tournament next April and to competing with Alex in the 1st Annual FishingNosara Invitational in early August 2019.
If you and your best anglers are ready to compete, the FishingNosara US office can be reached at 9045912161 USA or FishingNosara.com
Feeling adventerous and on a whim, Ms. Elaine Hepburn chartered the Harvester for a quick 5 hour trip on March 30. She had never fished before but with Captain Alex’ help was catching like an old pro in no time.
Captain Alex kept the Harvester inshore on the 19th. Chris and Charlotte Keane followed up their brilliant offshore success with some very unique catches.
This Congrio is always a fun catch; this fish/eel hybrid yields a white lobster-like meat that is second to none. Also it provides a unique fight as it is one of the few sea creatures that can swim backwards.
The rest of the day was dominated by Red Groupers, excellent for sandwiches and a bunch of fun to catch.