2023 Ship of Fools Tournament Recap

Discoverer edged out by a familiar face; Calcutta-winning Pangas

Tough Scoring and a Razor-sharp finish tell the story of the 2023 Ship of Fools Tournament.

The Kahuna finished in first place with 850 total points. One of the mates on this boat is Alex Moreno, former Captain of the Harvester.

Captain Carlos on the Discoverer took second place, with a 25 point Dorado score defining the gap between podium positions.

Angler Jimmy Nichols’ crew scored five Sailfish releases and a Marlin release on the big battleship.

They also boated a Yellowfin Tuna which held off the hard-charging La Bonita.

Each of the two tournament fishing days had a largest Yellowfin Tuna Calcutta, and both were won by the FishingNosara panga fleet.

On the Explorer, Heidi and Jim O’Callaghan scored a 83.8 lbs. Yellowfin Tuna on day one (above), and Matty Jorn scored this 93.5 lbs. beast during the second day on the Adventurer :



As always, the anglers gathered in Garza to celebrate a great weekend of fun fishing, despite the slow action.

Explorer WINS 2022 Ship of Fools Tournament

The 27-foot barroom brawler Explorer emerged victorious in the 2022 Ship of Fools Tournament.

Captain Antonio topped the leaderboard with 925 points, edging out the second place boat via the earliest-catch tiebreaker.

It was an excellent weekend as the FishingNosara team brought home 1st place hardware for the fourth time in the last five tournaments.

Texas anglers Rickie and Bonnie Crews fought bravely in the face of these sea monsters, and have added a most-unique prize to their trophy room.

We have always said the the Explorer proves that you don’t need a big boat to catch big fish in Costa Rica, but this victory shows that the pocket-sized dynamo can also best a field full of much larger and more powerful boats.

Also it cements Captain Antonio as a rising star in Garza. Longtime FishingNosara anglers know that Antonio worked his way up from panga driver to mate to Captain over the last few years.

“Captain Antonio showed a lot of hustle,” Mr. Crews pointed out after the event. “Always changing baits and moving to different spots was the key to our success today.”

The rest of the FishingNosara team dotted the Top 10 of scoreboard with the Discoverer in 4th place, Wanderer in 6th, and the Harvester in 7th.  Also two of our boats brought home a little bacon due to Calcutta wins.

Wanderer WINS Ship of Fools Tournament

The 2021 Ship of Fools Tournament is in the books, as Captain William of the Wanderer brought home the gold for the FishingNosara team on April 10th and 11th, 2021.

Georgia anglers Bob Pease and Pat Vincent scored 5 Sailfish releases (100pts. each) and a big Dorado (25pts.) on day one.

On the second day they added a Blue Marlin release (300pts.) and a Sailfish release. They also nagged three Dorados over 25lbs. during the weekend, good for 25 pts. each.

“I’m so happy for Bob,” writes Pat. “he’s fished this tournament and finished second a couple of times. Mostly I’m happy for Captain William who fishes every year and has finally won it himself. Can’t say enough about good things about Captain William, he is a smart, competitive, methodical fisherman. We worked a small patch of water for three days, it was twenty miles south of where everyone else was fishing but it was right where we needed to be.”

With the Wanderer’s total of 1075pts., Captain William won this tournament by a landslide.

Second place was secured by fellow FishingNosara skipper Captain Fico Bran on the 27-foot Explorer. This the second win in three years for the young Captain, who is now clearly the one to watch in future tournaments.

Though it was their first time fishing in the tournament, Martin Cooper and his great group of anglers from Northeast Florida had to overcome a slow first day (50pts from two Dorado).

They rallied on day two with a blistering 800pt. performance (Two Marlin releases and Two Sailfish releases).

The other FishingNosara boats were in the hunt throughout the tournament. Defending champion Captain Alex Moreno (Harvester) missed third place by a razor-thin 50pt margin.

The Harvester did with the Biggest Dorado Calcutta for the tournament on the shoulders of this 50lbs. monster:

The 32-foot Discoverer and the 23-foot Adventurer tied for 6th place with 475 points each.  This was the first time that the sneaky 23-footer entered the tournament, but that didn’t stop the Adventurer from posting the first Marlin release of the tournament at 9am on the first day.

We are still compiling photos and videos from the whole event, and will be updating this space soon, so stay tuned!

Harvester WINS Ship of Fools Tournament!

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

Harvester Highlights:


Wanderer Highlights:

Explorer Highlights:

Explorer WINS 2017 Ship of Fools Tournament!

It’s a great feeling to announce that the Explorer finished in first place at the 2017 Ship of Fools Tournament.

The fish were scarce and soft biting on the first day of the tournament. Craig scored the first and only Sailfish of the day on the Explorer around 8:30am, and the rest of the day was spent listening to the reports coming in over the radio.

At the end of the first day one boat had scored a Sailfish and a Striped Marlin (400 points total), another boat had two Sailfish (200 points total), and five boats all reported a single Sailfish (100 points)

On the second day Captain Fico hatched a brilliant scheme to propel the Explorer to the top of the leader board.

The whole tournament was fishing a blue water break 16 miles offshore, but Captain Fico felt that the fish were closer in.

The Explorer was the last boat out of the bay and as the 300hp boats disappeared over the horizon, Fico pulled back the throttle on his 75hp at the 12 mile mark.

The spread was out for less than an hour when the first Sailfish came calling, and Craig put the heat on him during a quick 10 minute fight.

After the lead boat reported a Sailfish release bringing them to 500 points, Harris ‘El Matador’ Savin put the Super panga in a first place tie with a feisty Striped Marlin release around 915am.

An hour later, the biggest fish of the tournament challenged Craig to a fight.

This Blue Marlin is easily 450lbs. and put every ounce of his strength into a fight that lasted over an hour.

With the lead in hand Harris added another Sailfish at 1pm and Matt put another 100 points on the board with a release at 2pm.

The ascension of the Explorer on the final day is indicative of the crew’s rise to greatness. Last year Captain Fico took the helm of the Super Panga after proving himself on the 23-foot Adventurer.

Captain Fico – 2014

During that same time Mate Elias was security guard / panga boat driver / substitute mate serving the other FishingNosara boats.

Mate Elias – 2015

It is a great feeling to see this dynamic duo sitting on the top of the hill in Garza’s most prestigious tournament.


The flagship welcomed back Bob Pease and his crew of hard-fighting Georgia anglers with the hope of duplicating their success from the Dreamstater Tournament last December.

His team scored a nice Sailfish during their prefishing day, however the ocean was not as cooperative on the tournaments days with three total Sailfish releases.

Captain William got a MASSIVE Marlin on the line late in the first day of fishing, but it put up a worthy fight and managed to shake the hook and escape.


Captain Alex welcomed multiple-time FishingNosara Hall of Famer Hubble Keller to make a run at the hardware and they also caught lots of great fish, just on the wrong day.

They nabbed TWO Double Sailfish releases on their pre-fishing day plus a nice Dorado for the dinner table.

The Harvester scored a Sailfish on the first day of the tournament, putting her in a 5-way tie for 3rd place.

Hopeful for a big run on Day 2, Captain Alex got a Sailfish in the early morning and another around noon.

The late bite yielded a third Sailfish for the day, leaving the Harvester just off the medal stand with a 4th place finish.


The Discoverer had trouble finding the billfish, however clients Pat and Don Vincent did win the Day 1 Calcutta with this monstrous Dorado:

Even better was that Pat chose to donate the winnings to the Garza School and also gave the filets to our team dinner on Friday night…class act!

In the end this is really what tournament fishing is all about: Great folks from all over the map coming together and making new friends.

Captain Fico and Mate Elias deserve all the credit for the catches, which were posted by anglers Craig Sutton, Matt Jorn, and Harris ‘El Matador’ Savin.

This is the culmination of years of effort and setbacks; our first time participating in this event was 2012 and despite many attempts our best finish was third place.

The growth of FishingNosara from a single boat in 2009 to where we are today (5 boats, 100 trips a month) has been a blessed effort costing much blood, sweat, and tears.

Next month we will begin issuing invitations for the Dreamstarter Tournament scheduled for December, and of course we will be back in force for the 2018 Ship of Fools Tournament next April.