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Boxing for Billfish

John Unkart shows us how to fight the good fight.

May 24, 2007

The location: “The Corner,” 20 miles off Los Suenos marina, Costa Rica

The Arena: The Penguin, a 48′ Viking captained by Josh Ruskey (410/977-0182)

Representing Coast Rica: Carlos “Charlie” Coronado, the reigning two-time Los Suenos “Signature Billfish” sailfish-hooking champion

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Representing the United States of America (USA! USA!): Professional mate, Boating Magazine writer, and author of the new bluewater how-to fishing book Offshore Pursuit ($20; www.getgup.com)

The Rules: No pushing, tripping, kicking, biting, or eye gouging allowed in the pit!

Ladieeees and gentlemen – John’s setting a three-line spread consisting of two long rigger lines and a shotgun. Charlie’s pulling one of his favorite tricks – setting two squid daisy-chain teasers in place of the flat lines and two large commotion teasers on the short rigger lines. With the spread now in place, each competitor takes his transom corner, armed with a Shimano TLD 30 with ballyhoo pitch baits rigged on Eagle Claw circle hooks and 100-pound test leader. They take turns; one reels away the teaser while the other pitches a ‘hoo when a fish appears.

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There are doubles in the spread now, folks! The action is fast and furious, and we tally a total of 15 sailfish raised, 9 caught. The judges are comparing their score sheets….and it looks like Costa Rica wins the bout with a 63.3 percent hookup ratio compared to USA’s 50 percent. Charlie, congratulations. Can you please tell the audience how you did it? “Point the rod tip at the fish when feeding it the bait. There should be no pressure on the line when freespooling; your thumb should have the touch of a feather to prevent backlash and no more. Count to five, then ease the drag up to three pounds of pressure. When you feel the fish, slowly push the drag up to strike position and the circle hook will firmly penetrate. And if you get a bite on a set line, turn the clicker off when you go to freespool.”

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