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The BillFish

My name is John Schachtner. I own the Billfighter, a 31š Bertram that is chartered out of Hotel Palmas de Cortez in Baja. Hotel Palmas de Cortez is a fantastic place to go for fishing trips. The Van Wormers who own the hotel are very friendly and go out of their way to make sure you enjoy your stay.

I set off from the hotel on Thursday, 7/27 with my father, Hannes, and my good friend Dan Hernandez of Sportfishing with Dan Hernandez. This trip was coordinated by Dan who also brought along his sponsors, Tilia Food Saver who make vacuum packing equipment for home use. I had hoped (as we all do) to catch the big one. I never imagined that I would come back with a fish like this!

We left at 7 in the morning on Billfighter to fish the Tuna bite a mile off shore of La Ribera with our skipper, Carlos Araujo (Paco), and the deckhand, Jose. We quickly caught two Bonita which we rigged on a 2 speed Penn International 50 wide mounted on a Saber Penn 40-100 factory rod. We used a 13/0 Mustad stainless steel hook with a 400 lb Momoi Hi-Catch leader and 80 lb. Ande line.

At 9:40 am, we hooked the fish and spent the rest of the day fighting it, all the time in view of the coast. I spent 4-1/2 hours on it during which it never took more than about 100 yards of line. I wanted this fish for the boat and the captain just as much as I wanted it for myself. I decided to keep the pressure on the fish by keeping a fresh man on the reel, rotating between Paco, Jose & myself for the next 5 hours until we got the fish to the gaff.

Finally, a little after 7 pm, we were able to get the fish to the swim step and headed for the beach. There was a huge crowd waiting on the beach for us when we returned. It seemed like they all wanted a picture next to the fish. A hole had to be dug so that the front loader could hold the fish clear of the ground. The Bowmans (neighbors to the hotel) brought their IGFA 2000 lb. scale and rigged it to the top of the loader. The fish weighed in at 820 lbs.!
Danšs sponsors had brought along a few of their Food Saver units and offered to vacuum pack all of the fish for the group. You should have seen the look on their faces when I told them to warm up the Food Savers! You could tell what was going through their minds. "Wešll be here for another 9-1/2 hours on this monster!"

When it was all over, 1/4 of the fish went to Paco (the Captain), I took 1/4 and the rest went to the group & hotel. I canšt explain the feeling that one experiences when one takes a fish like this. It is a feeling of euphoria and disbelief. All the things that have to come together to land a fish like this - the place, the reel, line, leader, hook, bait, etc. The pressure you put on the fish (too much or too little). Not losing the fish at the boat. That night I dreamed the line broke and I woke up in a cold sweat asking myself again, "Did we really land that fish, or was it a dream?" I know this memory will last forever.

 

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