Guy Harvey Magazine

FALL 2017

Guy Harvey Magazine is focused on fishing, boating, scuba diving, and marine conservation. Portfolios from the world's best fishing photographers, articles on gear, travel, tournaments, apparel, lifestyle, seafood recipes, sustainable fisheries.

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66 | www.GuyHarveyMagazine.com L ocated on the coast of the Darien Jungle in Panama close to the border of Colombia, Tropic Star Lodge (TSL) is one of the most remote locations in the Americas. Over 100 miles from the nearest road, the only way to access the lodge is by flying into the nearby airstrip and taking a skiff to the dock. This remoteness has left the area relatively untouched by human impacts, including the fishing. The TSL fishing grounds have produced more world records than any other place on the planet and have been the destination for over 60 Guy Harvey expeditions in the last 25 years. The most recent expedition to TSL was a preliminary investigation to track the highly prized and largely unknown habits of the roosterfish. The roosterfish is a gorgeous, medium reef predator found on the Pacific coast from Mexico all the way down to Peru. It's shaped like a blunt-nose jack but is in its own unique family. Fighting one can be as difficult as catching a large billfish if you have the right tackle, and it definitely takes a skilled captain and crew to find them. What I also like about this type of fishing is that, unlike fishing for billfish, roosterfish are coastal pelagic so we find them close to shore. So while you're waiting for the fish to bite, you can enjoy fantastic views of waves breaking on rocky, volcanic outcrops with lush, green forests and large groups of pelicans or other seabirds flying along the shoreline. It's even more dramatic when the sun is shining while rain clouds water the forests in the distance. Best of all, it's normally flat calm! I caught my first roosterfish at Tropic Star Lodge when I was about 12 years old. I loved casting with a spinning rod. It was very different than the usual billfish fishing and kept me busy. The captain would position the boat close to the rocks and we would cast our poppers as close as we could to the breaking waves and the rocks. Then we would jig them as we reeled them in so they would splash at the surface. The splash is part of the technique used to attract the roosterfish, especially when the visibility isn't very good. The anticipation was intense as we waited to see the strike. After a few casts, the signature rooster comb cut the surface. The rooster bit the popper, turned on its side to reveal its green scales and black, bold bands and then pulled hard and fast down the side of the rocks. Once we caught it, I was able to get a closer look at the vibrant, purple-pink scales on its sides, spread its beautiful comb with minute black spots and examine its sandpaper-like teeth. All the roosterfish we caught were released. They're not a prized menu option so the entire fishery is exclusively catch-and-release. I remember feeling glad to give someone else the chance to fight the fish another day. My family has had a long-standing relationship with TSL. It's a place that continues to inspire my father's artwork and drive his passion in marine biology. For years, my brother and I would train to catch world records from this place and, before long, we were calling it our second home. Now, working at the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation (GHOF), I have the chance to work with some of the best marine scientists on incredible collaborative projects to dig deeper into marine species behavior for educational and species management purposes. Roosterfish have always been a popular angling fish, however, very little is known about them. This sustainable catch-and-release recreational fishery can be a fantastic economic driver for Central American countries and so it's a Above: Aerial view of the secluded Tropic Star Lodge on the southwest coast of Panama.

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