Courtesy George Beckwith
In early July, Captain George Beckwith of North Carolina charter fame embarked on a four-day fishing expedition in Quepos on Costa Rica’s midwest coast, just south of the capital, San Jose.
First day in Pacific Beckwith and pals using top water popping plugs to weigh 60 pounds of yellowfin tuna.
On Days 2 and 3, Beckwith spent the night at Quepos with good friend and flyfisher Jake Jordon. They caught six blue marlins in the 100- to 250-pound class, all on regular fly fishing. Beckwith had four Marlins and Jordon had two, all released.
Most anglers can recover from a day off with this top-notch fishing. But not Beckwith.
“I wanted a big snoop to get to a possible 6-pound line record,” said Beckwith, 52, who runs the Down East Guide Service in Morehead, N.C., and travels to Costa Rica. “My old friend in Costa Rica, Captain Roy Zapata Calderon, was available. So he, me and Jordan started hunting snooker on the fourth day away from Quepos.”
Using specialized lightweight IGFA adjustment gear, including a Shimano 4000 Stradic reel wound with real-life tested IGFA 6-pound Black Widow line, and a very long and “forgiving” 9-foot swivel rod, anglers ride the rolling waves Set out in the Pacific Ocean to find an oversized snooker.
First, anglers found and caught live sardines near the beach, then released bait for trolling. They caught a pair of smaller snooker when a heavyweight took Beckwith’s bait and are still searching for a potential record-breaking fish.
“The fish ran off and took about half the line off the spool,” Beckwith said. “We ran closer to the fish and the snook tried to jump and was about half way out of the water. We knew then that it was the fish we were looking for and was sure it was more than the existing 6 lb test snooker record Big. At the time Roy thought it might be an all-around record because it was so big.”
Again, they positioned the boat close to the fish to try and let the fish in, Beckwith said. But the center console is close to the beach, and the huge rolling waves in the area known for the Pacific Ocean pitch and roll the boat.
“Snooker tried to get to the other side of the breaker near the beach and we couldn’t follow it and would definitely lose it,” explained Beckwith. “So I had to put pressure on the fish to drive it out of the area.”.
The long, soft custom spin bar he uses helps cushion heavyweight snooker fights, almost as a fly bar does in a similar fashion.
Finally, Beckwith got the fish close to his boat and he caught the 10-foot 50-pound test shock leader at the end of the 6-pound line. Beckwith then knew that snooker was his.
“With the 50-pound test leader, I walked up to Roy and his buddies, and they had a dip net, and we put the fish on the boat,” Beckwith described. “Then we put it in the live bait tank on the boat and it’s barely big enough to fit in,”
Anglers immediately called Quepos to remind them that they had caught an IGFA-recorded snooker. They kept the snooker alive and sent it to Marina Pez Vela in Quepos, where it weighed 43 pounds 8 ounces. But they were concerned that the scales did not meet certification standards. So they then drove the fish to another set of scales in Los Suenos, where it weighed 43 pounds 5 ounces on a certified scale. Snooker did not survive the trip to Los Suenos or it would have been released by Beckwith.
However, the Pez Vela scale has been certified, and the fish’s heavier weight has just been accepted by the IGFA as the species’ new men’s 6-pound test line world record. Beckwith’s snooker was nearly 12 pounds more than the previous 6-pound line record Pacific snooker.
In May 2005, also in Costa Rica, Alberto Acuna recorded a record weight of 31 pounds 10 ounces for a former Pacific snooker 6-pound line test man.
“My only regret is that we couldn’t get that beautiful snooker back into the Pacific Ocean,” Beckwith said. “But the drive for the second set of scales was too big to survive.