Saturday, January 29, 2011

GIFT Tournament 2011 – Day 4 Team FRENZY wins again!!!

New mate Mako's skills really made a difference this year.

It’s the final day of the tournament and we are all a bit beat up from yesterday. We have 1500 points, the Stalker is in 2nd place with 800 points and everyone else is tied for 3rd. We once again head towards the Furuno as everyone else takes off for The Corner. Today there is no north wind. We drop the teasers in at 8:00 with the anticipation of seeing another marlin and maybe catching a few sails to keep us in the lead. We are too far from anyone else to hear their catch call-ins so I spend the day worrying about what the Stalker is doing as those guys can catch fish.

Kerwin and I take two-hour shifts that prove uneventful. We go out to some really deep water but see nothing, no baits, no birds, no fish, no nothing. I feel that we have made the wrong decision. I worry that the Stalker is racking up points like no tomorrow. There is no tomorrow because this is the last day. Even Kerwin seems a bit uneasy. Despite Jose’s searching and the mates putting every teaser we had in the water, the day ends at 4:00 with a big goose egg. Totally out of character for our team. We head back to Quepos concerned about the results of the Stalker’s day as well as the other teams.

We arrive at Marina Pez Vela and learn that Harold has caught a sailfish. We congratulate him and then learn that Stanley on our other boat, FRENZY II (35) has caught a black marlin, which puts him solidly in 3rd place. We wait around for the Stalker to call in and head to the house not knowing the out come of their day. Finally Willy calls with the news that they have caught only 1 sailfish.

Our team has won the GIFT Tournament for the third year in a row! All the preparation, all the practice, focus and teamwork have paid off again. Marsha and her staff at El Gran Escape ( really did a great job organizing the tournament and keeping everyone well fed and watered! A special thanks goes to Team FRENZY operations manager Willy Jimenez for his work during the tournament.

There is no doubt that I have the finest fishing partner anyone could ask for. Kerwin is always well prepared, has all our tackle and flies sorted out every day and is one of the best fly anglers in the world. Well done my friend!

Jenny and I have guests coming to Casa Carolina tomorrow for a week of fishing and enjoying Costa Rica. Now for a couple of days of rest before the Frenzy continues…

Jamie Walker

GIFT Tournament 2011 – Day 3

Kerwin puts the finishing touches on a billfish.

No more time spent at The Corner as we head towards the Furuno today. And we’re all alone. Nice! Today is uncharacteristically “rough” with a moderately strong wind from the north. I comment to Kerwin as we’re dropping the teasers in the water that I really like what I see in this chop because we usually get strong bites on days like this.

I was up first and had a crack at a sailfish that teased in but faded off at the third wave. I am surprised and Kerwin is as well because all our fish have teased in so well this tournament. It is now Kerwin’s time to be up and an hour or so later we’re on the board with our first sailfish of the day.

Now I am back up again and notice that the sea is starting to lay down a bit. It still has a good chop on it. With only a short time to go until I relinquish my position to Kerwin, there is a hole in the water behind the short teaser as a blue marlin tries to eat it. We all spring into action. Marco takes the short teaser line by hand and I prepare to cast.  When Marco yells “cast the fly” with the experience of 17 years of casting flies at billfish I smack the side of the boat on my back cast but fortunately the wind does not totally prevent me from laying the fly down in the sweat spot of clear water I am aiming for. Marco pulls the teaser forward to bring the marlin to my fly and yanks it out of the water. All of this happens as in an instant as the boat is sliding forward in neutral. Instead of immediately eating the fly the marlin heads for the transom. He makes a turn literally at our feet, lights up electric blue from the tips of his pectoral fins to his tail and in a millisecond engulfs my fly. It was the most exciting billfish bite I have ever seen on fly. 
Kerwin's practice day Black Marlin. Nuff said...

I barely have a moment to set the hook before the enraged marlin is screaming away from the boat taking line at a pace that I have rarely witnessed. My drag is backed off to nothing. On a fish like this I always let Jose see my reel so that he sees how fast I am loosing line. Teamwork catches fish. Jose puts the FRENZY in reverse and I begin to crank like a maniac. Mako has completely cleared all the other teasers and we’re ready to go after the marlin. Marco stands beside me to relay my requests of speed to Jose.

Of course the marlin heads up seas which means we’re backing into it. As we get closer to the marlin and can see the fly line after cranking in seemingly hundreds of yards of 50 lb Spectra backing we begin to focus on the last part of the fight. This is when it is most important to make sure that everyone is in synch about catching the fish. It always requires intense concentration on the part of the angler, mates and captain. It’s never easy but particularly difficult today as we have 6 feet of water crashing down on Marco and me as Jose guns the boat after the fish. As we get closer to the marlin and get fly line back on the reel we have so much water in the cockpit that my Crocs are starting to float off my feet! The fish makes a left and is now off the left side of the boat with the leader barely 6 feet from the rod tip. I am screaming, “Go to the fish” but we can’t get there from our relative positions. Fortunately the fish kicks it a bit and gets back in behind the boat. With water crashing over us on the stern, the diesel turbos kicking in and me yelling to go to the fish we finally get the leader in the rod tip for a legal release. It was the most intense 5 minutes of fly fishing I have ever had. I look up at Jose and ask “How big?” Jose says “350”. As we high-five around the cockpit we start to realize how much water we had in the back of the boat. It went all the way back to the door to the cabin! It was definitely a “Frenzy”! I am soaked to the bone but excited for the team as we put another 500 points on the board.

The FRENZY continues…

Jamie Walker

GIFT Tournament 2011 – Day 2

Marco enjoys the results of the watermelon slicer!

Day 2 finds us back at “The Corner” since that is where the action was yesterday. Everyone else is there as well. I have to say that today was pretty uneventful. We anticipated seeing and catching marlin but instead we caught the only two sailfish that rose to the teasers. We did eat well, as usual on the FRENZY. We also are making good use of the watermelon slicer that my wife Jenny brought down with her. It cuts the melon into slices and leaves a nice seedless core. Remarkable for such a simple instrument. The fact that it costs $20 chaps me a bit but hey it’s a boat part now and everything on the boat is more expensive. We are still in first place but things can change tomorrow.

The FRENZY continues…

Jamie Walker

GIFT Tournament 2011 – Day 1

The first sail of the GIFT Tournament dances across the water
After almost a year of anticipation and preparation the 2011 GIFT Tournament has kicked off. Though there are only seven boats in this year’s tournament the competition for us is certainly stiff. It is good to see our fishing friends from previous tournaments and make some new ones. We have a new 2nd mate this year, Maxwell, aka Mako. From what I have witnessed of him during the practice days I believe that Jose and Marco have chosen well. After two practice days we feel we are ready. I can say this because during those two practice days we caught two marlin on fly. Kerwin caught his first black marlin on fly and I caught my 2nd blue on fly. We estimated the two marlin to be 250 and 300 lbs respectively. Kerwin caught his marlin in about 17 minutes and I caught mine in about 27 minutes. Even after catching literally hundreds of billfish on a fly I remain amazed that it is possible to catch such a strong fish on a fly rod. We even had a small striped marlin take a crack at eating the fly.

So it was with anticipation of another shot at a marlin that we put the teasers in the water at the 8:00 am start time. Kerwin was up first, which means that I will have some time to relax and take a read of the water before my turn comes. We see nothing until along about 10:30 when a black marlin of about 300 lbs takes a swipe at the left short teaser. Seeing this, Marco, Mako and Kerwin leap into action. After making the cast the marlin eats the fly and takes off for the horizon. While Kerwin prepares himself for a long battle with the marlin the mates clear the other teasers from the water and organize the cockpit. Everything happens in split seconds. Jose sees that we are all ready to chase the fish and begins backing down the FRENZY. At about 100 yards out the fish takes an abrupt left turn, clears the surface of the water with several amazing leaps then begins to greyhound across the surface with just his tail in the water. Spectacular, until the tippet breaks. Unfortunately we didn’t catch that marlin and earn the 500 points towards the tournament but the day was still young.

A short while later a hot sailfish comes screaming into the teasers, Marco works his magic by teasing the fish into position for me to make the cast. On Marco’s cue I cast the fly, the fish eats it like I eat ice cream and 3 minutes later we release our first fish of the tournament. High fives around the cockpit and thumbs up to Jose because we’re “on the board” with 100 points.

Kerwin’s back up now and we experience nothing in the teasers for a couple of hours. We decide to trade off and put me back up so that we always have a fresh angler on the ready. Marco and I are sitting on the drink boxes talking about things when we see a huge boil behind the left short teaser. In an instant Marco is teasing the marlin in by hand, when Marco calls for the cast I manage to lay the fly right down beside the teaser in perfect position for a bite. The lit up black marlin eats the fly and takes off. Knowing that it is a marlin I back off the drag to almost nothing. Fortunately for us all the marlin stays on top and allows us to get on him quickly. In less than 5 minutes we have him beside the boat. Seeing that I can get the leader in the rod tip for a legal release I yell to Jose to “go for him”. Jose puts the throttles down, I crank like mad while pushing the rod at the fish and at the instant that the leader enters the top guide Marco, Kerwin and I each yell “caught”. It’s a good thing that we caught him at that moment because the hooks pulled out of the fish immediately after that!

As if that was not enough excitement, less than two minutes later a sailfish is swatting his bill at the long right teaser. After another well executed cast and a short fight of 2 and a half minutes the team has another 100 points on the board.

Before lines out at 4:00 we hear that our good friend Marsha that owns El Gran Escape restaurant is hooked up to a marlin. Unfortunately she does not release the fish and earn the 500 points.

The FRENZY II has shots at 4 marlin, but no releases. What a day! I bet Rafa, Rudy and Rafita were speaking some rapid fire Spanish!

At sunset we arrive back at Marina Pez Vela and learn that we are in first place. With all the marlin swimming around out there tomorrow will truly be another day. Tonight we have all the anglers up to Casa Carolina for cheeseburgers and fishing stories.

The FRENZY continues…

Jamie Walker

Friday, January 28, 2011

A message from the Keillor's

As I have said many times before there is nothing more meaningful in this business than hearing from folks who have come down to fish with us and take the time to write and say what a wonderful trip they have had. I just received the following from the Keillor's who were just here:

Jan 9-16 “The Keillor’s”

            From January 9-16 the Keillor family stayed at the Costa Verde resort. There were 3 fishing days total, and other days to explore the lovely town Quepos. Let’s begin the experience!!
            The first snag happened even before any of us got to the airport. One of our travelers (my sister) forgot her passport. Willie Jimenez was a blessing in this situation! Even though it was such a sad moment to leave half of our group at home, we knew they would join us in Costa Rica soon. Willie was great at providing travel arrangements for our whole family.  I loved talking to Misael about things to do in Quepos.
            We had one day of exploring before we started fishing on the Frenzy 2.  We walked around the vendors at the beach and also went Zip lining, what a rush, we loved it!  On the days we weren’t fishing we also took a Mangrove tour, horse back riding and waterfall rappelling. All were great and would recommend! But don’t forget how nice it is to just lay by the pool and watch the sun rise and set. There are things to do for the active vacationer and the more relaxed type.
            Fishing was SUPERB! The water wasn’t rough or choppy at all, very calm and glassy. There were birds around us all the time. We saw some great wildlife like sea turtles and Devil Rays. The first day we landed 3 sailfish to the boat. There were others that were going after the teasers but didn’t get them in time, we also saw a Marlin go for the baits as well. The second day we also landed 3 sailfish, seems like that was par for the course for us. Captain Rafa was extra nice to our group and let us swim with the sailfish I caught. YES! We actually swam with a sailfish! It was such an experience; they are such docile creatures when they are in the water with people. We have some great pictures, that was a moment we never will forget! Finally when the rest of our group arrived we had one more day to fish with the whole family. We caught 1 Marlin and 5 Sailfish! My sister and I hooked up on a double; I can’t wait to see the video we took of it. It was very special because the 2 mates on the boat helping us were brothers too. It was just a family affair! The one marlin we landed was a striped marlin, very beautiful in coloration, and so different than a sailfish, both beautiful in their own ways.  We also got to swim with one of the sailfish I caught again, so my sister could experience it. It was even better than the first time! We are very happy that the billfish that the Frenzy fleet catches are all released. Of course, if there were Dorado or Tuna on our rods we would have taken that home, but the billfish are too precious to sacrifice.
            Captain Rafa was a great captain, very talkative and patient with the newer fisherman. He would back down on the fish for us to conserve our energy and the fish as well. His 2 sons who were our mates were very kind too. They both spoke good English and if ever we were curious about knots they tied to bait, or anything for that matter, the would answer our questions and let us practice. It was very easy to be a beginner fisherman on this boat with such experienced marineros.
            We all hated to leave Quepos. It was such a great experience for everyone in our family. We have decided that we will most definitely return next year and fish with the Frenzy fleet. Let’s hope we all bring our passports next time!  

It was really good to hear that the Keillor family had such a fine time fishing with us. And many thanks for the great photos!

Now I have to go write up my blog entry for the GIFT Tournament. You bet it was a FRENZY!!!

The FRENZY continues.

Jamie Walker
Frenzy Sportfishing

Friday, January 21, 2011

The 2011 GIFT Tournament

It’s a travel day for me. I’m sitting in the airport in Houston waiting to make the second leg of my journey back to Costa Rica for the 2011 Gray Invitational Fly Tournament.

Jamie called me a couple of nights ago concerned about if we had the proper flies and just what we needed to do to be ready for this years contest. I guess I wasn’t exactly polite when I asked him “Are you just starting to think about this? I’ve been working on this for the past 360 days!!!.” Just joking!

I’ve been working for the past few months with several of our friends whose expertise in different aspects of fly-fishing that has proven to be invaluable to the past success of the FRENZY team.

I’ll be trying out a new reel from our friends at Waterworks-Lamson in Ketchum Idaho. We have been sold on the Waterworks reels for several years now. The new Vanquish is supposed to be even better so I’m excited to give it a good test.

Brian Thielke (our own personal world class fly tying master), knew the tournament would be coming up and he called us last month just to make sure we had what we needed. Since there have been so many marlin being caught this year, we have had Brian prepare some special marlin flies in addition to our usual sailfish fly order.

Garry Sandstrom, our equipment and tackle expert, has provided me with three new fly lines that he wants tested. One of the lines is experimental and Garry feels it will be a definite improvement over what we have used in the past. Garry is one of the best fly-casters I have ever seen. Because of his reputation, he is constantly testing new lines for the various manufacturers. Overall the lines coming out are stronger, and yet much thinner than what we have used previously and should cut down on the dreaded drag created by the weight and size of the line. This is important when a big fish takes out several hundred yards of line or when we intentionally let one fish run when we hook up a double and then have to work each fish individually.

Garry and I spent a good deal of time preparing equipment and lines at Puget Sound Fly Co. It’s owner, Anil Srivastava, is constantly on the phone to make sure that we get everything we need from the various companies in a timely manner and he is gracious enough to allow us to use his shop equipment as we load reels and build fly-lines. Anil also provided me with some flies that he developed over 10 years ago, the Shock and Awe. I hope to soon cast these to Mahi, sailfish, and tuna. It is a great fly that is used a lot in the Northwest for sea-run cutthroat and salmon although in a smaller size.

All these friends, Brian, Garry, and Anil, are world class fly-fisherman in their own right and we are grateful for the information and assistance that they provide as part of Team FRENZY.

Well it's time to catch that plane. The Tournament Starts Monday!!!

Steffen’s Christmas Break- Parrots and New Year’s Eve

The last days of our trip come too soon for all of us. On Thursday Willy needed to pick up some bottom paint for the boat and located some in Jaco. Lisa and I decided to go with him and visit the resort at Los Suenos.

Willy drove and I got to enjoy the scenery on the way over. We passed the Tilapia farm that we visited with the kids on our last trip. Will definitely do that again one of these days.

Willy drops us as the Los Suenos shopping mall and heads off to get the paint. We wander through the shops and I check out the marina to see if I can find the boat we helped rescue yesterday. The marina seems small to me this time and I realize it is because I am already used to the much larger Marina Pez Vela.

Lisa gets some shopping done and we have a nice lunch and then head back to the quaint little town of Quepos and the tranquility of Manuel Antonio. The big resort life is just not for me. (Although I would like to play their golf course some time soon!)

The trip back is highlighted by a stop on the side of the road where we watch five wild MaCaw Parrots squawking at each other playfully high in a tree. My camera is in the condo and we can’t get a cell phone to take a decent photo so you have to take my word for it. We jump back in the car and less than a mile down the road we see an entire flock of these large and colorful parrots flying across the road. It is so strange to me to see them in the wild. Most parrots I’ve seen have been in a cage in the lobby of a hotel in Hawaii.

We concentrate on the fishing and sea life so much, I forget at times the biodiversity of this country and all it has to offer when you are not on the water. The Monteverde area is well known for it’s birding and the vast number of species that can be seen. One highlight I had was with Olivia when we were able to see a Firebill Toucan (sort of like the bird on the Fruit Loops box) in Manuel Antonio National Park on one of our private tours that Willy arranged.

We also love the butterflies that are everywhere and I was made aware of the fact that there are more species of butterflies in the small country of Costa Rica than on the entire continent of Africa. I learned all this on the tour of the butterfly farm and reptile garden located in Manuel Antonio (another great place to visit especially for kids).

Our last day at the condo is New Year’s Eve. There is a wonderful pool side party at the condo and the Hotel Parador next door sets off a great fireworks display at midnight for which we have the best seats in the house…….. on our deck.

The kids can't wait until next time!!!

The Frenzy continues....

Steffen’s 2010 Christmas Break Last Day of Fishing

(I had some problems loading this entry so I will try again!)

It was a little easier getting up and going today. I guess catching two nice marlin was rejuvenating for every one. We are quickly to the boat and on our way for another exciting day aboard the Fabulous FRENZY!!!

We are soon fishing and the baits are in the water. Now it’s time for the fish to be lazy!!!!! The crew works hard but we just don’t see anything for a couple of hours. Suddenly the boys have pulled in the baits and we are high tailing it to a new place. We seem to be going faster than usual when Marco comes below and tells me a boat out of Los Suenos Marina is sinking and needs help. It seems that they were taking on water and their bilge pump was not working. We’ve now turned a fishing trip into a possible rescue mission. The boys get our spare pump ready to hand off and soon we are upon the vessel in distress. It is a friend of Jose’s and fortunately he managed to get his pump working. Another boat from Los Suenos threw them a line and began towing them back to their marina.

We were soon back to fishing and saw nothing until about noon when two sailfish come calling. The kids are napping and it’s Lisa that puts on the fighting belt and goes to work. The boys try frantically to get us hooked up for a double but the second fish won’t take the bait. Lisa makes quick work of a nice tournament size sailfish (she’ll kill me for this picture!) and the baits are quickly back in the water.

We have lunch of delicious meat-ball sandwiches from a new restaurant in town. Lisa is also working on getting another friend of ours to prepare some gourmet salads that will be available on the FRENZY menu.

It’s a quiet rest of the day and at 4pm we decide to head home. Lisa and I make our way to the bow, ready to kick back and enjoy the breeze on the way home. I never tire of this way to head back to shore watching the Quepos humps grow larger as we approach.

I hear some commotion up on the bridge and see that Marco and Jose are excited about something on the radar. We make a course correction and within minutes are upon a large school of dolphin and pilot whales. The boys are in gear and have tuna lures in the water in no time and we are quickly rewarded with a triple of football sized yellow-fin tuna.

We make quick work of the tuna and the baits are back in the water looking for more tuna. Instead, one of the reels starts screaming and I see a wake next to the boat that is definitely not tuna.

We give the rod to Olivia and she goes to work and lands a nice 150 pound Striped Marlin.

We head home a little later than usual and I get a report for the day. There were about 30 boats on the water today from two marinas. It was a slow day with a total of seven fish caught. The FRENZY had five of them. It’s always great to fish with the best crew in Costa Rica!!!

The Frenzy continues…….

Saturday, January 15, 2011

It's not always about fishing!

Girl's Day Out!
As you can see from the photo I received this week, these girls had a blast on the Frenzy. From the story I heard these ladies did a little shopping in downtown Quepos then went to Marina Pez Vela and hopped on the Frenzy for a little cruise down the coast. Apparently they brought along some floats, and if my guess is correct, some wine and snacks too! Rumor has it that they had a fabulous time cruising down the coast and stopping for a swim. I wonder what Jose and Marco thought of this? I bet they jumped in too...

Stay tuned as the Frenzy continues with my upcoming forecast for the 2011 GIFT Tournament...


Frenzy Sportfishing

Monday, January 10, 2011

Steffen Family Christmas 2010 Day 7

The Marlin Fisherman are lazy today!!! They got up late and were moving slow. I guess catching all those big fish wears them out. We stopped last night at Marsha’s for a quick meal and to tell fish stories. She wants pictures of the kids and their fish to put up on her new “Wall of Shame”.

Ian was funny last night as I put him to bed, with his newly won Leatherman’s tool on his nightstand, he asked me if it was more difficult to catch a Marlin on a fly. I told him that yes it was much more difficult to catch one on the fly. He looked me in the eye and said “Well, I’m ready to catch one on a fly because I need something more advanced!!!”

I guess I don’t have to worry about Ian wanting to fish. We laughed all day today about that one and Lisa said that it would not be long before Ian would want to be my partner in the Harry Gray Fly Tournament. I said at the rate he is going, Jamie Walker is going to request Ian as his partner and demote me to third mate!

This afternoon we went to beautiful Casa Carolina for Lisa to meet with Willy and Ingrid to go over some work matters. As is the custom here, we are treated with great hospitality as Willy and Saule surprised us with lunch of hamburgers on the grill.

We got every one to bed early as we are going after Marlin again tomorrow. The Frenzy was out today and released two more marlin, broke the hook on another, and landed three yellow-fin tuna. Another boat we know had a marlin in the spread estimated at 1000lbs. Fortunately it didn’t bite. I wouldn’t want it to have a sore mouth when we are out tomorrow. The Frenzy continues…..

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Steffen Family Christmas 2010 First Fishing Day at last!!!

As I said before we have been lazy this trip. It was a little tough this morning, especially getting the boy up and going. I got the coffee made and myself and the boy ready to go. Then it was wait for the 14 y.o. as she primped!!! My patience was really tested.

We hop in the car and it’s a quick trip to CafĂ© Milagro (now that the road to the condo is paved) so the Seattle girls can have their lattes to start the day. It’s an easy trip to Quepos and soon I slide into a paved parking space in the marina, purchase a license for Lisa, and step onto the Frenzy with ease!!! So different from the old days where it was an extreme adventure just to get down the gangway to the boat. We greet the crew and make a plan for the day. It’s decided to go offshore for marlin!!

I let the boy and mom snooze while we head to Jose’s chosen spot about 22 miles offshore. Olivia is on the bridge with Jose. We are soon in that beautiful cobalt blue water and the boat slows to trolling speed. The baits are dropped into the water and I begin talking to the family about who will be first up. I haven't finished getting out my first sentence when a marlin is crashing the left short teaser. Marco and second mate, Mako, work their magic and Olivia is soon fighting the first fish of the day. After about 30 minutes of excellent work and much coaching from Dad, she lands a nice Blue Marlin about 175 pounds.

Now it’s Ian’s turn. The crew works and works, with the boat zig and zagging, but not much action. We see porpoise playing, one sailfish on the surface, sea turtles, and flying fish which is fun for all of us but especially for the kids. It’s about noon and I’m watching the teasers when a Marlin does a suicide dive on the left short teaser. By the time the boys have done the marlin dance and finally hooked the same fish, I think it has attacked every teaser in our spread! Ian’s now in the chair.

I had found a small leatherman’s tool in my gear and that morning I told Ian he could have it if he would catch a big fish. A more determined face I’ve never seen as he did his best on this fish. After a good 30 minute fight Marco had touched the leader so it was a legal caught fish but we had no pictures. Suddenly we had an equipment failure as the rod snapped off about midway down. I learned something new as the boys went to work and before long we had spliced the line with the marlin on it onto a new rod and reel. Another 20 minutes and another nice Blue was along side estimated at about 300lbs. Ian says 325 and he is so smart I have to trust his judgment.

We all have a nice lunch of Arroz con Pollo and salad. The boy takes a well deserved rest with his new leatherman's tool, broken rod, and 150 leader nearly broken through. Now it’s Lisa’s turn. I threaten to call her Mr. Walker since her turn seems to take so long. It’s about 3PM and we get two more Laaaazy Marlin in the spread. The crew works hard but they just won’t bite.

We head home with a new family catch order. Lisa still in the lead with 400lbs. Now Ian is in second with 325lb (and a new leatherman tool in his pocket) and Oliva and Dad tied at 200lbs. The Frenzy Continues!!!!

The Steffen 2010 Christmas Trip

Days 1-5

As Lisa says we have been Laaaaazy!!! We were all very busy before leaving for Costa Rica. It is especially tough on Lisa because of having to close all the books at year end. Santa visited our house in Gig Harbor on Sunday the 19th. Good thing those elves have internet now. It seemed like I was checking the weather report hourly for several days as I was so hopeful we wouldn’t get snowed in. We were fortunate to have great weather and no delays on any flights.

We have just been kicking back so far. Actually resting up since our first day of fishing is tomorrow. Ian and Olivia are arguing as to who will get the first fish. Seeing old friends is one of the things we look forward to on each visit. I saw Enrique who was our van driver on one of my first trips to Costa Rica as a member of the Tacoma Five. We’ve had dinner at El Gran Escape (home of the Gray Invitational Fly Tournament) and visited with Marsha, the owner and a dear friend. I’ve also seen Rafa (Captain of the Frenzy II), Roger (Hollywood), and Beetlejuice who have both worked for us as mates in the past and many other friends.

I came across a picture of our mate Marco when he was about 12 years old and his Dad Rafa on one of my first trips to Costa Rica.

The kids love it here. Ian ( 7 now) is in heaven. The kid could eat chicken and tortillas every day, a little of Mom’s Guac as he calls it, and drink watermelon juice. He could live in the pool if I would let him. He has spent time with his novia, Monseratte, playing their video games.

Olivia….what can I say? A fourteen year old girl. Enough said!

The condo complex has really come a long way since our last visit. The new Suu hotel is open and filled to capacity for the holidays. The restaurant is open and busy. The new pool deck is complete and it’s great having pool-side service when you need a cool drink or snack. We have been rewarded with visits from Lisa’s relatives (the monkeys!!! LOL) every night between 4 and 5 PM.

We attended church services on Christmas Eve. It was all in Spanish so I had to ask Olivia for a translation since she is a star in her Spanish class back home. We didn’t understand the language but got the message any way. Back in the condo they were having a large fiesta in the restaurant. I have to admit it’s a bit weird hearing Christmas songs like “Let It Snow” and “Sleigh Ride” with a background of palm trees and 80 degree weather.

We have made a trip to the Marina and the facility has come a long way since ourlast trip. The marina store is open, there is paved parking and many boats I’ve never seen before. The Frenzy looks at home in it’s new berth and appears to be as anxious as we are to get fishin’! Well I’m off the bed to prepare for a day on the FRENZY!!!!