Text by John Brown Lee. Photos by Richard Gibson
It’s late March in Guatemala, and I’m standing next to Capt. Ron Hamlin on the flybridge of the classic 40-foot Whiticar Finest Kind, doing one of my favorite things — bait-and-switch trolling for Pacific sailfish. Hamlin has tagged and released over 10,000 billfish during his long career, and he has probably forgotten more about this style of fishing than most captains will ever know.
Hamlin, photographer Richard Gibson and I stare at the baits from the bridge, and when a sailfish shows up, everyone in the cockpit moves instantly into a well-rehearsed routine; there’s no panic or pandemonium here. The fish rises to a hookless teaser riding on the face of the second boat wake, to the left. The mates grab the teaser rods as my wife, Poppy, picks up a 30-pound conventional outfit and pulls a waiting ballyhoo rigged on a circle hook from its pitch-bait tube and drops it over the transom.