The journey from doves and ducks to sails and roosters – by Kevin Gehm, Spring 2014
January and February are the peak months for our Nicaragua duck and dove program as well as our blue water fishing in Costa Rica. This year, this peak time just happened to coincide with one of the coldest winter in recent memory, so Trek clients were traveling south in droves, to the warm sunny climes of Central America. Although our office in North Florida did not have near the type of winter as our northern neighbors, it was still a great time for me to pack a bag and hit the road.
As Nicaragua and Costa Rica are neighbors, I often link my travel to these venues and this time was no exception. In late January I jumped in on a mixed group of shooters in Chinandega, Nicaragua. Robert Hinson and his crew from western Georgia and their traveling buddy Bob Phillips from Indiana meet each January for a week of duck shooting and relaxation. These guys have it figured out as they opt to shoot as much as possible in the morning and then head
back to the hotel for lunch and R& R by the pool for the remainder of the day.
This year they were joined by a few first timers, William and Jonathan Wilfong, as well as long time Trek shooters Dr. Sam Marsh and his buddy Jim Davis from South Carolina. When I arrived, the guys had finished their shooting and were rehashing the days action.
As Bob and his guys shot only the morning, they elected to take a leisurely trip to the coast and have a 3 hour lunch at one of the excellent local seafood establishments. With fresh lobster both plentiful and inexpensive, these guys definitely made their presence known. Lets just say that none of them were in a big hurry to get to the dinner table that evening.
The next morning, everyone was up and at ‘em for an early breakfast and trip out to the lagoon. For Robert and his crew, it was like a bit of a family reunion as they’ve shot with the same bird boys for over a decade, while the Wilfong’s and the guys from South Carolina developed new relationships with their guys. After a few days shooting, it was time to head back to Managua for the final night. Robert and his crew always stay a day or so additional to browse the numerous local markets and have come home with everything from snakeskin belts and boots to a hand tooled leather saddle that definitely did not fit in the overhead compartment on the flight home.
The next morning I was on my way to the airport for an early morning flight from Managua to San Jose, Costa
Rica. A month prior to traveling, I had a fluke communication with a grade school friend, a fellow I’d not seen in nearly 40 years and it turned out that he has a winter get away in Costa Rica and that he was actually going to be there during the dates of my trip. So, I hopped in a rental truck and cruised up to the Nicoya Peninsula and the growing town of Santa Theresa and spent a day with Jim Ham, my school chum from so long ago. You have those friends where you can NOT see each other for extended periods of time and then when you do run into each other, it seems like no time has passed. With the exception of a few grey hairs, this was the case.
After a too brief of a visit, I hit the road for Quepos, the hub for Trek’s blue water fishing operations in Costa Rica. As usual, it was great to see all my buddies in Quepos and this time I was able to visit a few brand new hotels and condos that have since become Treks new “go to” in terms of accommodations in the area. Minnesotan Bob Murphy and his crew were in town for 5 days of sun and fishing out of the Marina Pez Vela, the new up and coming marina in Costa Rica and I had a chance to meet them and chat briefly before they headed out.
Leaving them to their vacation, I hit the road 5 hours south to visit lodge manager Todd Staley and his crew at
the Crocodile Bay Lodge to gather a little intel on the new marina in the planning stages for this southern region of the country. By all accounts, this new marina is going to be both deluxe and eco friendly, definitely the wave of the future.
After saying my goodbyes to the guys at Croc Bay, it was time to hit the gravel for 3-4 hours to see Gregg and Goldine, the owners of the famous Zancudo Lodge. If you’ve never been to Playa Zancudo, you definitely need to put it on your bucket list, if, for no other reason than the view from their restaurant, it is breathtaking. After getting settled in and having a cold one to clear the road dust, I had a chance to sit down with Trek fishermen Mike Kwasneski and his buddyRichard Ennis who had just wrapped up their first day of fishing.
The inshore and off shore fishing is normally very good here and this time around was no exception and these 2 were off and running after a successful first day on the water. After seeing my guys off the next morning, it was to head back up to Quepos for the day. As this was the day before the Super Bowl, a few of the restaurants at the Marina Pez Vela were erecting a mammoth 40ft by 40ft screen onto which they would be projecting the football game to all of their patrons
and to whoever wandered up to the marina that evening. This is a far cry from my first trip to Quepos when there was a single watering hole (especially for Gringo’s) that had the game on, on a 19 inch screen. Progress ??? Who is to say.The next day it was on to San Jose to meet up with arriving long time Trek client Frank Scarborough and his crew from Texas. After speaking on the phone with all of these clients for many years in arranging their trips, this was the first time I was actually able to meet every one of these guys (and gals), face to face, definitely an added bonus.
Again, these trips are quick hitting, but very enjoyable as you get to run into so many personalities in just a brief time. The added bonus of getting to all of these places by road adds to the trip as you get to experience the local flavor to be found in between all of our lodges and fishing venues. Whether it is a local farmer, with a tree branch in his hand, walking down the road, herding his cattle into the next field, or a bunch of kids joyfully kicking around a well worn soccer ball, these are experiences that just put a smile on your face, knowing that these particular folks have no clue as to what the Super Bowl is and appear completely content that way.