When chicks hatch, they imprint on the first objects they see. There are numerous examples of humans surrogating for adult geese; the goslings following a human as if it were its parent. So when Carl showed me a birth picture of Fisher, fresh from the hospital, wrapped in swaddling, perched on the seat of a Murray Brother's fighting chair in Adam's home, I was sure this kid would embrace the sport.
If it were to happen, would the boy remember this? The answer is yes. "Childhood amnesia," as it's known (the inability to remember the earliest life-forming events), fades around 4 years of age. It's possible that Fisher could remember this trip if it was a profound event in his life ? like it would be for his father and grandfather!
"Left rigger!" Captain Jason Brice cried from Canaso's bridge. A Pacific sailfish seemed hellbent for a meal of ballyhoo. First mate Brandon was quick to drop back the offering rigged with a circle hook. Meanwhile, the ever-patient, ever-polite Fisher was in the salon with crayons and a coloring book.
I jumped up to grab my camera; Adam swooped up Fisher and placed him in the fighting chair.
The fish was on and Brandon handed the lad, who had a broad smile across his baby face, the rod. "Reel, Reel, Reel!" We joined in the chant. Captain Brice adroitly backed down the Canaso, never allowing slack in the line. Meanwhile, 80 pounds of thrashing sailfish was burning itself out with aerial acrobatics.
It was all over in a matter of minutes. Canaso backed down to the leader; Fisher kept the line tight by reeling continuously; the crowd cheered and Brandon billed the fish. Unbelievably, we had just witnessed a 4-year-old boy capture his first sailfish! Emotions ran high; each of us congratulated Fisher, who was beaming.
I believe this was a profound life experience Fisher would remember as an adult. He would complete a repeat performance the following day with another sailfish release, proving that this was no fluke. And while the fishing was not up to the usual Guatemala standards, in three days the Van Rooy family raised 10 sailfish, releasing five, caught dolphin and yellowfin tuna that was artfully served as sushi at the Lodge. Even Jason scored with a release on an estimated 325-pound blue marlin on stand-up tackle!
At the end it was clear that the Van Rooy family vacation was a resounding success. Fisher released not one, but two sailfish under the proud tutelage of dad and granddad. The food was great, the Lodge staff was attentive and a mariachi band had us dancing in the courtyard on our last evening.
There were several factors that contributed to making the Van Rooy family's focused vacation a slam dunk. First, they arguably picked the best location in the world to attempt Fisher's feat ? Guatemala. With the waters generally calm from November through April, anglers fishing Guatemala average 15 to 20 sailfish strikes a day.
Second, the Lodge at Casa Vieja is family-oriented, from the staff members' attentive service to the superb cuisine. Even the grounds provided entertainment for Fisher, from a free-ranging pet toucan to the floating decoy ducks in the freshwater pool. And while the adults were dining on sushi-grade tuna and drinking mojitos, Fisher chowed down on his chef's custom special: a grilled cheese sandwich.
Third, the fleet of boats employed by Casa Vieja is comprised of large, spacious twin diesel-powered sport-fishers with air-conditioned salons. Fourth, Casa Vieja is an escape location only a day away from anywhere in the continental U.S., keeping travel time to a minimum. Finally, the best fishing occurs during the winter months, offering angling families a tropical alternative to snow and ice.
It's clear that young, well-behaved William Fisher Van Rooy is well on his way to a long life of angling achievements. He has the "gene"; he loves to fish and wouldn't have accomplished what he had if he didn't.
One final thing: We celebrated Fisher's birthday on the last evening at Casa Vieja. He was only a few days short of it anyway. The thing is, at the time of the celebration he was 3 years and 351 days old!
For more information about fishing Casa Vieja Lodge, visit www.releaseguatemala.com, 866-846-9121.