2014 - Quepos, Costa Rica - Part I
The Moon Walker and it's Equipment

The Moon Walker is used to fish for many different fish. Some fishing is done "in shore" (near shore) and some is “off shore” (out at sea). The two trips I made were for bill fish. So what I am describing is what I learned during these two “off shore” trips looking for bill fish. The Moon Walker is moored at Marina Pez Vela.

Over the years I listened to Kenny talk about fishing for bill fish. I only seemed to lock onto his comments about catching the fish; not the fishing technique. My first day on the Moon Walker was overwhelming as to the boat, equipment used, and the crew’s job. I took a lot of pictures but they missed much of the detail in the technique. I hope to explain in my basic terms as to what I feel is a very experienced team and process.

Looking at a fishing boat the first thing you notice are the two outriggers which are the tallest things on the boat. They are stored in a swept back position. I never knew what they were used for; I assumed that they dragged a net behind the boat – wrong! The next thing you notice is a bunch of fishing rods. I always assumed that there was one for each fisherman plus a few spares in case one broke. I pictured the boat floating out at sea with fishermen positioned all around the boat with fishing lines deep in the water – wrong again!

They do not wait for the fish to come to them. They go out to find the fish. Most boats leave the marina around 7 AM and head out to sea. The Moon Walker cruises at 20 to 22 knots (23 to 25.3 mph) and will usually head for a spot which produced good results the day before. It could be anywhere from 20 miles to 60 miles off shore. The Costa Rica fishermen are very unique; when they are having a good catch they radio out to other boats their location and what they are catching. At the end of the day each boat publishes it’s catch.

While they are cruising to where they want to fish, the crew works continuously. They work preparing the bait, checking all the rods and lines, putting spare hooks with coiled leaders at different easy to get at points. Then they position the rods in holders in the gunnels, transom, bridge ladders, and deck chair mount; where they will be used while fishing. They put teasers on some of the rods. They get out the larger group teasers, called dredges. When they get to the place they want to fish, the team goes into action to prepare for trolling. While trolling they slow to 6 to 7 knots (7 to 8 mph). The outriggers are deployed; teaser lines, and bait lines are also deployed. A bait line is a line from a rod with bait and a hook. Teaser lines do not have a hook. Using the outriggers, a wide area is covered as the boat moves through the water.

In most cases a bait line will be positioned in the water behind a teaser. The teaser will look like a strong fish and the bait will look like a weak fish try to keep up with the teaser. The teasers and bait are just under the surface. The bill fish, swimming in deeper water, will see the commotion which the teasers are making and will come to the surface to investigate. Bill fish usually stun their prey with a hard slap with their bill. The bill fish may see the weaker bait and go directly for it. Sometimes they try to stun the teasers. When the crew see the bill fish trying to stun a teaser they quickly start to reel in the teaser. They will take a spare bait line, which is kept for this part of the process, and drop the bait between the teaser and the bill fish.

When a bill fish is hooked, all unused lines are brought in so they will not interfere with landing the fish.

Another important item is the circle hook. The old ‘J’ hooks were designed to hook into the flesh or organs of the fish. It also had a large barb which kept it in place. Using that hook caused most fish to die when caught. The circle hook is designed to not hook into flesh or organs. It is in the form of a circle and will slide back out of the fish. When it gets to the jawbone it will set itself around that bone. As long as there is tension on the line it will remain in place. If the line goes slack, the hook sometimes disconnects and the fish goes on its merry way.

So let’s take a look at the boat, bait, teasers, and other equipment.

The Moon Walker at dockside. The outriggers are in a stored position.

A Bally Hoo bait fish ready for the hook.
There is a small egg shaped lead sinker in it's mouth. A line passing through a hole in the sinker is looped around the Bally Hoo's nose and pulled tight. Then the loose ends are put behind the gills and wrapped tightly around the body and tied underneath. The sinker keeps the bait level as it is pulled through the water.

Kelvin and Keller checking the bait. The prepared bait is kept on ice and sprinkled with salt.
Underneath is spare bait which has not yet been prepared.

Kelvin getting ready to bait a hook.

Keller baiting a hook. The hook actually hooks the line which is looped around the nose of the bait.

Once the hook is in place, the backbone of the bait is broken so it will wiggle in the water.

It is now ready to be put in the water.

Here is a good look at the circle hook.
This bait line was taken out of the water while Willy was working a sailfish.

Kelvin is deploying a dredge teaser. The blue line which is connected to the teaser is passed through the hole in the bottom corner of the transom and tied to the cleat above it. The rod to Kelvin's left, at the end of the gunnel, is a bait line already in place. Kelvin has to position the teaser just infront of that bait.

The teaser which Kelvin just deployed. The white fish on the end of the teaser continuously move from side to side. You can see the bait line on the left of the picture.

Kenny ready to deploy the other dredge teaser. The rod to his back is a bait line already deployed. He will position this teaser just in front of that bait. The rod positioned in the center of the stern is a deployed bait line.

A bait line rod is positioned up on the flying bridge. It's bait is positioned the furthest behind the boat.

The two reels mounted to either side of the bridge are teaser lines connected midway out on each outrigger.
If the bridge's bait line gets a hit, the captain will hand the rod down to the lower deck.
He is also responsible to deploy and reel in those two teaser lines.

Kelvin is deploying a bait line connected through the end of the outrigger.
The red line he is holding has a black clip just below the green ball on that line.
The clip will open when a fish hits the line or when the rod is jerked.
Kelvin is in the process of moving the green ball and clip up to the outrigger.

The center rod is the bait line which Kelvin just deployed. It is positioned on the back of the fighting chair. The right rod, positioned on the gunnel, has a teaser which goes up to the outrigger and it has a black ball above it’s clip. It is positioned on the outrigger just to the left of the bait line. The other line which can be seen connected midway on the outrigger is the teaser line from the bridge.

The two rods behind Terri are bait lines connected to the outriggers.
The rod positioned forward in the chair is the spare bait line. It's bait is in the saltwater pail.

Keller preparing a daisy chain squid teaser.

Kenny holding his father's fishing rod. It makes every trip with Kenny.

All lines are set and now we wait for a hit.

Back to the 2014 Costa Rica Travel Directory