The sport of fishing has a bright future, says Roger Casellas, an avid angler who owns Yacht Center of the Caribbean, a sport fish and motor yacht dealership based in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. “I see more and more young people getting involved, whether it is as a team member fishing in tournaments or buying boats themselves. At the same time, the conservation efforts put in place in the 80s and 90s are starting to show results. The sailfish have rebounded off Florida and here in Puerto Rico we have had one of the best winter seasons ever. Last summer too, the blue marlin fishing was very good off San Juan and St. Thomas.”
Casellas’ family originally hails from a coastal town in Cuba called Tarara, where his family members were avid sports fishermen. When the family arrived in Puerto Rico, they sought out a seaside location and bought a lagoon-front house in the neighborhood of the Vistamar Marina, near Isla Verde and San Juan. Casellas grew up hearing his family’s great fishing stories and was eager to fish himself.
“We kept our boat in the backyard and fished out of there,” he says. “We’d fish for wahoo. Dorado and blue marlin off San Juan.”
Casellas caught his first blue marlin in 1984, at the age of 10, aboard his family’s 25-foot Bertram, Chinchoro.
“I was fishing with my cousins,” he says. “Our dads liked to fish together and we were out dorado fishing in November when I caught the blue marlin.”
He also spent a lot of time during the 1980s fishing out of Venezuela, while visiting his uncle on school vacations.
By the 90s and early 2000s, he was venturing over to Virgin Islands waters to fun fish and billfish.
“Blue marlin are my favorite fish to catch,” Casellas says. “It’s their strength and size. It’s a challenge to catch them. What I like best is fishing for 100- to 300-pound blue marlin in 30-pound tackle. Nowadays, I’m fishing more with 50-pound, both trolling natural baits and pitch-baiting.”
One of Casellas’ best blue marlin stories took place during the summer of 2009 at the USVI Open/Atlantic Blue Marlin Tournament (ABMT).
“A group of friends from Puerto Rico and Florida fished aboard the Mr. B II with the late Capt. Rick Ogle,” he says. “After 4 days of fishing, including a practice round, we came into the layday of the tournament 11/11 in blues.”
Photo bottom right: Dean Barnes