From Border to big fish of Guatemala

TIGHT LINES: Queenstown-born angler Captain Brad Philipps manoeuvres his charter sport fishing vessel Decisive after a on a sailfish is hooked by a client off the Pacific coast of Guatemala, where he now runs a successful charter fishing business
TIGHT LINES: Queenstown-born angler Captain Brad Philipps manoeuvres his charter sport fishing vessel Decisive after a on a sailfish is hooked by a client off the Pacific coast of Guatemala, where he now runs a successful charter fishing business
Twenty-two years after gaining Border colours for angling, Brad Philipps celebrated the release of his 30000th billfish off the coast of Guatemala.

The Queenstown-born “Captain” Philipps, as he is now known, runs a sport fishing charter business in his adopted country of Guatemala, which caters to anglers from around the world.

The fisherman, 44, tallied a record-breaking 30000 billfish releases on November 28 last year, an impressive figure that includes 1000 marlin – some weighing more than 450kg – as well as swordfish, spearfish and sailfish.

Philipps, who owns Guatemalan Billfishing Adventures and was voted Captain of the Year by Marlin Magazine in 2008, said his love of fishing was triggered by ski-boating off the Wild Coast with his uncle, Julie Lentz, during school holidays.

“The Lentzs are from the Stutterheim area and we fished from Chintsa East and would run up to fish off Kei Mouth. He instilled my love for fishing and I owe him and his family a great deal of gratitude. I have always had an affinity for the ocean and he cultivated that.”

Having obtained Border colours in 1993 at the age of 22, he attained full blues for angling from the University of Cape Town in the same year, before setting off to find the planet’s ultimate fishing spot, a journey he described as “following the fish”.

“After graduating, I had the urge to see some of the world and the best fisheries,” he told the Daily Dispatch.

“It took me far and wide in search of big game fishing hotspots.

“South Africa has some good fishing, but nothing like top destinations, like Guatemala, for example.

“Much to my parents’ dismay, what was meant to be a one-year journey took me from one sport fishing location to the next, gaining experience and building a reputation and client base.”

Philipps now owns a luxury lodge in the central American country of Guatemala, where he hosts anglers eager to fulfil their billfish catch-and-release fantasies.

“Most anglers are from the USA as Guatemala is only a two-hour flight from Miami or Texas, but we get people from all over the world and it is always special to share with a fellow South African.”

An ambassador for the full- release ethic, Philipps has released almost every billfish he has ever caught and has introduced scores of anglers to the importance of using less damaging circle hooks, further protecting fish.

And, while he no longer fishes on his trips back to visit family and friends in the country of his birth, preferring “a break from the water”, Captain Philipps’ ties with South Africa are strong.

He shares his angling know-how with his fellow countrymen in seminars he holds all over the country, guides safaris for his international clientele, and is also looking into owning a lodge in a big-five reserve.

“I am currently working on a partnership deal to have our own lodge near Kruger , where we can host our angling friends from all over and share with them the joys South Africa has to offer.”

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