- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 9, 2006

How would you like to live your life like Martin Arostegui? The retired Miami-area physician holds the impressive record of landing and registering over 100 world-record fish in one year — 2004 — and also catching and releasing the heaviest fish on a fly tippet, a 385-pound lemon shark.

After the counting and checking was done in 2005, the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) also honored Arostegui for catching the most world record fish on a fly in fresh- and saltwater.

Incidentally, the 385-pound shark Arostegui caught on a 12-pound tippet tied to a 7-inch feathery streamer fly — the fish was drawn to the flats by the scent of barracuda fillets — wasn’t a toothless pansy. Lemon sharks can be ferocious fighters. The big specimen fought for more than an hour before tiring.

Can you do what the good doctor has accomplished? Of course, you can.

All you need is to practice fly-fishing, learn how to cast accurately, then hook a large number of fish to get a feel for the “magic wand,” as some wags describe a fly-rod. When you’re done with that, stop by the nearest hardware store and purchase a deep wheelbarrow. You will need it to transport all the money necessary to chase one record after another.

The average Joe who works every possible hour of overtime at his job just to keep his family fed or to buy $3 a gallon gasoline for his jalopy might find it tough to identify with a wealthy doctor from Coral Gables who established more than 100 world fishing records in one year.

By the way, as Arostegui pumped and reeled during his battle with the big lemon shark, attempting to get his prey closer to the boat, the shark attacked the hull of the 29-foot craft that belonged to his fishing guide, Mike Delph of Key West, Fla. Such attacks by a shark are not uncommon. They’re usually more of a frustrated reaction than a planned response for being hooked.

Arostegui, only 5 feet tall and 125 pounds, practices catch-and-release fishing on more than 90 percent of his catches. He uses a special device to measure his fish. For example, during the shark-landing episode, two nearby anglers assisted in controlling its head, then pushed it through the boat’s transom door and into an 8-foot-long, 3-foot-deep aerated, hydraulic live well. After an hour-long ride from the catch location in the Marquesas back to Key West, Arostegui and Delph finished documenting the catch with a portable briefcase-sized ScaleMaster II from International Weighing Systems, along with a special canvas sling to cradle the fish. It was then pushed back into the water of a nearby basin, measured, resuscitated and let go.

Later, when the IGFA tested the 12-pound fly-tippet, it over-tested and was put into the 16-pound class, but even that was exceptional for a fish of that size and certainly good enough for a world record.

If you should find yourself in the Dania Beach area of Florida where the IGFA is located, stop in and visit the 60,000-square-foot interactive Fishing Hall of Fame and Museum. You won’t be sorry.

As an aside, in all my years of fishing, I’ve met a number of well-to-do fellows who lived like Arostegui. One of them was a Minnesotan whom I met while working on a peacock bass story in Venezuela. I asked the 40-something man what he did for a living. He answered, “Nothing. I’m retired. All I do is fish. I fish from Latin America to Alaska and from Alaska to Australia. It never stops.”

As it turned out, the man didn’t have a family and had tons of money even though he was retired. He had made his first millions when he developed a particular protective software now used by millions of hacker-weary computer shoppers.

Another angler I met during a wonderful jungle fishing trip to Brazil’s Amazon region said he fished year-around because he hated his wife.

“Besides, I own a couple dozen hardware stores in the Midwest,” he added. “They finance my fishing, and there’s still plenty of money left over when I return home.”

It must be nice.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday and Wednesday and his Fishing Report on Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com.

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