As has been the theme throughout this year’s peak fishing season in Costa Rica, the sailfish have been playing hard to get. It’s not that 2018 is another off year like 2017 was and no one is catching them, it’s that some days one boat in the fleet sees double digit sailfish and the rest don’t see more than one or two per boat. Each month there seems to be one good week where the bite is hot, then it slows right back down like someone threw a bucket of ice water on it.
That trend continued into April as the first two weeks of the month boats were lucky to find more than 2-3 sailfish each day. Costa Rica isn’t called “the billfish capital of the world‘ for no reason, and fortunately this has been one of the best marlin years in recent memory. Not only were marlin seen just about every day last month, there were several boats who managed to release multiple marlin a day. The yellow-fin tuna and dorado bite has continued to sustain itself, so while offshore anglers may not be returning with amazing sailfish numbers they are returning happy thanks to our colorful and delicious pelagics and the very real chance at a trophy marlin.
The entire offshore sport fishing world descended on Costa Rica from April 15-20 as the Marina Pez Vela in Quepos hosted the Offshore World Championship for the sixth year in a row. Fifty-one teams from around the world fished hard on Costa Rican flagged boats, but unfortunately it was one of the slow weeks so the anglers struggled. The top boats were able to release 5-6 sails a day in addition to a marlin here or there, but the thin sailfish numbers combined with the lack of experience of many teams switch baiting with circle hooks led to many teams coming back in with goose eggs. In the end, the tournament anglers managed to release 328 sailfish and 24 marlin, which were better than last year’s numbers (202/52) but still a far cry from the record-breaking numbers of 2015 (2,822/18). A special shout out to our good buddy Captain Mike Alligood who won the Offshore World Championship for the second time!
Maybe the sailfish were just shying away from the spotlight, because as soon as the tournament crowd left there was a five-day burst with some of the best sailfishing we had seen all season long. It’s as if they were teasing us saying ‘We were here the whole time!‘ as suddenly boats out of Los Suenos were releasing 6-10 sailfish. Captain Mike even completed a grand slam for Central America Fishing anglers at the end of the month – not too common for April!
Fortunately Costa Rica is ridiculously spoiled by Mother Nature so even when the fishing is “off“, it’s still pretty darn good. In addition to the spectacular marlin bite and steady action on tunas & dorado, the inshore fishing continued to produce happy anglers. The snook haven’t been found in huge numbers this year, but the roosterfishing in Quepos and in Drake Bay has been phenomenal. We even had a day where two of our top inshore fishing boats in Quepos took out separate couples who were both CAF anglers. They didn’t know each other, but the captains got to talking on the radio and figured out they were both our guests so they created an impromptu fishing tournament while they were out on the water. Both boats finished with three roosters so everyone was happy, then they ended up sitting next to each other on their flight back to the US. Central America Fishing makes the world a smaller place!
April is one of the hottest and driest months of the year, but even the Caribbean Coast couldn’t escape the wacky weather we’ve been having this year. The number one factor that determines how your Costa Rica tarpon fishing trip will go is the waves at the various river mouths along the northeastern coast, if they are too big you will be stuck inside and forced to fish the freshwater rivers and canals. If you haven’t noticed, the US was hammered with snowstorm after snowstorm in April and all of that has an affect on the wind & sea conditions in the Caribbean. Normally tarpon anglers have a better than 90% shot of having favorable weather conditions in April, but this year it was more like 60-70%. When the sea was flat enough to allow anglers to get out into the ocean the tarpon fishing was great with several triple digit silver kings boated and released.
Below are the highlights from the Costa Rica Fishing Report – April 2018: