Costa Rica Fishing Report – August 2017
August is one of our favorite months of the year to fish as it’s the best time of year for meatfish, the black marlin are seen with greater frequency, and the crowds have dispersed so Costa Rica feels like what Costa Rica used to be like 10-15 years ago! An added bonus to all this is it’s the time of year when the migratory humpback whales come back into Costa Rica’s waters so many anglers can see breaching whales if their eyes are peeled.
The Central America Fishing team just got back from a fishing trip to Playa Tamarindo where we fished with our favorite inshore guide, Gerald. Gerarld’s been captain of the Rainbow Runner for over 25 years and has certainly cemented his legacy as a living legend in the area. His boat, a 22′ Boston Whaler, is far from the biggest, fastest or most decked out fishing charter one can find, but you can spend all the money you want because you might not find a better captain or nicer guy to fish with. We started by filling the tuna tubes with live bait, which was plentiful. The skipjacks we were catching were actually too big so we threw them back until we had the right size for our first target – roosterfish. Once we had the baitfish we wanted Gerald showed us his unique way of fishing for roosterfish, something I’d never seen in all my years fishing in Costa Rica. While most captains will simple bridle their live bait with the circle hook on top of the head, Gerald attaches a second smaller hook to his circle hooks then uses that to hook the baitfish through the top of their mouth. He says it’s harder for the roosters to spit the circle hook this way since the weight of the live bait isn’t on the same hook.
After securing live bait we headed closer to shore and started trolling a GPS point that Gerald had marked as “Gallo 2” (roosterfish = pez gallo in Spanish). If a guy who’s widely recognized as the best inshore captain in Playa Tamarindo has a point named after roosterfish I’m sure as heck willing to spend some time there. It didn’t take long, after 10 mins at most the Shimano reel took a hit and Gerald jumped on it. After giving the fish a few seconds to swallow the bait he set the hook, handed to the rod to our intern Agustin, and the battle was on! About four minutes into that fight the other live bait got hit, but we weren’t able to put a hook in that one so we missed out on a double roosterfish hookup. Twelve minutes later Agustin had his first roosterfish in hand and an ear to ear smile – 50 pound roosterfish for the rookie!
After losing our live baits to roosters we had trouble catching more, then the front of the next tropical depression blew through at about 10 AM so things go gray, dark, and pretty choppy for about two hours. We could see clear skies behind it so we toughed it out, and right around lunch time the seas were calming back down, the sun was out, and I knew we’d get into more fish. Gerald took us about six miles out to some pinnacles he had marked and we proceeded to drop down three hooks, each baited with frozen squid, about 325 ft until we reached the bottom. It was a solid thirty minutes of action as we finished with a fat red snapper, two snowy grouper on a double hook up, a rabbit fish, and I landed a 30 lb yellow grouper. Dinner for all was set and Gerald once again lived up to his lofty expectations.
Elsewhere the marlin fishing in Costa Rica remained hot as charter boats and FADs trips continues to produce. In early August we had two CAF anglers, both teenagers who left their moms on the beach for the day, who had an epic day finishing with dorado, yellow-fin tuna, and an astonishing 2 for 6 on blue marlin out of Tamarindo. We had another set of repeat clients, the Burch’s, who landed their bucket list roosterfish (also with Captain Gerald!) as well as did some river fishing for machaca with our good buddy Chuta.
At the FADs boats continued to produce incredible marlin numbers with most boats reporting 10-20 marlin bites per trip. On the Caribbean Coast peak tarpon season in Costa Rica kicks off as September and October typically feature the best weather and best sea conditions for anglers.