Feb, 2019

Costa Rica Fishing Report – January 2019

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The 2019 peak billfish season in Costa Rica got off to a great start back in November and remained strong through the start of the new year.  The first half of January 2019 featured plenty of blue and striped marlin, an uptick in the sailfish numbers, and dorado and/or yellow-fin tuna nearly every single day. After two slower-than-normal sailfish seasons in 2017 and 2018, the return to normality in 2019 has been a most welcome occurrence.  Most of our boats from the Los Suenos Resort and the Marina Pez Vela in Quepos were finishing with 5-10 sailfish each day, but there were several days where the top boat elicited 15+ bites.  Apart from the expected slow down around the full moon, the billfish bite was productive and steady all month long.

For the 15th year in a row, the Los Suenos Resort & Marina hosted the first leg of its annual Los Suenos Triple Crown from Jan 17-20 last month. This year 45 boats competed for a $130,000 purse along with some awesome prizes from sponsors like Tunaskin & YETI.  While the final numbers didn’t reach the record breaking years of 2015 and 2016, the bite was consistent and with 66 marlin caught in just three days there was a lot of movement on the scoreboard.  In total the fleet finished with 648 billfish over the 3-day tournament (66 marlin and 582 sailfish). Fish Tank was the winner with 31 sailfish and 3 marlin released over their three days on the water.

While the months of December through April have gained fame for being the ‘peak billfish season in Costa Rica’, it’s hard to ignore how good the meatfishing has been again in 2019.  For the third year in a row the tuna bite has been a welcome bonus to the peak billfish season as nearly every day some of the boats from Los Suenos down to Drake Bay were all finding the tasty pelagics.  This can undoubtedly be attributed to Costa Rica’s “tuna decree”, where back in March 2017 Costa Rica signed a law that cut the number of foreign purse seiners from 43 down to 13 and prohibits them from operating within 45 miles of the coast.  Not only does that mean that the traditional recreational sport fishing waters (anything within 50 miles of the coast) are not being over fished by commercial boats, it also equates to an estimated 16,000 metric tons of tuna that are still swimming in Costa Rican waters each and every year.  In the past we used to only see large schools of tuna in the green season months of May-Oct, but now we are catching them nearly every day, every month of the year.  In addition to quantity, just two years after that law went into affect our anglers are now seeing MUCH larger tuna caught in Costa Rica.  In the past if you wanted 100-200 lb yellow-fin tuna you had to go to Panama to find them, but several of our CAF anglers have landed 80-150 tuna this year, including a monstrous 200 pounder by 84 year old Skip Hughes fishing out of Quepos just a few weeks ago. This is some of the most black-and-white proof I’ve ever come across of how conservation efforts can have a huge impact on the sport fishing industry and most importantly, the overall health of our oceans. Below is the full Costa Rica Fishing Report – January 2019.

Jan 1 – Constellation – 6 for 9 on sails and 3 dorado
Jan 2 – Spanish Fly – 1 blue marlin, 3 sailfish, 3 dorado, and a tuna
Jan 3 – Double Nickel – 8/8 on sails and 7 dorado
Jan 4 – Good Day Too – 1 blue marlin, 1 striped marlin, 8 sailfish, 1 dorado
Jan 5 – Geaux Fly – 5 sailfish and 2 mahi
Jan 6 – Double Nickel – 10 for 13 on sails plus 8 dorado
Jan 7 – Monkey Shine – 6 sailfish and 2 dorado
Jan 8 – Constellation – 1 blue marlin, 5/9 Sails and 3 dorado
Jan 9 – Tres Amigos – 1 blue marlin, 6 sails, 3 dorado
Jan 10 – Constellation – 7 for 8 on sails plus a dorado
Jan 11 – Open Fly – 1 blue marlin, 3 sailfish, 1 dorado, 5 yellow-fin tuna
Jan 12 – Good Day Too – 1 striped marlin, 6 sails, 1 mahi
Jan 13 – Spanish Fly – 4 sailfish & 3 mahi
Jan 14 – Double Nickel – 7 for 9 on sailfish
Jan 15 – Constellation – 1 blue marlin, 5 sailfish, 2 dorado, 75 lb tuna
Jan 16 – Dream On – 2 sailfish and 5 mahi
Jan 17 – Sea Angel – 12 sailfish
Jan 18 – Gamefisher II – 2 for 4 on sailfish and 1 dorado
Jan 19 – Pacific Fly – 7 sailfish and 1 marlin
Jan 20 – Open Fly – 1 sailfish and 3 tuna
Jan 21 – Captain Tom’s – 4 sailfish, 4 tuna, 1 mah
Jan 22 – Good Day Too – 6 sailfish and 1 tuna
Jan 23 – Epic – 3 for 5 on sailfish + 5 mahi
Jan 24 – Pacific Fly – 7 sailfish and 3 tuna
Jan 25 – Stress Reeliever II – 6 sailfish, 2 tuna, 2 mahi
Jan 26 – Captain Tom’s – 9 sailfish and 2 dorado
Jan 27 – Reel Fly – 3 sails and 3 dorado
Jan 28 – Good Day Too – 7 sailfish and 1 mahi
Jan 29 – Stress Reeliver II – 11 yellow-fin tuna
Jan 30 – Spanish Fly – 1 striped marlin, 4 sailfish, 2 mahi
Jan 31 – Tranquilo – 1 marlin, 4 sails, 3 yellow-fin tuna

The inshore fishing has also been extremely good this year thanks to great weather, clear blue water, and the return of plentiful baitfish.  The last two years we experienced an unexplainable scarcity of baitfish, which made things tough on our inshore guides since they weren’t able to buy bait in the morning.  When the night guards can’t catch bait that means our captains have to spend the first 30-60 minutes of the charter day working hard to simply find live bait to fish with. Obviously a lack of bait fish isn’t exactly what the prized gamefish are looking for either, so while there is almost always something biting on an inshore charter a few anglers experienced slower than expected days last year. This year the baitfish are everywhere so not only are anglers catching roosterfish, jacks, mackerels, and snappers on a daily basis, we have seen more snook and sea bass (corvina) near the river mouths on the Pacific Coast than we have the past few years.  Some highlights were Danny & Jenny O. landing 5 roosterfish in the final two hours of their inshore fishing day in Quepos and anglers Jana Janzen, Skip Hughes and Mike & Lisa K. all landing some trophy sized corvina for dinner. Denis & Patty from Washington came down to fly fish and landed 12 jacks, a mackerel, and a needle fish in two days with our fly fishing specialists in Quepos.