The 2019 calendar year got off to a great start with another fantastic peak fishing season in Costa Rica in full swing.  Our Costa Rica Fishing Report – January 2019 reports the first half of the month featured more marlin, an uptick in the sailfish numbers, and dorado and/or yellow-fin tuna nearly every single day. The billfish bite took an expected dip right around the full moon on Jan 20, but the final two weeks finished strong. Most days the top boats were finishing with 6-10 sailfish, but there were a few double digit release days in there as well. This has been a most welcome sight after two slower-than-normal sailfish seasons in 2017 and 2018.

For the third year in a row the tuna bite has been a welcome bonus to our peak billfish season as nearly every day some of the boats from Los Suenos down to Drake Bay were all finding the tasty pelagics.  For the faithful monthly readers of my newsletters, you’ll remember that 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, which is where we do all of us do our recreational sport fishing. That equates to an estimated 16,000 metric tons of tuna that are still swimming in Costa Rican waters each year, and the effects for anglers like us was almost immediate.  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, our anglers are now seeing MUCH larger tuna caught in Costa Rica.  Generally speaking, 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.  Below is a review of the top fishing reports for our Costa Rica Fishing Report – January 2019.

Jan 1 – Constellation – 6 for 9 on sailfish + 3 mahi
Jan 2 – Spanish Fly – 1 blue marlin, 3 sailfish, 3 mahi , and a YFT
Jan 3 – Double Nickel – 8/8 on sails and 7 mahi
Jan 4 – Good Day Too – SLAM – 1 blue marlin, 1 striped marlin, 8 sailfish, 1 mahi
Jan 5 – Geaux Fly – 5 sailfish + 2 mahi
Jan 6 – Double Nickel – 10 for 13 on sails + 8 dorado
Jan 7 – Monkey Shine – 6 sailfish + 2 mahi
Jan 8 – Constellation – 1 blue marlin, 5/9 sails and 3 mahi
Jan 9 – Tres Amigos – 1 blue marlin, 6 sails, 3 mahi
Jan 10 – Constellation – 7 for 8 on sails + 1 mahi
Jan 11 – Open Fly – 1 blue marlin, 3 sailfish, 1 mahi, 5 YFTs
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 sails released
Jan 18 – Gamefisher II – 2 for 4 on sailfish + 1 mahi
Jan 19 – Pacific Fly – 7 sailfish + 1 blue marlin
Jan 20 – Open Fly – 1 sailfish and 3 YFT
Jan 21 – Captain Tom’s – 4 sailfish, 4 tuna, 1 mahi
Jan 22 – Good Day Too – 6 sailfish and 1 YFT
Jan 23 – Epic – 3 for 5 on sailfish + 5 mahi
Jan 24 – Pacific Fly – 7 sailfish + 3 YFT
Jan 25 – Stress Reeliever II – 6 sailfish, 2 tuna, 2 dorado
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 dorado
Jan 31 – Tranquilo – 1 marlin, 4 sails, 3 YFT

The inshore fishing has been particularly good this year thanks to perfect weather, clear blue water, and the return of plentiful baitfish.  As many of you reading this can attest to, the last two years we experienced a rare scarcity of baitfish which made things tough on our inshore guides. In a perfect world the overnight boat guards run a nice side gig catching bait all night and then sell it to the charter boats in the morning, and but when they can’t catch any 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, 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.

Last but not least, the Los Suenos Resort & Marina hosted the first leg of its annual Los Suenos Triple Crown from Jan 17-20. 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 touch the record breaking years of 2015 and 2016, the bite was steady and consistent.  In total the fleet finished with 648 billfish over the 3-day tournament (66 marlin and 582 sailfish).

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