It’s Not Always About the Fish
Special Holiday Fishing Feature by Todd Staley, Communications Director FECOP
One of the most exciting days fishing I ever had was in a lagoon in Nicaragua accessible by passing through myriad of rivers and creeks on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica. Mike Holliday and I hooked over 60 tarpon on casting plugs. We tired of tarpon and went to the beach to cast for snook. The tarpon wouldn’t leave us alone. We were hooking them from shore. I watched as Holliday played and eventually landed a respectable tarpon from the beach with a fly rod. That was nearly 28 years ago.
What did I see that day? Fish, fish, and more fish.
I fished the same lagoon many times over the next several years and although I never matched that one fantastic day, I always had good fishing. Then one day I went and the tropical rains had the lagoon all muddied up. I cast furiously for hours with memories of that fantastic day playing like a movie in my head. I had not one bite. My arm tired of casting and I sat down to rest. I looked over towards the shoreline. Then it jumped out at me. A beautiful flaming orange wild heleconia. I scanned the bank. One after another they rose from the jungle.
On the long fishless ride back into Costa Rica I started to notice things I never saw before even though I had crossed this path many times. Wild orchids hang over the creeks, some of them humongous and all of them spectacular. There were so many different kinds. I had made this trek many times and only saw water and fish. The normal trip back took one and a half hours. This day it took almost four hours. That was the day I learned it is not always about the fish.
The ocean off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica drops off fast. A couple hundred yards off the beach you’ll find a couple hundred feet of, and by the time you reach twenty miles there is more than a mile of water below your boat. Most of the Costa Rica big game fishing is rarely done beyond twenty miles unless green water forces the fleet further out. Fishing the Pacific can be like living the Discovery Channel.
The humpback whales come twice a year. Once from the North and once from the South and enter the near shore waters with their calves. I’ve seen killer whales eat a sailfish. I’ve also had them come and surf the wake of the boat. Dolphins pass by in schools of thousands. Both spotted and spinner dolphins put on a show that is just as exciting to watch as the 200 lb tuna that swims below them puts on a show while testing your back. Pilot whales group up in pods or by the hundreds and cruise right next to the boat to check things out.
While fishing roosterfish in the Golfo Dulce, I’ve stopped fishing to watch six whale sharks feed on plankton. Another time I saw a leatherback turtle as big as a pool table patiently waiting for the sun to go down so she could go to the beach and lay eggs in the volcanic sand. What’s funny about every one of those experiences is I don’t remember what I caught that day, but I will always remember what I saw.
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