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Baseball legend, all-star fisherman: Wade Boggs in Costa Rica

Wade Boggs with a Costa Rican snook. (Todd Staley / The Tico Times

I have never been inside a NFL locker room, but I can image what it sounds like. I sat in the restaurant area of Crocodile Bay Resort and listened to huge men who once wore uniforms from NFL teams in Miami, Tampa, Oakland, Denver, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Cincinnati. They were there to fish and raise money for cystic fibrosis in the Redbone/Boomer Esiason tournament and were throwing some humorous jabs back and forth at each other.

In the corner sat a superstar in his own right, but in baseball, not football. He was talking intently to a 10-year-old kid, not about sports played with a ball, but about fishing.

Considering his age, this kid was a walking Wikipedia when it comes to fish. He knew species, their habits, what they ate, and what waters they were found. Just name a fish and he could tell you all about it. The reason he cornered this man he was talking to for was that he saw him carrying a fly rod down the pier. He wanted to know how you to catch big fish on a fly rod, and was not too shy to ask.

Mark Cooper, a giant of a man and former lineman for the Denver Broncos, hollered across the room towards the man talking fishing with the kid.

“Now Boggs over there,” he laughed, “played a sport that you play in your pajamas,” referring to the uniforms of big league baseball players. Wade Boggs just grinned and continued talking fishing. The joke was all in fun, as Boggs and Cooper were fishing partners in the tournament.

Bogg finesses a sailfish on a fly rod. Courtesy of the Crocodile Bay Resort

Boggs, whose Major League baseball career lasted 18 seasons, was inducted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in a first-round ballot in 2005. His career started with the Boston Red Sox in 1982; he finished the season with a .349 batting average. He followed that with a string of seasons batting over .350, and he is the only player to have seven consecutive 200 hit seasons.

He had two World Series appearances, winning with the Yankees in 1996; played in 12 consecutive All-Star games; and won two Golden Glove awards and five batting championships. He hit a towering home run to collect his 3000th hit playing for his hometown Tampa Devil Rays, where his finished his career in 1999. On May 26, 2016 the Boston Red Sox officially retired his number, #26, and hung his jersey in Fenway Park beside the great Ted Williams’.

Boggs was considered not only one of the most talented players in history, but also one of the most superstitious. He never faltered in his game day regime. He would wake up at the same time on every game day, start the day with a meal of chicken in some form, or another and always left his house at the same time. He always took batting practice at 5:17, always took 150 ground balls, and always did his wind sprints at 7:17.

While he is not Jewish, he always used his bat to write the Hebrew word “chai” (life) in the batter’s box before stepping up the plate. A definition for “chai” I found that suits Boggs is, “Here I am” or “Here am I.” It’s about being here, and close by, and present, but also about readiness, awareness, awakeness. So perhaps it’s more of a “Here I am! Look, it’s me! I’m present, listening, and ready to roll.”

Hall of Famer Wade Boggs (L) and Mark Cooper of the Denver Broncos (R) make the author look like a little guy. Courtesy of the Crocodile Bay Resort

Boggs is generous with his time for causes he feels are worthwhile, especially when they involve youth. He and his wife, Debbie, started The Wade Boggs Foundation for Youth Athletics, a National Heritage Foundation. It raises money to help children in the Tampa area participate in sports. In 2013, Wade became a partner/investor in Field of Dreams/All-Star Ball Park Heaven, a youth baseball and softball complex adjacent to the iconic cornfield in Iowa where the Field of Dreams movie was filmed.

What most people don’t know about Wade Boggs is that he is an all-star fisherman. He only lacks swordfish and spearfish to have every type of billfish that swims under his belt. An avid fly-fishermen, he donates his time and travels all over the world to fish in charity events to raise money to fight cystic fibrosis. He is a frequent visitor to Costa Rica.

In 2016, he received the International Game Fish Association’s Chester H Wolfe Sportsman of the Year award for his participation with youth and marine conservation. He has a special affection for Costa Rica and serves on the Board of Directors of FECOP, the sport fishing advocacy and conservation federation, representing seven sportfishing associations and two fishing clubs in Costa Rica.

Along with his wife Debbie, Wade hosts “Finchasers,” which airs Saturday morning on the Destination Channel. They travel to different areas chasing IGFA world records with success. On one program Debbie broke 4 existing largemouth bass records.

One of the most accessible celebrity athletes, Boggs is in great demand for speaking engagements across the country. As the little 10-year-old in Costa Rica – who had no idea what a star he was talking to – learned, Boggs loves to talk about fishing. It doesn’t matter who you are. If it’s fishing, you’ll have a great conversation.

Oh, is Boggs superstitious about his fishing? You betcha! He always wears a necklace of the species he is chasing, wears his lucky hat, and tosses 26 cents in the water over his right shoulder. Then he is ready to catch fish.

Todd Staley is a Tico Times columnist and director of communications for FECOP, a sport fishing advocacy federation recently chosen to represent Costa Rica in the Panamerican Sportfishing Delegation, formed by groups from the United States and all Latin America countries. One of the group’s goals is to get sportfishing recognized as a competitive sport and to organize teams from various nations to compete in the Pan-American games. The group also seeks a common front on conservation issues. Costa Rica will host the Federation Assembly in November 2018 followed by a roosterfish tournament with competitors from the different nations. Learn more at fishcostarica.org.

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Fishing as an Olympic Sport?

Fishing as an Olympic Sport?

Recreational groups meet at Pan-American Delegation to discuss sport being added to Olympics and Pan-American Games

Winter sailfish off Stuart, Florida

Could sport fishing be in the next winter Olympics?

Recreational fishing groups from the United States, Mexico and several Latin American countries hope to make sport fishing an Olympic sport in the near future.

According to a press release from FECOP, a Costa Rican non-profit sport-fishing organization, the groups met in Cancun, Mexico, in November for the inaugural assembly of the PanAmerican Sport-Fishing Delegation. The purpose of the group is to promote sport fishing as a competitive sport, with hopes of it being added to the Pan-American Games, and share a unified front on fishing conservation. FECOP represented Costa Rica during the meeting.

The release states the Olympics addition would be reliant on cooperation from the European countries. Golf, table tennis and handball recently were added as Olympic sports. Skateboarding, surfing and climbing will be included in the 2020 Games.

The release cites the Confederation International of Sport Fishing, which says the countries from North, Central, and South America making up the Americas “are not yet sufficiently organized for sport fishing to be considered for the Olympics.” An international governing body for fishing applied for the sport’s inclusion in the 2020 Olympics, but it was denied. According to BBC.com, fishing was part of the 1900 games in Paris but it was an unofficial sport and there was no winner — and only six countries participated.

There are four Pan-American tournaments — three saltwater — scheduled for 2018. A snook tournament will be in Tabasco, Mexico, and an offshore tournament will happen at Isla Mujeres, Mexico. Guatemala also might host another snook tournament. – Article from www.saltwatersportsman.com

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Explaining The Costa Rica Tuna Decree

Costa Rica Fishing Conservation: Why is the Costa Rica Tuna Decree so Important?

There is nothing like enjoying a fresh yellowfin tuna sushi, sashimi, or even a big fat juicy fresh tuna steak when your arms are almost too tired to lift the chopsticks. Recreational anglers are catching more tuna than ever all along the Costa Rican Pacific seaboard. Fighting a tuna on rod and reel is like having your line attached to a freight train. The increased availability of tuna has been a saving grace for many a charter captain in the off season for billfish.
People are asking: Why so many tuna?

yellowfin tuna sashimi In 2012 FECOP (Federacion Costarricense de Pesca), a non-governmental group made up of different sport fishing associations around the country began researching the tuna purse industry in Costa Rican waters. Territorial waters are 11 times greater than Costa Rica’s terrestrial area. Costa Rica does not have any national flagged tuna vessels and purse licenses are sold to and operated by foreign flagged vessels in Costa Rican waters. FECOP approached then President of Costa Rica Laura Chinchilla explaining a problem existed and she advised them to submit a project supporting their claim.

FECOP then discovered that over the 2008-2011 period, 193 purse vessels operated in Costa Rican waters while INCOPESCA the governing body of fishing in Costa Rica reported only 81 licensed vessels sold for the same period. Apparently 114 or 58% of the vessels were operating illegally. Much of the tuna never made it to port in the country. Costa Rica benefited a mere $37 a ton for tuna stored.

Knowing the government would be slow to react to just a group of sport fishers’ complaints, FECOP held meetings with the longline fleet. After decades of throwing stones at each other the two groups decided to present the project to the government together. The longline fleet expressed if there were a steady supply of tuna available they would have no interest in sailfish which are a major bycatch problem in Costa Rica with non-selective types of fishing gear.
President Chinchilla signed the “tuna decree,” as it is known near the end of her term and newly elected President Luis Guillermo Solis delayed the publication of the decree, but it eventually passed in October of 2014. The decree protects over 200,000 square kilometers of territorial water (44%) from purse sein operations, (see map). The most important area to recreational anglers is the first 45 miles from the coastline in which sein operations are now prohibited.

In March of 2017, using data supplied by FECOP’s Director of Science Moises Mug, INCOPESCA reduced tune purse sein licenses sold to foreign fleets from 43 vessels down to 9 for the rest of the year. The government amended the agreement and sold 13 licenses. A new decree is waiting to be signed that would only permit 8 licenses permanently. It is estimated 25 tons of what would have been marlin bycatch in purse sein operations were saved in Costa Rican waters in 2017 alone.

According to agreements in the Tuna Decree there are a few provisions that have yet to be implemented. A management plan for the coastal and special polygons. Polygons A and D on map. An onboard observer program must be created for longline fleets, and a research program including horizontal and vertical migration using archival tags. The management workshops have already begun with sport and commercial fisherman, government agencies and NGO’s all participating.

INCOPESCA, INA the governmental technical institute that trains for many occupations including different types of fishing, and FECOP have all teamed up for a year- long “greenstick” and vertical line study which started with the first voyage in October. Greenstick is a method of fishing tuna with almost zero bycatch that is common in the Atlantic side of the United States but INCOPESCA requires technical support studies done in Costa Rica before they will give licenses for fish them here. With more tuna available and a growing demand for sustainably caught tuna on the International market with a higher value at the dock, hopes are one day a portion of the longline fleet will convert to greenstick fishing. This would decrease the amount of billfish bycatch tremendously.

FECOP was formed in 2008 by a small group of anglers who discovered 480,000 kilos of sailfish were being exported annually into the United States. Much of this was served in seafood restaurants as smoked seafood spread and people had no idea they were eating sailfish. FECOP convinced the government to stop the exportation of sailfish but it can still be sold on the National market as a low-cost supplement to the Costa Rican diet.


The first major conservation project FECOP tackled was the creation of the largest Marine Area of Responsible Fishing in Central America. Sport fishing is allowed and small scale artisanal fishing is permitted in the Golfo Dulce on the Osa Peninsula, but shrimp trawlers and gill nets are no longer allowed. A Golfo Dulce Commission was formed with representatives of all the users of the gulf as well as governmental agencies and NGO’s who meet monthly to manager the area.

FECOP has not existed without controversy. While the whole Costa Rican sport fishing community should have been celebrating the Tuna Decree when it passed, they were distracted by a campaign from The Billfish Foundation labeling FECOP as “quasi-green environmentalists” and a threat to sport fishing in Costa Rica. The controversy started when a FECOP member voiced his opinion at a public forum on regulating more the organized billfish tournaments in Costa Rica. TBF ran with it claiming it was FECOP’s stance to discredit the organization.
A blessing in disguise, the incident prompted FECOP to re-evaluate itself. The staff was reduced and Moises Mug, one of the most respected marine scientists in the country was hired full time. Today their agenda is quite simple. Promoting sport fishing in Costa Rica both recreationally and professionally with a focus on bycatch, research and communication. The staff is supported by a board of directors from both the recreational and professional fishing sector including sportsman and Hall of Fame baseball player Wade Boggs who is an avid fisherman and conservationist.

Continuous maintenance of the Tuna Decree will be needed in 2018 which Dr. Mug will oversee. Henry Marin will head up a socio-economic study concentrating on coastal communities individually, demonstrating the importance of sport fishing.

One study FECOP will be doing that will be especially exciting is Pacific Tarpon. Not indigenous to Pacific waters the numbers caught on the Pacific coastline has been increasing annually. It is suspected they have come through the Panama Canal and are breeding in Pacific waters. Fish will be captured, tagged, a tissue sample taken and then released. Genetics and feeding habits can be determined by a tissue sample. The study will be done in the southern zone where more fish have been taken, but tarpon have been caught up on the Nicoya Peninsula and one was caught recently as far north as El Salvador.

More information can be found about FECOP at www.fishcostarica.org

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Sport fishing in Costa Rica: where to go, what you’ll find

Costa Rica Fishing Guide: Where to Go and What You’ll Find

Published by Todd Staley for the Tico Times January 8, 2018

Sailfish dancing on the Costa Rican Pacific. (Courtesy of Pat Ford)

I remember years ago I would see an article about fishing in Costa Rica in a fishing magazine, or a television show about catching tarpon by the boat load in the jungle. It started a series of “bucket list” fishing fantasies in my head. I made my first trip to Costa Rica over 30 years ago, caught and released a ton of fish, and told all my friends when I got back to the States: “I don’t know how yet, but I am going to figure out a way to live down there.”

Twenty-seven years have passed since I moved to Costa Rica, and I have been fortunate enough to run world-renowned fishing operations over the years. Big fish tend to beat me up more these days than vice versa, but the fever for both the sport and the country has never left me.

Costa Rica has so much to offer all types of anglers that it is a shame not to experience it. Here is a rundown of some of the many sport fishing opportunities.

Freshwater:

Guapote (rainbow bass) are available in Lake Arenal, along with machaca, a relative of the South American piranha that is quite acrobatic when hooked. The rivers and lagoons in Los Chiles, which is in the Northern Zone, and all along the Caribbean seaboard have those species as well, plus tarpon and snook that also venture deep into the freshwater ecosystems. Several types of other cichlads, known as morjarra are found deep in the jungle and make for great ultra-light fun.

High in the mountains that divide the Pacific coast from Cartago, known as the Cerro de la Muerte, anglers will find wild rainbow trout in almost every creek. In that region, San Gerardo de Dota is a popular area and is also great for birdwatching species like the elusive quetzal. Fishing in a National Park is not permitted, so check that the area you are in is not park property.

If you would like to take the kids, there are trout hatcheries along the Pan American Highway, which runs through the Cerro de la Muerte. You can fish at those hatcheries and they charge you by weight. Stone Mountain Outdoors in Santa Ana has good information on trout fishing.

Saltwater:

The Caribbean side is world-famous for tarpon and snook. Tarpon school up outside the mouth of the river in pods that cover several acres. When it is hot, it is red hot and you will pull on big fish all day. As mentioned above, they will also enter the rivers and back lagoons.

The fishing in the ocean is done with lures or sardines on circle hooks. Inside the mouth of the river, it is almost always done with artificial lures. The late Bill Barnes made fly fishing for tarpon popular in the area.

Snook are also taken in the rivers and lagoons as well as the beach. There are four species of snook on the Caribbean side. The fat snook (calva) run that starts in December offers a chance to catch lots of snook on light tackle. It is a smaller species of snook and averages 5 to 8 pounds. The monsters that made Costa Rica famous in the fishing world are usually taken off the beach at the rivermouth. Rarely will you see lots of fish, but you have a chance to tangle with a once-in-a-lifetime fish of 35 pounds or more.

The Pacific side of the country boasts two fishing seasons, with the central and southern regions most productive November through April. In the north, the good bite is from May through December.

The last few years have seen record numbers of sailfish on the Pacific side. El Niño slowed the bite last year, but during the two previous years, records were broken for the number of releases in the Los Sueños and Marina Pez Vela tournaments. Last year in the Offshore World Tournament at Marina Pez Vela, the sailfish were noticeably absent, while marlin released records were crushed.

Dorado or dolphinfish have started off as a bang this fishing season, showing what seems to be a recovery of the stocks that migrate through here. Dorado is not only a beautiful fighting fish but also great table fare.

Also in the bluewater are marlin, tuna, and wahoo. Tuna have made a great comeback after the area in which purse seiners are allowed to work was reduced 200,000 square kilometers in 2014, and the reduction of purse sein licenses granted to foreign fleets was reduced from 43 to 13 in 2017. There have been phenomenal catches of marlin around man made marine eco-systems. You probably won’t see a grander (a marlin over 1000 lbs) here in Costa Rica, but the Pacific offers blue, black, and striped marlin.

Roosterfish are the Holy Grail inshore on the Pacific side, and are available there all year, unlike other areas. The average is 10-15 lbs, but 50-lb fish are common. Also available inshore are a large variety of snappers, grouper, jacks, African pompano and others. When the water is clear, wahoo and dorado venture close to shore. Roosters, snook, jacks and snapper can be taken here casting from the beach.

Don’t pass up a chance to fish in Costa Rica. And remember: a Costa Rican fishing license is required for all anglers over 16 years of age.

This article originally appeared in our 2017-2018 High Season Print Edition. Read more hereabout where to download or pick up a copy today.

Todd Staley is a Tico Times columnist and director of communications for FECOP, a sport fishing advocacy federation recently chosen to represent Costa Rica in the Panamerican Sportfishing Delegation, formed by groups from the United States and all Latin America countries. One of the group’s goals is to get sportfishing recognized as a competitive sport and to organize teams from various nations to compete in the Pan-American games. The group also seeks a common front on conservation issues. Costa Rica will host the Federation Assembly in November 2018 followed by a roosterfish tournament with competitors from the different nations. Learn more atfishcostarica.org.

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Sustainable Fishing News: Green Sticking in Costa Rica

Green sticking or “palo verde” as it is known in Spanish is not a new form of fishing in Costa Rica. It has been used successfully for years in Japan and the United States in commercial and sport tuna fishing. The method allows anglers to target tuna with very little bycatch. It involves mounting a long fiberglass rod, tinted green, on the boat to drag squid lures above the surface of the water. The tuna are drawn to the lures by the commotion of the trailing “bird” teaser lure-weight and competition for food.

FECOP, Costa Rica’s sport-fishing advocacy group’s Director of Science, Moises Mug, holds a Masters of Science degree in Fisheries Biology and has been studying the tuna purse seine industry since 2001. His work with FECOP persuaded President Laura Chinchilla to sign a decree at the end of her term that moved tuna purse seine operations 45 miles off the coast and protected a total of 120,000 square miles of ocean from commercial tuna fishing. Her predecessor, President Luis Guillermo Solis, published the decree and it became law. Earlier this year Mug’s studies helped persuade the government to reduce tuna licenses issued from 43 to 13.

Costa Rica Green Stick fishing

Since late 2016 Mug has led a green-sticking study involving FECOP, INCOPESCA,(the government agency in charge of fisheries), and INA, the technical training institution that teaches different trades in Costa Rica including commercial and sport-fishing as a business. FECOP has spent over $100,000 on refurbishing and outfitting INA’s boat, Solidaridad, which was once used to teach longline fishing. The research team will be testing the efficiency, amount of bycatch of green-sticking as well as vertically dropped lines for tuna. Eventually INA will add a “Green-Sticking” course to its fishing trade agenda, training Costa Ricans on their proper use.

In Costa Rica all new or modified fishing rules must be backed by technical support. Studies not conducted in Costa Rican waters are rarely accepted. So even though green-stick fishing has proven successful in other parts of the world as a sustainable method, it has not yet been officially approved for Costa Rica.

“Costa Rica will greatly benefit from the adoption of green-sticking for tuna for the commercial market and sport-fishing as well. The adoption and promotion of green-stick fishing not only will provide social, economic and environmental benefits but will set an example for sustainable fisheries in Costa Rica,” Mug says.

Once this project is before the board of directors of INCOPESCA, a decision is expected soon. With the increasing demand for sustainable-caught tuna on the International market, the tuna exporters are also expected to support this license.

For more information, contact: www.fishcostarica.org or info@fecop.org

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Costa Rica Marine Protected Area

Costa Rica Fishing Groups Reject Proposed Marine Reserve

Eight sport-fishing associations and two fishing clubs represented by FECOP, the sport-fishing advocacy group in Costa Rica, voted unanimously against the Alvaro Ulgalde Marine Reserve even though its promoters claim sport-fishing will be allowed in the proposed law sent to the Costa Rica’s Congress.


FECOP has asked the government to reject the bill, which would create the nearly 2,390-square-mile reserve.

“We (FECOP) are very much in favor of marine conservation and management of marine resources but we like it done correctly,” said Carlos Cavero, the FECOP President.

The proposed law would create a nearly 2,390-square-mile reserve.

The group sent a press release citing several reasons why it cannot support the bill, which are listed below:

• There wasn’t a complete technical study done consulting with Costa Ricans who would be affected, as required the law.

  • The area is larger than all other marine protected areas and encompasses areas already under protection. Proper analysis to make that change has not been completed, according to the group.

• There is no management plan or budget for proper control for an area that size effectively, which would make it only a “paper reserve.” Proponents are urging passage of the law with the management plan developed afterwards.

• The new law would change control of the area to another government agency, one that has not been so favorable to sport-fishing interests in the past.

• The proponents of this bill have used the FECOP name without authorization, making it appear that FECOP supported the bill and would be involved with management of the reserve. The affiliation continued even after FECOP requested it to stop.

• There are already procedures in place to create management areas. In 2015, 35 activities with 190 participants had workshops to create a Marine Area of Responsible Fishing. FECOP supports this procedure, which offers protection without changing control to another government agency.

A total of 10 groups represented by FECOP oppose the reserve and asked Costa Rica’s Congress to vote against it.

Courtesy FECOP

The FECOP listed its accomplishments at the end of the press release:

• Stopped the exportation of sailfish from the country in 2009

• Sponsored the Tuna Decree, which protected 120,000 square miles of territorial waters from tuna purse seiners in 2014

• Backed by scientific data, FECOP lobbied the government to reduce purse seine licenses from 43 to 13 in 2017, saving 25 metric ton of marlin that would have been bycatch as well as other pelagic species and marine mammals.

For more information about FECOP or the proposed law, contact info@fecop.org or visit the organization’s website.

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FECOP to Represent Costa Rica in Panamerican Sportfishing Delegation

FECOP Costa Rica SportfishingSportfishing groups from the United States, Mexico and several Latin American countries met in Cancun, Mexico in November for the inaugural assembly of the Panamerican Sportfishing Delegation. The purpose of the group is to promote sportfishing as a competitive sport and have a common front of on fisheries conservation. Goals are to have sportfishing placed in the Pan American Games and with cooperation from European countries, the long-term goal is to make sportfishing an Olympic sport. With golf, table tennis, and handball already Olympic sports and skateboarding, surfing, sports climbing, and mixed gender competition introduced to the 2020 Games, it is time to introduce sportfishing to the event.

According to the Confederation International of Sport Fishing, (CIPS) founded in 1952 in Rome Italy with 50 million members from 77 countries, the America’s are not yet sufficiently organized for sport fishing to be considered for the Olympics. The America’s include all countries from North, Central and South America. The Federacion Costarricense de Pesca Turistica (FECOP) a Costa Rica non-profit which represents 8 Sportfishing Associations as well as the National Fishing Club and the Club Amateur de Pesca was asked to represent Costa Rica in the Panamerican delegation. FECOP has been a pioneer in conservation in Costa Rica including, stopping the exportation of sailfish, sponsoring and supplying the science to protect over 200,000 square kilometers of territorial water from tuna purse sein boats in 2014. A reduction of tuna licenses sold to foreign fleets (43 down to 13) in 2017 saved 25 metric tons of marlin bycatch this year. “It is very exciting to be chosen to represent Costa Rica,” exclaimed Carlos Cavero, President of FECOP. “We now have an open line of communication with other countries and will join the Americas in a single agency that represent sport fishing interests. Costa Rica has so much to offer the sport fishing world and has many anglers with the skills to compete on an International level.”

Four Panamerican tournaments are scheduled in 2018 representing different types of sport fish. A largemouth bass event will be held on Lake Okeechobee, snook in Tabasco, Mexico, and an offshore tournament at Isle Mujeres, Mexico. Guatemala was also suggested as a possible location for a snook event. Costa Rica and FECOP will host the 2018 Panamerican Assembly next November followed by a 3-day International roosterfish tournament. Site has yet to be determined. Luis Garcia will head up the events with the following representatives in charge by species.

  • Largemouth bass, John Knight USA
  • Snook, Rolando Sias , Mexico
  • Offshore Big Game, Jose Espinoza, Mexico
  • Tarpon, Carlos Cavero, Henry Marin, Costa Rica
  • Roosterfish, Todd Staley, Costa Rica

Costa Rica is world famous for it’s Pacific side billfish action. Marina Pez Vela and Los Suenos host several world class events. FECOP was asked to pick a species accessible to many that offers anglers without big game skills a chance to do well and highlight the country’s fishery at the same time. Two species came to mind for a catch and release style tournament. All fish released will be marked with a spaghetti tag for scientific study. Roosterfish on the Pacific and tarpon on the Caribbean side of the country. FECOP decided to get a roosterfish tournament under it’s belt and add an International tarpon tournament in 2019. Of course, you can’t travel all the way to Mexico and not wet a line in the Gulf of Mexico. The group boarded the EL Patron not really feeling optimistic about catching. It was not yet quite the season for the big pelagics and the red small craft warning flags had been blowing in the breeze
the last couple of days. The bonita and small king mackerel were there to play. The breeze picked up and Ben Blegen, a tournament ice fisherman from Minnesota soon laid out a chum line of scrambled eggs, tortillas, and Mexican choriza. The color returned quickly when despite that awful queasy feeling he managed to land a mackerel over 30 lbs. Later while looking out at the turquoise waters at Puerto Morales, the Mexican’s put on a seafood feast of lobster, fresh mackerel and Mexican rice. Amazing how Ben’s appetite returned.

You can learn more about FECOP at www.fishcostarica.org

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Win a 5 Night Costa Rica Fishing Trip for Two at Crocodile Bay Resort

Win a Dream Costa Rica Fishing Trip for Two at Crocodile Bay Resort – We’ll even outfit you with AFTCO apparel from “Head to Toe” worth $9,270

 

Enter Below for your chance to win a 5 night all inclusive Costa Rica fishing vacation on a 33′ Strike VIP Tower Boat with a full set of AFTCO gear from “Head to Toe”. See full package details below

Costa Rica Fishing Vacation and AFTCO Apparel Prize Details:

Wishin’ I was Fishin’ at Crocodile Bay in Costa Rica

October 1, 2017 thru April 1, 2018 

Includes 3 day Tower Boat fishing package and 2 days  of “à la carte Adventure Tours” at Crocodile Bay Resort in Costa Rica for 2 people (Total 5 nights at the resort). Plus AFTCO sport fishing apparel from “Head to Toe” for Two.

Your à la carte days will include a Mangrove Kayak tour and the Osa Rainforest tour for 2 people. Once you arrive at our front door, enjoy three full days of fishing offshore or inshore on our Tower Boat. Also includes luxurious air-conditioned accommodations, meals, and soft drinks at Crocodile Bay Resort.

Your à la carte days will include a Mangrove Kayak tour and the Osa Rainforest tour for 2 people. Once you arrive at our front door, enjoy three full days of fishing offshore or inshore on our Tower Boat. Also includes luxurious air-conditioned accommodations, meals, and soft drinks at Crocodile Bay Resort.

Retail Value $9,270

 


AFTCO “Head to Toe” Apparel Package Includes

 

 

 

 

 

 

Void After December 15, 2018 NO VALUE.

Package does not include international air transportation – Juan Santa Maria International airport in San Jose Costa Rica. (SJO), meals in San Jose, alcoholic beverages, or gratuities at the resort. Package also does not include domestic transfer pack. This transfer package may be purchased for $415 per person which consist of ground transfers, round trip *domestic airfare from San Jose, Costa Rica to Puerto Jimenez, and inbound night at a San Jose hotel. * Does not include overweight Costa Rica domestic airfare tickets.

Includes wine at dinner at the resort and cooler with beer when fishing. This trip may be taken April 1, 2018 – December 15, 2018 *

LEGAL RESTRICTIONS:

Other legal restrictions may apply in your country. Winner must be at least 18 years old and hold a passport issued by their country of residence and valid for at least 6 months following departure from this country. Package prize details may change at any time.

 

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Why I sometimes hate conservation – or, the ‘dolphin breeding ground’ debacle

Why I sometimes hate conservation – or, the Dolphin Breeding Ground Debacle

The Dolphin Breeding Ground Debacledolphins deserve our protection, an ongoing petition regarding a new development is misleading, according to the author Todd Staley

Todd Staley FECOP

Todd Staley- Special Content Contributor

This fisherman is about to open a can of worms here for the second time.

The first time was when I agreed with a national legislator who suggested opening the National Parks to sport and small-scale artisanal fishing. Thirty-eight NGOs screamed, “No!” I suggested they open them and charge a fee to fish there to raise money for enforcement patrols, which were, and still, are nearly non-existent.

Here I go again, about to raise the hair on the backs of the necks of many in the environmental crowd. It started when a post hit my inbox with a petition sponsored by Planet Rehab.org on the Change.org website, which allows anyone in the world to start an online petition for free. This petition urged people to help stop a Hilton Curio hotel from being built in Puerto Jiménez, in the country’s Southern Zone.

The petition’s headline read, “Prevent Hilton from building a hotel on top of a Dolphin Breeding Ground.” The sub-headline that followed was a stern message to Hilton which read, “Hilton, we’re breaking up with you, so we can save the dolphins before it’s too late!” Over 50,000 people have signed the petition, and they appear to be gaining more signatures every day.

A very wise man once gave me some very sage advice when he told me, “Always put your cards on the table, because once they are on the table, they are off the table.” So here come my cards.

I am very well-versed on this subject. For the last 18 years I have walked the pier at Crocodile Bay as Fishing Director, sending thousands of tourists out sport fishing. The Crocodile Bay property is the site where the Hilton will be built. I also know the person behind the petition very well. After five decades on the water, I also know a little bit about dolphins.

If you think I am going to defend the Hilton project in this article, you will be sorely disappointed. The developers are big boys and can do that for themselves. Because I spend a lot time working with marine conservation and am employed by the developers, people often corner me looking for my opinion. I have never given an opinion pro or con; it’s not my place to defend the project. What I have defended against many times is fabricated statements from environmental zealots who prey on uninformed or uneducated people to support their opinion for whatever their cause is.

The Change.org petition states that the area in question is “essential for the reproduction of many marine species, potentially destroying endemic dolphin breeding grounds and putting all aquatic marine life in imminent danger.”

It continues, “This large-scale Hilton Hotel Botanika Resort can only be stopped by an urgent appeal to the directors of Hilton Curio Worldwide, alerting them to the potential damage their project will cause.”

The key word in both those statements is “potential.” It is a word that can be used as a giant loophole to cover one’s tail when making outlandish statements.

Maybe I could post a petition on Change.org to my own advantage. It would read something like this. “Todd Staley is a fisherman and mediocre writer. He has a couple of tattoos and on the weekends when it is not raining, he rides his Harley Davidson. Staley could potentially roust up a bunch of bikers and pillage your pueblo. Please donate today to buy him a new boat to keep him on the water and off the street.”

I slowly waded through many of the comments left by people who signed the Hilton petition. After I got through the vulgarities and the threats to never sleep in a Hilton again, I stumbled on some I really liked:

“Please verify the findings on marine biologists for the claim in this petition and look to relocate to a less fragile location.”

“This is unacceptable if these dolphins loose there breeding ground were would they Go, for all we know if would take them years or months to find a new place to breed and are dolphins would be more endanger then ever.”

“Apparently they ( Hilton) did not research this very well to even think about building on a Dolphin breeding ground.”

And my personal favorite, “Dolphins are people too.”

Why is that my favorite? Because “dolphins are people too” is a lot closer to the truth than anything else I read. After observing dolphins while fishing for over fifty years, I decided to ask some marine experts, “What exactly is a dolphin breeding ground?” I sought the opinion of a marine biologist, a marine mammal expert, and a woman who has worked alongside dolphins and whales here in Costa Rica for years.

They told me that reproductive habits of dolphins are not defined exclusively by the need to perpetuate the species: like humans, these cetaceans mate for pleasure with individuals of the opposite sex, of the same genus or even a different species from their own, so talking about reproductive habits in strict terms does not apply to dolphins. Some researchers think that their recreational sexuality has social purposes. When a female feels she will deliver her calf, she tends to move away from her pod and separates herself to an area near the water surface to facilitate the first breath of her calf. There is no particular area dolphins go to mate or birth.

There are no dolphin “no-tell motels” or maternity wards. They mate whenever and wherever they happen to be when the mood hits them, and birth wherever they are when the time comes. There is no such thing as a “dolphin breeding ground.”

If the people who posted that petition are really just concerned about dolphins, I suggest they push away their tuna salad and worry about the large pods of dolphins that are netted hundreds of times to catch the tuna that swim under them. The dolphins are later released. A few dolphins die in the process; I’m sure the dolphins don’t like it. Thankfully, there is a fast-growing trend and demand for sustainably caught fish, and tuna fishermen are beginning to search out selective gear with little or no bycatch.

Anger or fear are great motivators. But in this case, 50,000 people – and counting – have been misled.

I really love conservation work. The politics of conservation can at times be quite frustrating, and the business of conservation can be at times disgusting. NGOs will sometimes work on similar projects but never communicate with each other for fear of losing credit for a success or even potential donor money. If they communicated, they could get things done faster and more cheaply, but conservation and environmental work are sometimes big business. Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous people out there who will misuse donor money or even advertise for fake causes to raise money.

Sadly, this “dolphin breeding ground” petition, and the reaction to it, only fortifies an opinion I have held for some time. That is the difference between a conservationist and an environmentalist: a conservationist makes decisions based on science, while an environmentalist at times makes science based on decisions.

Read Todd Staley’s Wetline Costa Rica columns here.

Todd Staley has run fishing sport operations on both coasts of Costa Rica for over 25 years. He recently decided to take some time off to devote full time to marine conservation. Contact him at wetline@hotmail.com.

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Gray Roosterfish Tagging Update by Todd Staley

Tagging Roosterfish with Gray Fish-Tag by Todd Staley

Todd Staley FECOP

Todd Staley – Special Content Contributor

I have never enjoyed fishing under pressure. I prefer to fish for fun. There was a time in my life I fished a few money tournaments and even won one or two. Nowadays, if I am fishing a tournament, it’s a charity event, where the winners are generally children with illnesses.

Even when fishing a client, I like to fish with someone who was more interested in having a good time on the water rather than catching a ton of fish or a giant fish. A much better fisherman than myself who actually was just inducted into the IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame explained it very simply to me. Larry Dahlberg said, “Your chances of catching a really nice fish is directly related to how much you deserve it.”

I have noticed over the years that a good attitude catches fish and a bad attitude eats dirt. One’s relationship with the fish gods play a big part. Inexperienced anglers with good mojo have better luck than a good angler with a bad attitude.

On this particular day, the pressure was on. Gray Fish-Tag research center coordinator Bill Dobbelaer and marine scientist Travis Moore were down from Ft. Lauderdale to place another archival electronic tag in a roosterfish. Usually this would be a simple task, today was different. An ominous gray sky loomed on the horizon and the breeze was much stronger than usual for an early morning. We needed a fish around 30 lbs so it could comfortably wear the device that needed to be implanted.

 The event was co-sponsored by Crocodile Bay Resort and FECOP, the sport fishing advocacy and marine conservation group in Costa Rica. Crocodile Bay Resort’s crew was Oldemar Lopez and Sharlye Robles. Anglers, Christian Bolanos from Gray Taxidermy in Quepos and myself. Capt. Lopez suggested we try Matapalo Rock a popular roosterfish at the mouth of the Golfo Dulce. The overnight showers had muddied up some other popular inshore spots so it made sense.

Roosterfish is the perfect choice for this kind of study. It is a strong fighting fish, popular inshore game fish and Gray Fish-Tag has already learned a lot about them from the traditional spaghetti tag. Because it is a coastal animal, a good number of tagged fish have been caught again. The spaghetti tag is inserted on the shoulder of a fish and has a serial number. The number is reported to the research center by sport fishermen who recapture the fish. With this method, the information is limited to where it was caught and what size it is. When recaptured we learn how much it has grown over the period of time between captures and how far it traveled. The electronic tag records much more information but the fish must be recaptured also. The success with spaghetti tags made it worth the bet because they cost $1500 a piece. Four have been placed first time around. One in Quepos, one in Herradura, and two in the southern zone around Golfo Dulce.

As we reached the mouth of the gulf we were hit by a wall of wind in our face. Still a half mile from Matapalo Rock we trudged on. As we finally arrived I thought about renaming the famous landmark, at least for this day, Whirlpool or Maytag. It stood like the spindle of a washing machine and the surrounding waters were in the agitate cycle. We worked a nearby pinnacle but it was almost impossible to do a decent drift over the spot. Over and over we worked the area, fishing with one hand and holding on with the other. Somehow the conversation turned to the relationship between biologists and fishermen. A lot of biologists have never fished and a lot of fishermen don’t know the difference between an otolith and an eyeball. They are at times at wits end with each other because sometimes neither respects the opinion of the other. Travis laughed and said, “I can tell you a whole lot about roosterfish, but to be honest I have never caught one.

Costa Rica roosterfish taggingAbout that time Bolanos’s rod twitched and then slammed down towards the water and line screamed of the reel. After a 20-minute balancing act he had a 35 lb roosterfish on the surface. Travis jumped into action, made an incision in the fish’s belly and had the tag inserted and stitched up in less than two minutes while running water over the fishes gills. The rooster took off like he had a firecracker under his butt when placed back in the water. Mission Accomplished!

We had heard some chatter on the radio about a school of tuna working a couple miles off the beach so we ran out. We found the dolphins and tuna but the tuna wasn’t interested in anything we had to offer. Then we made a unanimous decision. Let’s go back to the rock and see if we can get Travis a rooster. Back to the washing machine!

It took about thirty minutes but finally Travis was hooked into his first rooster. He got the fish to the boat a dozen times and each time it would peel off another 50 yards of line. Eventually he had the fish to the boat and it went an easy 50 lbs. That is like winning the lottery the first time you by a ticket. I think we made a fisherman out of Travis. I know one thing. My biologist friend knew a hell of a lot more about roosterfish than he did when the day started.

Costa Rica Roosterfish Tagging

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