Category: Costa Rica Fishing Articles

The King - Silverking Tarpon

Costa Rica Fishing Species – Tarpon aka “Silver King”

Costa Rica Fishing Species: Tarpon

Can I catch Tarpon in Costa Rica?

Yes, Costa Rica boasts some of the best tarpon fishing in the world, and they can be targeted year round. Historically the best tarpon fishing in Costa Rica is October and November.

Region: Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast

From the IGFA Fish Database:

Valenciennes, 1846; MEGALOPIDAE FAMILY; also called silver king, cuffum

Occurs in warm temperate tropical and subtropical waters of the Atlantic Ocean. This coastal fish can be found both inshore and offshore. Because of its ability to gulp air directly into the air bladder by “rolling” at the surface, the tarpon is able to enter brackish and fresh waters that are stagnant and virtually depleted of oxygen. Such areas are relatively free of predators, thus offering a convenient refuge for the young.

The body is compressed and covered with very large scales. The lower jaw juts out and up. The teeth are small and fine, and the throat is covered by a bony plate. The dorsal fin consists of 12 16 soft rays (no spines) the last of which is greatly elongated. The back is greenish or bluish varying in darkness from silvery to almost black. The sides and belly are brilliant silver. Inland, brackish water tarpons frequently
They may shed up to 12 million eggs. The eggs hatch at sea and the eel like larvae drift in shore where they undergo a metamorphosis, shrinking to half the size previously attained and taking on the more recognizable features of the tarpon as they begin to grow again. Tarpon, bonefish, ladyfish and eels all undergo a similar leptocephalus stage, but the first three fish all have forked tails even at the larval state, whereas the eel does not. Tarpon grow rather slowly and usually don’t reach maturity until they are six or seven years old and about 4 ft (1.2 m) long.

Fishing methods are still fishing with live mullet, pinfish, crabs, shrimp, etc., or casting or trolling with spoons, plugs, or other artificial lures. The best fishing is at night when the tarpon is feeding. They are hard to hook because of their hard, bony mouths. Once hooked they put up a stubborn and spectacular fight, often leaping up to 10 feet out of the water. It was one of the first saltwater species to be declared a game fish

Tarpon are such a fascinating species it’s hard to put all the interesting facts about them in a single article here is a great article form the Tampa Bay Times

Tarpon Remain a Fascinating Species

There are some things you never grow tired of seeing — osprey diving for fish, dolphin herding mullet and tarpon cruising along the beach on a calm summer morning. You can keep your trout, snook and redfish. Nothing gets my blood pumping like the silver king of sportfish.

It is usually about this time of year, when the fish are thick in Tampa Bay, that I call Kathy Guindon, the state’s tarpon guru, to learn something new about what I consider the most interesting fish in the world.

Guindon, a biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, never lets me down. For starters, there are nearly 28,000 different fish, but only two species of tarpon.

“Fishes were in fact the first vertebrates on earth and date back to the Paleozoic era — this makes fish older than the dinosaurs,” she said.

So think about that this weekend if you rush out to see the new Jurassic World movie. The Jurassic and Triassic periods were part of the Mesozoic era that followed the Paleozoic. So while T-Rex may be long gone, we still have tarpon.

The species, which can grow to be 8 feet long and weigh nearly 300 pounds, is currently found in the estuaries and coastal waters throughout the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico; in the eastern Atlantic and along the western coast of Africa.

While the different species of fish have varied life spans ranging from a few weeks to more than 150 years, tarpon have pretty long lives.

“Scientists use a tarpon’s otolith (ear stone) to determine how old it is and count the rings on the otolith very much like counting tree rings to determine a tree’s age,” Guindon explained. “There was a 64-year-old tarpon that died in the Shedd Aquarium of Chicago in the 1990s.”

Tarpon in the wild can live well into their 50s. That’s pretty impressive considering that this species is on numerous predators’ menus. Fish-eating birds feed on young tarpon. Porpoises and alligators sometimes eat larger ones. But by far, the most dangerous predators are sharks. A big bull shark or great hammerhead can easily cut an adult tarpon in half with just one bite.

Although sportsmen prize tarpon for their acrobatic leaps and fighting ability, this species was once hunted for food by the indigenous people of Florida, and South and Central America.

“While tarpon are a catch-and-release fishery here in the USA, I know a researcher studying tarpon in Nigeria who told me she and her family eat tarpon for Christmas dinner,” Guindon said. “This is not acceptable practice here in Florida and that would be against Florida law.”

Tarpon are scavengers and will eat just about anything. Despite their large size, they feed on surprisingly small organisms, including mullet, ladyfish, pinfish, grunts, crabs, threadfin herring, scaled sardines and even catfish.

Another cool fact that is guaranteed to thrill your fishing buddies when the bite drops off: “Tarpon have amazing color vision with five types of cones cells in their eyes,” Guindon said. “They can see into the ultraviolet spectrum even further than birds and insects that have four types of cones cells in their eyes.”

In case you are wondering, humans only have three types of cone cells.

Throughout history, tarpon scales have been used as nail files, wall art and pulverized for medicinal purposes. Guindon participated in the last global stock assessment of tarpon in 2011 where she met a colleague from South America.

“She told me that in Brazil tarpon scales are pulverized into a powder and mixed into tea as it is believed to help with asthma,” Guindon said. “Sadly, the plucked tarpon is most often left to die.”

Perhaps my most favorite fun tarpon fact is this almost mammal-like adaptation: “Tarpon breathe in oxygen from the water using gills, but they can also utilize oxygen from air in the atmosphere,” Guindon explained. “They have for long rows of lung-like material inside a swim bladder that allows this to happen.”

Related Costa Rica Tarpon Fishing Articles

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Amazing Tarpon Video from Costa Rica

This Fish Can Live Over 60 Years

FECOP Featured Fishing Captain, Eddie Brown

Sport fishing in Costa Rica: Where to Go, What You’ll Find

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Why Costa Rica is the Perfect Destination to Take the Kids Fishing

Why Costa Rica is a great place to take the kids fishing

The little Cessna rolled to a stop on the airstrip at Barra del Colorado. Out stepped a man and a young boy around 10 years old. “Welcome to Rio Colorado Bob”, I said. With a stern look he replied, “I prefer to be referred to as Dr. So and So.” I fed them breakfast and sent them out fishing. Later I saw the boat headed back in early and thought the poor kid probably got sea-sick.

Todd Staley

We got the hook removed without too many tears, but the kid had no desire to head back out on the water to chase tarpon with dad. I told dad he would be ok here at the lodge and thought to myself, I wouldn’t want to spend all day in a boat with that guy either. A while later I grabbed a couple of small spinning rods and the two of us spent the afternoon catching little snook, roncadors, and machacas off the dock. The kid was in heaven.

Twenty-five years later and I have entertained hundreds of families with kids fishing. The last 18 years at Crocodile Bay. Costa Rica is God’s place on earth to spend family time. Jungles, waterfalls, beaches and volcanos are all close to each other. Fishing should never be overlooked as family activity. Crocodile Bay is the perfect place to introduce your kids to the sport or just enjoy the hobby together. With the world moving fast-forward with fast food, single parenting, and electronic babysitting, family time seems to get scarcer and scarcer.

Mike Pizzi began fishing with us fifteen years ago and has since become a good friend. I have fished him as a single guy, while he courted his wife and again just recently as a family man. As a single guy he always had me in stiches but was not the luckiest of anglers. Although over time he caught many good fish, the grand prize of offshore fishing, the marlin had eluded him. We were sitting one night at happy hour when an elated customer who had never fished before began telling me all about his 500 lb marlin. Pizzi told him how much money he has spent to date chasing a marlin and directed the man to a fiery place where believers say is somewhere below the surface of the earth and people who live unsaintly lives go when they die. The first time Pizzi brought his wife Ann, who was then his girlfriend, she caught two marlins.

Today the Pizzi’s have been married 10 years and travel here once or twice annually with their daughter Eloise 8, and son Finn who is six. The kids each started fishing before their 4th birthday and refer to me as “Tio Fish”, Uncle Fish. They both have become quite the little anglers. Dad introduced then to fishing the correct way.

Rule #1. When you take a youngster fishing it is their day not yours. It is all about them, not you. If you take them out in the hot Costa Rican sun to watch dad or mom catch a big fish, you really haven’t accomplished much. As we know children have a short attention span, and need to be kept busy. In fishing they need action and fish small enough to entertain them, not scare them. Pizzi started his kids out catching bait. They could only handle a few hours on the water when they were small and by catching sardines and goggle-eyes, Pizzi accomplished two things. He showed them fishing was fun and had plenty of bait to use the next day while mom took them to look at monkeys.

By her Eloise’s 6th birthday, the kids had enough experience to tackle a full day on the water soaked in sunscreen and were ready for bigger quarry. Bottom fish like small snapper and triggerfish are in great abundance and it kept them busy while also teaching them about catch and release.

Then they were ready for something more challenging that took a little more patience. They started to chase small roosterfish and little yellowfin tuna. By now they were beginning to learn how to play a fish, not fight them and mom and dad were having more fun watching Eloise and Finn than if they were catching fish themselves. This year it was time for the big leagues.

I often have people call me before they come and ask if their 12 or 13-year-old child can catch a sailfish. I tell them they are a few years behind schedule. Sailfish are the perfect fish for a youngster, with close supervision and just a tad bit of help of course. First it is a giant of a fish compared to the size of a small angler and it cooperates very well. Sailfish make one powerful and amazing run putting with an acrobatic show not soon forgotten. Then they kind of just settle in near the surface. With a little support on the rod and the backing down with the boat of a capable captain, a relatively small child can catch a big fish.

Show and Tell will be a little more exciting for Eloise and Finn this year as they both caught their first sailfish. With all the crazy other stuff they did like chasing lizards, monkeys and crocodiles they had a great vacation. The tears in their eyes as they did not want it to end when the left made it all worth it. Mission accomplished mom and dad. Mission accomplished Tio Fish!

Related Articles:
Sport Fishing in Costa Rica – Where to Go and What You’ll Find

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Costa Rica Fishing Species – Sailfish

Costa Rica Indo-Pacific Sailfish

 

From IGFA Fish Database

Shaw & Nodder, 1791); ISTIOPHORIDAE FAMILY; also called spindlebeack, bayonetfish

An Excerpt from Costa Rica Sailfish for Dummies by Todd Staley Communications Director, FECOP

Todd Staley FECOPThe lifetime of a sailfish varies from 4 to 10 years. Most of the juveniles spend their first few years off the coast of Mexico. That doesn’t necessarily mean they were born there. For example, a west coast Florida tarpon starts its life 100 miles or so off the beach, but spends its early years in the estuaries. The largest sailfish and the long-standing world record of 222 pounds came from their farthest range to the south in Ecuador.

The tropical Pacific is really not a very inviting place for sailfish. The low oxygen content in the water will not support them, but two famous currents bring in healthy water. The Humboldt Current flows north from Chile and Peru and collides with the California Current flowing south from the U.S. and Mexico off the coast of Central America, forming a “tongue” of current that supports sailfish, though to a depth of only 100 meters or less. Unlike the striped marlin that is caught off Mexico but might spawn off Australia, the eastern tropical sailfish’s range is limited to the coastal waters of the two currents and the tongue formed off Central America.

Sailfish are the fastest fish in the sea

Another phenomenon happens each year: Three distinct and powerful winds blow from land offshore. They start in December or January and blow until March or April. In Mexico, winds that start in the Gulf of Mexico push across the Tehuantepec lowlands offshore into the Pacific. Likewise, the Papagayo winds from Lake Nicaragua push offshore across Nicaragua near the Costa Rican border. Also, a Caribbean wind current crosses Panama heading into the Pacific near the Panama Canal.

As the Pacific surface water is pushed offshore, the upwelling sends to the surface oxygen-depleted water that cannot support sailfish. The entire population is forced into pockets of healthy water, which happen to lie in front of windless parts of southern Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica and parts of Panama. During this period, El Salvador, Nicaragua and other parts of Panama are nearly devoid of sailfish. This is the equivalent of taking the entire population of San José and moving everybody to the Pacific coast for four months out of the year, with no one living in between. Fortunately for the sailfish, their main food source, squid and sardines, follow the same pattern.

 

The reality is that these areas do not have a tremendous abundance of fish, but the whole population is forced to share these pockets. When there is a strong El Niño, the winds do not blow, so the population is not condensed into oxygen-healthy pockets caused by the normal upwelling. The surface waters also warm, and peak-season fishing results in Guatemala and Costa Rica drop dramatically.

Costa Rica has the benefit of two peak sailfish seasons. From the Gulf of Nicoya south, the peak is January through April. The Guanacaste region to the north begins to peak in May after the winds die and the fish begin to move freely out of prisons formed in Guatemala and southern Costa Rica.

Sailfish Facts Costa Rica

Dr. Ehrhardt’s studies have shown that a strong management plan is needed with all Central American countries working together. The Costa Rican Tourist Fishing Federation (FECOPT) is working with sport and commercial fishermen and the government on management plans within Costa Rica. In addition, CABA, The Billfish Foundation and local groups are working with Central American governments to form a united effort to conserve the region’s sailfish populations.

Sailfish Release

 

Inhabits tropical and subtropical waters near land masses, usually in depths over 6 fathoms, but occasionally caught in lesser depths and from ocean piers. Pelagic and migratory, sailfish usually travel alone or in small groups. They appear to feed mostly in midwater along the edges of reefs or current eddies.

  Costa Rica sailfish fishing conservation

Its outstanding feature is the long, high first dorsal which is slate or cobalt blue with a scattering of black spots. The second dorsal fin is very small. The bill is longer than that of the spearfish, usually a little more than twice the length of the elongated lower jaw. The vent is just forward of the first anal fin. The sides often have pale, bluish gray vertical bars or rows of spots.

More on the Saifish from the IGFA.org Fish Database

Its fighting ability and spectacular aerial acrobatics endear the sailfish to the saltwater angler, but it tires quickly and is considered a light tackle species. Fishing methods include trolling with strip baits, plures, feathers or spoons, as well as live bait fishing and kite fishing. The most action is found where sailfish are located on or near the surface where they feed.

Recent acoustical tagging and tracking experiments suggest that this species is quite hardy and that survival of released specimens is good

FECOP Fish Facts: Pacific Sailfish

Fastest Fish in the Sea at up to 70mph

World Record 222 lbs (Ecuador)

Common Name: Sailfish

Scientific Name: Istiophorus

Type: Fish

Diet: Carnivores

Group Name: School

Average life span in The Wild: 4 years

Feeding Tactics: Uses its bill to stun individual fish or slash groups of fish

Size: 5.7 to 11 ft

Weight: 120 to 220 lbs

Size relative to a 6-ft man:

 

Related Sailfish Articles

Why a Sailfish is Worth More Alive then Dead

How to Safely Estimate the Size of a Sailfish

New to Sailfish? Start Here – Sailfish for Dummies

The Top Ten Fastest Fish in the Ocean

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Map Costa Rica Roosterfish

Gray FishTag Recovers a Satellite Tag off the Coast in Costa Rica

Costa Rica roosterfish fishing

Roosterfish recovered with SatelliteTag in Costa Rica

INCREDIBLE STORY!!!!

FRIENDS…  last week we had a Satellite Tag recovered in Costa Rica. Talk about a needle in a haystack. The odds of recovering one of these tags after popping off are “one in a million.”  However, thanks to great friends, a great team and world-wide support we got it.

Map Costa Rica Roosterfish

A Pop-Up Satellite Archival Tag (PSAT) that was originally deployed on a Roosterfish while fishing the coastal waters near Quepos, Costa Rica has been found and returned to us!

This PSAT was is part of a larger project evaluating Roosterfish behavior and movement along the Central American Pacific coast. It was deployed during our visit to Marina Pez Vela and our tagging group was joined by Mr. Gray Ingram and Mrs. Camilla Ingram, and sponsored by the Ortiz family and employees at Marina Pez Vela.

After being deployed for 60 days the tag popped off and was now floating in the water. Incredibly the tag was recovered by a local gentleman Mr. Emiliano Vasquez while he was kayaking the coastal waters of the Gulf of Nicoya, near Paquera, Costa Rica.  Mr. Vasquez described seeing something unusual in the water and once he pulled the tag out of the water he recognized the importance of what he found. He immediately decided it needed to be returned to its owner. After finding the contact information embedded in the tag he made arrangements to return it to one of our local representatives, Christian Bolaños of Gray Taxidermy. Mr. Vasques was thrilled to learn the importance of his effort and the fact that we will learn more about game fish, in particular the Roosterfish. For his effort we rewarded him $250.00 a pair of Costa Sunglasses and Gray FishTag Apparel.

International Roosterfish Tournament

What makes this story even more remarkable is how the tag got back to our office in Florida. While once again visiting Costa  Rica, this time in Los Sueños Resort & Marina, Mr. and Mrs. Ingram met with our representative Christian near Los Sueños. A few words were exchanged before they had to rush to the airport and head back to the US. The Ingrams excitedly returned it to our office in Pompano Beach the next day. Talk about full circle!!

These are the kind of stories that make our program so unique and worthwhile. The large Gray FishTag Research network, all the supporters, Charter Captains and Mates, marina personnel and friends in general, all pulling together making the program move ahead. We could not do this without all the help and we are forever grateful. Stay tuned for the most detailed analysis ever, of a Pacific Roosterfish. By getting the actual tag back, we are now able to get a complete and total picture of all its activity.

Thank you all again and we are looking forward to many more stories alike!!!

Article from www.grayfishtag.com

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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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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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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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