Category: Feature Articles

Sailfish Hero Shot

Sailfish – The Evolution of The Hero Shot

Saifish -The evolution of the Hero Shot

Written for the Tico Times by Todd Staley February 28, 2019

A picture recently sent to Todd Staley showing people still taking hero shots. (Photo courtesy of Todd Staley)

Did you know the sailfish picture above is now illegal in Costa Rica?

Ten years ago a regulation made it illegal for the sport fishing sector to take a billfish, sailfish and marlin, out of the water for a “hero shot” photo of their prized catch.

The web is full of photos that could potentially bring a 2 million colones fine ($3,250) to the offender who pulls a billfish out of the water. To date, I don’t know of anyone who has ever been arrested or prosecuted on this. In fact, after all these years, many still claim they don’t know about the law.

Not everyone agrees with it either.

Many charter captains feel it diminishes their chance to attract new business. When potential clients see happy people holding big fish, they want to do it too. Many tourists are not aware of the law and crews, who rely on tips, don’t want to disappoint them.

It seems that some people have appointed me the billfish cop and when a hero shot shows up on social media, someone sends it to me. I usually send a message to the person who posted the picture, explaining the law. Sometimes I get a thank you note, sometimes I get responses I couldn’t possibly print here.

While hero shots are all over the internet, they’ve been around for decades. They started with old black-and-white photos of multiple fish nailed to a board at the dock or a huge hanging marlin.

An old black-and-white photos showing how anglers and charter captains bragged about their catch. (Photo courtesy of Sailfish Club)

That is how charter fleets attracted their next clients. That slowly evolved to a more catch and release attitude, but the need for the hero shot still existed to attract clients. Thousands of fish were dragged over the side of the boat and set in the angler’s lap for a photo.

Eventually, it was decided it was even better to leave the fish in the water.

People think a couple of minutes out of the water is not harmful to the animal, but any amount of time out of the water is bad for the fish. It stresses the fish and removes the protective slime by dragging it onboard, making them susceptible to life-threatening bacteria.

It’s still possible to get a good hero shot without taking the fish out of the water. First, whoever was taking the photo should know how to operate the camera. I’ve seen many wasted minutes while a tourist fumbles with a fish and a crewmember fumbles with a new camera.

A legal hero shot that’s also safer for the fish. (Photo courtesy of Todd Staley)

You can also give the client gloves so they can grab the fish by the bill. That way they can get a picture with a fish while it’s still in the water. The client can lean over with a big smile while someone snaps a few pictures. Then the fish can be safely released with minimum stress. This is more easily accomplished if the side of the boat is not very high off the water.

I think ego drives a person to get the photo with them up close and personal with a prized fish. I have certainly lifted my fair share of billfish out of the water, but after 10 years of not lifting one out, I have changed my mind.

New technology has given us something better than a hero shot.

Today almost everyone walks around with a high-resolution camera capable of video in their pocket. There are also Go-Pros or similar products that can be operated by remote or voice control. Clip one on to your canopy and you have a great view of the entire stern of the boat. Some of the best fishing videos and still pictures I have seen were taken from devices like the one we carry in our pockets.

I now personally think it is much more impactful to show your friends just how exciting these fish are to catch. An action video of your fish dancing across a cobalt sea is very impressive. It doesn’t have to be long, usually 15 to 30 seconds will tell the story. Try to get at least a few seconds of the angler on the rod or line screaming off the reel and your friends will think you are a pro.

So once again I remind anglers, in Costa Rica it is illegal to remove a billfish from the water by sport fishing enthusiasts. Commercial fishermen are allowed 15 percent incidental catch on sailfish.

Not everyone has the same opinion and Capt. Skip Smith, who is a world class captain and writer who now fishes in Quepos voiced his opinion on what is more harmful to billfish. You can read his article over at Marlin Magazine.

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 and is the communications director at FECOP. Contact him at

Having a Successful Costa Rica Fishing Trip

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Costa Rican Fishermen Want Access to Local Tuna

Tussling for tuna: Costa Rican Fishermen Want More Access to Local Tuna

The Tico Times

Todd Staley Published for The Tico Times February 14, 2019

Speed boats launched for a purse seiner to herd dolphins and tuna. (Photo courtesy of FECOP)

Robert Nunes is a commercial fisherman who actively defends his peers in Costa Rica’s commercial fishing industry. He volunteers a lot of his time with Mauricio Gonzalez, director of the Camera de Palangreros (or the chamber of longliners) traveling the country lobbying for fisherman’s rights.

Longlining is a type of fishing that boats set miles of hooks across the ocean and is not selective in what type of fish takes the bait placed on a hook. This has caused grief among many different groups who support, sharks, marlin, and sailfish that some people consider bycatch to a longline boat. The longline sector does not consider these species bycatch as the total catch is utilized and nothing gets wasted.

But Nunes is an innovator and found a way to specifically target tuna with less than one percent bycatch. One of first to outfit his commercial boats with greenstick, an art of fishing that targets tuna and rarely catches anything but tuna.


Robert Nunes (Photo courtesy of Changing Seas)

Tuna are able to see what’s happening above the water and greenstick fishing uses lures that skip along the surface, so greenstick fishermen rarely catch anything besides tuna.

Nunes has a six-boat operation. He fishes greenstick whenever possible and catches about 80 tons of tuna a year. That still only makes up for 40 percent of his catch though. Lots of times, tuna isn’t available so he longlines for dorado, which can catch sharks and billfish.

Gonzalez, the director of the chamber of longliners, is not opposed to using greenstick, but for him, it’s a matter of cost.

“We would love to fish greenstick a lot more,” says Gonzalez “If we had access to the [tuna]. We don’t have a lot of interest in many other species, but we need to make a living.”

Costa Rica has rich fisheries, but every year, thousands of tons of tuna are fished by foreign vessels. While local fishermen face high costs, those from other countries extract Costa Rican tuna for pennies on the dollar.

“It costs us as Costa Rican fishermen a lot more than foreign tuna boats to extract tuna from the ocean,” Nunes said.

To extract 80 tons of tuna, Nunes says he paid the government $46,178 in fees for licenses, social security, INS insurance, and taxes or $1.73 per kilo of tuna extracted from Costa Rican waters.

“If you add the salaries of my employees on the boats which is part of the costs to access the resource it is over $157,000 per year,” Nunes said.

That’s almost 200 times more than what the country makes off of foreign vessels.

Costa Rica sells a license to a foreign boat for $54 per net ton of that vessel’s capacity. If that boat sells 300 metric tons to the cannery in Puntarenas it receives the next license gratis. The system is perpetual. In 2018 Costa Rica issued 12 tuna licenses to fishing boats called purse seiners. Four were paid for and the rest were given away for free. All the boats were flagged from either Nicaragua or Venezuela.

They reported a total catch of 8,422 tons of tuna. In total Costa Rica collected $153,264.48 in fees. That means Costa Rica had a benefit of just under 2 cents or 11 colones for every kilo of tuna extracted from Costa Rican waters.

Gonzalez says purse seiners are also a local fishermen’s biggest nemesis.

A purse seiner set ontop of dolphins to catch the tuna below The Tico Times archives

Purse seiners surround schools of fish with up to several kilometers of net. The net is pulled in from the bottom and everything caught in the net’s radius is hauled into the boat. This type of fishing is highly regulated due to the amount of fish and bycatch a single boat is capable of producing.

In the Americas, the Inter American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) allots each member country a quota of tuna it can catch with purse seiners. The IATTC allots Costa Rica around 9,000 tonnes a year, but we catch none of it.

Costa Rica does not have any purse seine boats of its own and sells its quota to foreign flagged vessels. The system in place is outdated and Costa Rica benefits next to nothing by them being here.

We have a lot to gain from the leaving though.

As of 2014, purse seine boats can no longer work within 45 miles of Costa Rica’s shore and the sport fishing sector has seen a giant recovery in tuna. We’ve also seen more marlin and dorado which are often discarded bycatch by tuna boats.

By studying bycatch records from observers on board tuna boats in 2017, FECOP found that 25 tons of what would have been marlin bycatch were saved by reducing the area they fish. One purse seiner has the capacity to catch as much tuna in one trip as the entire commercial fleet of 300 longlines catches in one year.

“If there were more of the resource available to Costa Rican fishermen, we would target tuna. It is the fish that pays most at the market,” explained Nunes. “If you add the money generated by the sport fishing fleet for Costa Rica into the figures it is much more when you look at the whole picture.”

The benefit of giving tuna back to Costa Ricans would have a domino effect. Better living conditions for coastal families, less pressure on controversial species and more fish for the sport fishing sector as well. It would also place another star on Costa Rica’s reputation for taking care of nature.

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 and is the communications director at FECOP. Contact him at

This story was made possible thanks to The Tico Times 5 % Club. If only 5 percent our readers donated at least $2 a month, we’d have our operating costs covered and could focus on bringing you more original reporting from around Costa Rica. We work hard to keep our reporting independent and groundbreaking, but we can only do it with your help. Join The Tico Times 5% Club and help make stories like this one possible.

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Win a Costa Rica fishing trip

Meet Last Year’s Costa Rica Fishing Trip Winner

The Costa Rica Fishing Trip of a Lifetime – Review From The Crocodile Bay Resort, Costa Rica 2017 Sweepstakes Winner

Former specialist and now veteran Joshua Cumings and his wife Ashley Cumings won our 2017 all-inclusive Costa Rica Castaway Sweepstakes.

Joshua was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He joined the Army in February of 2003 at the age of 22 and attended OSUT (One Station Unit Training) at FT. Leonard Wood, MO to be a Combat Engineer/Demolitions and bomb expert. During his career, Specialist Joshua Cumings served as an Engineer Squad Leader. He participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. His additional deployments included South Korea as a member of 2nd Infantry Division 44th Engineer Battalion Charlie Rock Sappers Air Assault Company and Kosovo as a member of KFOR (TF Falcon). During Specialist Cumings deployment to Iraq In August 2004, he and his squad survived a severe attack by enemy forces. Due to Specialist Cumings injuries during his deployment to Iraq he was later awarded a combined award of 100 % disability from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Please read an excellent review by Mr. and Mrs. Cumings about their vacation at Crocodile Bay Resort.

The Trip of a Lifetime!

“When you think of paradise where do you think of, Belize, Honduras, or maybe skiing in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado? Well, let me tell you something I’ve been to all those places and nothing compares to the gorgeous lush mountains, the vibrant tropical birds and the amazing views you’re going to experience at Crocodile Bay Resort. We caught and released over 22 roosterfish, snapper and sailfish. I don’t normally go saltwater fishing, but  this was just beyond amazing.

The Resort Staff

The resort staff was out of this world. Olimpia, one of the main concierge’s was phenomenal, she was always there to make sure we had everything we needed like a mom making sure her kids had the best time possible. And her cookies are out of this world. Her son Anthony was just as kind and made sure we had a great time doing some charter fishing.

Pura Vida

The locals have a saying in Costa Rica. Pura Vida! The saying simply translates to “Simple Life”. In Costa Rica it really is all about the simple and pure life. Everything just kind of slows down when you come to the Osa Peninsula. People here really know how to make you feel at home and treat you like family here. As an American that works an average of 60-80hr work weeks we don’t tend to know how to slow down and enjoy the simple things in life. Like just going for a walk down the road and enjoying the wild life and the beautiful scenery.

The Food

The food that we enjoyed at the resort was out of this world. Expertly prepared in traditional plating the chef certainly knows what he’s doing. All of the ingredients are locally sourced and always fresh with an amazing flair for thinking outside the box with unique flavors. For example, we had a bowl of the pumpkin crème soup, braised and barbequed pork ribs and a local root that’s mashed and tastes like mashed potatoes that have amazing flavor as well as traditional beans and rice and a side salad.

Always going the extra mile!

Our last night at the resort the chef asked me what my wife’s favorite dessert was and I told him “Anything to do with chocolate”! He then said to me “I have the perfect dessert for her then that I shall create”. The desert that was made was so beautiful I was almost sad to eat it. But then, we took one bite and couldn’t stop. From the fresh cream and strawberries to the basil and coco locally sourced for the chocolate lava cake it was all amazing. And just the thought that was put into making our last night special simply put, makes Crocodile Bay Resort the ultimate home away from home destination with every accommodation imaginable.

In closing, if you’re looking for a world class resort with one of a kind sport fishing spectacular views, phenomenal customer service, and an experience that is unrivaled in one of the most exotic and beautiful places on earth then Crocodile Bay Resort is the place to go. From a several tour combat veteran and his wife, Thank you so much to the owners and staff for a once in a lifetime experience at Crocodile Bay Resort and until next time Pura Vida!”

Respectfully,Joshua and Ashley Cumings
Baldwinsville, NY.



 You can sign up here for a shot at winning this year’s fishing trip at Crocodile Bay Resort, Costa Rica!

Gray Roosterfish Tagging Update by Todd Staley

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Costa Rica Sets the Bar High for Sport Fishing

Gray Roosterfish Tagging Update by Todd Staley

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Costa Rica Sport Fishing

Costa Rica Top Global Fishing Destination

FECOP Sponsor Mammoth CoolersCosta Rica : A Paradise for World Class Sport Fishing


Costa Rica is quickly becoming one of the most important destinations for sport fishing aficionados in the world.

The variety of marine species found in Costa Rican waters is the main factor that makes Costa Rica ideal for the practice of this activity.

“We can say that the country has an impressive richness, it is considered one of the most important places in Latin America”, commented Henry Marin, coordinator of Strategy and Projects of the Costa Rican Fishing Federation (Fecop).

Learn More About Costa Rica Fishing Species

Blue marlin, black marlin, striped marlin,and  sailfish, are just some of the many species found in the waters of this beautiful country.

Sport, recreation and tourism come together in this activity that, contrary to what many think, does not affect the ecosystem. The “catch and release” sport fishing practice frees fish without harming them and at the same time the coastal areas of the country receive the benefits of tourism.

On average a tourist that comes to practice sport fishing spends ten times more than the average visitor. A fisherman can spend a day between $1,000 to $1,500 dollars, compared to the $100 to $125 that the regular tourist spends. The sport is expensive but those who have this lifestyle seek the best experiences, the best restaurants and the best hotels”, stated Jeff Duchesneau, manager of Marina Pez Vela in Quepos, Puntarenas.

“Our sport fishing clients in particular expect nothing but the absolute best, the best boats, the best service, the best amenities and most importantly the best fishing. Once most anglers experience the Los Sueños community many decide to make it a second home” stated Michael Hardy , Owner of HRG properties and rentals, Los Sueños, Herradura.

“There are four distinct regions in Costa Rica for saltwater sport fishing: Northern Pacific, centered around Flamingo and Papagayo; Central Pacific, consisting of Quepos / Jaco/Los Sueños; Southern Pacific/Golfito; and the Caribbean. Each has its own season for certain species, while others may be found there year-round”.

Fecop has begun the process to have sport fishing recognized as a sport activity by the Costa Rican Institute of Sport and Recreation (ICODER).

The International Confederation of Sport Fishing which has over 50 million members in 77 countries also began the request with the International Olympic Committee to incorporate this activity.

“Our goal is to have sport fishing as part of the Pan-American Games, and make it an Olympic Sport just as surf or table tennis that manage to incorporate for 2020. It is time for this to be part of the most important events”, said Carlos Cavero, director of Fecop.

Fecop was clear that the country still has a long way to go, commercial fishing boats continue to invade the areas were sport fishing is practiced affecting the quantity of marine a life. The Costa Rican Fishing Institute (INCOPESCA) has recognized the lack of government control in this aspect, for instance, even though they have extended a little over 1000 licenses for local fishermen records show that in reality there could be between 6000-15,000 fishermen today.


Costa Rica’s Tuna Decree Is Saving Billfish & Dolphin

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Do I Need a Fishing License in Costa Rica?

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costa rica fishing banana boat

“No Bananas on the Fishing Boat”

Why are fishermen so superstitious about making sure there are NO Bananas on board their boat while fishing in Costa Rica or any other region on Earth???

I did some serious research on this banana fishing myth, interviewed anglers, and even put bananas on our own boat to test out this theory.

It turns out that “bad luck bananas on boats” is one of the oldest, longest running, and controversial fishing and boating superstition out there.

Some boaters and anglers swear by “bad luck bananas on board,” while others laugh at the superstition…

Note: You will be blown away below when you hear what happened on our fishing trip  to Costa Rica when there was an actual banana on board our boat…

But first, let’s cover the facts about fishing superstitions and bananas on board fishing vessels.

Fact: The more serious you are about fishing, the more superstitious you become…

I would even argue that fishermen and fisherwomen are perhaps the most superstitious group in America (besides the guy I see in the 7-11 convenient store that sits down on the ground Indian style every day as he scratches off his lotto tickets. Apparently he won $1,000 while sitting down Indian style with his legs crossed one time, and he thinks he must do it every time from now on to summon the good look fairy).

But anywho…some of the craziest superstitions (always masked as reasons that the fish aren’t biting on your boat) seem to arise from anglers.

Related Post: “Are Bananas Really Bad Luck On Boats? [PICS & TRUE STORIES]!” (see it here now)

no bananas on board

A palm reader giving a sailor his future on a boat filled with bananas

Here are just a few funny fishing superstitions:

1) Whistling on a boat causes extreme bad luck for the entire boat

2) You can only enter the boat from a certain side or the entire day of fishing will be ruined

3) And the topic of this blog… that having Bananas on board your boat while fishing causes everything from motor failure, no fish, and a wild list of other detriments that you will hear about shortly (this “bananas cause bad luck fishing” theory has some anglers so superstitious about bananas on board that they won’t even allow Banana Boat sunscreen on board)

“No Bananas On Board!”

Let me tell you my own true story of what happened the one (and only) time that we “accidentally allowed” a banana on board our boat down in Florida.

It started off as a perfect summer morning in Marco Island, Florida back in 2000. We were down there with our incredible friends the Bentley Family, and the trip had been fantastic so far (mostly inshore fishing for snook and redfish).

But today, we were headed offshore (going after big snook, cobia, and grouper) to a wreck that we heard from a trusted source was on fire!

Clear skies, only a 20% chance of rain (which is an incredibly low percentage for Florida in the summer), and we were riding in our dad’s 3-year old 21ft custom flats boat made by Release.

Note: One of us (many fingers still point angrily at me), had accidentally packed a banana on board the boat that day…

My dad, my brother Luke and I got an early start to catch some threadfin “greenback” bait fish as we were headed out about 20 miles to catch some lunkers.

no bananas on board

Joe, Papa Simo, Luke, the 21ft Release Boat, and a Banana on board…

After just a few casts with our 12-foot cast net, we had enough bait fish for a few boats. In fact, we actually threw back over 40 baitfish from the second cast because we had so many.

The live well was pumping salt water through a magnificent looking live well full of bait fish, we had a nice breeze, and we even had plenty of food and drinks (including a banana) to last us the entire day and then some.

“What a heck of a start,” we thought as we headed out on the 20-mile stretch.

What could go wrong?

The Offshore Fishing Trip from Marco Island

As we finally approached the wreck, we were very pleased to see that we had it all to ourselves… not a single boat within sight in all directions.

As we excitedly grabbed our rods to wet our lines, my dad lifts up the live well hatch (with scoop net in hand), and grunts, “What in the world happened…?

Nothing could have prepared him for what he saw…

The live well was full of dead fish.

Over a hundred of them.

The water in the live well was there, but not a single baitfish was still alive from our 20-mile journey southwest… turns out that the intake got clogged and no new water was pumped in during the long trip out.

So there we were, 20-miles out in a flats boat with nothing but dead fish in our livewell… a ruined day, three ticked off fishermen, and a banana.

But the story gets even worse…

After debating about how the live well could have failed on our trusted boat that had never had an issue before, we noticed that the floor of the center console was covered with a thin layer of water that usually wasn’t there unless packed with people (the floor of the boat sits just barely above the water line, and when enough weight is added to the boat, water can be pushed up the drain pipes into the walking area).

Given that it was only three of us without much gear, the only answer to that floorboard water is that a lot of water must have gotten into the hull of the boat… sure enough, we opened the hatch to the bottom hull and we had over 5 inches of water in there.

Typically, the float switch on the bilge pump would ensure this never happened, but it somehow didn’t get activated. We have a manual switch to turn on the bilge pump, but that didn’t turn it on either… the bilge pump is dead!

Five inches of water never seemed so scary

no bananas on board your boat

At this point, we faced a crisis.

I tell you, five inches of water never seemed so scary when you are out in boat 20 miles away from the closest shore, with shark infested waters all around, and no other boats anywhere in sight.

So we now had to cut open a Gatorade bottle to scoop out the water as fast as we could… hopefully, faster than it was coming in.

After about twenty minutes scooping, we realized that however, the water got in there, it wasn’t coming in very fast anymore because our scoops were able to cut the level down… water issue no longer a threat.

However, our focus on the boat took our attention away from the horizon to the north (our way back home) where a nasty storm was brewing. The kind that most of us Floridians love to admire from the comfort of our homes…


from the uncomfortable and exposed view on a 21ft flats boat on the open Gulf.

So we did what any sane fisherman would do…

We cut our losses for the day and gunned it back towards home while praying we could beat the storm.

Long story storm short…

Lightning Storm – 1

Team Simonds – 0

We got nailed by some of the thickest rain you have ever seen.

And of course, we had no serious rain gear as we didn’t anticipate any rain according to the weather forecast that day (we blame it on the banana).

The rain was so bad, and it was hitting us so hard, that we had to slow down.

But as much as the rain hurt us like hail hitting a car, it took a back seat to our fear of the lighting.

no bananas on board

Good old Florida Lightning at its finest

If you have ever been in the middle of a lightning storm, you know what I am talking about.

And if you don’t know what it is like to be exposed in a lighting storm, here is my best analogy…

Imagine three grown men screaming like little 10-year-old girls every time a big boom hit near us.

It was one after another… booms, bolts, and shrieks from the Simonds’ bros and father.

I dare say it was one of the scariest and most vulnerable moments of my life (besides my first prostate exam, but that is an entirely different story).

After the longest boat ride back home of our lives, we finally see the channel marker for Caxambus Pass (south side of Marco Island), the rain finally dies down, the lighting has almost gone away completely, and we cry like little girls again (in a joyous way that we survived).

The last few minutes into the idle zone to our dock were spent with the three of us wondering how everything had turned so negative so quickly.

After a few minutes of debate, my dad mentioned the banana that we had on board.

Could it be?

It was the only thing abnormal on our boat that was usually not there. And the banana certainly seemed like the only logical patsy for us to blame our misfortune on…

Fast forward to today…

My dad still has the same 21ft Release and we all use it often.

It has never had a banana on board since that day.

It has also never had any livewell or bilge pump issues again, even though the boat is 14 years older.

So call it what you will, but the Simonds will never forget that dreaded fishing trip where nothing went right.

And you can be certain that we have a strict “No Bananas On Board” policy on all of our boats since then.

Without further adieu…here are the top 5 reasons why bananas are bad luck on fishing boats…

Top 5 Myths about Bananas on Board Your Boat While Fishing

bad luck bananas on the boat fishing

The following “bad luck bananas on board boat myths” are in no particular order.

They are based on years of banana research and interviews with fishermen from all over the world who claim bananas are bad luck on fishing boats.



#1 Reason To Have No Bananas On Board Your Boat While Fishing


no bananas on board

More specifically, crap-loads of spiders.

I grew up in a house in Winter Haven, FL that actually had three banana trees on one side of our home.

And do you know what could be found almost year round in and around those banana trees?

You guessed it, spiders.

For some reason, spiders love bananas.

And I can only imagine that back in the day when shiploads of bananas were being brought over from Africa, they were loaded with small spiders.

And do you know when spiders are most active?

At night.

So imagine this scene: the sailors carrying the banana cargo go to bed for the evening, they get bitten by these poisonous African spiders, and no one can figure out why the crew is dying (keep in mind that 1700s when this was occurring, they did not have cures for venomous spiders like we do today, especially not out at sea.)

When they finally arrive in their destination port with a big chunk of their crew dead, you can see just how easy a rumor could spread that bananas were bad luck on board.

#2 Reason To Have No Bananas On Board Your Boat While Fishing

“The Smoking Floating Gun – Bananas”

no bananas on board

The floating banana

Back in the 1700s and 1800s, there was no Coast Guard.

And there certainly wasn’t high-frequency radio, cell phones, or any other way to call in for help or distress.

So when a ship went down, it usually went down without anyone else knowing about it (except for the unlucky sailors on board).

Of course, other vessels that were passing through the same shipping channels found many of these shipwrecks.

Do you know what rises to the top of the water when a ship goes down?

Anything that floats of course…including bananas!

And when another ship came up to the spot that a ship had sunk, only to see a ton of bananas floating amongst the other debris, you can imagine how easy it would be to assume bananas were bad luck.

When the sailors that came across the sunken ship went back to port, you better believe every story that was shared made mention of the floating bananas.

Before you know it, that story gets passed on and elaborated upon until everyone in town believes that bananas caused the wreck.

As Gwen Stefani said, “It’s Bananas! B-A-N-A-N-A-S”

bananas bad luck fishing

Gwen Stefani “Hollaback Girl” Video (It’s Bananas)

#3 Reason To Have No Bananas On Board Your Boat While Fishing

Stinky Bananas…

no bananas on board

Have you ever left a banana at home while you went on a long vacation?

I recall one time that I went away for a little over two weeks and came home to a horrible smell in my kitchen.

I checked the trash cans, I checked the garbage disposal, and I checked to make sure my fridge hadn’t crashed and all of the food went bad while I was gone.

But it wasn’t any of these culprits that were causing the wretched smell in my house.

And then I saw it…

Almost blending into my black granite counter were two shriveled up, completely black, almost morphed together into one banana, rotten as can be, smelly bananas.

It smelled as if something had died in my kitchen.

And that smell was produced from only two bad bananas.

Can you imagine what hundreds or even 1,000 bad bananas would smell like?

Well, some sailors certainly did back in the 1700s.


Let me explain.

When a ship left with a cargo full of bananas, speed was key.

The sailors knew that they only had so many days before the bananas would go bad, which meant their cargo would be worthless (thus they didn’t get paid).

But what it also meant that when a bad storm, huge waves, getting lost at night due to the captain falling asleep at the helm (aka passing out after too much rum), or a variety of other reasons that things don’t go as planned on the ocean, was that the bananas on board began putting off an odor.

And most people don’t know this, but the odor that bad bananas put out doesn’t just make your nose twitch, it also can kill other produce around it (the odor speeds up the time that other fresh food and produce goes bad).

So when a ship would be out at sea longer than expected (thus they actually needed more food for the longer than expected voyage), yet the bad bananas were killing off much of their existing produce, many times the crew ran out of food.

And if they were out at sea long enough, it could mean death.

But even at best case, it meant a smelly, stressful, and a very malnourished trip.

Not to mention, the stories the sailors came back with to their families and friends involved the mention of the “bad luck bananas”, furthering the “No Bananas on Board” superstition.

#4 Reason To Have No Bananas On Board Your Boat While Fishing

Wood eating, banana loving, termites.

bad luck fishing bananas

Stop Illegal Fishing in Costa Rica


Back in the 1700s, all boats were made of wood.

And it was also said that some banana rich areas of Africa and the Caribbean had some of the most destructive wood-eating termites in the world.

So you can imagine that sometimes these termites would cling to the banana trees as they were dragged across the land to the docks where they were loaded on the ship.

And when the termites realized that they were now in an all wooden cargo hold, it was like a kid getting left in a candy store…aka Wood Heaven for a termite.

Needless to say, the termites went to town on the wooden ship, causing tons of damage, and in some cases eating holes in the hull that were not repairable (as the sailors found out about the leaks way too late).

Because many of the sailors wanted to blame the bad luck on something, the obvious patsy was the bananas, as they were the reason the termites had made it on board.

#5 Reason To Have No Bananas On Board Your Boat While Fishing

Fast “Banana Boats”

bad luck bananas on board

Sorry, I couldn’t resist putting this picture in…it has nothing to do with the blog

As I mentioned earlier, speed was of the essence when moving bananas across the ocean.

Another fact is that sailors on cargo ships loved to fish while at sea.

And because most cargo ships took their time and went at normal speeds, the crew would take breaks to catch fish, and usually did quite well.

But on the “Banana Boats”, they didn’t take breaks, and in most cases went full speed ahead to their destination.

In most cases, way too fast to be trolling to catch fish.

So what happened?

Crew members talk with other crew members from other boats, they realize that the banana boats seem to be the only ones that don’t catch fish, and thus a rumor is born.

One sailor tells another that they never catch a single fish when a banana is on board, and before you know it, everyone believes the myth.


no bananas on board

Whether you believe in superstitions or not, it has hard to ignore the wild amount of fishing nightmares and instances of bad luck where bananas were on board the boat.

However, it is also easy to see how easy these rumors of bananas being bad luck on board fishing boats can spread out of control.

Fishermen and fisherwomen hate not catching fish, and blaming their bad fishing luck (or even boat problems or malfunctions) is something that has gone on for many generations of anglers.

And as long as people keep bringing bananas on board boats, expect to keep hearing stories of how the banana ruined their fishing trip.

Because when all else fails, it is easier to blame a banana than admit you just couldn’t catch any fish (or to explain why your bilge pump is acting up…)

Costa Rica Fishing Species – Sailfish

Three Billboards Warn of Illegal Fishing in Costa Rica

Three Billboards Warn of Illegal Fishing in Costa Rica

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Fishing for Science – Tagging and Studying Sailfish and Marlin

Fishing for Science: Tagging and Studying Sailfish and Marlin Habits

By Todd Staley published for The Tico Times Jan 31, 2019

Left to right: FECOP member Henry Marin tagging expert Robbie Schallert, Captain Francisco Lobo, First mate Gerardo “McFly” Moreno, Dr. Danielle Haulsee, and Dr. Larry Crowder. (Todd Staley / The Tico Times)

The site of a billfish coming up into a spread of teasers, happily skipping across a deep blue ocean never gets old. Sailfish, named for their extremely tall dorsal fin and a sword-like bill, will light up in a purple hue when excited.

They generally come into the teasers — which are hook-less lures that trail behind the boat to attract sailfish — gracefully swatting them with their bills. This gives you time to place your bait in front of it. A marlin looks similar to a sailfish, but they’re much larger. They also almost always bust through the ocean like a linebacker blitzing the quarterback, or a bull tearing through the ring at Christmastime in Zapote. The adrenaline rush of catching one of these fish is always rewarding, but it’s even better when you know you’re helping science learn a little more about these fish.

FECOP’s Henry Marin brings a study subject on board

I recently helped a group of scientists, led by Dr. Larry Crowder from the Hopkins Marine Station at Stanford University, catch fish to better understand and manage ocean pelagics like sailfish and marlin.

It was a good day for fishing and science. There was enough fish for the scientists to be selective with the ones they tagged. They placed satellite tags in three marlin and nine sailfish They chose the healthiest looking fish to place the tags. The tags cost around $4,000 a piece, so it pays to be careful. The tags they use have a “double loop” system which limits the drag in the water and keeps the tag close to the body. It’s black so predator fish won’t be attracted to it.

The team several scientists from Stanford University, tagging experts and several local captains. The team of scientists were here to start-up a four-year project called Dynamic Marine Animal Research (DynaMAR) and are placing satellite tags on marlin and sailfish along several points off the Pacific coast.


The tag is black so it won’t attract predators. (Todd Staley / The Tico Times)


It was a good day for fishing and science. There was enough fish for the scientists to be selective with the ones they tagged. They placed satellite tags in three marlin and nine sailfish They chose the healthiest looking fish to place the tags. The tags cost around $4,000 a piece, so it pays to be careful. The tags they use have a “double loop” system which limits the drag in the water and keeps the tag close to the body. It’s black so predator fish won’t be attracted to it.

The team several scientists from Stanford University, tagging experts and several local captains. The team of scientists were here to start-up a four-year project called Dynamic Marine Animal Research (DynaMAR) and are placing satellite tags on marlin and sailfish along several points off the Pacific coast.

The tag is black so it won’t attract predators. (Todd Staley / The Tico Times)

The tags will gather information on movement, location, depths traveled and water temperatures. They are set to pop off at intervals of, six, nine, and 12 months and float to the surface. Then an antenna will transmit the data to a satellite. Scientists will compare that data from other sources the fish have traveled to.

They are especially interested in what these fish are doing during an El Niño period. During this period, the water warms and changes the upwelling of nutrients. The fish’s normal patterns change and they become more lethargic.

They plan to tag fish every month of the year in future visits and hope to have data on nearly 150 billfish after they’re finished.Dr. Crowder says a similar study on swordfish of the coast of California changed the thinking on Marine Protected Areas (MPA’s).

“Fish don’t always stay in the same place, especially pelagic species, they are always on the move,” Dr. Crowder said. “What we found was at times the fish and marine life we were trying to protect were not even in the area we were protecting”

Dr. Larry Crowder (Pictured Right –  by Todd Staley / The Tico Times)

With the information they gathered from the swordfish study, they were not only able to predict where the concentration of swordfish would be, but more importantly, they could predict where the highest concentrations of bycatch would be. In that case, it was blue sharks and Leatherback turtles, a highly endangered marine reptile.

That study led to the creation of Mobile Marine Protected Areas. By predicting the location of bycatch, areas could be closed to commercial swordfishing for a period and changed with the movements of the bycatch. This led to better conservation effort while allowing commercial fisherman a larger area to fish.



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Investing In The Blue Economy

Rethinking Our Oceans: Investing In The Blue Economy

Our oceans are in the worst state they have ever been. The sea is choked with plastic and heavy metals that are killing wildlife and destroying fisheries. We live on a blue planet, and the oceans contain 99% of available ecological space on Earth. Our atmosphere and the climate rely on the oceans, which has absorbed 50% of the greenhouse gases emitted by humans. But our oceans can also provide an opportunity for prosperity.

↪ Read also: These Islands Are Leading The Drive For Hydrogen Energy

The “blue economy” is a radical approach to rethinking the way we interact with our oceans. Small island nations such as Seychelles are pioneering this approach to see the oceans as a resource that can generate wealth while simultaneously improving ecosystem health. By giving the oceans greater value, local people are encouraged to preserve them for future generations.

Globally, the blue economy, including tourism, fisheries, marine renewable energy and biotechnology, is predicted to grow at double the rate of the rest of the economy by 2030.

Garbage, plastic, and waste on a French beach after winter storms. Can the Blue Economy provide a more sustainable model?Getty

What Is The Blue Economy?

Ocean health is key to the blue economy. The concept involves sustainable management of oceans for now and future generations. Healthy seas are key not only for the health of our environment, but also to accelerate economic growth, create jobs, and fight poverty. Recognizing the great potential of the blue economy, world leaders and scientists united for strategic talks about the future of our oceans at the first Sustainable Blue Economy Conference held in Nairobi, Kenya, in November 2018. The world can improve the health of the oceans, seas, lakes, and rivers and ecosystems they support which are under increased threats and decline across the globe.

At its core, the blue economy sets a framework for the international community to actively work on conserving its ocean resources and develop more sustainable habits to protect ocean ecosystems. The blue economy is a source of economic growth – not just a way to protect the environment but also a source of food, jobs, and water. The World Wildlife Fund estimates that if the ocean were a country, it would have the seventh largest economy in the world. Because over 3 billion people around the world rely on the biodiversity of our world’s oceans and seas for their livelihood, nations must work together to protect these important natural resources for generations to come.

The United Nations has recognized the importance of the blue economy and its important role in a sustainable future for the world’s oceans. Sustainable Development Goal 14, aims to “conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources.” The UN seeks to prevent and reduce marine pollution of all types by 2025, and sustainably manage, conserve, protect, and restore coastal and marine ecosystems over the next 5 to 10 years. In addition, the SDG 14 aims to conduct greater scientific research into ocean health and marine biodiversity, particularly in small island developing states (SIDS) and least developed countries (LDCs). The inclusion of oceans as an SDG is a signal to help small island developing countries thrive economically from the sustainable use of marine resources, driving tourism and better fisheries management.

↪ Read also: 5 Renewable Energy TED Talks To Start Your 2019

The blue economy is particularly important for the fiscal well-being of SIDS. In small island nations such as Palau and Seychelles, marine-based tourism represents over half of export earnings, and fisheries can represent anywhere from 10% to 50% of these nations’ GDP. Sustainable fishing practices coupled with environmental conservation efforts can ensure that the coastal natural resources utilized so heavily by these nations can continue to exist for centuries to come.

Palau and Seychelles: Leaders In The Blue Economy

Small island nations which benefit economically from the world’s oceans have pioneered the blue economy approach to utilize the oceans as a resource to improve their nations’ wealth while preserving the health of our great oceans. SIDS, as well as other coastal states, have a huge opportunity with the blue economy to give positive economic benefits for citizens alongside improved environmental protection, Palau and Seychelles are two island countries which serve as excellent case studies for the blue economy.

Seychelles Ambassador to the United Nations, Ronald Jumeau, pointed out the importance of rethinking the relationship with the oceans. He said, “The blue economy allows countries like Seychelles to put oceans at the center of our finances. We are not a small island state – we are a large ocean nation!

The Seychelles is one of the world’s premier biodiversity hotspots and, as a global leader in sustainable ocean use, represents another blue economy success story – undertaking a transition to sustainable ocean management. More eco-friendly fishing activity in Seychelles will diversify the small island nation’s economy, create high-value jobs, improve food availability and security for the small nation, and sustainably manage and protect the nation’s oceanic resources. The islands also launched the world’s first Sovereign Blue Bond, demonstrating the potential for countries to harness capital to obtain finance for the sustainable use of marine resources.

Sustainable fisheries are vital to healthy oceans.Getty

Meanwhile in the Pacific Ocean nation of Palau, which is comprised of over 250 islands with a cumulative 1519 km of coastline, an equally ambitious undertaking is happening.. Known around the world for its commitment to conservation of the oceans and wildlife, Palau has designated nearly 80% of its territorial waters as a marine sanctuary. Diving is the main tourist attraction in this nation, and Palau’s tourism board has sought to make tourism more sustainable by working on bringing more ‘high-value’ travelers to their small island country. By focusing their tourism efforts on marketing to smaller numbers of high-paying tourists, Palau has aimed to reduce the stress on the marine areas. Palau’s tourism board has also focused on more sustainable tourism activities, such as bird watching and sports fishing, as well as local cultural activities. The nation also became the first nation to enforce a pledge on all visitors to act in an ecologically responsible way.

↪ Read also: 2018: The Electric Vehicle Revolution Is Alive In Barbados

The blue economy can provide a model for us to rethink how we preserve and sustain and improve our biodiverse ocean resources for future generations. While small island nations have much to gain from the blue economy, the worldwide importance of a healthy ocean ecosystem cannot be overstated and urgent action must be made by all countries for its protection.

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High Tech Albatross

Curbing Illegal Fishing With High Tech Albatross

Tech-tagged albatrosses bode ill for rogue trawlers as French Navy battles illegal fishing

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Mariners of old believed that an albatross following their ship signified good luck, but fishermen illegally trawling the Indian Ocean now have cause to be wary of the majestic seabirds.

Some 250 albatrosses are being equipped with tiny transceivers that will automatically pick up trawlers’ radar signals.

Their locations will be transmitted to the French navy, which will use the data to identify vessels fishing in prohibited waters in the Indian Ocean, off the remote French islands of Crozet, Kerguelen and Amsterdam. France is responsible for patrolling some 260,000 square miles of the southern sea.

Vessels fishing illegally generally switch off their automatic identification system (AIS) to avoid being tracked by satellite, but they cannot navigate safely without emitting low-level radar signals which the birds’ transceivers can detect as they fly over the ships.

Sailing without radar in the rough waters of the Indian Ocean would be extremely reckless. “Radars mean safety, especially for illegal ships that have to detect and avoid naval vessels,” said Henri Weimerskirch of the Chizé Biological Research Centre in western France. “Half of the boats we detected [during trials] did not have their AIS switched on.”

The transceivers, weighing less than 60 grams, will be mounted on the albatrosses’ backs. They can pick up radar signals within a radius of more than three miles. Scientists will also use them to track the birds and analyse their feeding habits.

Eighteen of the 22 species of albatross are threatened, some with extinction, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Commercial longline fishing poses a major threat to seabirds. Hundreds of thousands of birds drown each year after being ensnared in fishing lines or nets as they swoop down to catch fish.

The transceivers will relay the whereabouts of illegal fishing boats to authorities Credit: Georges Gobet/AFP

More than 50 million birds live in the French Southern and Antarctic Nature Reserve, which includes the Indian Ocean waters policed by France, according to Cédric Marteau, head of the reserve.

“This is the highest concentration [of birds] in the world and the explosion of fishing after 2000 has caused lasting damage to the fragile natural balance,” he said.

The transceiver beacons, developed by scientists from France and New Zealand, will be fitted on albatrosses over the next five months in an operation known as “Ocean Sentinel”. Further trials are also to be carried out next year off New Zealand and Hawaii.

Many vessels that fish in prohibited waters fly flags of convenience and deliberately create confusion about their identities and nationalities.

Around 250 albatrosses will be fitted with the radar-sensing beacons Credit: drferry

A report by the Environmental Justice Foundation revealed that they try to escape detection by changing vessel names and flags, concealing ownership and sometimes removing ships from registers.

Chinese-flagged vessels have often been suspected of breaching international regulations, according to campaigners. Others have been registered in Panama, Belize or Malaysia, but even when ships are tracked with GPS and satellite systems, catching them in the act and taking their owners and operators to court can prove difficult and costly.

To avoid being apprehended by French authorities in the southern Indian Ocean, many vessels that fish illegally now prefer to operate in international waters, including Asian and South American trawlers that rarely use bird deterrent devices, officials said.

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

Can I take my kids fishing in Costa Rica?

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!

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What is a Billfish?

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Male - Bull Dorado


Costa Rica Fishing Species – Dorado

Costa Rica Dorado

When to Catch Dorado in Costa Rica – November through January and occasionally in February – averaging 20 to 40 lbs. Dorado can be taken year round but not in the same numbers as the months listed above.

From the IGFA Database

Linnaeus, 1758; CORYPHAENIDAE FAMILY; also called dolphin, mahi mahi, dorado, goldmakrele, shiira.

Found worldwide in tropical and warm temperate seas, the dolphinfish is pelagic, schooling, and migratory. Though occasionally caught from an ocean pier, it is basically a deep-water species, inhabiting the surface of the open ocean. The dolphinfish is a distinctive fish, both for its shape and its colors. Though it is among the most colorful fish in the sea, the colors are quite variable and defy an accurate, simple description. Generally, when the fish is alive in the water, the dolphin is rich iridescent blue or blue green dorsally; gold, bluish gold, or silvery gold on the lower flanks; and silvery white or yellow on the belly. The sides are sprinkled with a mixture of dark and light spots, ranging from black or blue to golden. The dorsal fin is rich blue, and the anal fin is golden or silvery. The other fins are generally golden-yellow, edged with blue. When removed from the water, the colors fluctuate between blue, green, and yellow. After death the fish usually turns uniformly yellow or silvery gray.

Dorado are voracious predators – This is one of our all time favorite videos of a dorado pursuing flying fish

Large males (Bulls) have high, vertical foreheads, while the female’s (Cows) forehead is rounded. Males grow larger than females and are referred to as bulls, females as cows.

Female Dorado Male - Bull Dorado

They are extremely fast swimmers ( #9 in the Top 10 fish of the world’s oceans) and feed extensively on flying fish (see video above) and squid as well as on other small fish. They have a particular affinity for swimming beneath buoys, seaweed, logs, and floating objects of almost any kind.

Hooked dolphin may leap or tailwalk, darting first in one direction, then another. It is believed that they can reach speeds up to 50 mph (80.5 kph) in short bursts. Successful fishing methods include trolling surface baits (flying fish, mullet, balao, squid, strip baits) or artificial lures; also live bait fishing or casting. If the first dolphin caught is kept in the water, it will usually hold the school, and often others will come near enough to be caught by casting.

Bull Dorado on the Fly
In addition to being a highly rated game fish, the dolphin is a delicious food fish. It is referred to as the “dolphinfish” to distinguish it from the dolphin of the porpoise family, which is a mammal and in no way related.


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