Category: FECOP News

Sport Fishing Generates Nearly 500 Million Dollars Annually in Costa Rica

Sport fishing tourism generates nearly 500 million dollars a year in Costa Rica or almost 13% of total tourism revenue.

Published by AmPrensa.com

March 11, 2019 Ana Yancy Aguilar Featured, Nationals

The Costa Rican Sport Fishing Federation (FECOP) recently finalized a study that shows the social and economic contributions of  sport fishing in Costa Rica.

Photo By Pat Ford

This study includes an analysis of the impact of Sport Fishing activities in Costa Rica on both macroeconomic and local levels.  This new FECOP study developed in 2018 and early 2019, determined that Sport Fishing activities directly and indirectly generate around 500 million dollars a year to the country, and represent almost 13% of total tourism revenue

The data also indicates that Sport Fishing activities have grown, surpassing other eco activities in the tourism sector.

“The Sport Fishing segment of the Costa Rica tourism industry is a substantial part of the industry accounting for around 5.6% of total tourism or between 150,000 and 200,000 tourists that come Costa Rica to fish annually. These tourists also invest in the different communities where Costa Rica sport fishing is active thus benefiting the local area families and communities. ” explained Henry Marin, sociologist and author of the study. At a local level, data collected from areas such as Herradura, Quepos, Golfito, Puerto Jimenez, Flamingo, Playas del Coco and Tamarindo were analyzed. The complete study will soon be available for download on FECOP.org

For more information visit www.fecop.org

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Sailfish – The Evolution of The Hero Shot

Costa Rica Fishing Tournament Calendar

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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 wetline@hotmail.com.

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 wetline@hotmail.com.

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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Costa Rica Deep Sea Fish Species

New Deep sea fish species and animal discoveries warrant expanded protections in Costa Rica

Researchers Discover New Fish and Animal Species in the Deep Seas of Costa Rica

 

Golden Stalked Crinoid in Costa Rica

A bright golden stalked crinoid.

Over the course of three weeks, a team of scientists aboard the Schmidt Ocean Institute’s research vessel Falkor explored the deep sea seamounts of Costa Rica. Spending their time in the waters outside Isla del Coco National Park, they marveled at the diverse ecosystems and discovered several new species. Now, the researchers are hoping that their findings will allow them to understand more about how these seamounts provide an essential animal corridor.

Isla del Coco, or Cocos Island, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site surrounded by deep water and has a marine ecosystem unlike any other island in the region. Using remotely operated vehicles, 19 dives were conducted to explore the deep sea, with some of the dives going thousands of meters deep. The findings were shocking, for both good and bad reasons.

 

The scientists, who were led by Dr. Erik Cordes of Temple University, focused on marine life of all sizes—from tiny microbes to fish and coral. Over the course of their dives, they discovered at least four new species of deep-sea coral and six other animals new to science. By surveying these seamounts for the first time, the researchers will learn much more about the coral communities hosted there and how to protect them from potential harm.

The images they brought back are a fascinating look at the thriving diversity of life that exists far below the surface of the sea. Among the discoveries was a piece of black coral that was about 2 meters (6.5 feet) tall, which leads scientists to believe that it’s about 1,000 years old.

Schmidt Ocean Institute - Falkor - Deep Sea Research in Costa Rica

ROV SuBastian is deployed in the waters of Cocos Island National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site.

“This new research will support Costa Rica’s efforts to conserve these important habitats by providing a baseline of the incredible species and ecosystems found in the deeper areas that don’t always attract the attention that they deserve,” says Schmidt Ocean Institute Cofounder Wendy Schmidt. “One of the most important things we can do right now is to understand how these communities work, so, if there are changes in the future, we can measure human impact.”

Unfortunately, one of their finds shows that humans are already making their mark on the ecosystem. During their deepest remote dive at 3,600 meters (over 2 miles), they discovered a large pile of human trash. As threats to seamount communities increase due to the fishing and energy industries, researchers are working faster than ever to analyze and implement measures to save these vulnerable organisms.

“Every dive continues to amaze us,” said Cordes. “We discovered species of reef-building stony corals at over 800 meters depth on two different seamounts. The closest records of this species are from the deep waters around the Galapagos Islands. The deep sea is the largest habitat on Earth. Understanding how that habitat functions will help us to understand how the planet, as a whole, works.”

The Schmidt Ocean Institute’s Falkor research vessel spent three weeks exploring deep sea seamounts off the Cocos Island in Costa Rica.

Schmidt Ocean Institute - Falkor - Deep Sea Research in Costa Rica

Sunset over R/V Falkor’s bow.

They discovered at least four new species of deep-sea coral and six other animals new to science.

Black Coral Discovered by Schmidt Ocean Institute - Falkor - Deep Sea Research in Costa Rica

Black coral measuring about 2 meters (6.5 feet) tall. The coral could be about 1,000 years old.

Chimaera - Deep Water Fish

Costa Rica Fishing Species – Chimaeras are cartilaginous fish, largely confined to deep water. Their closest living relatives are sharks, though their last common ancestor with sharks lived nearly 400 million years ago.

Deep Sea Coral

Here is a deep sea coral (with polyps fully extended) and a associates, including brittle stars.

Schmidt Ocean Institute - Falkor - Deep Sea Research in Costa Rica

An octopus seen at 320 meters (1,050 feet) depth.

Abyssal Sea Cucumber

An abyssal sea cucumber feeds, sifting through sediment, near an anemone at 3,521 meters (~2.2 miles) deep.

Schmidt Ocean Institute - Falkor - Deep Sea Research in Costa Rica

Costa Rica Fish Species  – Cutlassfish vertical schooling.

Deep sea Anglerfish

Costa Rica Fish Species – An Anglerfish at a depth of 320 meters (1,050 feet).

Unfortunately, they also discovered human trash over two miles below sea level, making their work to preserve the fragile ecosystem all the more urgent.

Trash Found in Deep Water

An accumulation of trash discovered at a depth of 3,600 meters (more than 2 miles) during one of 19 remotely operated vehicle dives.

 

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Panama Tells China No on Purse Seining

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costa rica fishing lures

FECOP and Larry Dahlberg Team up to Create Jobs for Displaced Workers

Production of artificial fishing lures for displaced shrimp industry workers

FECOP and Legendary Fisherman Larry Dahlberg Team up to Help Employ Displaced Shrimp Industry Workers

Todd Staley February 7, 2019 Published for The Tico Times
 
Costa Rica fishing lures hand made

A group of former shrimp peelers listen to a plan to teach them lure making. (Photo courtesy of Todd Staley)

Many people applauded Costa Rica for outlawing shrimp trawling last year. The new ruling has survived many court challenges and even today the shrimp industry and INCOPESCA, which manages the country’s fisheries, is doing technical studies on a supposedly sustainable type of trawling.

Henry Marin, a socioeconomic expert and project manager for FECOP, an organization that advocates for sport fishing and of sustainable fishing in Costa Rica, understands that conservation also has a social cost.

“What most people don’t realize is that the ruling displaced 300 women in Puntarenas who worked as shrimp peelers that now are left unemployed. Many of these women are the heads of their households,” Marin said.

Hundreds of people in Puntarenas were employed by the trawling industry.

Larry Dahlberg, the legendary fisherman, lure maker, and host of television show Hunt for Big Fish, visited Costa Rica recently and Marin explained the shrimp peeler blight. They both agreed that conservation had a social cost. Then they agreed they could do something about it.

Dahlberg has designed many famous fishing lures and last year offered to come down and teach these women displaced from the shrimping industry how to make fishing lures since they were well adapted to working with their hands.

Marin started the leg-work and contacted the women’s group. Then there were meetings with INCOPESCA, which is in charge of Costa Rican fisheries, and Instituto Nacional de Aprenizaje (INA), Costa Rica’s technical institute. Both groups were eager to participate.

Dahlberg enlisted the help of Mike Faupel, President of Alumilite Engineering Company who owns MakeLure.com; Amazing Casting products, suppliers of molding and casting products; and Brad Roberts, a well-known lure maker and owner of Jaw Sportswear. The three will be spending the last week of February in Costa Rica training a group of these women as well as five INA instructors to carry on the training to keep the program growing.

The group will be making fishing lures for both hard and soft baits and are planning to develop a bio-degradable lure. After they learned the molding process, they can expand to other products like souvenirs for cruise ship tourists that visit Puntarenas.

The project will not be the solution for all 300 women, but if done properly, the co-op they form will employ a good number of women. Marin understands this is only the first step.

“They will need help learning how to manage a business and INA has plans to include this in the program,” Marin said. “Volunteers are invited to participate, especially university students in business administration or with knowledge of 3D printing looking for a community project are welcome.”

For more information or to volunteer for the project contact Henry Marin at 2291-9150 hmarin@fecop.org


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 wetline@hotmail.com.

http://fishcostarica.org/monthly-costa-rica-captain-profile-remembering-archie-fields/
 

Costa Rica Top Global Fishing Destination

 

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How and Where to Catch Trophy Roosterfish

Where and How to Catch Trophy Roosterfish

What you need to know to catch the Eastern Pacific’s iconic roosterfish

Where and How to Catch Trophy Roosterfish

Tough guy of nearshore reefs, rocky headlands and sandy bays, roosterfish — iconic game fish of the Eastern Pacific — is a bucket-lister for many anglers.

Adrian E. Gray

A lazy swell rolled in from the open Pacific, gradually forming into a single cresting wave as it encountered ever-shallower water. Our panga steadily chugged along at little more than a walking pace just behind the surf line, so close to the verdant jungle backdrop that I could see flocks of scarlet macaws browsing on sea almonds.

Beaches such as this offer prime real estate for predators to pick off smaller fish that dart about the turbulent water to feed on the countless shrimp, sand eels, shellfish and other tasty tidbits revealed by powerful wave action continually scouring the sandy seabed.

An open beach off Panama’s Coiba Island is not a great place for a lone blue runner to be swimming, especially one bridle-rigged to a circle hook. Certainly the fish so tethered at the end of my line was not having the best of days, and a sudden increase in activity telegraphed up the rod told me things were about to get much worse for that hapless baitfish.

Where and How to Catch Trophy Roosterfish

Nematistius pectoralis occur in a limited area, mainly from Mexican waters south through Ecuador.

Sport Fishing

I tensed in anticipation of an ­imminent strike. Moments later, I spotted the runner skipping across the surface, closely followed by the unmistakable seven-stranded dorsal fin of a roosterfish as it surged forward to engulf the fish in an explosion of whitewater

For two or three seconds, I allowed line to pour unchecked from the reel, then gently eased the lever drag forward to the strike position. I waited for the line to tighten, and smiled as my rod bent in confirmation that the hook had indeed found its way into the sweet spot in the corner of the fish’s jaw.

“Cinquenta!” shouted my captain a bit later, when he leaned over the side and grabbed my fish just ahead of its tail. Hoisting it aboard, he announced that I had indeed caught the 50-pound roosterfish he knew I so desperately wanted to catch. I could see that he was being overly generous, the fish weighing at best 40 pounds or so. I knew it wasn’t the 50-pounder I have sought for so many years now.

Roosterfish, Nematistius ­pectoralis, inhabit the eastern Pacific, from the Baja Peninsula south to Peru. It’s the only species in the genus Nematistius and, with its iconic seven-stranded dorsal fin — like the rooster’s comb from which the species gets its name — the roosterfish is one of the most recognizable species of game fish. For a great many saltwater anglers, as for me, it’s a bucket-list species.

Over the years, I have caught lots of roosters during numerous trips throughout Costa Rica and Panama. Often I have fished destinations where fish over 50 pounds are caught with some degree of regularity, but a 50-plus-pound trophy always seems to elude me.

Are there ways I can fine-tune where, when and how I fish in order to maximize my chances of catching that elusive trophy rooster? Keen to put the odds as much in my favor as possible in my ongoing quest, recently I contacted several experts who regularly see big roosters caught in their waters.

Where and How to Catch Trophy Roosterfish

Roosters often feed in the surf zone around rocky outcroppings.

Dave Lewis

Tricks from Tropic Star
Tucked into Piñas Bay in southern Panama, very close to the Colombia border, Tropic Star Lodge ranks as one of the world’s great fishing lodges. Numerous world-record roosters have been caught by anglers fishing these prolific waters, including the men’s 8-pound class, currently held by a 54-pound, 9-ounce rooster.

“There is always a degree of luck to catching any trophy fish, but there are certainly things that anglers can do to increase their chances, namely look for the optimal time of year depending on area, baits and techniques,” says Capt. Richard White, Tropic Star’s fishing director and assistant manager. “In our waters, the best months for larger roosterfish are from April, when the water starts to become very clear, till around August.

“Live bait is the best bet for larger roosterfish, especially hardtails [blue runners], mullet and bonito,” White continues. “Large roosterfish have such big mouths, a 50-pound rooster can easily engulf a large mullet or bonito. We swim live baits bridled with a circle hook. Smaller hooks are generally preferred, but you need a hook with a gape big enough to hook those larger fish.

“A lot of the bigger fish are hooked from a downrigger, with baits fished at about 30 to 50 feet down.” White emphasizes that big baits take big roosters: “You’ll have less action overall, but when you do get that bite, you know it’s going to be a big one.”

Where and How to Catch Trophy Roosterfish

No lure, beats a live bait, with bridled blue runners such as this one being one of the roosterfish’s favorite hors d’oeuvres.

Dave Lewis

White says that both swimbaits and poppers work effectively for roosterfish. Color seems less important than matching the hatch in terms of size. Adjust your retrieve until you find the speed that the fish want, and note exactly where you get bit. “Was it on the sunny side of the rock or the shady side? Was it in the whitewater or the swirls?” White asks. “Was it just after a pause, or was it a reaction bite? If you can start to identify a pattern, you’ll be able to refine your technique to catch more fish.”

Where and How to Catch Trophy Roosterfish

Many roosters are taken on poppers and stickbaits worked along sandy beaches.

Dave Lewis

Roosters on the Tuna Coast
Panama’s remote “tuna coast” on the Azuero Peninsula is home to Panafishing Lodge, another destination where trophy roosters are very much a house specialty.

“Catching a 50-plus-pound rooster on the tuna coast is definitely a realistic target,” lodge owner Pierre-Andre Demauge says. “Big roosterfish can be elusive and picky, but some anglers will catch a trophy on their first day, while it might take others several trips before they catch a really big one.”

Demauge says that in their waters, “big roosters are much more likely to eat a live bait than a lure. We find that the big fish move around a lot, with no one spot consistently producing trophy fish. In our area, there is no such thing as ‘targeting a big rooster.’ We just fish a likely spot, have fun with whatever wants to bite, and sooner or later a big rooster will show.

“On the tuna coast, the biggest roosterfish tend to be caught in the wet season, especially in May, June and October,” Demauge continues. “I think this is due to the fact that bigger fish feed primarily on green jacks, which are abundant during the wet season. Juvenile roosters love to hunt the balls of anchovies so abundant in the dry season.”

Where and How to Catch Trophy Roosterfish

The unique, telltale “rooster comb” dorsal fin often slices the water behind a lure.

Dave Lewis

For Demauge, live bait is much more effective for trophy roosters than any lure. The best bait in these waters is a 7- or 8-inch cojinua (green jack), but many other species will work. “We’ve seen big roosters eating anything from 2-inch anchovies or needlefish to small yellowfin tuna or jack crevalle.”

But Demauge says that many anglers like to fish lures, and “we catch our share of big ones on all kind of artificials.” Demauge cites one major upside to lure‑fishing: “Nothing beats the strike of a big rooster on a topwater lure!”

Lures that can be worked fast produce best, he says, citing a 6- or 7-inch popper or stickbait worked energetically with short strokes and nonstop action as the most reliable lure for roosters there. However, at times, roosters can be reluctant to strike lures on top. Then it’s time to send down the jigs.


Read Next: Breathtaking Roosterfish Leap


“For the past few years, slow-jigging has proved a really effective and unexpected way to target trophy roosters. Fighting a big rooster on slow-jigging tackle is something that even the most experienced angler will remember!

“When that big rooster does ­eventually show up behind your lure, its comb sticking aggressively from the surface, whatever you do, don’t stop working your lure!” Demauge cautions. “When you are hooked up, maintain steady pressure, and if the rooster races toward the boat, be ready to reel as fast as you can. Roosterfish are masters at unhooking themselves if you let them have any slack.”

Where and How to Catch Trophy Roosterfish

Perhaps no area is more renowned for its consistent roosterfishing than southern Costa Rica’s Matapalo Rock, on the west side of the Golfo Dulce, where this monster was caught from a Zancudo Lodge boat.

Adrian E. Gray

Costa Rica in the Offseason
Repeating the refrain of big baits for big roosters, Allan Smith, fishing director at Crocodile Bay Resort on Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula, says: “Big roosters want a meal, not a snack. Our bait of choice are live bonitos, trolled slowly.” It can take longer to get live baits the right size, and you won’t get as much action, but when you do get the bite, it will likely be the big fish you’re looking for.”

Smith says the odds of bigger fish also increase when fishing pressure has eased off.

“The best months here off the Osa Peninsula are the offseason, August through November, when fewer boats on the water mean some spots don’t get touched for weeks at a time. “The big fish tend to make more mistakes when there is little fishing pressure.”

Where and How to Catch Trophy Roosterfish

Even when sailfishing offshore is hot, lots of anglers will take at least a day to fish nearshore for roosters.

Julien Lajournade

Mexican Monsters
More anglers have probably caught their first roosterfish in the waters of Mexico than any other country, especially around the Baja Peninsula. The current International Game Fish Association all-tackle world record is held by a 114-pound fish that was caught at La Paz in 1960. A quick scan through the list of various line-class records reveals no fewer than a dozen current line-class rooster records from Baja.

“We catch many roosterfish in June and July over 60 pounds,” says Grant Hartman, owner and head guide at Baja Anglers in Cabo. For their waters, Hartman says, live mullet or ­caballito (scads) produce the biggest fish, though big Pencil Poppers and similar lures also work.

“For the really big fish, you usually have to put in the time on the water, but having said that, I have had many anglers catch a giant roosterfish on their very first day.”

Where and How to Catch Trophy Roosterfish

Large poppers such as this Halco Roosta Popper attract attention when fished at a modest pace.

Dave Lewis

Global Perspective: Fish Those Lures!
“Catching a big rooster on a lure has nothing to do with luck, only hard work and patience,” says Julien Lajournade, editor of the French global fishing magazine, Voyages De Pěche.

Lajournade, who has caught his share of large roosters, notes: “More people fish with lures than bait at the lodges I have fished, and in recent years, a lot of very big fish have been caught with poppers, including trophy roosters exceeding 60 and even 80 pounds.

“In my opinion,” Lajournade continues, “the best lures are big poppers. XL-size poppers made for giant trevally can fool monster roosters, especially in deep rocky places.” Lajournade favors a white belly with a light-blue back, rigged with a single strong treble hook at the rear. He attaches it to a 60-pound ­fluorocarbon leader.

But, Lajournade says, rooster hunters should avoid heavy drag settings. “You’ll lose many roosterfish if you fight them giant trevally style.” When fishing relatively deep or in agitated water, Lajournade suggests big, deep-cupfaced poppers fished slowly with pauses. But when shallower and in calm waters, he says, “use a steady retrieve, popping regularly but without violent splashes. Remember,” he adds, “make long casts and stay focused; roosters don’t strike a lure twice. Never slow down a retrieve, whatever is happening behind the lure.”

Where and How to Catch Trophy Roosterfish

Most guides favor circle hooks both because they work so effectively and minimize release mortality.

Dave Lewis

Other Rooster Destinations
In addition to several ­countries already mentioned, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru all have roosterfish hunting in their inshore waters. Guatemala’s Pacific resorts widely seek roosters inshore as an alternative to the popular sailfishing offshore.

The main issue when ­planning to fish in little-known or underdeveloped countries is finding a reliable outfitter who can arrange safe boats with knowledgeable crews. Following the recent cease-fire and peace agreement with the FARC terrorists, Colombia is already starting to attract an increasing number of sport fishermen; it certainly will become the next big Central American destination to draw anglers from around the globe — where, among other game fish, you can be sure they’ll target roosters.

 

About the Author
The work of Dave Lewis, a retired firefighter and U.K.-based angling photojournalist, appears regularly in publications around the world. He travels extensively, and acts as host and guide to groups of sport fishermen traveling to salt- and freshwater destinations (visit davelewisfishing.com).

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Costa Rica Fishing Species – Roosterfish

Gray Roosterfish Tagging Update by Todd Staley

 

 

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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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Marlin Fishing – Bait Vs. Artificial

Marlin Fishing Tips – Baits or Artificial Lures When Fishing for Marlin

Published for Marlin Magazine by Sam White 2019

When Bart Miller died in 2018, he left behind a rich legacy as one of the sport’s most well-known fishermen-turned-lure-designers. His line of Black Bart lures has become the gold standard around the world for their ability to raise and catch marlin. Miller’s friends and longtime business partners, Jack Tullius and his brother Gary, continue that legacy as the current owners of Black Bart Lures.

man holding up two marlin fishing lures

One of sport fishing’s most well-known lure-makers, Capt. Bart Miller believed that lures out-fish natural bait for marlin because of the lure’s action as it moves through the water.

©️Scott Kerrigan/www.aquapaparazzi.com

And yet for all the popularity of artificial lures, natural bait remains a top choice in many areas of the fishing world. Mark Pumo grew up fishing off Miami and the Bahamas. He started fishing some of the local billfish tournaments after college, where he noticed a need for high-quality natural baits. His team at Baitmasters of South Florida has become one of the sport’s top bait suppliers. If you’re pulling a ballyhoo, Spanish mackerel, mullet or squid in your spread, there is a pretty good chance it arrived to you in one of those distinctive yellow-and-black Baitmasters packs.

To help better understand the specific benefits inherent to artificial lures and natural baits, we looked at a number of critical parameters. This is a head-to-head comparison: bait versus Bart.

Billfish Species

This is perhaps the most important factor to consider. If you’re chasing only blue or black marlin, then a spread of large, active lures fished on heavy tackle is hard to beat.

“Lures give you the ability to cover water at higher speeds, with the size and fish-raising action you need to get the attention of an apex predator like a marlin,” Jack Tullius says. “While elephants do eat peanuts, big fish usually prefer to hunt and consume large prey items that are worth the energy they expend to chase them down.”

However, if the target species include white marlin, sailfish and game fish, then bait may be a better choice. White marlin are especially notorious for their ability to whack even a small lure multiple times without finding the hook. In this case, a spread of chin-weighted ballyhoo fished on circle hooks is a much better option.

From Southern California down to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, teams pull artificial lures for striped marlin, but they almost always have a pitch bait ready, often a live or fresh-dead caballito already bridled and ready to go. If the marlin doesn’t hook up immediately, the bait is introduced to entice the fired-up stripey to switch over. It’s a tactic that allows the boat to cover territory as the crew searches for fish on the surface, while greatly improving their hookup ratio once they do raise a marlin.

cold chest of ballyhoo bait

In the billfish-rich waters of Central America, natural bait reigns supreme. Deckhands may spend hours rigging hundreds of ballyhoo in anticipation of a great day offshore, with a few larger mackerel in case a blue marlin shows up in the spread.

Austin Coit

Marlin Destinations

Where you fish has almost as much importance as the target species, and the two are certainly related. Specific locations in the world are almost exclusively dead-bait-centric locales, while others are the hallowed halls of lure fishing. In Central America,the dead-bait ballyhoo spread is the bread and butter of the charter-boat and tournament crews, just as it is throughout the Carolinas and Florida. But venture to Bermuda or Hawaii, and the name of the game is lure fishing. This isn’t to say there is not some crossover: The Costa Rica captains will occasionally pull lures at the seamounts for blue marlin, and the smart Bermuda captains will have a pitch bait ready for a white marlin on the Challenger Bank, but in general, the destination will often dictate the tactics on the water.

Release or Kill

It has been said that you pull bait to fly flags and fish lures to cash checks, and there is some truth to that bit of dockside philosophy. If the goal is to pile up billfish releases in a tournament, it’s hard to beat a dead-bait spread. With circle hooks, most fish will be hooked in the corner of the jaw, and it’s much easier to hook and quickly release double- and tripleheaders of sailfish or white marlin on bait. But if only the largest blue or black on the dock wins the Happy Gilmore-size check, a big hunk of skirted resin is almost always a better bet.

ballyhoo fishing bait

Natural baits offer a much higher hookup-to-release ratio than lures, especially when fished with circle hooks.

Austin Coit

Skill Level

While it does take experience and skill to become a really good lure fisherman, it’s also much easier for a relatively inexperienced team to start catching fish with lures (and a spread of five Black Barts fished at 8 knots is a pretty good start). Dead bait requires a higher level of skill, starting with the preparation. “Poor bait prep and sloppy rigging techniques mean that the bait will wash out quickly and not swim correctly,” Pumo says. “It takes dedication and lots of practice to gain proficiency as a dead-bait fisherman, but it’s also a great source of pride for those who achieve that level of ability.” Pumo also notes that Baitmasters offers expertly prepared, pre-rigged natural baits for those who may not have the time or experience to rig their own.

Availability, Storage and Refrigeration

The availability of high-quality natural bait in certain parts of the world is a big issue, often forcing teams to ship large quantities of frozen bait to a destination well ahead of time. Sometimes this isn’t an option, especially when overzealous customs officials become involved. I’ve even seen cases where ballyhoo is considered frozen food, even after we pointed out that it’s clearly labeled as bait on the package. On the other hand, it’s easy to pack a full spread of plugs in a soft-sided lure bag and take them with you anywhere in the world.

“Natural bait also requires storage and refrigeration/freezer space, either on the boat or elsewhere,” Pumo says. “It has to be kept frozen solid until it’s ready to be rigged, and natural bait doesn’t last long once it’s thawed. Once the baits are rigged, they need to be kept cold but not in direct contact with fresh water or ice, which means a separate bait cooler or storage area on the boat.” Lures, of course, require no special treatment.

Time

Do you or your crew have the time to properly rig a full box of natural baits, or do you want to hop on the boat and go fishing? Rigging ballyhoo or mackerel is a process that involves carefully thawing, prepping and rigging dozens of baits, and it requires a host of miscellaneous small items like chin weights, waxed floss, O-rings or swivels, copper wire, rigging needles and more. Meanwhile, the same lures you pulled yesterday are ready to go today. Just check those hooks for sharpness, snap the leaders in the swivels and you’re all set.

J Hook versus Circle Hook

One main disadvantage of lures over bait is in the release ratio. Most lure fishermen will say that if they can maintain a hookup-to-release ratio of 70 percent or so, then that’s doing pretty well. Some boast of much higher percentages, but then again, there are also plenty of stories of rubber-hook days where teams are zero-for-4 on blue marlin, where the fish is hooked and pulling drag but manages to elude capture during the fight for whatever reason.

Circle hooks, on the other hand, have a much higher percentage of hookup to release, thanks to their shape, which catches the fish in the corner of the jaw. “For a hard-jumping blue marlin, they can throw that J hook fairly easily, while they have a much harder time shedding a circle hook during the fight,” Pumo says

Interestingly, the mandated shift to circle hooks with natural bait, enforced by the National Marine Fisheries Service, caused a complete shift in North Carolina’s tournament blue marlin fishery. The standard Carolina marlin bait — a horse ballyhoo rigged on a J hook and fished in combination with a blue-and-white Ilander lure — was now illegal in tournament competition. Teams quickly learned to lure fish for big blues, while maintaining their prowess at dead-bait fishing for white marlin, yellowfin tuna and other species.

Action versus Taste

Lures are great at raising fish and getting bites, but it’s hard to beat natural bait in getting a marlin to actually eat the damned thing. Much like a cat chasing a toy, a blue or black will sometimes bat a lure repeatedly in an attempt to catch, kill and eat it, often resulting in some spectacularly unsuccessful bites. If you free-spool the lure, it loses its action and the fish quickly loses interest. With a ballyhoo or mackerel, a short drop-back gives the marlin a chance to grab it, and since it looks and tastes real, they can turn and swallow it easily. And while they don’t chug and splash like lures, it’s hard to beat the realistic swimming action of a well-rigged mackerel, mullet or ballyhoo in the spread. This one’s a draw.

fishing lures on a wooden deck

With their aggressive head shapes, these lures will raise plenty of marlin, particularly in the noisy white water close to the boat.

Joe Byrum

Teasers

Because of their fish-raising splash, color and shimmy, lures are a terrific option as teasers. Many a marlin has been raised to a Black Bart fished as a teaser before either being switched over to a pitch bait or hooked on a lure in the spread. On the other hand, a squid daisy chain with a ballyhoo chase bait is standard in just about any big-game fishery in the world. Having that natural bait gives the fish a taste of the real thing and keeps it engaged for those crucial few seconds needed to get a pitch bait in the water

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Yellowfin Tuna Costa Rica

Costa Rica Sets the Bar High for Sport Fishing

Stop Illegal Fishing in Costa Rica

How Costa Rica Sets the Bar Higher for Sport fishing

Two distinctive coasts, a wide variety of fish, and the possibility of a sport fishing grand slam make this country a place to return again and again.

Costa Rica continues to set the bar high for sport fishing but is also known for many things: flavorful coffee, a remarkably relaxing pura vida lifestyle, and tropical rainforests. For most, fishing isn’t high on the list of reasons to visit this Central American country—but those in the know can attest that it should be. Why? When it comes to Costa Rican sport fishing, it’s all about variety. Year-round fishing, more than ten species to catch, a rich history of competition, and two completely different coasts make Costa Rica a sport fishing hotspot that you’ll need to visit more than once to truly appreciate.

There’s an important distinction between regular fishing and sport fishing. Regular fisherman typically keep and eat or sell their catch. Sport fishing is done at a higher, sometimes professional level, and is mostly catch-and-release. And certain fish—marlin, swordfish, roosterfish among them—are only meant to be caught for sport and released. Costa Rica is a fishing pro’s paradise for its large variety of fish species to be caught 365 days a year throughout the country. As the country’s legislation is trending towards prohibiting industrial-scale fishing, now is as good a time as ever to get your catch-and-release on in Costa Rica.

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It’s Always Fishing Season in Costa Rica

The best place to land a marlin in Costa Rica is on the Pacific Coast. [Photo Credit: MichaelMaywood, iStock]

Marlin in Costa RicaWhen planning a fishing vacation, it’s important to study up on your destination’s seasons and to know exactly what you can expect to catch at the time you’re traveling. Costa Rica has two distinct seasons: the dry season and the green (or wet) season. Dry season runs from December to April, and will be your best bet for catching most species. It’s also the high season for Costa Rica vacations. While dry season will get more hype, there’s a lot to love about wet season. The summer months can be the best time to catch billfish; schools of tuna will be easier to spot after a heavy rain; wahoo season heats up when the water cools down around May; and the jungle becomes lush and green as everything begins to bloom again.But truly, the best time to fish in Costa Rica depends on what you’re looking for. Costa Rica’s vast geography offers up so many different microclimates and currents that affect the fishing season that you can practice different types of sport fishing and catch plenty of totally different species. For example, snapper and roosterfish are catchable all year, while other species like marlin, sailfish, and wahoo virtually disappear during the fall months. In the North Pacific region, marlin can’t be found in January and February, while in the Central and South Pacific, they’re abundant at that same time.

Bottom line: Do your homework, set your goals, and plan accordingly.

Here’s a detailed chart to help you plan your Costa Rica fishing vacation

A Tale of Two Coasts

What makes Costa Rica a sportfisherman’s dream is its unique location. Close enough to the equator for its fishing season to last all year, Costa Rica benefits from two coastlines, each with strikingly different characteristics.

Pacific Coast

Marlin sailfish, Pacific Ocean, Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast is ripe with marlin, sailfish, roosterfish, and more. [Photo Credit: reisegraf, iStock]

Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast enjoys more sunny days than anywhere else. It also boasts plenty of local Tico culture, and is the most popular for tourists. On the Pacific Coast, you’ll hunt marlin, sailfish, dorado, wahoo, roosterfish, and tuna. Los Sueños—a small resort town in Punternas province—is one of the world’s top big game fishing spots for blue, black, and striped marlin, plus has lots of sailfish (which are easier to catch, especially in February!).The best Pacific fishing spots during the green season are in Papagayo Gulf, Tamarindo, Playa Flamingo, and Playas del Coco. The best catches in dry season are found in Golfo Dulce, Zancudo, Puerto Jimenez and Golfito.

Visit: December – April
Avoid:October

Caribbean Coast

Costa Rica’s entire Caribbean coast is occupied by the province of Limón. It’s rich in Caribbean culture and preserves its Indian heritage, while its white sand beaches are uncrowded. It’s also more natural (read: less Americanized) and suited for laid-back travelers. Fishing here is year-round, though it often depends on the weather, which changes day-to-day. The east coast is known more than anything for tarpon, which fish best from December to May. Tarpon are massive—averaging 100-120 pounds and sometimes even cracking 200. What makes them a favorite among fishermen is their fighting ability. One of the toughest fish to catch, the tarpon’s nickname is the “Silver King.” The best fishing spots on the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica are Tortuguero and Barra del Colorado, around the rivers, estuaries, and larger lagoons.

Whe to Visit Costa Rica: January – May; late August – early November
Avoid: June – July

Hit the Elusive Grand Slam

A grand slam is one of sportfishing’s most honored accomplishments. The impressive feat occurs when one angler has a day so successful that he or she catches three different species of fish in a day. In Costa Rica, three or four grand slams are reported each year. Each family of fish—trout, salmon, bass, and so on—has its own grand slam requirements. For a good shot at a grand slam. Its waters offer the opportunity to catch blue, black, and striped marlin, as well as a massive selection of sailfish, giving experienced fisherman a chance at the esteemed billfish grand slam. That particular feat requires catching any three of the following: the Atlantic blue marlin, Pacific blue marlin, black marlin, white marlin, striped marlin, Atlantic sailfish, Pacific Sailfish, swordfish, or spearfish.

Costa Rica Cements its Sportfishing Reputation

Boat for sport fishing Costa Rica

A sport fishing boat heading out for some offshore fishing in Costa Rica. [Photo Credit: THEPALMER, iStock]

Costa Rica is home to many of the world’s most recognized tournaments.Los Sueños hosts an annual three-leg billfish tournament in the winter called the Triple Crown, and is the self-proclaimed billfish capital of the world. Quepos, just 45 miles southbound down the coast, is another competitive fishing hotspot. It hosts the largest and most prestigious sport fishing tournament series in the world: the four-day Offshore World Championship.

World Record Catches in Costa Rica

For a country with only 727 miles of coast (612 on the Pacific side, 115 on the Caribbean side), Costa Rica boasts an impressive amount of outstanding sport fishing achievements. Here are six of the country’s best catches, ranked by Sport Fishing magazine:

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Archie Fields

Costa Rica Legend Archie Fields

Remembering Costa Rica Fishing Legend Archie Fields

Printed for the Tico Times by Todd Staley

Archie Fields, a giant of a man, sat wearing a white guayabera shirt on the veranda overlooking the Río Colorado. Next to him were myself and two local women who worked at his hotel, the world-famous Río Colorado Lodge on Costa Rica’s northern Caribbean coast. The women jabbered away in Spanish and I didn’t understand a word they were saying. But I kept hearing over and over again the words “don Archie.” I remembered “The Godfather” movies from the ’70s and thought to myself, Holy crap! I’ve gone to work for the Mafia.
That was my first day of work for the late Archie Fields.

I have since learned to speak Spanish and that the word “don” is the equivalent of “mister,” a respectful title that has nothing to do with organized crime. Fields hailed from Tampa, Florida, and arrived in Costa Rica by way of the Bahamas, where he had set up a thriving tourist business but found it difficult to do business after the British gave up rule of the islands.

He then set up shop in Costa Rica and founded Swiss Travel, which today is one of the biggest travel agencies in the country. The landing of the first cruise ship in Costa Rica at the Caribbean port of Limón was organized by him. His Costa Rican Tourism Board license was No. 17.

In 1972, he bought a cabin in Barra del Colorado on the Caribbean coast and started the first boat tour down the Río San Juan and Tortuguero canals.

When he discovered what a great tarpon fishery the area offered, he added sport fishing. Cabin by cabin, he built the lodge until he had 19 rooms and created what has been called a “Rube Goldberg designed, Swiss Family Robinson type of fishing lodge.”

A history of celebrity and folklore infuses the lodge. Actor Lee Marvin and Minnesota Vikings coach Bud Grant used to fish there. Jimmy Buffett, in his book, “A Pirate Looks at Fifty,” describes Río Colorado as a place where overweight older guys who do not know much about fishing can get their picture taken with a large tarpon with relative ease and comfort. Novelist Randy Wayne White titled his “Batfishing in the Rainforest” after an experience at Río Colorado.

There are rumors that at one time a secret compartment below the lodge’s bar held a stash of guns that were secretly slipped upriver to Edén Pastora, “Comadante Cero,” and the Contras during the Nicaraguan Revolution. This was around the same time a Nicaraguan fighter plane blew up the fish house in Barra del Colorado because the pilot mistakenly thought he was over Greytown, Nicaragua.

Fields didn’t just come down here and grow wealthy. He gave back. The school system in Barra del Colorado went only up to the sixth grade in his day, so he sponsored many children who had to be fostered in Guápiles or San José to continue their education. Some have gone on to become doctors and business professionals.

He also led a campaign for conservation of Costa Rica’s marine resources. His secret to success was to “underpromise and overdeliver.” He never put really large fish in his brochures or advertising materials. He wanted all his guests to catch a bigger fish than they were expecting.

The current owner of Río Colorado Lodge, Dan Wise, was in Costa Rica celebrating his 40th birthday when he met Fields at a hotel in San José. Fields convinced him to go fishing at his lodge. Over the years, Wise became a regular visitor. When Fields fell ill with cancer, he thought it would be too taxing for his wife, Anita, to run the remote lodge, so he decided to sell the business.

Wise humorously describes how he ended up owning the famous Archie Fields’ Río Colorado Lodge: “The name Archie Fields in the tarpon fishing business is equivalent to Colonel Sanders in the fried chicken business. [Fields] was quite a salesman, as he sold me a termite-infested wooden hotel in a town with no road access or fire department and talked me into leaving the country of my birth, abandoning a good law practice and living in a totally different culture in a tropical paradise. Meeting this silver-headed old man by chance certainly was a life-changing experience for me to say the least.”

Speaking from experience, I can say that living and working in Barra del Colorado is the Costa Rican version of Herman Wouk’s “Don’t Stop the Carnival.” Archie Fields left a lifelong impression on many people. To this day I can’t remember the date of my own father’s death, but I remember the day the big fisherman in the sky took Fields: April 8, 1993. A lot of people miss you, don Archie.

Todd Staley is the fishing manager at Crocodile Bay Resort in Puerto Jiménez, on southwestern Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula. Skippers, operators and anglers are invited to email fishing reports by Wednesday of each week to todd@crocodilebay.com. To post reports and photos on The Tico Times’ online fishing forum, go to www.ticotimes.net/Weekend/Fishing/Fishing-Forum.

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