Category: Species

Costa Rica Roosterfish Tournament

1st Roosterfish Tournament Nears

Costa Rica’s Famous Roosterfish Finally Gets its’ Own Tournament!

Costa Rica’s 1st International Tournament Set to Kickoff November 16th, 2018 ( Enter Here ) at Crocodile Bay Resort in Costa Rica’s South Pacific.

Costa Rica really hit the jackpot when it comes to sportfishing. From the river mouths to the bluewaters and way inland, the country is bursting with monster gamefish. But of all the fish out there, it’s the Roosterfish Costa Rica anglers are really proud of.

Funny, then, that there’s no Roosterfish tournament in Costa Rica. But now there is. On November 16 this year, Golfo Dulce’s Crocodile Bay Resort will kick off the first International Roosterfish Tournament. Teams will travel from the US, Canada, Mexico, Panama, and of course, Costa Rica itself to take part.

Man in a white shirt holding a large Roosterfish
Roosterfish are a species well worth traveling for.

Who is organizing the event? Why Costa Rica? What can we expect in years to come? We got in touch with some of the organizers to find out. From what we heard, it sounds like the teams are in for a treat!

What’s the Big Deal with Roosterfish?

Roosterfish are one of those species that can get you hooked from the first time you see them. They’re unlike anything else out there. Their wild mohawk and blue shimmer scream for a camera. Try catching one, and it’s the reel that starts screaming.

Roosterfish fight hard and don’t give in easy. The way they move is erratic, bordering on berserk. They have enough power to break your line and burn your drag if you’re not careful. They’re made even more interesting by the fact that you can’t catch them in the US. It’s easy to see why some anglers spend their lives chasing Roosters around Central America.

You can catch Roosterfish all the way from the north of Mexico to the south of Peru, but very few fisheries compare to Costa Rica. Sure, Baja might have the world record, but Costa Rica has some real monsters, too. And that’s just part of what makes the area unique.

Angler in a blue shirt holding up a Roosterfish in front of his face
Whatever the size, Roosterfish have some real star appeal.

Why Golfo Dulce?

We catch Roosters everywhere here” – says tournament organizer Todd Staley – “We catch them on the reefs. We’ve caught them in over 200 feet. We’ve caught them in the middle of the gulf away from the shoreline.”

This will come as a surprise to anyone who has tried Roosterfishing farther north. In Mexico, Roosters are only really caught along the surf line. Most anglers wouldn’t think of targeting them in more than a couple of fathoms of water. Not so in Costa Rica, clearly.

The fish don’t lack for size, either. According to Beau Williams, Crocodile Bay’s General Manager, Roosters can hit 100 pounds or more in Golfo Dulce. Sure, these aren’t your everyday catch, but on any given week they pull in plenty of fish in the 40-60 lb range.

What draws Roosterfish to the gulf? Several things, says Williams. “It generates an abundance of bait fish that Roosters prefer – sardines, mullet, goggle-eyes, blue runners, moonfish, and bonita.” He also points to the mix of sandy beaches and volcanic rock outcroppings. This all adds up to year-round Roosters. Sure sounds like a good place for a Roosterfish tournament.

View across Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica with mountains in the distance
To be fair, we would also live here year-round if we could.

The PanAmerican Delegation: Big Fish, Big Dreams

So who exactly is organizing the tournament? The people behind the event are the PanAmerican Sportfishing Delegation. They organize tournaments all across the Americas. They have two Bass tournaments, a Snook Tournament, and as of this year, a Roosterfish Tournament.

The Delegation’s aim is to get sportfishing recognized in the Pan American Games. Eventually, they even want to see it in the Olympics. For now, though, they’re happy putting on tournaments and building friendships through fishing. That’s exactly what they’re doing in Costa Rica.

The PanAm Delegation has partnered with FECOP, a Costa Rican non-profit which focuses on protecting the country’s fisheries. This is where Staley came in. He has worked with FECOP since it was first created in 2008. He also worked at Crocodile Bay for the best part of 20 years. This made him the perfect man to help set up the event.

Staley brought the tournament committee to Golfo Dulce and showed them around several resorts in the area. Crocodile Bay came out the clear winner because of its size and easy access to Puerto Jimenez Airport. It also has a large fleet of well-maintained, near-identical boats. This gives each team the same chance of landing a winner.

Angler holding a Roosterfish on a boat with water in the background.
Catching Roosterfish is tough enough without having to worry about the boat.

The committee found the spot for their tournament. It was time to get the teams together. It didn’t take long for the word to spread. A dozen teams from five countries signed up and will be heading down to Crocodile Bay in search of the biggest Roosterfish Costa Rica has to offer.

Catching Roosterfish Costa Rica-Style

One of the many things that makes Costa Rica great is the country’s dedication to responsible fishing. Billfish and Roosterfish are catch-and-release only and circle hooks are the norm on most boats. Local groups like FECOP work hard to keep the fishing sustainable, especially during tournaments.

In keeping with this, the PanAmerican Roosterfish Tournament is entirely catch-and-release. The fish won’t even be weighed. As Staley explains, “we’re not weighing the fish because they have to be out of the water and it’s too much of a strain on them.” Instead, teams will measure each Rooster they catch and submit their top ten every day. The healthiest fish will also be tagged to help scientific study into their movements.

A Roosterfish ready to swim off and fight another day.

How will the teams be fishing? That’s up to them. Tournament rules say up to 30lb line and no treble-hooks with natural baits, but other than that, anything goes. We asked Staley for some of his top tips for bringing in big Roosters and he gave some sound advice:

Here’s my analogy of a Roosterfish: They’re dumb as a rock to a live bait. You can fool them with a popper, or a jig, or an artificial. No-one’s found the holy grail yet on the fly. Fish all the columns of water – don’t just concentrate on the surf or the surface. Try it deep, try it on the surface – they’re gonna be someplace.”

A Big Deal Locally?

It sounds like everyone involved is going to have a blast, but what does it mean to the town? Many tournaments pass the local community by, especially when they’re organized from abroad. Williams says that isn’t the case here, though.

“The locals in this area are extremely excited to have an international tournament,” he says, explaining how the tournament trail has largely missed the south of the country. “While many experienced captains in our area have also fished professionally in Quepos for their Billfish tournaments, they are very excited to get Puerto Jimenez on the map.”

Staley also says that Golfo Dulce’s Rooster fishery doesn’t get the attention it deserves. That’s part of the reason for the tournament: “There’s plenty of other Sailfish, Marlin, and Dorado tournaments in the country,” he says, “Nobody’s really doing an all-Roosterfish tournament.”

a Roosterfish underwater with the hull of a boat behind it
This is definitely a fish that deserves its own tournament.

So how involved is the local community? Not hugely, at least for this year. Staley is sticking to his golden rule of “keep it simple, stupid.” This is the tournament’s first year, after all.

That’s not to say they’re not involved at all. There will be a presentation by the head of the local fish board and a performance put on by the local school. The captains and crews will also be from the area, but the Costa Rican teams won’t – it would be a little unfair if some teams were fishing their own backyard, we guess.

What’s next?

“The Pan-American Delegation was formed less than 2 years ago.” Explains Staley. “It’s in its infancy but hopefully it will take off.” He says that organizations in Europe have had a lot longer to get going and that the PanAm is still catching up. If that’s the case, they’re catching up fast. They already have four tournaments in three countries, fishing both saltwater and freshwater.

This is the first PanAmerican tournament held in Costa Rica, but it won’t be the last. If everything goes well, we could also see a Tarpon tournament sometime next year. The delegation is a long way from their Oolympic dreams, but they’re making a solid start.

November 14-19, almost 50 competitors will comb the Golfo Dulce on a dream Costa Rica Roosterfish adventure. They will put back all the fish and take away prizes for their countries instead. If nothing else, it sounds like great fun. We’re hoping for even more, though: more tournaments, more fishing friendships, and eventually, maybe even angling Olympians.

Have you ever caught a Roosterfish? Ever visited Golfo Dulce? We’d love to hear your experiences, so let us know in the comments below!

Article Courtesy www.fishingbooker.com

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Costa Rica Roosterish

Costa Rica Fishing Species – Roosterfish

FECOP Sport Fishing Species – Roosterfish

Experience the thrill of the roosterfish, one the worlds most extreme fighting fish (pound for pound) in Costa Rica’s inshore waters (catch and release species)

Unlike  pelagic species, roosterfish are found inshore and can be targeted year round in Costa Rica. Roosterfish average 10-15 lbs but individuals in the 40-60 lb range are not uncommon in Costa Rica’s Pacific waters. These fish are caught inshore cruising reefs and are voracious predators. Roosterfish are considered to be one of the strongest and most exciting fighting fish in Costa Rica. Their meat is dark and not good eating and this is definitely a catch and release fish. These fish can be caught from the shoreline during changing tides near drop-off points on lures including poppers but live bait trolling seems to be the most productive method to experience a fight with these bruisers. Not only are these fish aesthetically pleasing to the eye…but unlike other inshore fighting fish they will take to the air on occasion making the experience that much more exciting for the angler. If you are going to photograph this fish, do it quickly and release as soon as possible. Especially with larger/heavier individuals as being out their buoyant environment is hard on the fishes internal organ structure.

Costa Rica Roosterfish

The roosterfish, Nematistius pectoralis, is a game fish found in the warmer waters of the East Pacific from Baja California to Peru. It is the only species in the genus Nematistius and the family Nematistiidae. It is distinguished by its “rooster comb”, seven very long spines of the dorsal fin.

Costa Rica Sport Fishing Species Roosterfish

Photo by Bryce Johnson

Roosterfish Facts

The roosterfish has an unusual arrangement of its ears: the swim bladder penetrates the brain through the large foramina and makes contact with the inner ear. It uses its swim bladder to amplify sounds.

Roosterfish can reach over 1.6 m (5 ft 3 in) in length and over 50 kg (110 lb) in weight.[4] The weight of the average fish hooked is about 20 lb (9.1 kg). The fish is popular as a game fish, but it is not considered a good eating fish. The roosterfish is a catch and release species.

 

More Roosterfish Information

Costa Rica Hosts The First International Roosterfish Tournament Novemeber 2018

SAT Tag Recovered from Roosterfish off the Coast of Costa Rica

Catching a Roosterfish in Costa Rica – A Fish to Crow About

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Costa Rica Fishing Species – Yellowfin Tuna

Costa Rica Fish Species

Meet the Yellowfin

 

One of FECOP’s primary initiatives is to reduce “bycatch” resulting (most often times) from illegal, non-sustainable, tuna fishing operations in Costa Rica’s Pacific ocean. The aftermath of this illegal activity includes the  death of non-targeted species such as sailfish, marlin (billfish), dolphins, sea-turtles, and the destruction fragile marine ecosystems. Learn more about our current initiatives Tuna for Ticos, and The Costa Rica Tuna Decree

From the IGFA Fish Database
Occurs worldwide in deep, warm temperate oceanic waters. It is both pelagic and seasonally migratory, but has been known to come fairly close to shore.

Tuna Fast Facts

Did you know – The yellowfin can be distinguished from the blackfin by the black margins on its finlets?

Tuna are considered warm blooded because they can regulate their own body temperature . The very few partly or fully warm-blooded fish possess organs near their muscles called retia mirabilia that consist of a series of minute parallel veins and arteries that supply and drain the muscles.

IGFA FISH DATABASEMost large yellowfins have overextended second dorsal and anal fins that may reach more than halfway back to the tail base in some large specimens. In smaller specimens under about 60 lb (27 kg) and in some very large specimens as well, this may not be an accurate distinguishing factor since the fins do not appear to be as long in all specimens. The pectoral fins in adults reach to the origin of the second dorsal fin, but never beyond the second dorsal fin to the finlets as in the albacore. The bigeye tuna (T. obesus) and the blackfin tuna (T. atlanticus) may have pectoral fins similar in length to those of the yellowfin. The yellowfin can be distinguished from the blackfin by the black margins on its finlets. Blackfin tuna, like albacore, have white margins on the finlets. It can be distinguished from the bigeye tuna by the lack of striations on the ventral surface of the liver.

 

Stop Illegal Fishing in Costa Rica

tuna for ticos costa rica

This is probably the most colorful of all the tunas. The back is blue black, fading to silver on the lower flanks and belly. A golden yellow or iridescent blue stripe runs from the eye to the tail, though this is not always prominent. All the fins and finlets are golden yellow though in some very large specimens the elongated dorsal and anal fins may be silver edged with yellow. The finlets have black edges. The belly frequently shows as many as 20 vertical rows of whitish spots.

tuna for ticos

The diet depends largely on local abundance, and includes flying fish, other small fish, squid and crustaceans. Fishing methods include trolling with small fish, squid, or other trolled baits including strip baits and artificial lures as well as chumming with live bait fishing.

It is highly esteemed both as a sport fish and as table fare. Its flesh is very light compared to that of other tunas, with the exception of the albacore, which has white meat.

If you would like to make an impact and help FECOP  stop illegal fishing in Costa Rica, please sign the petition below

Dear representatives,

Presidency of the Republic,

Legislative Assembly Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock,

National Institute of Fisheries and Aquaculture,

Ministry of Environment and Energy,

Vice Ministry of Water and Seas,

National Coast Guard Service,

The situation of illegal fishing that is happening in our country is a serious problem that affects our marine resources, the national economy and that of our communities.

It is for this reason that through this petition we request better controls and effective surveillance for foreign tuna fleets.

Better penalization mechanisms for those who break the law of our country and exploit our resources indiscriminately.

As well as support and prioritization for national fleets in the consolidation of sustainable tuna fishing in our territorial waters.

I hereby support this cause by registering my information on the following petition.

More Costa Rica Fishing  Species

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Costa Rica Marlin Fishing

Costa Rica Fishing Species – Pacific Blue Marlin

FECOP  Costa Rica Fishing Species

Pacific Blue Marlin

Pacific Blue Marlin

WHERE FOUND IN COSTA RICA: Marlin can be found all along Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast. They are a pelagic and migratory species which means they live near the surface in deep, off-shore waters. They typically are found in warmer tropical waters between 70-85 degrees, which Costa Rica has year round.

Marlin Time in Costa Rica: Marlin can be and have been caught year round in Costa Rica. Historically, the best months for blue marlin in the Southern and Central Pacific regions of Costa Rica (Osa Peninsula, Quepos, Jaco) are November through January. Most years there is usually a ‘second run’ of marlin around June and July which may include an increase in black and striped marlin mixed in with the blues. Marlin are also found in the northwestern part of Costa Rica – Guanacaste from May to September when the bite then moves north along the coast with the drier weather and warmer waters.

Marlin Facts – Did You Know:

  • Sometimes referred to as “The Lady in Blue”
  • Average life span: 27 years (females); 18 years (males)
  • It is illegal to take a sailfish or marlin out of the water for photos in Costa Rica
  • Marlins are “Catch and Release” ONLY fish – Learn why it is against the law to remove these fish from the water in Costa Rica
  • Best time of year to catch a Pacific blue marlin in Costa Rica – Year round peaking in Nov – January and again in April – times vary depending on which part of Costa Rica you are fishing – contact your Costa Rica guide or lodge for details.
  • The Blue marlin is very large fish. Females are 3 to 4 times larger than males. Larger specimens can reach 14 feet in length and weight of almost 2000 pounds. On average, blue marlin usually reaches 11 feet in length and between 200 and 400 pounds in weight.
  • Dorsal (back) side of blue marlin is dark blue while the belly is silver white in color.Blue marlin has elongated body, long tail, pronounced dorsal fin and sharp, spear-shaped upper jaw.
  • Blue marlin uses its spear-shaped jaw to stun, corral and catch food. It feeds on crustaceans, fish (mackerel, tuna), dorado and squids.
  • During the hunt, blue marlin will pass through a dense school of fish and inflict injuries with its spear. Dead or injured fish will float around and blue marlin will easily scoop them afterwards.
  • Blue marlin relies on the eye sight to find food. It hunts during the day (diurnal animal).
  • Blue marlin has 24 vertebrae which allow fast movement through the water. It reaches the speed of 60 miles per hour.
  • Because of their large size and sharp spear-shaped jaw, blue marlins have only couple of predators: white sharks, mako sharks and humans.
  • Blue marlins are very active and strong animals. They like to leap out of the water. Also, they will show powerful and acrobatic movements while trying to release of the hook.
  • Blue marlins are solitary creatures. Sometimes they swim in pairs. Rarely, they will gather in larger groups (schools).
    Blue marlins are migratory species. They will move from one location to another to escape low water temperatures (they prefer life in warm waters).
  • Mating season of blue marlins takes place late in the summer or early in the autumn.
  • Females become sexually mature when they gain the weight of 265 pounds. Males reach sexual maturity at the age of three years.
  • Females are able to spawn 4 times per single mating season, releasing up to 7 million eggs. Only small percent of released eggs (less than 1%) will survive until the adulthood.
  • Majority of eggs will be eaten by other marine creatures.
  • Current Pacific World Record:1,376 – Females can reportedly grow to 1,998lbs
  • Common Name: Blue Marlin
  • Size: Up to 14 ft
Pacific Blue Marlin

Photo by Pat Ford

On any day of the year it is possible to release (catch and release species by law in Costa Rica) a Pacific blue marlin in Costa Rica (Pacific) but recorded releases are historically highest from November to January when the big dorado run is on. There is also a small peak in April as sailfish numbers drop. July through September there is a better chance at a black or striped marlin mixed in with the blues in Costa Rica

More About the Pacific Blue Marlin

Lacepede, 1802; ISTIOPHORIDAE FAMILY
From IGFA Fish Database

IGFA FISH DATABASEThis pelagic and migratory species occurs in tropical and warm temperate oceanic waters. In the Atlantic Ocean it is found from 45°N to 35°S, and in the Pacific Ocean from 48°N to 48°S. It is less abundant in the eastern portions of both oceans. In the Indian Ocean it occurs around Ceylon, Mauritius, and off the east coast of Africa. In the northern Gulf of Mexico its movements seem to be associated with the so called Loop Current, an extension of the Caribbean Current. Seasonal concentrations occur in the southwest Atlantic (5°-30°S) from January to April; in the northwest Atlantic (10°-35°N) from June to October; in the western and central North Pacific (2°-24°N) from May to October; in the equatorial Pacific (10°N-10°S) in April and November; and in the Indian Ocean (0°-13°S) from April to October.

A Japanese report indicates that the blue marlin is the largest of the istiophorid fishes. It apparently grows larger in the Pacific. All giant marlins are females, and male blue marlin rarely exceed 300 lb (136 kg). The pectoral fins of blue marlin are never completely rigid, even after death, and can be folded completely flat against the sides except in the largest specimens. The dorsal fin is high and pointed anteriorly (rather than rounded) and its greatest height is less than the greatest body depth. The anal fin is relatively large and it too is pointed. Juveniles may not share all the characteristics listed above, but the peculiar lateral line system is usually visible in small specimens. In adults it is rarely visible unless the scales or skin are removed. The vent is just in front of the anal fin, as it is in all billfish except the spearfish. The back is cobalt blue and the flanks and belly are silvery white. There may be light blue or lavender vertical stripes on the sides, but these usually fade away soon after death, and they are never as obvious as those of the striped marlin. There are no spots on the fins.

They are known to feed on squid and pelagic fishes, including tuna and mackerel. A powerful, aggressive fighter, they run hard and long, sound deep, and leap high into the air in a seemingly inexhaustible display of strength. Fishing methods include trolling large whole baits such as bonito, dorado, mullet, mackerel, ballyhoo, flying fish and squid as well as various types of artificial lures and sometimes strip baits.

Photo(s) by Pat Ford

Some taxonomists believe that the Atlantic and Pacific blue marlins are closely related but separate species. They apply the scientific name Makaira nigricans, Lacepede, 1892, to the Atlantic species only and the name Makaira mazara (Jordan & Snyder, 1901) to the Pacific and Indian Ocean species. Others treat the two populations as subspecies, Makaira nigricans nigricans and Makaira nigricans mazara

Black or Blue? – It is hard for most captains and anglers to tell the difference at times unless they are close to the fish. At closer range, one can be quickly and positively identified since it is the only marlin that have rigid pectoral fins that cannot be folded flat up against the body without breaking the joints. It is also set apart by the airfoil shape of the pectoral fins and by its very short ventral fins, which almost never exceed 12 in (30 cm) in length, regardless of the size of the fish. The first dorsal fin is proportionately the lowest of any billfish, usually less than 50 percent of the body depth. The body is laterally compressed, rather than rounded; much more so than in similar sized blue marlin.

World Record Details from Marlin Magazine:

World Record Blue MarlinNote: It is against the law in most countries to remove billfish from the water for photos – These are catch and release fish ONLY – To learn more read Leave the fish in the water, why your dream photo isn’t worth it – by Todd Staley

On May 31, 1982, angler Jay de Beaubien caught the biggest Pacific blue marlin ever recorded by the International Game Fish Association while he was fishing aboard No Problem, a 43-foot Merritt captained by Bobby Brown. The bite took place at approximately 1 p.m. while they were trolling a silver and blue Kita lure off Kona, Hawaii. According to the angler’s account, “All hell broke loose with that first run.” Within minutes, the fish had nearly emptied the spool. However, despite several strong runs and the immense size of the fish, de Beaubien and the crew had the fish boat-side in just 40 minutes. Not long after, the crew officially weighed the 1,376-pound blue marlin, bringing the All-Tackle record back to Kona where it has remained ever since. This photo is for historical purposes only, it is illegal to remove billfish from the water.

 

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The King - Silverking Tarpon

Costa Rica Fishing Species – Tarpon aka “Silver King”

Costa Rica Fishing Species: Tarpon

Can I catch Tarpon in Costa Rica?

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

Region: Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast

From the IGFA Fish Database:

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

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

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

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

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

Tarpon Remain a Fascinating Species

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Costa Rica Fishing Species – Sailfish

Costa Rica Indo-Pacific Sailfish

 

From IGFA Fish Database

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

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

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

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

Sailfish are the fastest fish in the sea

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

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

 

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

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

Sailfish Facts Costa Rica

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

Sailfish Release

 

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

  Costa Rica sailfish fishing conservation

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

More on the Saifish from the IGFA.org Fish Database

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

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

FECOP Fish Facts: Pacific Sailfish

Fastest Fish in the Sea at up to 70mph

World Record 222 lbs (Ecuador)

Common Name: Sailfish

Scientific Name: Istiophorus

Type: Fish

Diet: Carnivores

Group Name: School

Average life span in The Wild: 4 years

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

Size: 5.7 to 11 ft

Weight: 120 to 220 lbs

Size relative to a 6-ft man:

 

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small dorado baby

The Fastest Growing Fish in The Ocean?

Dorado: The Fastest Growing  Fish in the Oceans

Dorado, Mahi or Dolphinfish, are some of the fastest growing and swimming fish in the oceans.

Costa Rica DoradoDorado can spawn every two to three days at the early age of four to five months old. A female releases an average of 50,000 eggs each time they spawn. dordado can grow to an estimated 0.5 to 1.0 inch in length per week while gaining two to three pounds per month.

Aftco (aftco.com) has sited a case of a big bull dorado that lived for 18 months and when it died, there was no guessing of its weight, as it was immediately taken from the tank to a scale. In 18 months the 1.5 lb dorado grew to an amazing 68 lbs.

The females and the younger Dorado generally live Mahi Nutritionamong floating grass and floating debris while the larger males tend to roam free in the open ocean. A large male dorado can weigh up to 85 pounds in their short five-year lifespan.

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.

Dorado is low in saturated fat and is a good source of vitamin B12, phosphorus, and potassium and a very good source of protein, niacin, vitamin B6, and selenium

Nutrition Table Via: fishwatch.gov

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Dorado fishing

Costa Rica Fishing Species – 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.

Dorado

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Tuna Persein Commerical Fishing Dolphins

Costa Rica Spinner Dolphins

FECOP Species: Costa Rica Spinner Dolphins

The spinner dolphin gets its name from its habit of leaping from the water and spinning rapidly before landing with a splash. Sometimes, individuals will leap repeatedly, as many as ten times in a row. This species lives in the open ocean and often associates with other species of dolphins and with schools of tuna. Spinner dolphins are relatively small for the dolphin family, reaching lengths of approximately seven feet (2 m) and weights of only about 170 pounds (77 kg). Spinner dophin and yellowfin tuna often swmin together to hunt and discourage larger predators.

This species feeds on schooling, mesopelagic fishes and squids in the open ocean.  Like their prey, spinner dolphins form large groups – typically composed of hundreds or even thousands of individuals (common offshore in Costa Rica’s Southern Osa Peninsula Region) – for hunting and socializing.  Spinner dolphins are known for being quite playful and put on impressive aerial displays, breaching and spinning regularly.  Mating also occurs in groups, with several males and several females mating simultaneously.  Females only reproduce every three years or so.

Costa Rica Spinner Dolphin

As the spinner dolphin is a wide ranging, open ocean species, its conservation status is not well known.  It is, however, at the center of a major conservation controversy.  In the 1980s, fisheries that targeted the yellowfin tuna were responsible for accidentally catching and killing spinner and spotted dolphins, sparking the famous and successful dolphin-safe tuna campaign.  The tendency of adult yellowfin tuna in the Pacific Ocean to school with similarly sized adult dolphins leads to the unfortunate habit of fishermen exploiting this symbiotic relationship and setting their nets around dolphin pods with the hope of catching the nearby tuna.  That activity is now illegal in most places around the world, but scientists believe that several million spinner and spotted dolphins have been killed in tuna nets.  This species now has legal protection throughout much of its range and is the focus of several international conservation efforts.  However, continued study is needed to determine the direction of population trends and the conservation status of this species.

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