If there are rocks, there are snapper, and that pretty much describes the entire Pacific coast of Costa Rica
Article from Florida Fishing Weekly by Todd Staley
“Rocks and big poppers equals aggressive cubera snapper in Costa Rica”
This particular reef has a peak that rises an additional 40 feet. Today it was something unusual. In the clear water hovering just a few feet below the surface was one big orange ball after another. It looked like a patch of pumpkins. What it was, though, was a group of big snappers taking advantage of the slow tide to see if a school of sardines, mackerel or maybe bonito might come passing by.
When Colin Belton is not designing landscapes fit for the Queen in his native England, he hops on a plane and heads for Central America. He has big orange pumpkins on his mind. Belton has been chasing
them for nearly a decade and could care less about a pointy nosed fish like a sail or marlin.
He chases snapper. His ammo… poppers, and one of his favorite locations is southern Costa Rica.
Belton likes to fish blue water. The clearer the better. “Snapper will come up from 150 feet to take the
popper off the surface,” says Belton. “Make sure you have the drag up on your reel very tight, because snappers always go back to the hole where they came from.” Water color plays a role in Belton’s success. Green water will produce a few snapper, but his personal best day came when the water was
extremely clean and he caught 32 snapper, with the largest going 62 pounds. The bigger the popper, the better, according to Belton.
He prefers a huge popper made in France by Orion Lures, but will also throw a Yo-Zuri Bull. Lure color doesn’t seem to make much difference. It’s the noise and spray these lures produce that bring the fish up.
Work the popper with long slow pulls making as much splash as possible. When you get a boil, don’t stop. The snapper will come back and hit it. Hooking a big snapper is like tying into a freight train. Something you might think would take a 4/0 reel, spooled with straight 100- pound test and the drag hammered down to tackle attached to a broomstick.
That might be a good bottom fishing set up, but impossible gear to toss poppers all day. Belton prefers the Shimano Stella spinning reels with 80-pound braided line on an 8 1/2-to 9 1/2- foot rod. He claims the Shimano Aspire is a good all-around rod to get the job done. Belton always uses a short piece of 120- to 150-pound mono for leader.
The months of January through July are the most productive according to Belton, although his best day ever came in August. “Look for rock, both above and underwater. If there is rock, there is snapper.” he advised. The entire Pacific coast of Costa Rica fits that description. Finding snapper habitat is only a matter of looking for it.
Roosterfish, and sometimes wahoo also visit these reefs. Catching a big snapper may not always be as easy as pulling up on a pumpkin patch, but make enough commotion around the rocks and it can be Halloween any day of the year.