Tag: roosterfish tournament

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

 

 

Stop Illegal Fishing in Costa Rica
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Costa Rica Roosterfish Fishing Tournament

Roosterfish Tournament in Costa Rica

1st International Roosterfish Tournament in Costa Rica

November 16 – 19, 2018 at Crocodile Bay Resort, Costa Rica

 

Download PDFFOR COMPLETE ENTRY FORM, RULES AND ITINERARY IN PDF CLICK HERE

Entry Fee for United States Citizens is $1500 per person (including boat and lodging) and 100% Tax Deductible

The Pan American Sportfishing Confederation, FECOP (Federacion Costarricense de Pesca), and USA Angling Predator Team invite you to the first ever Pan American Roosterfish Championship for four-person teams.  This championship will be held at the 4 Star Crocodile Bay Resort on the tropical fjord Golfo Dulce in Puerto Jimenez, Costa Rica .  All Pan American countries are invited to participate.  This event will be part of the Pan American Sportfishing Confederation and will be an exciting competition for all the anglers from the Americas.

Costa Rica Fishing

We invite you to join us and represent your country at this tournament.  We also encourage all nations to invite our fellow Pan American nations to this event.  There are currently 41 nations participating in the Pan American Games, and we wish to invite them all.

Please review the attached application, competition rules, and event agenda.

Our team of volunteers are dedicated to making the event as enjoyable and exciting as possible.

Tournament Organizer:    

Costa Rica

Todd Staley    +506 8826 9658

Info@fecop.org

USA Angling Predator Team

Tournament Director:

Ben Blegen +1 612 232 3703

BenBlegen@USAPredatorTeam.org

Tournament location: Crocodile Bay Resort

Puerto Jimenez, Costa Rica Central America
Crocodile Bay Resort

November 16 – 19, 2018

All banking and transfer fees are the responsibility of the paying attendees.

Wire information will be sent once application is received.

Email the Organizer for Bank Wire Transfer Details document and wire Instructions.

Henry Marin info@fecop.org por Espanol or

Registration Fee due at time of Application submission, by electronic money transfer.

Team Registration closes October 21, 2018.

If you have any problems with payment methods, please contact .

Send application via email BenBlegen@USAPredatorTeam.org copy to Todd@fecop.org

Registration fee for a four-angler team includes:       Based on quad occupancy

Lodging Crocodile Bay Resort… all meals included

Registration

All teams and attendees will be required to register at Crocodile Bay Resort and Resort, sign waivers, and take team pictures.  Please wear team jersey for team and group pictures.

Host Hotel Lodging

Championship headquarters will be Crocodile Bay Resort, Costa Rica

Opening Ceremony

Country Flag ceremony will be at Crocodile Bay Conference Center where teams will enjoy the opening ceremony, festivities, and opening dinner.

Closing Ceremony
Staging, medals and flags at Crocodile Bay and awards banquet at Crocodile Bay Restaurant.

General Rules:

  • Costa Rica fishing license supplied to all visiting anglers. Copy of Passport ID needed in advance
  • All fishing done by rod and reel. Only one rod in use per angler at a time. Anglers can use own tackle or tackle supplied by Crocodile Bay Boats for those fishing on those boats.
  • Casting, trolling with artificial lures as well as live bait and dead bait are allowed.
  • All fishing done respecting Costa Rica fishing laws including no fishing in protected areas and no treble hooks allowed inside the Golfo Dulce. Circle hooks must be used while using live or dead bait.
  • Line limited to 30 lb test maximum.
  • Healthy fish will be tagged and released, and all fish must be measured and released as soon as possible.
  • Winners determined by team with most overall length of total roosterfish catch as well as anglers with three largest fish. Must have photo of fish measurement to show to judges if required. Captains will be stewards of all measurements.
  • Fishing area. Anywhere in Golfo Dulce and 25 miles in either direction of Matapalo Rock. Protected areas including National Park excluded.
  • Points given by fish measurement. (Tip of Nose to Fork of tail) One point per inch. 5 best fish per angler or 10 best fish for team per day.
  • Other inshore species like snapper, trevally, or jacks will be given 20 points per fish and can be used for teams that do not capture 10 roosterfish in one day
  • All ties broken by time off catch.

 

Agenda

Thursday November 15

Arrive to Costa Rica and transferred to hotel in San Jose (double occupancy)

Suggested airport for arrival – San Juan Santatamaria International Airport (SJO) in San Jose Costa Rica. One-night lodging in San Jose and round trip air to Crocodile Bay is included for visitors from other countries individual in package price. If you wish to drive it is 370 kilometers (229 miles or approximately 6 hours) to Puerto Jimenez.  Local phone at Crocodile Bay Resort is

2735-5631

Friday November 16

5:00am – 12:00pm transferred to airport for transportation to Crocodile Bay

7:00am – 4:00pm Arrival and registration

5:00pm – 6:30pm Captains meeting and boat drawing

6:30 – 8:30 Opening Ceremony and Dinner

Saturday November 17

5:30am Breakfast at hotel

6:15am Anglers meet boats at pier

6:30am Boats depart from Pier Day 1 fishing

3:30pm Deadline for arrival at pier after fishing

4:00pm – 5:30 snacks at bar

6:30pm Dinner at hotel and boat drawing for day two

Sunday November 18

5:30am Breakfast at hotel

6:15am Anglers meet boats at pier

6:30am Boats depart from

Pier Day 1 fishing

3:30pm Deadline for arrival at pier after fishing

4:00pm – 5:30 snacks at bar

6:30pm Dinner and awards at hotel

Monday November 19

5:30 – 8:30 Breakfast at hotel

Departure times depend on mode of transportation and may start as early as 6:30am

*What is included.  Transfer from airport (SJO) to hotel in San Jose for International visitors. Transfer from hotel in San Jose to domestic flight to Puerto Jimenez. Transfer by domestic airline to Crocodile Bay. Three days lodging and all meals at Crocodile Bay. Two full days of tournament fishing with boat and area guide, bait tackle and fishing license. Return flight to San Jose and transfer to International airport for departure.

Not included: Meals in San Jose, Alcoholic beverages (except complimentary wine at Crocodile Bay at dinner) and tips for hotel and fishing staff.

FOR COMPLETE REGISTRATION FORM, RULES AND ITINERARY IN PDF CLICK HERE

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Roosterfish in Costa Rica

Costa Rica Chosen as Location of First Ever International Roosterfish Tournament

Costa Rica Chosen to Host International Roosterfish Tournament

Costa Rica Roosterfish TournamentThe PanAmerican Delegation recently sent representatives from the USA Angling team and the Mexican Sport Fishing Federation to choose a location for the First International Roosterfish Tournament. They scouted out several locations in Costa Rica and decided Crocodile Bay Resort, Costa Rica  would be the best venue to hold the event. (www.crocodilebay.com)

 

The PanAmerican Delegation is made up of fishing organizations from Canada, United States, Mexico, Central and South America. They hold tournaments in various countries promoting the sport as well as conservation with the goal to one day place sport fishing in the Pan-American games and eventually in the Olympics. FECOP, the sport fishing advocacy group is the Costa Rican representative of the PanAmerican Delegation and will co-host the event.

“First we picked the area of Costa Rica which we felt had the most productive inshore fishery with more available area to fish,” said Ben Blegen captain of the USA Predator Fishing Team. “We decided Southern Costa Rica had more to offer.”
Next, they had to find a location that could easily house a big group and move them around with ease once they arrived in the country. “Crocodile Bay’s close proximity to the regional airport, the ability to house everyone in one location and the on premise private pier were all a big plus in making our decision,” explained Blegen.
The event will be held November 16 until 19, 2018 with open ceremony dinner on the 16th, tournament fishing on the 17th and 18th. Blegen went on to explain the it is not a money tournament put rather anglers will compete for bronze, silver and gold medals and fish for their country of residence. For example if you live in the USA and enter the tournament you will be assigned to fish on the USA team.

This will be PanAmerican’s first roosterfish tournament and first tournament the organization has held in Costa Rica. They are planning to add a tarpon tournament in Costa Rica to the agenda in 2019 as well.
“People’s first comments were, how do we fish a roosterfish tournament when we don’t know how to fish roosterfish,” explained Blegen. “I tell them the Costa Rica team took the bronze medal in the Black Bass tournament last February on Lake Okeechobee, Florida competing against some professional bass anglers, and there is no bass fishery in Costa Rica.”

The tournament will be a catch and release format with each team consisting of 4 anglers. The cost includes one-night lodging in San Jose, in country air transportation to Crocodile Bay and airport transfers, 3 nights at the resort will all meals, two days of tournament fishing, and fishing license. Price is $1250 per angler quad. $1300 triple in room and $1375 double in room.

November is historically a great month for large roosterfish. The tournament is open to all anglers. Costa del Mar sun glasses has already committed to enter two women’s teams from the US. Individual anglers who do not have a full team can participate and will be placed on a team by drawing at the opening dinner. All Penn tackle provided, or you can bring your own.

More information at todd@fecop.org on BenBlegen@USAPedatorTeam.org or www.crocodilebay.com

Sign-up Below to Learn More about this Event!

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