Costa Rica (May 2022): Part 2

An early morning on Gulfo Dulce

I had been on the dock for nearly an hour Thursday morning when Alejandro arrived. Spinning rod in hand. We’d be heading to a local river mouth to target Snook, Jack and Snapper, but my true intent was to try for Roosterfish and larger Jack along a deep water ledge near the river’s mouth. After a slow start, I was eager to try my luck with some bigger fish.

Members of CRAFF-ACPM (Costa Rica Association of Fly Fishers) had brought the opportunity to my attention, and I was anxious to try my luck with a rooster. Explaining my intent, he nodded in agreement, but insisted we start at his spots in the river first. I agreed, but emphasized that there was only a narrow window to target roosters as the tide fell.

A Quick Pit Stop

Alejandro began the five-mile run to the river mouth as I re-rigged my rod in anticipation of targeting snook and Jack among the mangrove. Concentrating on my knots as the boat bounded along, I was momentarily confused when the boat suddenly veered to the right and dropped to an idle.

Looking up, Alejandro shouted “Want a Tuna?” as he pointed towards the bow. Glancing in that direction, I was shocked to see the water boiling. Hurriedly swapping my Andino Deceiver for a Mushmouth, I stripped line from my reel as Alejandro re-positioned the boat in preparation for my cast.

Taking a few false casts to clear the stripped line from the deck, I fired in the direction of the tuna. Falling just short of the boil, I began stripping line frantically and fired off a second cast. This cast hit the mark, and I began a rapid retrieve as fish breached on all sides of my fly.

I could see a pair of fish follow as my fly broke through the boil. And my rod doubled over as the lead fish struck and felt the sting of the hook.

No more than 100 yards from shore, the water was extremely deep, and the fish plunged straight down as I tightened the drag in an effort to gain control.

Eventually turning the fish, I worked it to the surface as Alejandro prepared for the grab. To my surprise we had neither a net nor a gaff, and his plan was to grab any fish too heavy to swing. Thankfully, he proved up to the task, and 20 inches of Black Skipjack Tuna laid on the deck moments later.

Smiling ear to ear Alejandro proclaimed “I love of fishing” before quickly recommending I have the kitchen staff prepare sashimi upon our return.

River of Chocolate Milk

The Tuna on ice, we were back on the move and arrived at the river mouth a few minutes later. What greeted us was the color and consistency of chocolate milk. While only a few days into the green season, the heavy rains had already begun to take their toll. Knowing clear water favors the fly fisherman, it was clear I held no advantage as we worked from point to point.

An two hours-plus later, without either of us having managed a strike, Alejandro asked if I’d like to chase roosterfish now. The tide had fallen for far too long though and winds had picked up significantly, so I declined and we paused for coffee and breakfast.

Refueled and thoroughly caffeinated, Alejandro suggested we put down the fly rod and troll for a while. Intent of fly fishing, however, I declined and instead suggested we go in search of sardines. He agreed, and off we went. Scouring the gulf for signs of baitfish.

A Mixed Bag

When a large school of sardines finally came into view just one cove over from the resort, I swapped my Deceiver for a small Clouser and began to work the school.

Casting into the school, I immediately missed one hook set before losing a subsequent fish after a short battle. The third time was the charm, however, as I successfully landed my second species of the morning: a Sierra Mackerel. Alejandro, again celebrating and chanting “Mackerel, Mackerel, Mackerel,” proceeded to pick up the spinning rod and quickly landed one of his own.

The school now drifting off, he set down his rod and re-positioned once again as I prepared to cast. Hooked up a few casts later, it was immediately clear that I had a third species on the line.

The fight completely different than the Tuna or Mackerel, I wasn’t sure what to expect as a flash of fish began to appear below me. High profiled with elongate fins, I was more than a little surprised as my first Gafftop Pompano came into view.

As Alejandro’s rod doubled over shortly thereafter, it appeared a fourth species would be coming to hand shortly. When that species turned out to be a Golden Trevally, Alejandro could not hide his excitement.

Unfortunately, as he re-positioned once again, his phone rang. It was his boss asking why he hadn’t yet returned. We had run over on time, and the boat was needed to shuttle someone back to the main land.

Fun over, we returned to shore just as two Golden Trevally cruised past the small pier. Elated to see one of my targets cruising the surf, I knew what my plans would be for the following morning…

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