San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

What Anglers Can Expect in January and February

WITH an earlydeadline for ourweekly fishing column,I can’t offerany current fishingreports, so let’s takea look at what youmight expect herein January and February,based on thepast 20 years that Ihave been living(and fishing) inCosta Rica.Fish are traditionally solid along thesouthern and central Pacific coast inJanuary, from Golfito and Puerto Jiménezon the southernmost coast, north to PlayaCarrillo, including Quepos and Jacó Beachregions.The northern Pacific coast is traditionallyplagued by a northerly wind that blowsthis time of year, so boats out of Tamarindoand Flamingo Marina most often run southof Cabo Vela toward Carrillo, where watersare protected from the wind by the landconfiguration.SAILFISH and marlin are what mostanglers are looking for, but it would be arare day without dorado and yellowfin tunashowing as well. You can realisticallyexpect to raise 10 or more billfish a day,but how many you get to the boat forrelease is going to depend on the angler.All billfish (and tarpon) caught in CostaRican waters must be released.Anglers who want roosterfish, snapper,jacks and other inshore species only needto let their skipper know, so he can workthe inshore structure. Inshore species areparticularly abundant in the Golfito area,where there is more rocky structure.The vast majority of skippers fish baitand-switch, trolling a pattern of lures orteasers that simulate a school of bait, thendropping back with a rigged ballyhoo ormullet when the fish come up, or teasingthem close to the boat within casting rangeof any fly fishermen aboard.WE get good fishing most anytime ofthe year, but billfish traditionally begin toshow in significant numbers in November,gradually moving north along the coast,following the bait and warmer currents.Most abundant are Pacific sailfish, significantlylarger than their cousins on theAtlantic, averaging about 85 pounds withsome well over 100 pounds not uncommon.We also catch blue, black and stripedmarlin in Costa Rica, and over the yearshave had a couple of Granders (a marlinover 1,000 pounds) and always a fewGrand Slams every year, with three speciesof billfish the same day, and the occasionalSuper Slam, with all four billfish speciescaught the same day.BOATS operate out of Golfito,Quepos, Jacó Beach, Playa Carrillo,Tamarindo, Flamingo Beach and the Playasdel Coco region, most in the 30-foot rangewith some bigger boats also available.Most charters run about $850 for a fullday, for a boat in the 30- to 32-foot rangethat will fish four or five comfortably.Boats are fully rigged with tower, electronicsand professional-quality tackle; lunch,soft drinks and beer aboard are included.Weather has a lot to do with fishing onthe northern Caribbean coast, but last yearwe had some outrageous tarpon fishinginto late January, when the rain began toslow things down and boats had a hardtime getting outside the river mouth.Snook fishing is normally good on theCaribbean that time of year as well.Rainbow-bass fishing should be goodinland at Lake Arenal in January but willdepend a lot on the rain, which can raisethe water level.If planning to fish the central Pacificcoast in January, I wish you luck finding aboat or hotel in Quepos or the Jacó regions.As this is written in late December, ourtrip-planning service is really having toscramble to find reservations for ourclients for January and February, as mostare already booked.For more info on fishing or assistancein planning a trip to Costa Rica, contactJerry at jruhlow@costaricaoutdoors.comor visit, operators and anglers areinvited to contact Jerry with fishing reportsby Sunday of each week. Call or fax 282-6743 within Costa Rica or write to the emailaddress above.

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