San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Caribbean Clears Up; Pacific Steady

Heavy rains that plagued fishermen on the northern Caribbean coast for a week or more cleared up early last week, and by Monday the sky was blue, no rain and plenty of tarpon.

The Río Colorado Lodge reports that last Sunday Tex Burton went two tarpon caught and released for nine hooked on a six-day trip ending March 30. About that same time, Don Stern and Robert Hix, from Colorado, boated three of 11 tarpon up, along with a 30-pound yellowfin tuna and 25-pound snook, the latter taken at Samay Lagoon.

I had a call last week asking why we so often mention Río Colorado Lodge and not the others in that area. The easy answer, which also applies to the Pacific charter boats most frequently mentioned here: we don’t get reports from Casa Mar, Silver King or Parismina lodges on the Caribbean, or from the marinas or most charter boats on the Pacific.

The same is true of the guides on LakeArenal, in north-central Costa Rica. Call or send me a report by early Monday and I will be glad to include it if deemed noteworthy.

At Arenal, Capt. Ron Saunders reports he guided four fishing tours on the lake last week, with all landing fish, and two of his groups caught 10 or more rainbow and pinto bass topping out at a kilo, taking both top water and trolled lures.

“Conditions have been very good on LakeArenal, which is typical for this time of year,” Saunders said, adding that weather has been overcast with light rains in the mornings, and the lake’s water level has dropped a meter in recent weeks. Saunders can be reached by phone at 339-3345 or by e-mail at

Little change in the action on the Pacific, with marlin, sails, tuna and miscellaneous species being caught up and down the coast, and action holding best off Punta Guiones and farther south, prompted largely by the El Niño we have been experiencing this year.

I received a reasonably concise report from Todd Staley, who has skippered boats and guided and managed various lodges on both coasts for as long as I can remember (but keep in mind that at my age, your memory is the second thing that goes).

“Most people know I like children,” Staley e-mails. “I’ve raised 10 of them. Anyone who has raised children knows it has its ups and downs. One child has driven me absolutely out of my mind this year. That child is a phenomenon known as El Niño. Whoever named it knew a lot about children. El Niño pushes warmer water into this area and the fish don’t like it much.

“What did it mean to us? First, our marlin peak in November and December lasted until February. Fly-fishing guru Ed Waleryszak has fished here every January for the past eight years and never got a shot at a marlin. This year he landed three on a fly in one week in January. Between Nov. 1 and Feb. 1 we raised more than 1,000 marlin. They were nice to have, but the sails weren’t invited to the party. While folks were rewarded with marlin, I dodged punches every night from people disappointed with the number of sailfish.

“About two weeks ago, they officially claimed El Niño to be over. I waited each day to watch the number of fish rise. They would go up into double digits one day and the next day fall back again. The last five days have convinced me it is over.

“O’Neill Williams is here with a group filming his popular TV show. Their top boat yesterday raised 31 sails and the whole group of boats has raised nearly 300 and landed more than 70 sails each day for the last four days.

“The inshore action has picked up considerably also. More roosters are hitting baits and artificials, and snapper and amberjack have been biting on the reefs.”


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