San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Southern Pacific Remains Hot Spot

The hot spot on the Pacific side of the country continues to be the southernmost coast, but well offshore.

Zancudo Lodge at Golfito reports that boats are raising 12 to 16 sails a day, about 25 miles off the point, with water temperature running 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

Only one or two marlin a week reported, but anglers are getting a few tuna and on Saturday one fisherman boated a 42-pound wahoo and lost another.

I called everyone in my phone book in Quepos, on the central coast, and Carrillo, farther north on the NicoyaPeninsula, but was unable to get a report. I assume things have slowed down up there, as I normally get some calls when the action is hot.

The Web site for J.P. Sportfishing in Quepos reports five sails on their best day last week, and just one marlin for the entire week.

The 11th edition of the Presidential Challenge of Central America Conservation Series kicks off today in Carrillo. The event will welcome 13 teams (39 anglers) to compete for team and angler honors. Fishing begins tomorrow and continues through April 23. Proceeds from the tournament will go to The Billfish Foundation and its ongoing efforts to assist Costa Rica with billfish conservation. For more information, e-mail Joan Vernon at or visit

Calm seas are reported on the northern Caribbean coast, with large schools of tarpon outside the river mouth at Barra Colorado. There hasn’t been any action in the river because of very low water, though anglers are getting mojarra in the back lagoons when they can get a boat into those areas at high tide.

Río Colorado Lodge reports that Jim Hanken and Harrison Jewell from Washington and Bob Herbert from Colorado last week jumped 26 tarpon and boated nine in four days.

Gregory Rose from Washington jumped 12 tarpon over last weekend, breaking two 12-weight fly rods in the process, and still had two days of fishing left on his trip as this is written. Kota Hiruma and Sato Yoshio from Japan jumped eight tarpon and boated three on a four-day trip last week, along with a 40-pound wahoo, while Herman and Kirby Burton from Texas jumped 13 and boated three.

I received an e-mail from Harlan Thompson in Indiana asking what we mean when we say tarpon are “jumped” and only a couple “boated.” Harlan, tarpon take oxygen from the air, which is why you often see them rolling or free-jumping, and when hooked they immediately come high out of the water, shaking their heads in an effort to get free of the hook and get more oxygen pumping.

When they come out, the angler is well advised to “bow to the king,” which means dropping the rod tip to the water to give them slack lest they pop the line or your rod tip.

When we say a tarpon is jumped, it means one has taken a lure and come out of the water as they do when first hooked. They will jump time and time again, often soaring high in the air, at which time the experienced angler (or one wise enough to listen to his guide), drops the tip of his rod to give the tarpon some slack, and then starts cranking again when it crashes back into the sea, to bring it to the boat for release. Tarpon are always released alive, as they are not good food fish, and there is no commercial market (thank heaven), but they have no equal as game fish.

When fishing them in the open ocean, you just drift, casting the lure out and twitching the rod now and again. They are often on the inside of the river mouth as well, and in that case you may want to cast and retrieve slowly with a twitching motion to keep your lure working, and on occasion do some trolling.

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