San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Pacific Returning to Normal; Fish Biting Everywhere

Tropical Storm Alma dumped almost two feet of rain on Costa Rica the last week in May. The heavy rains left the oceans muddy-brown and slowed the fishing some. A few weeks have passed and I’m happy to report things are getting back to normal along the Pacific coast. The water is clearing up, the weather patterns have returned to normal, and the fish are biting.

Northern Pacific

Brent Jarrett and friends fished out of FlamingoBeach on the Flamingo II with Capt. Gene Watson. The first day was a little slow, with one sailfish release and five yellowfin tuna to 45 pounds. The bite turned on the second day when they raised 15 sails and a couple of marlin.

Ken Jones and family fished with Capt. Randy Wilson on the Talking Fish and had an amazing day, catching numerous grouper, tuna, a 60-pound dorado, two sails, a 320-pound marlin and a partridge in a pear tree. Mark Sydney of Americana Sportfishing said the clients were thrilled with their grandslam fishing day.

Capt. Adam Hermsen on the Ocean Smasher fished with Tim Nickey from Florida and found a couple of really nice logs floating about 15 miles out, surrounded by tons of small yellowfin tuna and dorado. Tim landed a 50-pound dorado and released many smaller ones. He also caught lots of yellowfin tuna and released two blue marlin in the 350-pound range.

Central Pacific

Capt. R.J. Lilley on the Predator fished out of Los Sueños Marina with a family on its first fishing trip. They fished a submerged rock 20 miles south of the marina and caught two big wahoo in the 40-pound range, five yellowfin tuna over 30 pounds and a black marlin estimated at about 700 pounds. The clients asked the captain if the 14-foot marlin was a good thing to catch, not realizing that anglers spend countless dollars and days in pursuit of such a prize.

Capt. Dave Mothershead on the Miss Behavin out of Los Sueños took a family from Miami out and caught a few sails, a few dorado and a nice wahoo. The kids had a great time battling the dorado. The next day they brought some of their wahoo fillets to bubba’s tacos and enjoyed a big batch of fresh fish tacos (see box).

Capt. Brandon Keene on the Fish Whistle out of Los Sueños has been fishing inshore lately with success. The baitfish have been thick in the Jacó area, and lots of baitfish mean big roosterfish, corvina and snapper. Keene took a couple of anglers out recently and caught four corvina over 20 pounds, three roosterfish between 45 and 65 pounds, and two yellowtail snapper. The captain says he has been doing lots of butterfly jigging lately and clients love it – especially when they get fresh corvina and snapper for the grill.

Dave Dobbins of Fish La Manta in Quepos reports that things are getting back to normal after Tropical Storm Alma sank 10 boats and damaged countless others. Dobbins recently went two for three on sailfish,with four dorado and a few small sharks. He also received reports that Capt. Glen Morales on the Reel Deal released 17 sailfish livebaiting at a local hot spot called the Furuno Bank, where the bite has apparently been consistent. Another boat, also live-baiting at the Furuno Bank, had three sailfish, a marlin and a big tuna.

Southern Pacific

Capt. Rudy Dodero of Sportfishing Dominical said the rain can scare off some fishermen, but he had a few brave guys venture out recently. Paul Dorr and friends did a half-day trip looking for some eating fish. They ended the day with a couple of 40-pound wahoo and a few small yellowfin tuna. Dodero also reported that the Sánchez family released six sailfish on a recent trip to the Furuno Bank. He added that the area is experiencing some red tide, and this algae bloom can slow the inshore bite.

Todd Staley of Crocodile Bay Resort in Puerto Jiménez reports that the inshore bite has been OK for roosterfish in the 30- to 40- pound range. He said the big jacks have been beating the roosterfish to the bait. The fishing offshore has been good, with lots of dorado and football tuna to about 35 pounds. These are good signs for the June-July marlin run.

Most marlin average 150 to 300 pounds this time of year, making it possible to catch one on the fly. The sailfish bite has been average lately, with a few fish being landed. Most of the anglers are chasing marlin.

Rande Schuck of Aldea Del Río Sport Fishing out of Sierpe reports he had a couple of guys fish last week. The anglers were having good luck with a mixed bag of species. Their first day out, they caught a 40-pound wahoo, a 38-pound snapper, a 20-pound roosterfish, a 12-pound dorado and a 16- pound yellowfin tuna. Those guys obviously ate well for a few days with that catch. Keith Banks of Rancho Tropical in Golfito reports the normal slowdown for this time of year. A few boats have been going out and word is the blue water is moving back in close, holding a lot of big dorado and a few marlin.


Jim Di Berardinis of Tarponville Lodge in Manzanillo, on the southern Caribbean coast, reports that the fishing is fairly normal for this time of year. A group of Italian fly fishermen who visit Tarponville twice a year, in October and May, had a good trip with 42 tarpon hooked and 18 landed. Jim Gruber and family had a decent week near the end of May with a few nice tarpon, lots of big jacks and some small tuna.

Northern Region

Capt. Ron Saunders says they have been fishing and catching at beautiful LakeArenal, where the water levels are good and the guapote are chasing bait. Saunders has put several customers onto 10-pound fish by having them cast near the shoreline and around structures, and by trolling off the points. The morning bite has been strong, and they have had some great afternoon catches as well. He expects the conditions and fishing on LakeArenal to remain strong through June and into July. Arenal Volcano is in a very active state, so customers get to see interesting eruptions of ash, rocks and lava while they fish.

Philippe Tisseaux of San Carlos Sport Fishing in Los Chiles says the San Juan River is on the rise, which means the big tarpon and snook will be migrating back from the Caribbean Sea. He says large quantities of 90- to 150-pound tarpon can be found around the Sábalo, Medio Queso and Palo de Arco areas in Nicaragua. A good number of snook have also been reported the past couple of weeks.

I want to thank everyone for the positive comments we have received about the new Tico Times fishing column. I encourage captains and fishermen to continue sending me their current fishing reports, photos and forecasts.

With my first report came my first error, requiring my first correction. Brandon Nappy, who provided a great firsthand account of Tropical Storm Alma damage in Quepos (TT, June 6), works for Fish Quepos, not Fish Costa Rica.

The Billfish Foundation in the United States has established a Quepos Sportfishing Community Survival Fund to help fishermen affected by the storm on the central Pacific coast. Donations may be sent to: The Billfish Foundation,

2161 E. Commercial Blvd.

, 2nd floor, Ft. Lauderdale, FL, 33308. Please indicate that the contribution is for the QSCSF.n

Please send fishing reports, photos and comments to Jerry “Bubba” Hallstrom at fish, or call 2778-7217 or 8841-5109. To post reports and photos on The Tico Times’ online fishing forum, go to


Fish Tacos by Bubba

To make a great fish taco, you need to start with great fish. If you’re lucky enough to catch the fish you’re going to eat, make sure you get it cleaned and on ice as soon as possible. If you’re buying fish at the market, make sure the meat is firm and not “fishy” smelling. Frozen fish is OK if it’s been frozen correctly and vacuum-sealed.

We use mostly wahoo and mahimahi (dorado) at my taco stand, “bubba’s,” in Jacó, but almost any fresh fish will work.

Take your fillets and make sure they are all white meat. Cut away any blood lines or off-colored meat – these contain fish oils and can make the fish taste “fishy.” Cut your fillet into large, finger-sized pieces and soak in milk; this cuts the fishiness and helps keep the fish moist throughout the cooking process.

Get bowls of your favorite toppings ready. We usually put out cheddar cheese, lettuce, coleslaw, tomatoes, red onions, jalapeños, lime wedges, hot sauces and a secretrecipe garlic and cilantro sauce.

You can use flour or corn tortillas, or both. To bring out the real flavor of a tortilla, it must be lightly toasted. Pack your tortillas in paper towels and foil to keep them warm – nobody wants a cold tortilla.

You can fry, bake or grill your fish. If you grill or bake it, use a light olive oil and spice marinade. Don’t add salt, as it will dry out your fish. Be careful not to overcook; if you have a hot grill or oven, the fish will need just a few minutes on each side to cook through.

If you choose to fry your fish, get your breading ready. Add spices to whatever breading you prefer: ground cornflakes, panko crumbs, or try something different such as ground Captain Crunch cereal. Dip your fish in egg batter before coating generously with your choice of breading. Fry in clean, really hot oil. The fish is ready when the breading is toasted to a light brown.

Set out your tortillas, toppings and fish on the table, give thanks for family and friends and start eating. A good bottle of tequila and cold Mexican beer complements any fish taco dinner.


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