San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Red Tide Abates; Teen Bags Big Rock Snapper

Scattered red tide on the northern and central Pacific coast hasn’t hurt the fishing as much as expected, with anglers still catching fish in those areas, while the southern Pacific bite has been steady for a variety of species. In north-central Costa Rica, the bite is still good at LakeArenal, and on the northern Caribbean coast, the tarpon are starting to move to the river mouth.

Northern Pacific

Capt. Adam Hermsen on the Ocean Smasher has been fishing mostly inshore and reports lots of small yellowfin tuna, some dorado and several nice cubera snapper on the inshore reef. The red tide has moved off and the water has started to get blue again. Bill Deshazo recently caught a very large cubera snapper while bottom fishing with live bonita fish.

Some big roosterfish are being caught from kayaks in the northwestern province of Guanacaste, according to Capt. Ralph Solano of Costa Rica Wild Fishing. If you’ve never caught a fish from a kayak, you are missing out.

Capt. Rick Ruhlow on the Kingfisher reports some big fish have been caught recently in the area. Client James Kurfess had the fight of his life when an 800-pound black marlin hit while trolling off Playa Carrillo.

Central Pacific

Capt. R.J. Lilley on the Predator fished an offshore rock called “26” and has been averaging five or six fish a day, including some wahoo, tuna, dorado and a 400-pound-plus black marlin. The big marlin hit a ballyhoo while trolling and put on a good air show with some great leaps, one of which was too close for comfort when mister marlin almost landed in the boat. The big fish slammed into the boat tower just a couple of feet from the captain and clients. Lilley said it was like being hit by another boat, and they were lucky no one was hurt.

Capt. Jeremy Trujillo and the guys on the Desperado went out recently, running 50 miles for one 35-pound dorado. Luckily, the guys on The Bite found the tuna and contacted Trujillo, who picked up and ran 15 miles to join the tuna bite, catching some nice fish. Most were in the 35- to 45-pound range; they did have one estimated at over 100 pounds, but that fish was lost.

The Fish Whistle out of Los Sueños, captained by Brandon Keene, took a family out to a local hot spot called “the corner” for some tuna fishing. They ended the day with six yellowfin tuna, all in the 40- to 80-pound range.

Angler Daniel Simental and friends recently fished with the guys on the Reel Deal out of Quepos. They had a good day, with 10 dorado, two big wahoo, a yellowfin tuna and a sailfish.

Dave Dobbins of Fish La Manta in Quepos reports good wahoo fishing on the rock pile as well as a few scattered dorado. A few sailfish have also been around to keep anglers happy.

Chris Bernstel of Kinembe Sport Fishing in Quepos reports the fishing has been pretty good for everything but sailfish. He also reports that anglers were still dodging the red tide last week.

Capt. Rudy Dodero of Sportfishing Dominical said the red tide is almost all gone and things are just about back to normal. The Sanz family from Florida recently fished inshore, casting topwater lures on the rocks, and caught good numbers of blue trevally, jack crevalle, a variety of snapper and four nice roosterfish.

Southern Pacific

Todd Staley of CrocodileBay reports the summer marlin bite has been solid, with marlin being raised almost every day. “Honeymooners” of 16 years John and Shelly Murray had a bang-up day when they went six for 10 on sails and landed a nice marlin. Staley says he was especially impressed by some of the young anglers they had in June. Sixteen-year-old Jeffrey Adams caught a potential world-record rock snapper weighing almost 17 pounds.

Rande Schuck from Aldea del Río Sport Fishing reports a steady mix of fish being caught. Recently, a couple of anglers had a good day and caught 14 fish, including snappers, roosterfish, yellowfin tuna and some blue trevally jacks.

Capt. Mark Corn of the Osa Yacht Club had five anglers from south Florida in for some fishing. The group finished the trip with marlin, roosterfish, sailfish, dorado, snapper, amberjack and some rainbow runners.

Northern Region

Capt. Ron Saunders reports a good guapote bite on scenic LakeArenal. Lake levels and water clarity are good under partly cloudy skies, and they’ve been catching a lot of fish on topwater lures near the shoreline and trolling points. The morning bite continues to be very strong, but fish are caught throughout the day.


Dan Wise of Archie Fields’ Río Colorado Lodge reports that the tarpon start moving to the river mouth this time of year to feed on baitfish and crabs. Most fishing will be done outside the river mouth until November.

For this fishing column to be successful, we need captains and sportfishing operators to send us fishing reports, forecasts and photos. The lack of good reports and photos was a problem for the guys who wrote this column before me.

Everyone wants to call in a fishing report when they have a great day. Nobody calls in reports when the fishing is average.

It doesn’t matter if you catch only two or three fish; that’s only part of the story. Fishing is mainly about the friends and families who visit Costa Rica and the memories they take home with them.

The 80-year-old guy who caught two sailfish, the 10-year-old who caught her first dorado, the couple on their honeymoon who caught a few roosterfish – these are the best stories.

What Is Red Tide?

Red tide is a common name for a phenomenon known as algal bloom, in which algae accumulate rapidly in the water column. These phytoplankton are microscopic, single-celled, plant-like organisms that can form dense, visible patches near the water’s surface.

 Species vary in color from green to brown to red, and when they appear in high numbers they can cause the water to appear discolored or murky.

Some red tides are associated with the production of natural toxins and the depletion of dissolved oxygen.

These are called harmful algal blooms, and are the most notorious because they are associated with dead birds, fish and marine life.

It’s not clear what causes red tides. Sometimes they occur naturally and sometimes they are caused by coastal water pollution produced by humans. Sometimes global warming is blamed, and sometimes El Niño is blamed.

Carlos Jiménez of the University of Costa Rica (UCR) studies, tracks and documents red tides in Costa Rica. The university recently identified the cause of some red tide in Guanacaste.

Jiménez reports, “The little monster causing the present episode of red tide in the Gulf of Papagayo has been identified by (UCR) red tide expert Maribelle Vargas.

While testing water samples, the scientist found a dinoflagellate of the marine plankton that is infamous for killing fish and for producing high quantities of mucus.

Its name is Cochlodinium polykrikoides. It is the same species we found last year producing the September-December blooms that seriously affected the coral reefs in that region.”

Jiménez requests that people along the coast keep track of red tide patches by taking note of the position, odor and thickness of the bloom, the presence of dead fish and the date of observation, and e-mail the observations to him at or to Tanya Buxton at


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


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