San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Fishin’ in Flamingo and Carrillo

From the print edition

By Jack McGann and Dick Hauguel | Special to The Tico Times

For those anglers around the world who may read this weekly fishing column and who are thinking about billfishing in Costa Rica, our experiences may be very helpful in planning your first trip.

Dick Hauguel and I have been fishing for marlin and sailfish on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica for many years. In the winter, we fish out of Carrillo, and in the summer we fish out of Flamingo. Early on, we learned that some of the best local charter captains work these areas on this schedule.

It only seemed reasonable for us to schedule our trips to these ports at the same time the top boats in Costa Rica are fishing them. We have learned that they knew that weather, and fishing with them is usually as good as it gets.

There are about a dozen boats that work this schedule, including Gamefisher, Kingfisher, Flamingo II and Permit III, which belongs to great local fishing captain Chepe Santana, who we hooked up with.

The boat captains work well together, sharing real-time information about where and what is happening so that everyone gets a chance at the best fishing possible.

We just returned from our most recent trip to Flamingo, and our plans worked out well. We caught and released 16 billfish, brought in four big dorado (one weighed 80 pounds) and also got four tuna. We usually fish three days at a time just in case fishing is slow or water conditions are not good.

The boats I have mentioned are all in excellent condition with experienced crews. We chose to stay with the Permit III because we have become close friends with Chepe and his regular mate Efern. They speak excellent English and with their help, I am learning Spanish. They are both excellent fishermen and are very responsible in every aspect of this exciting sport.

I wanted to share our experience with Tico Times readers because it has been so very special for us. We have made over 30 trips with Chepe out of these ports and never once have we been blown off the water or gone without a billfish. Anyone who has been billfishing anywhere in the world would agree that this record is fantastic.

Flying into the new terminal of Daniel Oduber International Airport in Liberia works well for either Flamingo or Carrillo. Flying into San José may be a little cheaper but the drive is a little further.

If you are thinking about making a trip to Costa Rica for billfishing, we believe these ideas will help you. We have learned Costa Rica is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, with a culture that matches the beauty of the countryside.

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