COSTA RICA & NICARAGUA MARCH 2015

In my last blog I wrote about my self-guided flats fishing around Boca Paila in the Sián Khan Biosphere, Yucatan, Mexico. I explained how having swum through the narrow mangrove channel that accesses these productive flats I saw a large croc basking at the mouth of that channel, and that later I heard from locals that the area was now deemed very dangerous. Since then I have found a video of a croc attacking a swimmer at the exact same spot; take a look: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jOWGLQ61Ds Over the past few years I have spent an increasing amount of time fishing throughout Central America, a truly fascinating and immensely beautiful part of the world that from my experience boasts some of the very best saltwater sport fishing on the planet. I have just returned from my latest trip during which I fished both Costa Rica and Nicaragua, a most memorable 12 days adventure during which I had the pleasure of introducing my son Luke to the many delights of Latin America.

One of Crocodile Bay Resorts fleet of Strike 33 sports boats heads out to sea.

One of Crocodile Bay Resorts fleet of Strike 33 sports boats heads out to sea.

Luke is not a hard core fisherman, but his fishing CV would match that of many a saltwater angler. Luke caught his first shark off the coast of Co Kerry, Ireland, on his 7th birthday, and closely followed it with his second and then third while the rest of the crew were all incapacitated with sea sickness; young Luke remaining unaffected. He was not much older when he joined me on a trip to Iceland catching numerous large cod and haddock, likewise on several trips to Denmark. Together we have fished for striped bass and bluefish off Nantucket, numerous species throughout Florida, bonefish in The Turks & Caicos Islands and billfish in Kenya. Occasionally we have wetted a line together closer to home, too!

The pool at Crocodile Bay Lodge, Costa Rica.

The pool at Crocodile Bay Lodge, Costa Rica.

For the Costa Rica section of our trip we stayed at the world famous Crocodile Bay Resort, located on the southernmost tip of the ecologically magnificent Osa Peninsula, take a look at http://www.crocodilebay.com For many years this magnificent sport fishing lodge has enjoyed a reputation for offering the highest standard of world class fishing, backed up by five start accommodations, gourmet food and service. It has long been on my bucket list of ‘must visit lodges’, but sadly I have to report that it did not meet my expectations. Why sadly? Well actually it didn’t just meet my expectations but greatly exceeded them at every level, which means that now I am struggling with the ever increasing problem of trying to schedule a return visit back there at the very earliest opportunity.

Hooked up off Osa!

Hooked up off Osa!

For the first couple of days we fished offshore, and despite some very unseasonable wet and windy weather we had our shots at sailfish, and soon enough Luke was hooked up with a fast running, high jumping eighty pounder.

Luke preparing to release a nice Pacific sailfish.

Luke preparing to release a nice Pacific sailfish.

The rest of the fleet were catching, and releasing, several sails per boat per day, along with a few blue marlin, dorado and wahoo; and that was during ‘tough conditions’. In the past I have fished these waters on several other occasions when conditions have been far more favourable, and I can tell you that the blue water action off Osa is truly world class. Trips to Crocodile Bay Resort can be booked through Anglers World Holidays.

Inshore fishing off Osa.

Inshore fishing off Osa.

A nice Pacific jack crevalle caught inshore off the Osa Peninsula

A nice Pacific jack crevalle caught inshore off the Osa Peninsula

Rooster fish are the other big attraction off Pacific Costa Rica, and the rich inshore waters off the Osa Peninsula are one of the very best places to hook up with this most iconic species of sportfish. Numerous roosters, Pez Gallo in Spanish, were caught every day during our all to brief stay, along with plenty of snapper, pompano, tilefish, jacks and several other other species.

Fishing for rooster fish off the Osa Peninsula.

Fishing for rooster fish off the Osa Peninsula.

All too soon we were checking out of this sport fishing paradise for the short flight up to San Jose, a night in town including a great dinner & excess of local rum at the Hard Rock Cafe, and an early morning flight across the border to Nicaragua.

Luke takes the controls for the short 30 minute flight from San Jose to Nicaragua.

Luke takes the controls for the short 30 minute flight from San Jose to Nicaragua.

This was my fifth trip to Nicaragua and my third to Rio Indio Lodge, an amazing jungle lodge that despite its remote location somehow manages to offer an equally high standard of fishing, accommodations, service and food as Crocodile Bay Resort in Costa Rica http://www.therioindiolodge.com . I have stayed at many outstanding fishing lodges all around the world, and Rio Indio is one of my all time favourites.

Rio Indio Lodge; one of my all time favourite fishing locations.

Rio Indio Lodge; one of my all time favourite fishing locations.

Located right in the middle of pristine rain forrest near the confluence of the Rio Indio, ‘Indian River’, and the Rio San Juan, you have the option of fishing both the the inshore waters of the Caribbean plus the plethora of jungle lagoons and back waters: you can read about my past trips to Nicaragua under the ‘Memorable Trips’ section of this site.

Nicaragua certainly ranks within the the worlds top three tarpon destinations.

Nicaragua certainly ranks within the the worlds top three tarpon destinations.

Target species are tarpon, snook and rainbow bass along with numerous other species, both fresh and saltwater. So far as tarpon are concerned I would rate the fishing off the coast of Nicaragua around Rio Indio Lodge as certainly being in the top three tarpon destinations in the world. Undoubtedly Florida offers the most accessible tarpon fishing for European anglers, and in terms of the large numbers and the impressive average size of fish caught in Florida, along with the abundance of outstanding guides, the Sunshine State would probably rank as the worlds greatest all round tarpon fishery.

Luke 140 pounder takes to the air.

Luke’s 140 pounder takes to the air.

Nicaragua, however, offers a completely different tarpon fishing experience. Here you’ll be fishing in a remote and very little fished part of the world, set amidst a National Geographic jungle backdrop. The fish are big and plentiful, and during my three trips to Rio Indio I have never seen another sport fishing boat, other than those based at the lodge.

Tarpon, the worlds number one inshore species of sport fish.

Tarpon, the worlds number one inshore species of sport fish.

To give an example of the high quality of fishing available, one afternoon we fished for less than five hours barely a 15 minute run from the lodge dock. Working a combination of bucktail jigs tipped with various soft plastics and live bait we enjoyed spectacular action. Luke hooked his first tarpon almost immediately, on a Sabiki rig while trying to catch livebait, but the end result was both inevitable and quick. His next fish came on a livebait fished on a circle hook, and following a near thirty minute tussle he had the estimated 130-140lb fish alongside the boat and ready for release. This he followed up with three fish in the 60-80lb class, all caught on jigs, with another very big fish lost due to a straightened hook and two others ‘jumped’. Our pre-dinner rums that night were especially sweet!

Luke & Rito pose with one of the four fish released that special afternoon.

Luke & Rito pose with one of the four fish released that special afternoon.

For the rest of our stay at Rio Indio Lodge we alternated between fishing the jungle for bass and snook, tarpon fishing, and going on escorted walks through the jungle. We witnessed a fascinating selection of wildlife while ‘Rito’, our guide for the week, gave us a fascinating insight into the rich flora and fauna of the region.

Rito holds a jack crevalle, a frequently caught species when targeting tarpon.

Rito holds a jack crevalle, a frequently caught species when targeting tarpon.

Welcome to the jungle! Heading off into the rain forest.

Welcome to the jungle! Heading off into the rain forest.

Luke drinking water from a vine held by Rito.

Luke drinking water from a vine held by Rito.

A colourful poison dart frog.

A colourful poison dart frog.

My first trip to Rio Indio Lodge was in late November, planned to coincide with the annual snook spawning run, which offers outstanding light tackle fishing for large numbers of fish. The last two trips have been in March, the dry season, focussing on the rainbow bass and tarpon run offshore. We have caught tarpon on each and every trip, but everyone at the lodge has insisted that the very best tarpon fishing, and especially fly fishing, is to be experienced during September and October. Last year at this time Rito released a huge fish that when after a two and a half hour fight was finally brought alongside the boat was accurately measured at 110” x 48”, putting it at well over 300lb; a possible world record. Unfortunately the fish was fought by three persons so would not have qualified, and in any case they were unable to get the monster aboard. 200lb fish are ‘regularly’ hooked and especially at this time of the year.

Luke getting to know the locals in San Juan Del Norte, formally Grey Town.

Luke getting to know the locals in San Juan Del Norte, formally Grey Town.

Taling it easy in the jungle!

Taking it easy in the jungle!

Consequently I am planning a trip to coincide with this period for October 2016, a trip during which the emphasis will be focussed on tarpon both in the ocean and jungle. We will be fishing lures and bait, and especially focussing on fly. I am told the winds are very light at this time of the year, and if the stories of the large numbers of fish caught then are only half true, we will be in for some amazing action. If you are interested contact Anglers World Holidays on Tel: 01246 221717.

Luke fighting a tarpon; I think he'll be back one day!

Luke fighting a tarpon; I think he’ll be back one day!

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