Tuesday, May 25th, 2010
A Whale Shark Surprises a Guest at Crocodile Bay Resort
Karen Morgan ended her fishing day early. She walked up to me with a horrified look on her face and said she would have no part of any more fishing on her vacation. “What happened?” I asked.
“We were nearly attacked by a giant tiger shark!” she exclaimed. “It was twice as long as the boat and just as wide, and it came within a foot of us. Our captain said shark.”
A tiger shark is a creature that swims in nearly all oceans of the earth including Costa Rica and has a reputation similar to Attila the Hun, but they do not grow to the dimensions Miss Morgan described. I asked her to tell me what it looked like. “It had a giant head, and brown with spots all over it. It could have swallowed the boat.” she said still trembling.
“We’re going to need a bigger boat.” I teased, stealing the line of Chief Brody, from the famous movie “JAWS.” Then I explained what she had the privilege to witness was the largest and most gentle fish that lives in the ocean, a whale shark. I also explained that tiger sharks do inhabit these waters but she had a much better chance of winning the lottery than bumping into one. I also explained that one of that proportion would certainly be a world record and Costa Rica is famous for world records.
The International Game Fish Association (IGFA) world record book keeps records on fish caught throughout the world. Costa Rica has 126 world records. This includes 63 line class records, 34 fly fishing records, 8 junior angler records and 21 all tackle records meaning it is the largest fish ever caught on any sport fishing gear.
Some records have stood the test of time. Manuel Salazar’s 87 lb dolphin fish has been a record for 32 years. Both coasts have the world’s largest snook. The Common snook record taken in Parismina at 53 lbs 12 oz (24.32 kilos) has been in the book since 1978. The Pacific side also has the world’s largest black snook at 57 lbs 12 oz (26.19 kilos) taken near Quepos. Four marlin and three sailfish line class records came from here and also nine billfish fly rod records. Costa Rican snapper found it’s way into the record book thirteen times including all tackle records for Pacific cubera 78 lbs 12 oz (35.72kilos) and Colorado snapper at 24 lbs 1 oz (10.92 kilos).
There are a few fish you’ve probably never heard of that have made their way into the record book from Costa Rican waters. The star studded grouper, the long jaw leatherback, or the hog mullet are not household names. The bigmouth sleeper, something my wife has accused me of being while I rattled the tin on the roof with my snoring is actually a fish in the record book the came from the Rio Sarapique. You can get your own record book or more info at www.igfa.org.
Fish names in Spanish
Dolphin fish – dorado
Snook – robalo
Billfish = picudos
Sailfish – pez vela
Grouper – cabrilla
Mullet – lisa
Todd Staley is the fishing director at Crocodile Bay Resort, Costa Rica. For more information or to book your Sport Fishing or Eco Adventure visit www.crocodilebay.com
Friday, May 14th, 2010
A Fishermans Dream: The Golfo Dulce, Golfito & Puerto Jimenez
Simply Spectacular: Golfito Puerto Jimenez and The Golfo Dulce of Costa Rica, has something for everyone to be bananas about. Mary South Published: Crocodile Bay Resort – These days, the words Banana Republic are more likely to conjure up an image of neatly stacked chinos and v-neck sweaters than they are a place like Golfito. But when United Fruit built this town on the southwest coast of Costa Rica in 1939, there was nothing here but wilderness and Boruca, the region’s indigenous tribe. Fleeing a rash of banana disease that was sweeping through their Atlantic coast plantations, United Fruit surveyed this deepwater bay sheltered within the Golfo Dulce and found untamed perfection. They built a massive dock, immaculate houses, schools, roads, a hospital—even a bowling alley—and they brought in workers from around the world. Most of all, they brought money and influence to a region that became their virtual fiefdom for nearly half a century. That era ended a long time ago, with the last vestiges of Mama Chiquita (as United Fruit was called by its employees) pulling up stakes in the eighties. They left behind a company town without a company; Golfito is no longer immaculate but it is, once again, wonderfully Costa Rican. At one end of the town, there’s the gritty bustle of mecanicos and pulperias that seem to be fighting to keep their foothold against the rain forest encroaching from the hills above. At the other, United Fruit’s ghost town lingers in what locals call the Zona Americana, adding a partially decayed, colonial charm to an area that feels a little like wild frontier. These houses, once occupied by manageriallevel workers at United Fruit, were built in a style that’s reminiscent of Key West architecture and many have been bought and renovated in recent years. There are plans for a world-class luxury resort and marina to be built in Golfito. Bahia Escondida is still in its infancy, but it has already brought some important improvements to the town, creating a park for local children and expanding the waterfront area with a reclamation project. Also promised is a boardwalk that will connect the American Zone with downtown Golfito. Just beyond the American Zone is the airport, a simple strip cut through the jungle, with an open-air ticket counter. A stone’s throw away is Bar la Pista, a great place to relax with an Imperial while you wait for your flight, or to have lunch after a morning at the teeming Deposito Libre Comercial de Golfito. A large plaza with shops selling all sorts of electronics, appliances, and housewares, this “duty-free” shopping zone was created to bring business to the area after United Fruit left. Shoppers come from all over southern Costa Rica to furnish their homes at prices that are taxed much lower (though not tax-free, as the name implies) than anywhere else. The catch is a complicated ticket system that calls for visitors to buy the day before, which means overnight hotel stays. Ticos (Costa Ricans) know the way to beat the system: Buy your tickets from one of the many locals who make a living reselling tickets outside the Deposito entrance and be prepared to bargain hard. Visitors to the area, however, will have little use for the Deposito. You are in one of the most beautiful places in the world and you may have to resist the urge to stop saying Wow! Golfito is perched at the base of the towering hills of the Piedra Brancas National Park with its Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre Golfito (a wildlife refuge), and at the top of the Osa Peninsula, home to the Corcovado National Park. There are paths from town leading up into the rain forest of the Wildlife Refuge and you don’t have to go far to be dazzled. On one short walk I took up to the waterfalls behind La Sirena Hotel, I saw a javelina— which resembles a cross between a boar and a pig, with a bristly coat, thin legs, and tusks—scamper into the brush. In the tall, moist cavern of the falls, a bright blue butterfly— as big as a salad plate!—hovered between the moss-covered wall and the cerulean sky. I felt like I had stepped back into some kind of prehistoric world and then I realized—I had! It was an amazing experience for a traveler who considers herself easy to please but hard to surprise. The rain forests of the area are home to howler monkeys, spider monkeys, white faced capuchins, and squirrel monkeys. Agouties inhabit these parks, as do coatis, sloths, tapirs, brocket deer, poison dart frogs, giant dragonflies and the blasphemous Jesus Christ Lizard (named for its ability to walk on water). Jaguars and ocelots still live here, as do parrots, macaws, and toucans. The truly adventurous can have an unforgettable nature encounter by roughing it with a permit to camp or by staying at Sirena, a research station within the Corcovado park. Golfito makes a great jumping-off point for exploring other towns in the region. Puerto Jiménez (Home of Crocodile Bay Resort), for example, is directly across the bay from Golfito and reachable by ferry. A former logging and mining area, the laid-back town is now the gateway to Corcovado Park and is well known for the scarlet macaws that flit from tree to tree. If steamy hikes through primary rain forest are not your thing, you may want to grab a surfboard and head for Pavones or Zancudo, two of the area’s famed surfing breaks. At Playa Zancudo, you’ll find a six-mile stretch of sand lined by coconut palms, where the waves range from gentle at the northern end to gnarly at the other. Cabanas Sol y Mar is the place to go for a couple of beers at the beachside bar and, in high season, Sunday afternoon horseshoe throws where the competition gets intense—in a mellow sort of way. Pavones, farther out the same peninsula, has the second longest left-hand break in the world and when there is a south swell, the surfers are even more blissed-out than usual. But who wouldn’t be? This is verdant Costa Rica and the Tico attitude of pura vida reigns. If your surfing days are behind you, how about landing dozens of billfish from the cockpit of a sportfisherman? The Golfito area is a sportfishing paradise and specialty lodges abound for the hardcore fisherman. In fact, vacationing anglers rival ecotourists in importance, though obviously, many visitors to Golfito and Puerto Jimenez are both. And no wonder: The waters abound with giant dolphin, wahoo, sailfish, yellowfin tuna, striped marlin, black marlin, and blue marlin. And that’s just the offshore catch. A labyrinth of nearby rivers and estuaries yield snapper, grouper, roosterfish, and pompano. Be sure and take a cab to the top of Tower Hill Road. There’s a picnic table in a clearing where you can sit and look all the way out across the Golfo Dulce. No matter how much you travel, it’s one of the most beautiful views you’ll ever see. Directly below you’ll spot the huge old dock where the banana boats used to load. To the right, there’s Playa Cacao—where the restaurant Siete Mares offers open-air views across Golfito Bay. It’s a great place for ceviche and beer. Whether your idea of fun is hanging ten toes off a board, hanging five fingers around a cold bottle at the beach, or hanging 300 pounds of fish off the stern of a boat, Golfito has it all. United Fruit was right: And it’s still perfect Places to Stay If you’re going to the Osa Peninsula region, the best way to go is aboard your own yacht. But other accommodations range from bare-bones, self-catering surfer shacks to luxury Costa Rica fishing lodges, with just about everything else in between. Many combine pursuits—for instance fishing with ecotourism, or ecotourism and spa vacation. Wherever you choose, be prepared for the amazing views and warm gulf waters to trump a flatscreen TV and jacuzzi every time. Crocodile Bay Resort Puerto Jimenez www.crocodilebay.com (800) 733-1115
From Yachting Magazine
Thursday, May 6th, 2010
For more information visit www.crocodilebay.com
April was a crazy month. If my hair hadn’t fallen out years before it surely would have in a month’s time. It was a month filled with highs and lows.
Eleventh Hour man Mark Davis from Bigwater Adventures TV filmed his second show here and like his first he fished for marlin. The currents associated with El Nino had brought 87 degree water into the area and bill fish aren’t very active in bath water. Mark hung in there and put in his time and ended up with several sails and a 300 lb blue marlin that you would have thought had a Screen Actors Guild member card.
Leo Stakos from Canadian based Fish-On TV is a light tackle specialist and was here at the same time as Davis. Stakos chose to concentrate on inshore species after bagging a few sails his first day on the water. Sometimes artificial lures produce better than live bait and Stakos proved it when he brought 32 roosters to the boat in one day trolling Rapalas.
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation www.nfwf.org auctioned off a dream trip to Costa Rica when Crocodile Bay Resort teamed up with the sport fishing yacht Typhoon for a 5 day fishing and eco adventure on the Osa Peninsula. The Typhoon is captained by Darren McClave and Donald McGuinness.
Patrick & Luke Durkin
Patrick Durkin, a big National Fish and Wildlife Foundation supporter was top bidder of the trip and came down with his wife Kristen and sons Luke and Austin. Also on the trip was Patrick’s twin brother Tim accompanied by his wife Liz and friends Dr. Gary and Lynn Sherman.
Several highlights of the trip included the day the twins hooked up a double on sailfish. They landed the fish at the exact same time and the two sails were the exact same size. The joke the rest of the week was “twins catching twins.” Durkin invited a couple local boys out one day to fish with his sons and it was a thrill for 11 year old Eddie Robles to catch a sailfish on the “biggest boat” he had ever been on in his life. It was a great culture exchange between the boys that surely they will remember for a long time.
Little Luke Durkin is my hero. Although I love the dance of a sail fish and the adrenalin rush of a greyhounding marlin, my west coast Florida roots have always made me love bottom fishing. I have a long standing bet with all my captains about bottom fishing that I have yet to have to pay up after all these years here. When Luke showed up at the dock with a broomtail grouper more than half his size I have to admit I was just a bit jealous. When I found out he caught it on a jig, my bottom lip began to stick out. Well Luke I’m done pouting. I would be proud to go bottom fishing with you anytime.
Our fearless leader of the U.S. office Lynn Alban was down to see us with friends Mimi Burroughs, Margo Sims, and Margo daughter Suze Sims. I was lucky enough to fish with them on the worst day weather wise I have ever seen in all my years here. I giant black cloud horseshoed itself around us but not before Suze caught her first sailfish. The rain chased us inshore and then followed us. When I started hearing the theme song from Gilligan’s Island in my head I decided it was time to call it a day. Suze is lead singer for The Red Hot Blues Sisters, a Seattle based blues group that has released two albums. This girl wails. I still haven’t hit the eject button in my car. Will Briegel, Webmaster and Marketing Director for Crocodile Bay enjoyed his annual fishing trip inshore and filled four dinner plates with African Pompano and Black Snapper.
April meant school vacations and we had many Costa Rican families at the resort. This prompted a kids fishing class at the pier where nearly a dozen kids fished for the very first time. The fish must have known it was kids fishing and all would go back in the water because they bit like crazy. Seven year old Angelica Chacon Madrigal is going to grow up to be a great angler. When the others had none, she had patience. It paid off as she quickly learned the secret to hooking snapper and out fished everyone else.
Best Fish story of the year goes to 8 year old Angel Williams who reeled me in like a gold fish in a pond racing for fish meal. Angel who is Crocodile Bay’s Beau Williams daughter was fishing along with the group of kids at the pier. She had one of my crew put a live sardine on her hook and cast it out. I got called to the hotel to check on a matter and when I returned she was holding a 10lb dorado and saying “Todd look what I caught just now.” Now stranger things have happened. Long time customer Mike Pizzi once took a 60 lb roosterfish off the pier and several years ago my night guard was fishing and not guarding and he caught a 53 lb cubera snapper on a hand line. This dorado was juvenile size and I thought it believable.
She went on and on about how this fish fought and jumped. She went on to explain that she caught it because she is a really good angler and the other kids were catching little snappers and she got this big dorado. “I have to get a picture of this.” I told her. “This deserves to go the website.” Well to make a long story short a boat arrived while I was at the hotel and brought in the dorado that was deep hooked and couldn’t be released. Angel took the opportunity to pull one over on me which she did in the most believable manner. Good luck Beau, she’s good.
A Pod of Orcas Size up Will Rogers
The Boston Whaler Group helped us wrap up the season with their 9th annual visit here hosted by President John Ward, Ben Cast, and Will Rogers. There were many first timers in this group as well as regulars like Whaler’s Ron Berman who’s father, Capt. Mel Berman passed away this year and was an icon to sport fishing community I grew up in and a personal friend.
Will Rogers did a Costa Rican audition if they ever make the movie “Jackass 3” when he jumped overboard into a pod of three killer whales. They came over and checked him out but decided he didn’t look enough like a seal to gulp him down. He did get some amazing underwater photos and a life long memory.
Every year Boston Whaler holds a tournament here and later donates all the prize money to a project in Puerto Jimenez. They have rebuilt and tiled the floor in the kindergarten, bought new desks for the first grade, bought camping equipment for the local scouts and raised nearly $2000 for the elementary school again this year. The daily winners who donated their prize money were, Kevin Miller, Jeff Furches, Jeff Glenny, Chuck Cashman, Todd Turley, and Tony Villareale. Thanks guys.
Overall the warm water made the number of billfish caught drop this year but when a pocket of cooler water would move in the numbers would shoot up to 15 or more fish a day per boat. Just when I let out a sigh of relief, more warm water would move in. The numbers were phenomenal last year with the new laws in place and I expect next season as the climate returns to normal, the big numbers of fish will return. One immediate change we noticed this year was in the snapper fishing. We saw more fish and bigger fish. I attribute this directly to the shrimp trawlers no longer working in the Golfo Dulce. The sport fishing lobby in Costa Rica is working hard to insure we remain the premier destination for a fishing vacation.
Straight From the Catfish’s Mouth
After heading up Crocodile Bay Resort’s fishing program since the beginning 11 years ago, owner Robin Williams, (he’s a character but not the actor) decided I should see how our U.S. office works. Shortly I will be traveling up for a few weeks to see the nuts and bolts of the other side of the operation. If you have any questions about fishing down here as far as fish, peak times, equipment, boats, tackle, captains or anything related to Crocodile Bay Resort I will be happy to give you a call while I am there. Maybe you are planning a trip for next season. No one knows how this machine operates better than myself. Drop me your number at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be happy to help you any way I can. Looking forward to seeing you next season.