Crocodile Bay, Costa Rica – Fishing Report April 7, 2011
by Todd Staley, Fishing Director
Crocodile Bay Resort, Costa Rica
Crocodile Bay Resort just finished hosting the 30th Club Amateur de Pesca annual sailfish tournament with teams from South Africa, Guatemala, Mexico, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, and the United States competing. In four days of fishing the group of 10 boats raised over 300 billfish and landed a total of 150 billfish including several blue marlins which is amazing because all anglers were required to fish 20 lb test line and had a maximum of 30 minutes to land a fish.
The closest I have ever felt to walking with royalty was walking the pier each day with 86 year old Nora Scholfield. Nora was fishing her 28th tournament and is one of the pioneers of sport fishing in Costa Rica. Nora hooked two marlin on day two of the tournament and nearly landed a 250 pounder in the required 30 minutes. The 500 pound fish she hooked later wasn’t about to give her the same chance.
Costa Rica’s Golden Girl Nora Scholfield fights a big marlin
Watch video of 86 year old Nora Scholfield fighting
large pacific marlin below!
Unfortunately she just missed landing this one…here is her reaction
Team Guatemala Takes First Place
Bruno Rodriguez- Individual Winner Puerto Rican Light Tackle Team
Team South Africa
Guatemala ended up taking first place, with South Africa second and Puerto Rico third. Franz Hoffman of Guatemala tied Puerto Rico’s Bruno Rodriquez for the most fish, but Hoffman took home the trophy because he landed his last fish earlier in the day than Rodriquez.
The tournament atmosphere was a change for Crocodile Bay Captains who generally fish for fun although each wants to be on top of the scoreboard posted in the bar each evening. Freddy Navarro was top captain, followed by Edwin Cerdes and Chepe Conteras.
Fishing Director Todd Staley With Costa Rica’s Vice President Luis Liberman Ginsburg
Inshore fishing as of late has been good with roosterfish along the beach cooperating very well. Dorado made a show this week and several were taken during the tournament but not counting as points. Yesterday 88 year old Richard Schrader fulfilled a lifelong dream and took his first sailfish on a fly. What’s left I asked him as he got on the boat this morning. His reply was said matter of factly, “Do it again.”
Crocodile Bay Resort, Costa Rica
Maria Celenia Hernandez shows off a nice cubera snapper
I once had a client tell me that I am the “duck” of Crocodile Bay Resort. What people notice is me cruising leisurely across the surface. What they don’t see is all the paddling below surface to make it all happen. Well up until two days before the quake in Japan I was cruising. Boats were posting double digit days of sailfish on the board every day. Marlin were also popping up with more frequency than what is normal for March. Boats as far away as Los Suenos were coming south to enjoy the bounty. So I was cruising.
I have been running fishing operations in Costa Rica over 20 years and have been at Crocodile Bay since construction began in 1999. It took me years to learn not to worry about things I have no control of and to do the best at the things I do. Several years back I stopped passing the radio 50 times a day to see how the boats were doing. I have no control of the bite so I just go to the dock at the end of the day and meet the guests and read the trip reports.
Two days before the devastating quake in Japan, I went to the pier expecting another day like the previous, which was 12 to 18 fish in the teasers per boat. Boat after boat arrived at the pier and nothing, zip, nada. The fish were gone. I always thought that the words in Robert Redford’s line in the move “Havana” based on the studies of Edward Lorenz over fifty years ago were quite prolific. “A butterfly can flutter its wings over a flower in China and cause a hurricane in the Caribbean”.
My redneck heritage makes me a lot less astute than Edward Lorenz but I have made some of my own observations in my two decades here. When I ran Archie Fields Rio Colorado Lodge twenty years ago we had a small zoo before having animals in pens was considered not politically correct. My favorite was a 400 pound tapir named Baby Doll that was as tame as could be and use to visit guests in the bar every night. Anyway, all the animals would start acting really freaky before an earthquake, long before the ground began to shake. My theory is fish can do the same.
Mike Pizzi shows off a 66lb amberjack at Crocodile Bay
The tsunami that that traveled half way around the globe had severe effects in the United States, Mexico, and here in Costa Rica. There was a big fish kill in California. In Mexico mackerel and sardines huddled together next to the beach that from the air looked like an oil slick. The wave that hit Costa Rica cut a famous landmark you see from the air on the flight to the Crocodile Bay in half. The “whale tail” was a peninsula just up the coast named after its shape. And the billfish disappeared for a solid week.
Longtime customer and friend George Gianacopolos who comes down every year with the same group of anglers from the northeast hit the streak of bad fishing. His sense of humor finally put a smile on my face as day by day he could see the stress building in me. As I took the daily log from the captain at the end of the day, I read George’s comment, “Someone should put Todd on suicide watch”.
Then just as it turned off, it turned back on. Dicky Williams is another guest who visits quite often with his family and friends. After a couple days of dismal fishing, I noticed smiles on the guest’s faces as the boats returned at the end of the day. The day before nothing, then the next day, the Williams were on the top with 20 sails in the teasers, landing 8. The other boats had similar results.
Keith and Matthew were enjoying a father-son vacation and also started their trip in an empty ocean. They finished in a much more typical fashion with double digit sails and Matthew took a 350 pound blue marlin memory home with him.
Things have pretty much returned to normal. The bite slowed just a tad on the full moon, although last month the sails bit on the full moon like they were competing in the annual Nathan’s hot dog eating contest. Inshore the roosters and snapper are back to normal and so is my blood pressure.
Some people have intensity to everything they do. I used to think former National Hockey League star Clayton Norris was one of those people. Anyone who holds the record for most penalty minutes in a pre-season game takes things seriously.
*Get an Extra Fishing Day when you purchase any full fishing package of three days or more! For new reservations boooked between now and March 1st, 2011.
He was a different man when he took his wife Jennean and daughters Megan and Abbey out for a day of fishing after Megan explained how much fun they had the first day when her and her dad caught several sails and saw whales, sea turtles and dolphins. Dad turned into coach that second day as they landed 8 out of the 12 sailfish they hooked and learned “fishin” isn’t just a guy’s sport.
Clayton Norris and Family at Crocodile Bay Resort
Brian and Karen Beuchel held top spot on the leader board three days in a row with double digit sails raised and over a half dozen landed each day as well as spending a productive day inshore taking roosters, snapper, jacks and African pompano.
Jess Clemens (pictured below)and Wendy Bob’s stay at Crocodile got off to a tough start when Jess arrived with a bout of the flu, followed by a couple days of so-so inshore fishing and a trip halfway to Gilligan’s Island. All that quickly became a faded memory when a big sail ate the fly he cast and he battled that and released a couple more. Thanks for the great photos.
Pictured – Jess Clemons With a Nice Sailfish
We have had way too many repeat customers in the last couple of weeks to mention them all without forgetting someone or having this sound like a 7th grade book report. Erik and Jeff Johnson aka “Dos Hermanos” (pictured below) made a nice haul with sailfish, roosterfish,dorado and other inshore species. Kay Dolittle’s sense of humor always kept me in good spirits even when I was running around like a wild man trying to keep things running smooth. Dave Stanley gives me tackle advise when he comes, and Jimmy Bell and the boys of upstate New York are always fun. We want to thank all of you who came back to see us, some many times over.
Team “Dos Hermanos”
Ok, on to fishing. The marlin thinned out a little since last report but the sails moved in to the area in big numbers. Some days they are a little finicky but most days boats are seeing double digit fish raised. A few dorado have appeared and if the schools of spinner or spotted dolphin are around then the yellowfin tuna are cruising below.
Inshore roosters are not running in schools but individual fish up to 50 lbs have been taken. Some amberjack have hit deep jiggers and enough snapper have been caught to make an inshore day worthwhile.
The Pier at Crocodile Bay Resort
Crocodile Bay Resort, Costa Rica www.crocodilebay.com
Crocodile Bay Costa Rica Fishing Report:
Dec 15 to Jan 12, 2011
By Todd Staley, Fishing Director
Pictured above: Max Cembalest and Father show off a nice sail!
I have always liked Christmas week here at Crocodile Bay because the place fills up with families. I get a real charge out of seeing or hearing about a youngster’s first really big catch. I wasn’t disappointed at all.
Mike and Rachel Cembalest from New York brought their boys, Max, Will, and Peter over the holiday. Max had recently had back surgery and was thrilled when the doctor finally gave him the ok to go deep sea fishing just in time for the trip. They didn’t have a good day offshore but caught a boatload of inshore species. They decided to give offshore another try but all the boats were already booked.
Rachel Cembalest poses with a stripped marlin The Cembalest Family Squeezes together in for a great Sailfish
Shot – Mom must be taking the photo!
Fellow New Yorker and Croc customer for nearly a decade Mike Pizzi and his wife Ann offered to give up their boat so the Cembalest’s could take the boys out again. The boys returned to the dock with 4 sailfish and a striped marlin release on their scorecard. “They caught your marlin” I poked at Pizzi who has had great catches over the years here, but at times I think he uses black cats for teasers.
Anne Pizzi Steals another Marlin from Husband Mike
Well they say good deeds pays dividends. In this case it was really true. The next day Ann caught two marlin, one at 350 pounds and another at 250 pounds and was back at the dock two hours early to visit our spa and work some of the stiffness out of her muscles.
There really are too many families that were here to not forget someone, but the Mundt, Bahl, Shore/Plavic, Garrison, Mase, and Proefke are just to name a few. Phil Bush and Terry Fisher led a group from Cummins Motors.
Nearly someone from each family took a marlin and a few sails. Hugh and Rowan Plavic brought in a couple of nice wahoo on Christmas that made some folks stay away from the turkey and stuffing. Remember the names, Anthony and J.J. Mase. The two youngsters had a hay day inshore fishing and in about a decade I predict they will both be pitching in the major leagues.
Lots of marlin have been around, not biting everyday but they are here. Don Bradley hooked two in one day on a fly rod and landed one on conventional tackle yesterday. The dorado hasn’t made a good as of yet but usually bite well up into February so there is still hope. A few more sails will be working into the area as we approach peak season.
Inshore Aristides Romero has been catching big sierra mackerel just around the corner from the lodge and smaller size snapper. Mike Bailey from Toronto did manage a 35 lb cubera snapper on a popper.
Anthony and JJ on the dock with some nice amberjack!
Todd Staley, Crocodile Bay Lodge
Costa Rica Sport Fishing Vacations at Crocodile Bay Resort
My day starts at 4:00 am. This morning I saw something that I have not seen in a long time, a sky full of stars. If you live near a big city you can’t image what’s up there, but in a small town or out on the ocean it is unbelievable the beauty of a moonless clear night. It is also a signal that Costa Rican summer has finally arrived.
It looks like someone also told the fish. Offshore the ocean has really come to life. We have seen double digit days on sailfish, the porpoises ran through this week signaling yellowfin tuna were below, and the missing link, dorado began to show. Marlin has also been almost a daily occurrence.
Jimmy Nelson, of Extreme Fishing Adventures was down with his film crew, Ben Bateman and Sam Spornhauer. The came across a school of spinner dolphin and managed a couple of 20 lb yellowfin tuna when Jimmy decided to see if they would eat a popper. On the first case a big yellowfin came completely out of the water and crashed down on top of the lure that he through with 20 lb spinning gear. It was certainly an “Extreme” site to see as well as was the battled that follow. For every minute you have a big fish on the line the odds of losing it go up. Nelson took his time on the light gear and 4 hours and 12 minutes later he had a 160 lb tuna onboard and was ready for a trip to the spa. Father and son team Dan and Don Ballard also got a 100 lb fish out of the same school.
There have been too many marlin taken lately to list without forgetting someone. Greg Boyer’s, Dave Garlow’s, and Steve Wilcox’s groups were some that got in the action. Most of the fish were in the 150 to 400 lb range. Steve Wilcox’s trip was especially rewarding because it was like a repeat of his childhood when his father took him to Mexico where he caught his first marlin. Steve’s son Aaron took his first billfish here and also took a 55 lb monster dorado as well as contributed many of the photo’s in this report.
Marlin have been making daily appearances at Crocodile Bay
Aaron Wilcox poses with a beautiful bull dorado- easy to see how this fish got its name!
Ian Davis from Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures was down and got into the tuna action with a fly rod. He also left our webmaster Will Briegel with a library full of great photos.
The Yellow Dog Fly Fishing crue dueled some of the gulfs most sought after species as well as a variety of other inshore and offshore beasts.
Hope your Thanksgiving is full of turkey and football and thoughts of fishing in a warmer climate. George and Neil Henshaw traveled all the way from England to spend a week with us.
They got a taste of just about everything we have to offer in the
offshore and inshore waters near the resort. Marlin, sailfish, tuna,
dorado, roosterfish and an array of other inshore species. The
following pictures from the cobalt ocean and the emerald coastline is
an example of what is in store this season.
Costa Rica Fishing Report- November 16, 2010
I am usually pretty good at predictions when it comes to fishing Cand
that is why I don’t have much trouble going out on a limb once in a
while. When I said the season was going to start out red hot or you
could slap me in the face I was pretty sure I would go un-bruised.
Well fortunately the only thing to slap me was Hurricane Tomas. Maybe Ishould study meteorology when it comes to predictions. There were more storms churning across the Caribbean this year than have been seen in a long time. Here we don’t get the powerful winds but if the storm is big enough the outer bands will dump water on us enough to think about building an ark.
That is exactly what happened at the beginning of the season. Tons of
water fell. Silt slushed out of the rivers and the fish went into hiding.
We did have some good days amongst all the bad weather. Many dorado up to 40 lbs came in for a several days, a few sails made some drag washers sing and the spinner dolphin came through and a boat load of 20 to 40 lb yellow fin tuna were caught. Inshore the roosters pleased guests in the patches of clean water, but the snapper decided to stay in their bunkers.
As I write this the sun is shining brightly, the professional weather
predictors are saying the normal weather patterns have returned and I am busy study up on atmospheric changes.
If you love the sensation having a jigging rod almost ripped from your hands as a big fish inhales your butterfly jig, or the thrill of watching a tuna crush your popper, leaving a hole in the water where your lure used to be, then Crocodile Bay is the place for you.
The Gulf of Dulce, and it’s surrounding waters offers some great opportunities to catch fish both jigging and on poppers. If jigging is your passion, we have some deep structure that hold Amberjack, Cubera Snapper, African Pompano, yellowfin Tuna, Roosterfish, Grouper, Trevally, Jacks and a host of other tropical fighters. It’s not just the thrill of the strike, the challenge of keeping the fish out of the Rocks, or feeling every head shake through the braided line. It’s the simple fact that there are such a variety of fish down there, that you often don’t know what you have on the line, until you see it. It’s not uncommon to catch six or eight different species in a single spot.
For the popping enthusiast, you have many options both inshore or offshore. Working the beach and shallow reefs can produce a mixed bag, including Roosters, Jacks, Snappers, Mackerel, Barracuda, Dorado, and Trevally. Over some of the the deeper structure, you can find “floating Snappers”, or snappers that have come off the bottom and are holding close to the surface, as well as Jacks, Roosters, Barracuda and Dorado. Big Cubera Snappers will come up from one hundred feet or more to hit a popper. When they do, it is an awesome explosion of an angry, red fish and white water.
Offshore also, holds some great opportunities for the popper fanatic. Trolling offshore, we often find floating debris, such as logs, branches, pallets, or just about anything else that floats. These floating objects, attract baitfish. Offering a place to hide, in otherwise deep and structureless water. This bait, then attracts gamefish such as Dorado, Tuna, Sailfish, and Marlin. Usually, one pass with the trolling lures, will tell you what fish are holing on the structure. Find one that is loaded with Dorado, and you can stop and have a field day with a popper. It is not uncommon to have two or three fish hooked at once, with a dozen or more swimming around the boat.
Popping for Snapper
If a big fight is what you are looking for, then Tuna is your game. We catch some very big Yellowfin Tuna here, and they will readily take a popper. It is a little bit different fishing, then what some anglers are accustomed to. We rarely see Tuna breaking on their own here. The big Tuna we catch, are always in with schools of Dolfin. Tuna run with Dolphin, such as spotted or spinner Dolphin that use echo location to find bait. Once the Dolphin locate the bait, the Tuna move in and feed with the Dolphin.
When we find a school of Dolphin, we position the boat in front of the them, and let the school come to us. When you see breaking Tuna, cast to them. It is possible to cast to hundred plus pound fish breaking right in front of you. But be careful, you never know when that two hundred pounder, is going to come out of the fray and take your popper.
Jigging and popping have become very popular in recent years. With the advent or braided lines, stronger reels, lighter, more powerful rods and better hooks, the sport has grown. Anglers now push the bounds of what is possible with spinning and light conventional tackle. For the experienced pro, we offer a variety of species to add to one’s life list, as well as a shot at a trophy. For the beginner, we’re more than happy to introduce you to the sport, and offer an excellent environment to begin honing ones skills.
Ok, so you’re all jazzed up about catching a sail fish on the fly rod in Costa Rica. Or you might just want to try conventional fishing for sails, marlin, tuna, dorado and rooster fish..
I highly recommend it sooner than later.
As we all know FISHING = MONEY and it all boils down to that equation. .
Most equate fishing money with expendable income. Try looking at it this way:
“To me It’s a necessity“ Go ahead admit it. Fishing does things for you that cannot be compared with fixing the roof, buying the kids the latest hand-held electronic communication device or supplying a new 2012 survival shelter.
For the past 11 years I have watched the current state of world economic affairs in regards to sport fishing as an offshore fishing captain here in Costa Rica for Crocodile Bay Resort and for close to 30 years as a guide in Alaska.
I still say do it now as apposed to later and I’ll tell you why.
In these past few years all those around us swore and still swear that we will all be begging for food long before the Mayan’s doom-laden prediction that the end of the world will occur in 2012..
I have observed and noted during these past few years that almost all of my clients talk about how THESE things are affecting them. I don’t raise the subject because the last thing I want to talk about on my boat is your work. I’d rather talk world wide fishing. But inevitably someone does brooch the subject of world economic events and I can’t help but put in my twenty cents… accounting for inflation that is.
Most of them including myself are of the well thought out and discussed opinion that all of the people who can afford a trip outside their normal circle of fishing zones and have ventured to do so in the past three years or so, have had the same mental philosophy…
I’ll delete the expletives and keep in mind that we are all fishers after all is said and done, but to put it into a nut shell… They all have the mind set that either it isn’t as bad as the powers to be would lead you to believe or that even if it is and will get worse that now is the time to enjoy some of your hard earned money to treat yourself to something you’ve been wanting to do for who-knows-how-long.
Most have said that after looking at their current state of affairs that they decided now is the time. After all, if all turns to fecal matter I did what I wanted to do and I’ll never have to say I wish I had when I had the chance.
Further more: What if the Mayans were right? In a year or so the fish could be catching us..
Do you think that if you stood on the street with a sign that read “Will Work For Sail Fishing Money” that anybody would donate? Hell no. Those that still have it will be taking this advice to heart and going fishing in Costa Rica to catch a sailfish on a fly rod or roosterfish using bait the size of the fish they are now catching from the pond next to the golf course.
I not only learned from my father about learning from other’s mistakes but to also learn from their successes.
So follow the advice of not only me but the approximately 1,242 people I’ve taken fishing in the past 4 years despite the price of oil, the stock market, the housing collapse and the heartbreak of psoriasis. “When all else fails, go fishing.”
Do you need help forming a fishing budget plan acceptable to you and the boss/wife??
Stay tuned for my next missive.