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