Crocodile Bay Resort, Costa Rica
Crocodile Bay Resort, behind the scenes. I’ve known Todd Staley, head of fishing operations at Crocodile Bay Resort (CBR) for nearly 25 years. I regretfully admit that in Todd’s 14 years at CBR this was my first visit. While visiting Todd’s home in downtown Puerto Jimenez, meeting his Costa Rican family, visiting his 13-acre property, which he plans to build on one day, it became clear Todd was in Costa Rica for more than the fishing. But, fishing was why I was ultimately there, so I wanted to take this chance to get his insider views on what a Florida Sportsman reader would want to know about CBR and its fishing.BW: As head of fishing operations of CBR what is your primary function? What does that insure for me as a prospective visitor?TS: I have run the fishing operation here since day one (14 years). I know the area, the captains and what works best. By having such a long term relation with the captains it makes it easy to match captains with guests.
BW: Tell me a little about your captains and crew.
TS: When we first opened I had to bring almost my whole crew from outside because the locals, although good fishermen, did not have any experience as guides. It is a 4- to 5-year process before a new employee works his way up to be a captain. Ninety percent of my crew are English-speaking locals.
BW: Do your boats follow IGFA rules?
TS: Crocodile Bay is not what you might refer to as a “record-seeker destination,” though we have set records in snapper, snook and several other species. We basically want to insure the guest has a fun experience while they are fishing. If a guest wants to fish for a record we will accommodate them.
BW: You mentioned to get the most out of your trip, there’s a need to communicate with your crew and captain.
TS: When fishing here or chartering a boat anywhere the client should do their homework and ask the questions they have in mind before they arrive. No question is a bad question. Once you’re on the boat, again, good communication is key to the overall positive experience.
BW: Tell me about your boats.
TS: We have thirteen Strike inboard diesels ranging from 33 to 35 feet, ten 27-foot Rambo’s and seventeen 24-foot Boston Whalers.
BW: Can people keep their catch? Do you help in shipping fish back to the states?
TS: If someone brings their own cooler they can take fish back with them. We do not ship fish because the local airlines cannot guarantee us space on the plane.
BW: Can you tell me a little about Puerto Jimenez.
TS: Puerto Jimenez was settled by several large families. My wife has 66 cousins in town so there is always an eye on me. This at one time was a gold rush town, and still is. People mined gold in the hills of what is now Cocovado National Park.
BW: Tell me a little about your location in Costa Rica.
TS: We sit on one of the few tropical fjords in the world, the Golfo Dulce. The northeast side is formed by volcanic activity and the western edge is mangrove estuary. Throughout the Gulf there are volcanic reefs that are haunts for many different types of snapper, roosterfish, amberjack and other reef fish. The river mouths offer an opportunity for a trophy snook to the angler who has the patience to fish them in tropical heat.
BW: What are some of the things a Florida Sportsman would like to do if he wasn’t fishing? Not your typical zip line or spa visit? Anything you can think of from an insider’s view?
TS: We are located on the Osa Peninsula on what National Geographic describes as the most ecologically intense place on the planet. A rainforest jungle hike is a must and can be as easy or strenuous as you like. From a stroll on flat land to scaling a waterfall. Surfers are offered four different breaks within thirty minutes of the resort, including the famous Pavones break which is the second longest left in the world. The jungle can also be done on horseback and many options involving rural tourism like the Chocolate Farm show guests how some of the local people make a living.
BW: As a former Florida angler tell me what fishery in Florida comes closest to matching the fishery you have at CBR?
TS: As a long time west coast Florida resident I would guess that the inshore snapper fishing would be the closest. If someone would have told me 20-some years ago that I would one day be jigging grouper in 400 foot of water and watch people walk on the beach at the same time I would have told them they were crazy. Down here I have learned that a cubera snapper will come up in 100 foot of water and hit a popper. Most east coast Florida anglers like a chop to fish for sails but here a flat ocean is most productive.
BW: Is there anything else the readers of Florida Sportsman, who are planning a trip to fish the Tropics would like to know about CBR…should know about CBR or your region of Costa Rica.
TS: We have the most friendly and service oriented staff I have ever worked with.
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