Sailfishing at Costa Rica

At the 2001 ISE, Elaine and I were walking the aisles when a thought came to me and I said: "Howard, where should we go in Costa Rica for sailfish?" He relied, "there is a new wonderful lodge at Golfo Dulce and the best time is January through March". "How about the week of February 15, 2002" said I. "You have a wonderful grasp for the obvious", thought he. Actually, we both knew it was the dark of the moon. So, deposit paid, 2001 slipped by, and off we went on Feb 13.

Connecting flight out of Dallas was cancelled. What a way to start! No matter, off to Miami for the night and into San Jose the next noon. Hotel Herradura was very nice and off to Puerta Jiminez the next morning. Accomodations at Crocodile Bay were superb and the staff terrific. Checked out the butterflies, the crocodiles, the macaws, and the town, the first day. Set up fly gear in the evening for the next four days.

Day One: We raised an incredible fourteen sailfish. Since this was my fifth sailfish trip, I told Elaine I would show her how. When I failed to hook the first grabber, she said she now knew what not to do. Next fish came up with a partner. Elaine got bit by both but those did not hook up either. Next one on my reel with all the jumps and runs for about ten minutes. Broke the tippet. Elaine was getting the full lesson. But alas, the next one I landed. It was a whopping 120 pounder according to our captain. Now that Elaine had everything down, she proceeded to land one of her own, a 100 pounder. We used 12 weight rods. Only untoward incident of the day was seeing four dead sailfish, by - catch of long liners we were told. We crossed a long line on our way in, the first I had ever seen at sea.

Day Two: Porpoise everywhere. Tried for tuna, but thankfully, (I think) hooked none. Came across a blue water fishers dream - a palm tree root wad with about ten feet of trunk floating twenty miles to sea. I knew what would be lurking below. One cast from Elaine and into the sky leaped a twenty pound dorado. It jumped itself silly and Elaine had no trouble landing it on an 11 weight rod. "I want one, too", wailed me, but all I could entice were bonito. I landed five. We saw a marlin crash into a school of bonito for a really exciting show. We only raised six sails today and lost two after a half hour fight for each of us.

Day Three: Each day we saw free jumping sailfish, marlin, and manta ray. We raised seven sails and hooked half, landing one. A fly fishing group from Seattle joined us and I learned a new fly pattern. They tie a tube fly with the feathers attached to the popper head. Tandem hooks on the shock tippet have no feathers or hair attached and I believe this allows the sails to hook up better. One of the fellows gave me one and I will copy the pattern for our next trip.

Day Four: Eight sails up today. This is the greatest dry fly fishing. OK OK, it is not contemplative sipping off a tranquil stream on a dead drift, but neither is steelhead dry fly fishing. But consider, the popper fly is on the surface being stripped, the fish raises it's head, (the bill is always impressive), the dorsal fin comes out of the water, and the fish takes the fly down, all at the grace and speed of a runaway freight train. Very exciting. Watch your line coming off the deck, get it to the reel, set the hook (again and again) better have the right drag setting, bow to the jumps (there are always a bunch) pressure hard to break it's will, heavy lift over the gunwhale, quick picture, revive, release. Whew!! This can take over an hour sometimes, ask Elaine.

Couple more days: hiking, kayaking, monkeying around (there are several kinds), beachcombing, fun, fun, trip. Highly recommended.

John Gross