18 years working in an office is a long time. With unwavering support from the Mrs, in 2015 we decided to move to Costa Rica to chase a dream and establish our new fishing charter operation, Jackpot Sport Fishing.
I am originally from the Isle of Man have been fishing my whole life and around the world since I was old enough. We run a 31 foot Costa Rican custom built Sport Fishing Boat called the ‘Good Day’ out of the beautiful Marina Pez Vela in Quepos, a 100 slip world class Marina on the Central Pacific coast, just 10 minutes from the Manuel Antonio National Park where the primary lodging & dining options are located. Quepos is a 2.5 hour scenic drive from the International Airport or alternatively can be reached by a 25 minute domestic flight.
Fishing in Costa Rica
Costa Rica is one of the top Sailfish destinations in the world with an abundance of big Pacific Sailfish being caught year round. Fish average around 70lb with fish up to 140lb common which provide excellent sport on light 20-30lb class tackle…..or on Fly when the fish are here in numbers. When the fishing is on fire it is possible to catch 20+ Sailfish in a day’s offshore charter during the peak season from November to April. One of the large tournament boats released 80 Sailfish (yes 80!) in one hectic day during March 2016 – truly demonstrating the world class fishing that we have here.
Blue, Black & Striped Marlin are all caught in Costa Rica making a Billfish ‘Grand Slam’ always a possibility when the Marlin are biting. The largest known Marlin caught on rod & line in Costa Rica was caught on 17 August 2008 aboard our boat, the ‘Good Day’ captained by Mr Manuel Gabuardi, who is still my captain to this day, having been on the boat for 12 years now. The fish, a Black Marlin measured 17 feet long and weighed a staggering 1,245lb! Costa Rica is not famous for grander Marlin but when the fish are here we get an exceptional amount of 200-300 pounders with plenty of 500+ pound fish caught every year too.
The Yellow Fin Tuna fishing in Costa Rica is an exhilarating experience. The fish are commonly found together with huge schools of 500+ Spinner Dolphins in a feeding frenzy as they attack the Sardine bait balls, together with hundreds of birds diving and the Tuna busting the surface from below. This action needs to be seen to be believed! There are lots of Yellow Fins in the 20-50lb range with plenty of fish over 100lb and specimens of 300lb caught every year too.
El Nino has disrupted this year’s Mahi Mahi run up the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica where the fish are usually found in abundance at this time of year. Northern Mexico & Southern California are having one of their best Mahi seasons ever with the fish preferring the cooler waters which helps explain why there are not so many Mahi in Costa Rica this year. We are hopeful they will return in numbers when the rains come later in the season and the water temperature cools. One of the best times to catch Mahi here is in the height of the rainy season when the rivers are in flood washing branches and debris out to sea to form trash lines which the Mahi love to congregate under, providing excellent sport sight fishing on light tackle.
The main event in Costa Rica for many Anglers is the prized Roosterfish. With the IGFA World Record standing at 114lbs and with 100 pounders caught every year in Costa Rica, the Roosterfish is what many Anglers flock to Costa Rica in search of. Roosterfish are typically caught in 20-80 feet of water alongside cliffs, rocky outcrops, surf lines or attacking shoals of sardines. The preferred fishing method is live bait for the larger fish and typical baits used are sardines, lookdowns, blue runners or a live bonito for the really big fish! Casting lures, poppers or fly fishing are very successful too & provide some very exciting visual fishing!
Our Rooster fishing in March & April 2016 has been fantastic. In one charter off Dominical we landed 4 lovely Roosterfish with 3 of them in the 20-28lb range. We then had a really special day in early April 2016 during a half day charter fishing close to the islands of Naranjo & Manuel Antonio. We were fishing a Blue Runner livebait about 10 feet under the surface when a huge Roosterfish broke the surface behind the boat as he chased down our live bait. Several long seconds
passed before the fish picked up our livebait before we fed him ample line for the bait to be taken down and we could set the circle hook. Upon setting the hook, the fish exploded into life and on fairly light tackle for such a big fish a tug of war ensued before us as the Angler Jim Hill, owner of Epic Boats in the USA did an excellent job of fighting the fish. Perhaps 10 times during the fight, Jim coaxed the fish closer to the boat only for it to empty another 100 yards of line without Jim being able to stop it. As we finally got the fish to the boat, it was a really special moment to experience, knowing your client was going home with the memory of catching & releasing a Roosterfish of a lifetime. The fish measured 55 inches from nose to tail and we estimated it at 70lbs. It was for moments like this that I moved to Costa Rica!
Beach & Rivermouth Fishing
Snook, Snapper, Jacks and Roosterfish are the primary targets from the beaches & river mouths. Light tackle fishing for Snook can provide excellent sport with soft plastics, plugs & livebait all proving successful. Fly fishing in the mangroves and rivermouths is very successful and a large Snook caught on fly from the shore could easily turn into any Anglers most memorable fish of the trip!
Some favourite light tackle shore locations are, Playa Bejuco, Parrita, Naranjo, Savegre & Dominical. The IGFA World Record Pacific Black Snook was caught from the Naranjo Rivermouth, a whopping 59lbs 12oz! As part of my guiding service I am pleased to take anglers light tackle fishing from the shore when we are not out fishing on the boat. Sunrise and sunset are an incredible time to be on the beach here in Costa Rica - jaw dropping sunsets are common!
Activities for non fishing days
Costa Rica has so much to offer and I would highly recommend that you take some time to explore the beauty of the country. We have no fewer than 14 Volcanos throughout the central highlands and there are some great hiking trips so that you can get out in the wild and take a closer look. You can visit National Parks, or go wildlife viewing, White water rafting, try an ATV tour, go horse riding, Paddle in the Oceon, Mangroves, visit the waterfalls or take a Jet Ski tour, a Kayak Trip, try Zip Lining, a Crocodile Tour, or a majestic sunset Sailing cruise. The list of options for your non fishing days are simply endless…you might not want to go home, like me!
The Manuel Antonio area is one of the highlights to any visit to Costa Rica with a beautiful National Park with pristine beaches and excellent wildlife. There are a host of accommodation options including boutique hotels, private villas and guesthouses with a great restaurant and bar scene also making it the ideal place to spend your holiday. The typical wildlife in the area are Sloths, Toucans, Macaws, Racoons, Howler Monkeys, White faced Monkeys, Parrots, Snakes, Frogs and all kinds of creepy crawly’s….in the jungle you will be pleased to hear, not your hotel room!
Travelling to Costa Rica
It has never been easier for Brit’s to get to Costa Rica now that British Airways have started a direct flight from London Gatwick to San Jose, the Costa Rican capital which takes 10.5 hours with economy class fares starting from GBP590 return. Airport pickups can be arranged to transfer you to your chosen Hotel or Villa and to make your journey as smooth as possible.
Other flights to Costa Rica
Iberia direct from Madrid
Air France direct from Paris
Edelweiss direct from Zurich (starting May 2017)
Emirates direct from Panama
A host of direct flights from across the USA & Canada
Peak seasons are November-April when fishing is excellent and there is little rain. May-Aug is low season where there are some fantastic deals on hotels and definitely worth considering. It typically rains for an hour or two in the afternoon every few days at this time of year. September & October is the height of the rainy season and typically very wet.
The best season for Sailfish bite is January to April when the large numbers are here, however, they are caught in lower numbers during every month of the year. Our Roosterfish are resident along the coastline and are caught year round also.
To take the stress out of your trip planning we offer fishing packages including airport transfers, accommodation. We can also arrange tours around Manual Antonio on non fishing days. If you are interested in Fly Fishing in the Pacific and Carribean Coast of Costa Rica, let us know too.
If you would like further information on these or any information about Costa Rica, it would be great to hear from you.
Jackpot Sport Fishing – Costa Rica
Tel: +506 8458 4997