Costa Rica Season 2019 – Week 4
One angler from South Africa, Johan Donald, joined us for the final week in Costa Rica in 2019. Being a seasoned and well traveled fisherman, he brought a wealth of knowledge and experience to the water.
As with every first day, expectations and excitement runs high. The first time you come around the corner and see the river mouth open before you is something you’ll never forget. Once the motors switch off and you begin your first drift, the seemingly dead muddy water soon comes alive with baitfish jumping everywhere and tarpon rolling like dolphins.
The first day proved to be very challenging, with a total of four fish hooked and none landed. With their hard mouths and hook-shaking jumps, tarpon can be frustratingly hard to land once hooked. That night it was back to the drawing board, with leaders retied, thinner gauged circle hooks and new buck tail jigs strapped on the fly tying vice.
With renewed vigour (and some breakfast sandwiches packed for us by the kitchen) we set out very early on the second day. We hooked into a nice fish on the first drift, but dropped him very short into the fight when he jumped.
Determined to find more fish, we decided to look for more baitfish action about our kilometers to the north of the river mouth. Very often you’ll find baitfish around a well defined color line in the water. Our efforts paid off around mid morning when we hooked into a nice fish with a jig. After a rather short fight, the fish was leadered and we were on the board!
We stuck to our game plan of doing one or two drifts in the river mouth first thing in the morning. This time it paid off as we went tight on a tarpon with a circle hook on the first drift.
Further out the mouth we found another group of tarpon rolling in cleaner water. Johan hooked one on the first drift over them, and after a 25 minute fight had him at the boat.
The afternoon session proved to be very productive as well. Fishing a massive feeding frenzy of Jack Crevalle and Tarpon busting bait, we Johan managed to land three jacks and one tarpon.
Day four was another one for the books. On the third drift of the morning in the river mouth we hooked a 80lber on a jig. After landing the fish we decided to fish to the south of the river mouth again, closer to the cleaner water. Initially, the fishing was slow, but we new the fish were around as they kept rolling and there were nervous baitfish everywhere.
Trying his luck on fly, Johan hooked into a monsterous fish. For the first 40 minutes we didn’t see the fly line. Even after regaining the fly line, the fish made numerous runs well into the backing, but rarely jumped. After a hour and 40 minutes we landed the fish, a fish estimated to weigh in excess of 150lb. A true trophy.
The morning session ended with a school of jacks circling around the boat. Fishing for these fish with lighter gear, Johan landed eight before we called it in for the afternoon siesta.
We decided to mix things up during the morning session, trying to fish for these giant tarpon on surface lure. Johan was using a medium sized popper, and worked the calmer water slowly before the wind picked up late morning.
The popper resulted in some spectacular takes and areal displays, but most of them threw the hook within the first 3 or four jumps. We then decided to change the tactics. As soon as the ate, Johan didn’t strike or retrieve. The next fish that ate the popper took it down to the deeps, and after about 20 seconds, Johan set the hook. About 30 minutes later we brought the fish to the boat! What an exciting catch!
The last day presented some challenging fishing, with the bite much slower than the previous three days. Johan still managed to land one last fish for the trip, bringing his total tally for the week to 12 tarpon and 8 jacks landed. The fishing in Costa Rica is superb and numbers are consistent. As with al fishing you get your better days and you get your worse days. But in Costa Rica, your slower days are still much better than a good day at any other location.