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August 16, 2013

Adrenaline Rush!

Yellowfin tuna pandemonium among the porpoise pods off Costa Rica

Commercial Fishing: Successes and Setbacks

Commercial longliner in Costa Rica aroud the Osa Peninsula
Doug Olander

As is often the case these days, recreational-fishing ­interests in Costa Rica have enjoyed both successes and setbacks as far as commercial overfishing is concerned. Longliners, tuna seiners and shrimp trawlers have all posed problems. In the past year or two, large shrimpers have been working the coast around the Osa Peninsula hard, says Todd Staley. Licenses were issued without the requisite environmental-impact studies, Staley says, which is the crux of a pending lawsuit by a number of entities against shrimpers.

Some successes against longliners fishing nearshore (they are supposed to be operating at least 30 miles out) have produced impressive results, Staley says, but there are still problems, as with purse seiners, who can deplete a large area of yellowfin overnight. The Federacion Costarricense de Pesca (FECOP), the “sport-fishing and responsible-fishing lobby,” says Staley, is working to move the tuna seiners 200 miles offshore.

“FECOP is also working closely with the Minister of the Oceans, Jose Lino Chaves, who oversees activities in the ocean, including fishing,” Staley says. “He’s a no-nonsense guy and aggressively goes after lawbreakers. We had a problem with longliners illegally fishing live bait on their lines here for sailfish. He personally came down and pressed charges against 14 longline boats, and stayed on them until they gave up. The result has been some of the best fishing we have seen in years, with 15 to 30 fish in the spread a day more common than a rarity as in the past few years.”

Planning a Trip to Crocodile Bay

Aerial view of ­Crocodile Bay Lodge, Costa Rica
Courtesy ­Crocodile Bay Lodge

Logistics: You’ll fly to San Jose, served by many ­international airlines, and then transfer to the nearby smaller regional airport for the 45-minute flight to Puerto Jimenez. (Note the 25-pound baggage limit unless other arrangements are made.) You might need to (and/or want to) overnight at a hotel in San Jose coming and/or going, depending upon time of year and local flight schedules.

Timing: Between offshore and inshore (Golfo Dulce) ­opportunities, any month of the year might offer good fishing. Some of the best months for billfish and tuna are noted in the text of this feature. Summer can be intermittently rainy, but the heaviest rains usually hold off until October. December through April is generally dry and sunny, and can be breezy as well.

Besides fishing: The pristine rainforest covering the Osa Peninsula lends itself to a variety of activities that falls under the “eco-tour” umbrella. These include kayaking, surfing, snorkeling, rainforest hiking, canopy tours, zip lining, bird-watching, biking, horseback riding and so on. All this makes the destination an appealing one for the angler who wants to combine some serious fishing with a variety of family activities.

For more information or reservations: Visit Crocodile Bay Resort’s website; for general information, go to visitcostarica.com.

To see more photos and exciting video from this trip, visit our Costa Rica Tuna Fishing channel.