Pura Vida in Costa Rica

Fishing the inshore and offshore waters near Crocodile Bay with Penn reels.

In mid-December, a group of fishing writers were invited to Costa Rica's Crocodile Bay Resort by Penn Fishing to tackle species such as roosterfish, cubera snapper and marlin with the company's new Clash spinning reels and Carnage II rods.

Roosterfish caught fishing Crocodile Bay Resort Costa Rica
RoosterfishCourtesy Crocodile Bay Resort

The new Penn Clash reels are available in seven models, handling 8- to 80-pound braid, with 10 to 30 pounds of max drag. Reel prices range from $180 to $260 — reasonable costs for the quality of performance we experienced.

Fishing Penn Clash spinning reel Crocodile Bay Resort Costa Rica
ClashSam Hudson / Sport Fishing

Getting to the fishing lodge required a 45-minute Nature Air flight from San Jose to Puerto Jimenez. Flying into Puerto Jimenez seemed a bit ominous, with the cemetery just feet from the runway, but all the flights went smoothly. Staff picked us up for a short ride back to Crocodile Bay Resort.

Airplane landing Puerto Jimenez Costa Rica
Tombstones and TarmacSam Hudson / Sport Fishing

At Crocodile Bay, our rooms had wooden porches that extended seamlessly into the surrounding nature. Each morning, we were woken by a chorus of macaw parrots — a great alarm to make it to breakfast and the docks on time.

Crocodile Bay Resort Costa Rica wooden porch
Jungle ViewCourtesy Crocodile Bay Resort

Inshore fishing consisted of casting Sebile poppers and plugs to jagged shorelines and outcrops made up of rocks and corals. Some anglers preferred live-baiting or trolling goggle-eyes, sardines and other live baits.

Inshore fishing Crocodile Bay Resort Costa Rica
The RocksSam Hudson / Sport Fishing

This juvenile mullet snapper blasted a Sebile Stick Shadd meant for its bigger brothers.

Juvenile mullet snapper caught fishing Sebile Stick Shadd lure
Snap AttackSam Hudson / Sport Fishing

Besides mullet snapper, other species are available for anglers. This yellow snapper (Pargo Amarillo) bit a chunk of cut bait in 200 feet of water.

Yellow snapper Pargo Amarillo caught fishing Crocodile Bay Resort Costa Rica
More Than One Type of SnapperSam Hudson / Sport Fishing

Probably the snapper that garners the most attention in area waters is the cubera. Angler Zeno Hromin landed this impressive cubera near the inshore rocks on a Sebile Magic Swimmer soft bait.

Cubera snapper caught fishing Crocodile Bay Resort Costa Rica
King of SnappersCourtesy Zeno Hromin

One of the most-popular and recognized casting spots is Matapalo Rock. Angler Alex Suescun peppered the area with poppers, along with plenty of coastline near the mouth of Golfo Dulce.

Angler fishing Matapalo Rock, Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica
Matapalo RockSam Hudson / Sport Fishing

Besides snappers, a variety of jacks hunt the same waters. This big-eye jack was one of a few pulled from a school that aggressively patrolled the famous outcrop.

Bigeye jack caught fishing Crocodile Bay Resort Costa Rica
Jacks on the ProwlSam Hudson / Sport Fishing

Roosterfish are the prized jack species for anglers out of Crocodile Bay. The rooster may have an outrageous-looking dorsal fin (not so unlike the comb of a rooster), but its aggressive feeding behavior and fight make it a top inshore target. Watch a video of a roosterfish attacking a topwater plug on this trip at Sport Fishing's Facebook page.

Roosterfish caught fishing Crocodile Bay Resort Costa Rica
Cock of the BlockDoug Olander / Sport Fishing

Jack crevalle are a common catch, mixed in with the other inshore species. This jack hit a plug over a reef just outside the mouth of Golfo Dulce.

Jack crevalle caught fishing Golfo Dulce Crocodile Bay Costa Rica
Jack CrevalleSam Hudson / Sport Fishing

Ron Kliegl, SpiderWire's brand business manager, landed this African pompano inshore.

African pompano caught inshore fishing Crocodile Bay Resort Costa Rica
A Different PompanoCourtesy Zeno Hromin

Offshore, yellowfin tuna are a common catch, often bigger than the one pictured. Angler Andrew Cox hooked this fish in the morning, just after lines were put out.

Yellowfin tuna caught offshore fishing Crocodile Bay Resort Costa Rica
Tuna on TopSam Hudson / Sport Fishing

One of the most common areas to troll for marlin offshore Crocodile Bay is at a FAD (fish attracting device) 50 miles from the lodge. A blue marlin pulls tight to angler Dave Morel's line after a hookup near the FAD.

Angler deep sea fishing FADs from Crocodile Bay Resort Costa Rica
The Big FightSam Hudson / Sport Fishing

After the hookup, the marlin tail-walked and jumped across the surface, providing a show for all the different boats trolling around the FAD structure.

Blue marlin caught fishing FADs offshore Crocodile Bay Resort Costa Rica
Tail-Walking and JumpsCourtesy Crocodile Bay Resort

Dave Morel, in the Penn hat, fought the marlin to the boat skillfully, allowing anglers on the boat to take a couple photos of the billfish. With energy left, the marlin kicked away from the 33-foot Strike back to the depths.

Blue marlin caught FAD fishing Crocodile Bay Resort Costa Rica
The ReleaseSam Hudson / Sport Fishing

Back at the Crocodile Bay docks, angler Scott Goodwin tossed out a jig and chunk-bait to land this catfish.

Catfish caught dock fishing Crocodile Bay Resort Costa Rica
A Catfish SurpriseSam Hudson / Sport Fishing

Even in mid-December, high sun and temperatures in the low-to-mid 80s tired all the anglers at the Penn Fishing Crocodile Bay Clash event. After a day's fishing, the rooms were cold, clean and refreshing.

Crocodile Bay Resort Costa Rica
At the LodgeCourtesy Crocodile Bay Resort

All fun trips must end, so after three days of solid fishing, it was time to leave Crocodile Bay Resort. The flight back to San Jose provided bird's eye views of solid-green mountains and valleys.

Crocodile Bay Costa Rica aerial view green mountains valleys
Back to RealitySam Hudson / Sport Fishing