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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This juvenile mullet snapper blasted a Sebile Stick Shadd meant for its bigger brothers.
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.
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.
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.
Ron Kliegl, SpiderWire's brand business manager, landed this African pompano inshore.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Back at the Crocodile Bay docks, angler Scott Goodwin tossed out a jig and chunk-bait to land this catfish.
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.
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.