Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Southern Costa Rica to reel in harmful fishing practices

Southern Costa Rica to reel
in harmful fishing practices

By Mike McDonald
Tico Times Staff

PUERTO JIMENEZ, Puntarenas – The rods are being set to pull fishing nets out of the Golfo Dulce forever.

Officials from local and national fishing organizations and conservation groups met in the town hall here on Saturday to discuss a plan that would declare the gulf – home to one of the world's five tropical fjords – a “marine area of responsible fishing” (AMPR). The two-and-a-half-year plan would involve eliminating shrimp trawlers from the area, conducting biological studies and teaching gillnet fishermen how to use sustainable fishing practices.

Officials of the Costa Rican Federation for Fishing Tourism (FECOPT) presented the plan to directors of the National Fisheries Institute (INCOPESCA) and members of the National Artisanal Fishing Federation. Members from all parties were on board with removing fishing nets from the gulf.

“It's the only way to restore this gulf,” said Donald McGuinness, president of FECOPT. “It's already overfished.”

The nets have long been the center of attacks from national conservation groups that worry about the bycatch captured by trawls and gillnets. Dolphins, turtles and sharks are often trapped and killed in the nets used for catching other marine creatures such as shrimp.

Randall Arauz, president of the Marine Turtle and Restoration Program (PRETOMA), said if the fishing institutes are serious about declaring the Golfo Dulce a responsible fishing area, they must first eliminate the shrimp trawlers, which he said have been notorious for pulling unnecessary bycatch out of the gulf. The United States has embargoed Costa Rica's shrimp industry four times since 1999 because of a lack of use and enforcement of sustainable fishing practices.

“We've been telling them for years to get shrimp boats out of here,” Arauz said.

INCOPESCA President Jorge Barrantes said the shrimp boats are among the first of their concerns.

“We are working with the shrimpers now,” he said. “We hope to have them out within a month.”

INCOPESCA officials will meet with shrimping organizations in the Pacific port city of Puntarenas this Friday to discuss the plan.

For more about Costa Rica Fishing, Visit


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Crocodile Bay Resort, Costa Rica

Read more about Costa Rica Fishing at www.crocodilebay.com

Just as the words “We jammin’” blared over the speakers the first time aboard the Croc of Gibraltar, a rigger clip snapped. My brain instantly tuned out the Marley CD as heads swung to the rod now throbbing to life in a starboard holder. “Vela! Vela!” declared the captain atop the bridge as he excitedly repeated the Spanish word for sailfish. Sanford Hochman, a Cape Cod native normally of quiet disposition, rose like a Centurion about to do battle. The mate lobbed a live goggle-eye jack behind the now idling boat, and the rest of the scene went according to Hoyle: fish rises in the trolled lure spread, bait tossed out, fish transfers to the bait, line tightens, circle hook does its thing, and the man-fish encounter commences. Hochman, a custom rod builder, can pump and wind with the best of them. As the Pacific sailfish twisted, twirled and put on a show thatthe Flying Wallendas would envy, Hochman artfully maneuvered the rod to meet the 100-pound-plus fish’s every antic. In about eight minutes, the sail succumbs with the leader and then its bill secured. A few quick pictures, and let the animal recover a bit before releasing. So beautiful.

Such drama becomes common off western Costa Rica, aptly so named by Columbus for its rich coast. Costa Rica Fishing out of Crocodile Bay Resort and the Golfo Dolce, the blue waters 10 to 30 miles offshore yield abundant sailfish, marlin,dolphin, wahoo and tuna. But that’s not the only fishing karma you get hereabouts – shallower green and coastal waters provide great action with roosterfish, cubera snapper, African pompano, black snook and trevally. Our first day aboard the Croc of Gibraltar found the seas a bit saucy, causing even the 35-foot Strike boat with twin 370 diesels to rock and roll a bit. Nonetheless, under overcast skies and a drizzle now and then, we registered another sailfish release by angler Terry Durbaugh, a veterinarian and also a New Englander, plus a beefy skipjack tuna. We saw other sails cut across the spread occasionally, but they wouldn’t stay to dine. We switched lures from chuggers to bullets, changed colors, varied the trolling speed and directions, but not much happened after the initial strikes. That night at dinner, I needled Todd Staley, a long-time friend and Costa Rica Fishing Director of Crocodile Bay Resort (CBR), that I didn’t come all this way for just a handful of sailfish. Noting my sarcasm, he responded with a smile that was only bending the lips, slyly adding that the weather will improve and to “pretend” like I have a little patience. Indeed, Staley made me eat crow.

The following day found us under blue skies, abundant sunshine and calm seas, and our lure spread became much easier to spot from the depths. Action heated up faster than the water, and German (pronounced Herman), our captain aboard the Croc of Gibraltar, and mate Erick spent most of the time running and gunning after free-jumping sails or birds following fish rather than the prior day spent mostly blind trolling. We trolled four lines on 30- to 50-pound conventional gear, with two in the outriggers, one flat line and a shotgun from the bridge. At the ready stood 20-pound spin rods for smaller fish and an 80W in case a big blue decided to pay a visit. Preferred gear at CBR consists of 6- to 7-foot Okuma rods, Shimano TLD and Tiagra reels, and Triple Fish line and fluorocarbon leaders.

The two short lines with bigger lures sported wooden green birds in front of them to increase attention. Erick says that favorite lure colors include green, orange, black-and-red, purple-and-black, and blue-and-white. A cedar plug often gets attention as well from just about all species. Once a fish comes up in the spread, Erick springs to the deck from the bridge. If the fish doesn’t take one of the lures, Erick casts a prerigged live goggle-eye, bonito or blue runner while anglers reel in trolled lines to deter tangling.

Day 2 saw lots of that. Not only did we get multiples on sailfish, we scored several big dolphin. Sanford Hochman caught the first green marauder, fighting it on 20-pound spin after German went ballistic upon spying a big school nearby. We admired their cobalt-blue pectoral fins as they blitzed here and there beneath the boat in the clear blue water, gobbling up the chunks of cut bait that Erick stashed in the cooler just for this purpose. Hochman and his fishing partner this day, Steve Cahill, took turns on the rod. After we couldn’t stand it any longer just snapping pictures, my traveling companions Michael Kelly, Kelly Braden and I also strapped on stand-up belts, with Michael tallying the biggest dolphin of the outing, a chunky 35-pound cow. By day’s end, every rod in the holders had been bent more than a few times. We also spotted a sea turtle and enjoyed the playful antics of porpoises around the boat. Others in the CBR fleet also reported good action on sailfish and dolphin, with a few bringing in wahoo and a couple of anglers losing hooked blue marlin at the transom.

Three years ago when Kelly Braden and I visited CBR, we’d never caught a roosterfish. Leaving the dock, our skiff ran just north of the point separating the Golfo Dulce from the Pacific Ocean and shut down near a series of large rocks that jut out near the shoreline. We slow-trolled sardines on two rods, and minutes after setting them out one of the rod tips twanged as if snagging on the bottom. Another twitch, a little line taken, and then the reel sounded like an industrial electric drill as line burned off the spool like no tomorrow. Barely getting the rod out of the holder, I pressured that fish within an ounce of the 20-pound line test and could still barely hold on. With sweat beginning to cause my clothes to cling and a heartbeat at least double time, I couldn’t believe it when the roosterfish finally rose from the surf to the edge of the boat. I’d have bet my hat that that 30-pound fish was twice its actual size.

Kelly caught her first roosterfish as well, and we each released three more before turning the bow for home on this half-day excursion. Todd Staley oversees 80 employees associated with the Costa Rica fishing operation. Boats run from 17-foot skiffs to offshore 35-footers, with boats leaving the dock at 7 a.m. sharp and returning mid-afternoon. The night before, you indicate your preferred drinks and choice of sandwich, and they’re in the ice chest when you climb aboard the next morning. It usually takes about an hour to run offshore for trolling, and figure about half that time or less to bottom fish or to check out coastal rocky areas for roosters. Prime time for sailfish would be January through May, with June and July is usually tops for marlin – blue, black and striped. Black snook peak in December and May, while you’ll get dependable, year-round shots at roosterfish, cubera snapper, trevally and African pompano. If you consider the exotic beauty of this special country, the unmatched comforts and conveniences of Crocodile Bay Resort and the simply outstanding Costa Rica fishing opportunities, it’s easy to see that this is a destination that’s pretty hard to top. And that’s exactly why I will keep coming back.
Where to toss the Bags - international flights to san jose, the country’s capital, can be arranged with a number of major airlines. if you arrive early, catch the 3 p.m. one-hour nature air charter flight over the mountains southwest to Puerto jimenez; if you arrive later, spend the night in san jose at hotels that will be recommended when booking the trip with crocodile Bay resort and fly out the next morning at 7 a.m. you’ll be met when arriving in sanjose by a CBR representative and taken to the charter airport. when landing in Puerto jimenez, you’ll be whisked to the resort only minutes away.

The first thing I noted upon arriving at the Resort: its four-star rating is well deserved. the guard-protected entrance to the 44-acre property offers 34 air conditioned rooms that include handcarved furniture, modern (comfortable)beds and many sport private jacuzzi baths. other amenities: a pool with swim-up bar, hot tub, a 5,000-square-foot luxury Spa, a conference center, pool and snooker table, gift shop and bar. They even provide a free 10-minute massage from a professional masseuse at the end of the day in a tented patio next to the pool. The all-inclusive packages provide accommodations, meals and beverages – including well-brand cocktails. internet is offered but often out of service, so we usually went to an internet cafe in Puerto jimenez. I can’t say enough about the fantastic food, offering a full breakfast buffet each morning (including omelet and pancake chefs) and a stupendous dinner buffet nightly with steaks, a variety of fish, soups, sushi, side dishes galore and desserts prepared at the Resort. the night prior to each day’s Costa Rica fishing or tour, the staff notes what kind of sandwich and drinks you’d like, and by morning they’re already in the cooler. I’ve never encountered a more accommodating staff, including Alberto who arranges the tours, front desk personnel such as Markos, and Karol in the dining room. CBR’s 750-foot private pier plays host to a fleet of 39 inshore and offshore boats from 17-foot skiffs to 35-foot tower boats.

Todd Staley does a remarkable job organizing a staff of 80 guides, mates and support personnel, always doing so in a personable and friendly style. The cost of Costa Rica fishing or tour packages vary based on the season, length of stay and what type of Costa Rica fishing – inshore or offshore – you’d like to do. Visit http://www.crocodilebay.com/ for full details on the rates, tours, fishing and other info about the costa rica fishing resort.

Bring Your camera - Aside from great Costa Rica fishing, crocodile Bay resort (CBR) offers a wide array of opportunities to venture out and explore the magnificent Osa Peninsula. Much of the Peninsula consists of the 104,898-acre Corcovado National Park, which National Geographic dubbed as the most biologically intense place on Earth. Wonderful opportunities abound to see wildlife, but there are also crocodiles, venomous snakes, packs of peccaries and even a healthy population of jaguars are present in the area.

Check out the full list of Costa Rica Tours Here Osa Rainforest – This is the most popular and highly recommended of the tours offered. A 30-minute ride from the resort upon a rustic dirt road took us to our first stop at the tip of the osa Peninsula. Along the way we saw parakeets, several herons, a three-toed sloth and a vine snake. Our guide Danilo led us along several wide paths, with one that led to a couple of scarlet macaws loudly quibbling between themselves high in a tree branch. Farther inland, Danilo spotted a troop of about 20 white-faced capuchin monkeys. This particular pack was not fond of our presence and began to bare their teeth to scare us off. On other occasions, these monkeys came right up to us looking for food, but feeding them is definitely not recommended. After leaving the irritated monkeys in peace, we saw bats inside a dark hole in a tree. Danilo also pointed out two toucans near the treetops. We next visited the primary rainforest with less wildlife but dense vegetation, during which we waded a small river to a steep hill. Danilo showed us various plants that locals utilize to make paint, provide aloe and other needs. On the way back to the resort, we viewed a sloth, a pack of spider monkeys and rare squirrel monkeys.

Gold Panning – Our guide Alberto took us for a hike about half a mile up the nearby El Tigre river. Not speaking a word of English, local resident Luis Rojas, a gold panner for 42 years, nodded at the pan in his weathered hands to non-verbally prompt me to also engage in panning for gold. I noted the way he panned the sediment shoveled from just above the river bedrock, and tried to replicate what he did. I took the pan, which weighed about 15 pounds with all the rocks and sand, and started to knock off the larger rocks at the top. Placing it into the water, I swirled the water around and around. Luis gently intervened and showed me how to do it more effectively to force the heavier gold metal to the pan’s bottom. I quickly got the hang of it, and soon Luis sifted through the black sand residue in my pan with his finger. Several small gold flakes flashed before our eyes. A day’s toil typically garners one to two grams of gold, with five grams being excellent. One gram will fetch $60. Luis remarked that he used to pan 20 to 30 grams a day before commercial interests invaded the area during the gold boom over 20 years ago. Rojas noted that the best time of the year to gold pan is during the rainy season, since the gold washes down the river faster due to stronger currents.

Osa Wildlife Sanctuary – With a baby spider monkey clinging to the back of his neck and a parakeet on his left shoulder, Earl Crews gave us a tour of the osa wildlife sanctuary just a short boat ride across golfo Dulce from CBR. Earl is co-owner with his wife Carol of this non-profit animal rescue center. Scarlet Macaws, which aren’t native to this side of golfo dulce, squawked overhead. Several curious spider monkeys approached and one kept trying to grab a can of tanning lotion from the outer web of my backpack. White-faced capuchin monkeys ran about and played with the other spider monkeys and howler monkeys. Earl explained that since most of these monkeys were brought to the sanctuary as babies, they mingle with one another – something they never do in the wild. We observed a toucan and a kinkajou in their respective cages. While the nocturnal kinkajou slept, the toucan hopped from one end of the cage to the other, and eyed our every movement. The highlight occurred when Earl held a two-toed sloth in his arms as if it were a baby. At first glance, it appears like a hairylooking seal. Earl told us that this slow-moving mammal is docile, nocturnal, lives its entire life upside-down in trees and takes a week to digest food.

Jungle Night Walk – Ambling along the outskirts of the crocodile Bay property at 8:30 p.m. one evening, Danilo suddenly stops our small group and points to the left of the path. “look, look, right there,” he says. I focus my flashlight where he’s pointing andI get a chill down my spine: It’s a coiled fer-de-lance. This is the most dangerous snake in the western hemisphere, as it causes more deaths than any other american reptile. Danilo instructs each of us to keep our distance, but it gave up any hope of remaining undetected and instead slithered away. We moved on to the caiman lagoon. “look for any glowing eyes when pointing your flashlights,” danilo instructed. After he made some chirping sounds, several caimans swam over as well as a large crocodile. He later pointed out several birds sleeping in trees as well as frogs and jesus christ lizards (so called because they can run across the top of water). While we didn’t see any red-eyed green tree frogs or poison dart frogs, they are also out and about at night. We certainly gained a different perspective of wildlife that’s more prevalent at night.

Other Notes of Interest about Costa Rica:

• Official Name: Republic of Costa Rica• Area: 51,100 sq. km. (19.725 sq. mi.)• Capital: San Jose• Location: Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama south-southeast, the Pacific Ocean west and south, and the Caribbean Sea to the east.• Population: 4,327,000Religions: Mostly Roman Catholic• Language: Spanish• Government: Democratic Republic• Currency: Colones (518.74 = $1US)Doug Kelly, Editor-in-Chief of Destination Fish, gets out from behind the PC now and then to knock the moss off his heels and visit alluring fishing retreats. •

Friday, February 13, 2009

The most OUTSTANDING fishing I've ever had

Dear Fishing Director Todd Staley, Capt. Anthony & First Mate Eider -

Just want to thank you once more for the most

OUTSTANDING fishing I've ever had.

I landed my first marlin, pompano, roosterfish, broomtail grouper,

jack crevalle, blue jack, some nice dorado,

and my largest sailfish ever this year (and 23 more to boot!).

After over 30 years of trying, Audie not only landed his first sail

but caught SEVEN more.... he was in the clouds.

You guys really know what you're doing & run a world class operation.

I know you can't enjoy these photos as much as I enjoyed the trip,

but here they are. Thanks again ...I'll be back!

- Mark Doolittle

Kay Doolittle Adds the Following:

We still love the whole Crocodile Bay experience.

It far exceeds anything else we've done in travel:

~ Fishing was above & beyond anything we've seen prior. All boat were clean & well maintained with excellent crews. Anthony & Eider were a dynamic duo. Anthony's chatty (in English) & Eider moves like the Green Hornet. Suspect Anthony gets his gab from Mom, Olimpia, who's now managing the front desk area. Todd & Ricardo really took care of Mark when he booked an extra day of fishing (we went out with Edwin that day - another excellent captain.)

~ CB's Spa continues to amaze! It's so modern, elegant & professional! The power went out a couple times during my facial (I was able to exchange the coupon since I don't "do massages"). The technician, Delmise just kept on going by candlelight & she didn't skip a beat. Mark said he felt wonderful after his very first Swedish Massage & will be going back to the spa again next trip. Mark would definately like to come back next year for the same length of time.

~ The almond trees in arboretum area lining the road to the pier seem to be attracting lots of scarlet macaws & lesser parrots. Also saw white faced monkeys eating water apples within close sight of that road in the mornings while walking. Enjoyed toucans & iguanas & even a Basilisk/"Jesus Christ" lizard or two right on the grounds without even having to hunt them out.

~ The switch from buffet to menu was an excellent idea. Not nearly as wasteful for the lodge; served INdoors (which I prefer) where it's clean & cool, and the offerings are varied and nicely prepared. I ate both raw & grilled fish all but one night, but no matter what one ordered, you were sure to be served cheerfully & professionally with a plate that looked AND tasted delicious. All three of us agreed the menu format is a lot easier on the waistline too!

~ Other folks partaking in eco tours were elated with their experiences. You were right about our rooms - they were THE BEST! Housekeeping staff is fastidious and acommodating. As always, we thank you VERY much, Art, for taking such good care of us.

Pura Vida,

Kay Doolittle

Thursday, February 12, 2009

To say the trip met all our expectations would be an understatement

I travelled to Crocodile Bay in February of last year ('08) and had an excellent time - and told everyone about the trip. Several months after my return, my friend’s wife asked me more about the trip and I referred her to your web site.

Her husband and I are regular fishing buddies here in New York and she wanted to give him a special gift for his 50th birthday - a trip to Costa Rica. Despite my protests, she insisted that I accompany him on the trip because she felt her lack of enthusiasm for fishing might detract from his adventure.
Since it is "fishing" and not "catching" I was worried whether the trip would live up to her expectations (and his). Needless to say, I said my prayers because I was the one who had recommended CBL.

From our arrival at the airport, to the staff at the lodge and ultimately to the outstanding week of fishing with Capt. Edwin and his mate Adrian, we could not have asked for a better time.

In fact, if we were actually able to wish for fishing results, we never could have reasonably wished for how well we actually did. Over the five fishing days, we raised 51 sailfish, releasing 18 -

raised 2 dorado, ate 1 -

raised 2 blue marlin, released 1 at 250lbs. and raised and released 1 black marlin at approx 500lbs.

56 fish raised/21 caught(released) - in much less than 50 total hours of fishing - unbelievable!

To say the trip met all our expectations would be an understatement. You also fulfilled my friend's birthday wish

- to have an off-shore fishing expedition to always remember.
You should be proud of the staff you have compiled, from the drivers in San Jose to everyone at the lodge, they were all friendly, helpful and most of all accommodating.

Some particular standouts were Flory and Maria in the dining room,

Olympia and Markus at the front desk and most of all Edwin and Adrian who knew the trip was a birthday present and worked their asses off to ensure a successful week.

And to Todd, who predicted that we would land a marlin for my friend's birthday on the day we actually landed the first and largest one - unbelievable.

I have enclosed a DVD of raw photos and video footage from the trip. Feel free to use them for your site, etc. Thanks again and I hope to return to the CBL for yet another excellent stay!!!

Very truly yours,

Gerry Chiariello

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Crocodile Bay Awarded Sporting Classics Award of Excellence

For Immediate Release
Contact: Matt Coffey
(800) 849-1004 ext. 219
Crocodile Bay Resort has been named
Sporting Classics’ Fishing Lodge of the Year
as part of their ninth annual Awards of Excellence.
With the largest private fleet of inshore and offshore fishing boats in Central America, an 800-foot pier, top-notch accommodations, and a 5,000-square-foot luxury spa, it’s easy to see why Crocodile Bay Resort is the recipient of this year’s fishing lodge award.

The resort is situated on 44 acres of lush tropical gardens in Puerto Jimenez on Costa Rica’s South Pacific Coast. The exquisite resort has 40 air-conditioned rooms, and offers a top-of-the-line gourmet menu, swimming pool, hot tub and a conference center for its all-inclusive packages. Offshore fishing starts only 30 minutes from the dock for deep-water access. The rooms feature hand-carved furniture and some have private Jacuzzi baths.

The resort also offers 29 ecotours including rainforest canopy tours, visits to animal sanctuaries, orchid gardens, surfing lessons, kayaking, bird-watching, dolphin and whale-watching and visits to some of Costa Rica’s most beautiful secluded beaches.
For those desiring relaxation and rejuvenation can find it in the
over 30 special spa treatments in the Crocodile Bay Spa.

For more information about the resort or to book your fishing vacation, visit www.crocodilebay.com
For more information about Sporting Classics,
visit http://www.sportingclassics.net/ or call (800) 849-1004.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

"Awesome Trip" writes A. Simmons

Sent: Tuesday, December 23, 2008 5:59 AM
Subject: Awesome Trip

Hey Art,

We had such an amazing time! Everyone was exceptionally nice and the surprise birthday cake was great. We made great friends and of course caught some amazing fish.
We will certainly be back! I’ve attached some of our pictures for you.

Thanks again!!!
Merry Christmas!

A. Simmons



Friday, December 12, 2008

Culinary Choices at Crocodile Bay Resort

Chef Minor will be serving the Fish Filet of the Day perfectly grilled with your choice of his own sauces. The Teriyaki sauce or the Butter and Garlic may be better suited to the denser Mahi-Mahi (Dorado), or try my favorite, the spicy Mango Hot Sauce, a perfect counterpoint to the light, delicate African Pompano filet.

Crocodile Bay typically offers two or three choices in fresh caught fish and the dinner entrée list includes eleven menu choices in chicken, beef, pork and vegetarian areas. There are four salad choices, three soup choices and two appetizers before you get to the entrée. We maintain such a large menu to offer our guests variety and quality.

When we have a large number of guests we will serve buffet style which lends itself to the informal dining atmosphere where guests mingle and converse about the day from table to table and sometimes make plans for the next. Quite often, families will decide to do a next-day Ecotour together, for example, or ladies may share their experience about a Spa treatment they enjoyed that day. Tables are easily conjoined when parties find the conversation continuing. After dinner, drinks in the Lounge, or Game Room or Mini-Casino give an opportunity to chat with others while playing a game of pool or foosball, or relaxing on comfortable sofas.

They say Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and ours offers so many choices you could be at Crocodile Bay for two weeks and not try everything. You will find a variety of egg omelets, pancakes, oatmeal and much more, all with a Costa Rican accent. For example, I like a bowl of oatmeal that I can stand my spoon up in, and in Costa Rica, custom is to serve it with milk. It is excellent, but not the way I want it, and the wait staff was quite willing to ask the chef to learn to do it my way. You will find in many cases the waitresses and chefs will be gracefully accommodating of your preference, if it is at all possible. We can accomodate special menus for vegetarians and others with advance notice.

Lunch may make you ask, where is everybody? Most guests are out fishing or on a full-day ecotour, but those taking it easy, with scheduled Spa Packages or only a half-day ecotour will find a completely different menu for lunch, in a casual, relaxed atmosphere. There is no less choice, as salads, soups, appetizers, sandwiches and entrees are available.

The fresh fish on the menu is always excellent, but for those wanting something different, there is no lack of choice. There are so many choices, you may decide to extend your stay to try them all!

Email blog@crocodilebay.com if you would like a .pdf of our complete menu.