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Fall 2018

Crocodile Bay Resort Jungle Paradise – Article by Shawn Arnold Photos by Shawn Arnold, Joe Bahash and Crocodile Bay Resort

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“Shawn and Joe, do you want to stop catching these smaller tuna and dorado and just try for marlin?” the captain asked my friend Joe Bahash and I in Costa Rica. Joe had already caught and released an estimated 180- pound marlin and I think the captain wanted me to catch one too. Either that or he was tired of taking the tuna and dorado off the hook and releasing them. We were trolling around an approximately 20’ long tree floating in the water and the line could not be in the water for more than two minutes without the line screaming and one of us catching a dorado or tuna. Now grant you they were not big….my guess is the average size was 6-12 pounds for both species, but I had never been in such a wide- open bite in my life. I did manage one dorado in the 20- pound range that we had a quick photo shoot with and then was released. My guess is that in four hours of trolling around that tree in our 35’ Strike w/Tower, Joe and I caught about 70 dorado and tuna combined. The smaller ones were used for bait for the marlin and except for a few that were kept for dinner everything else was carefully released. This was our first full day in Costa Rica and honestly life did not get any better.

All the equipment on the boat worked great. They had excellent rods and reels and they were boasting the PENN brand and name. We were catching our small dorado and tuna on little Senator reels, but the marlin was caught on a new PENN International reel.
The cool thing (other than wide open fishing) was that while Joe and I were catching fish and having a great time, our non-fishing wives were getting pampered at the spa at Crocodile Bay Resort in Puerto Jimenez, Costa Rica. Or maybe they were doing their chocolate farm tour? Or maybe they were taking a guided hike? All the things that people who don’t want to fish can do is why Crocodile Bay has become one of the most popular fishing/eco lodges in the world. They offer nearly 30 tours or alternative choices for non -fishing people. And if you fish you have the choice of going inshore for species like roosterfish or pargo or offshore for marlin, sailfish, dorado and tuna.

Over the years Crocodile Bay which I last visited 18 years ago when it first opened, has evolved from being strictly a fishing lodge to a world class eco tour and wellness retreat in addition to offering great fishing. It was nice to know after pulling hard on fish all day that there was a massage waiting for me and Joe.
The lodge had changed a lot since I had last been there. Where there was once a big hole was now a beautiful pool, Jacuzzi and lounge chairs for those that want to relax in the sun. There are numerous more rooms and the ones we had upstairs overlooking the grounds had rocking chairs on the balcony and was very comfortable and peaceful.

Crocodile Bay Lodge is located on the Osa Peninsula which is the southwestern region of Costa Rica. The peninsula is home to at least half of all species living in Costa Rica. The main town on the peninsula is Puerto Jimenez, which has its own airport and provides access to Corcovado National Park. The airport is a unique place to land as it is right next to a cemetery and is what you could call small. We took a midnight flight from LAX to San Jose, Costa Rica. After landing in San Jose, Costa Rica we then took a smaller plane for a quick 45- minute jaunt to the lodge. The flight to San Jose from LAX was about 6 hours.


The lodge itself is about a 90 second walk from the water where their fleet of Boston Whaler and Strike boats are kept on their 600- foot pier. I did not fish on the pier, but I was tempted. I was told that there were big pargo down there, but I was so busy doing other things I did not have the time to try it.
When we arrived in the afternoon, we were greeted at the lodge by Olympia a lady from Panama with a personality like no one I have ever met. And I mean that in a good way. She is known as the ‘mother’ of the resort. Olympia greeted us with a song and a glass of juice. A splash of rum was added to the juice for those that wanted it. During our stay, Olympia was the go to person we went to with any questions. Not that we had many as they make it very easy there. She also made some great cookies that she gives toanglersas a good luck charm in the morning. They sure worked for me and Joe.

The food there was delicious. After catching some dorado the first day we brought them back and gave it to the chef. The mahi mahi was grilled in a light teriyaki sauce and it was so good. It is hard to beat fish that fresh. They have a full menu though for those that don’t want the catch of the day. There was pasta, steak, fish, fresh vegetables and scrumptious desserts to choose from. I am pretty sure I went from a pant size of 34 waist to a 36 in my four days there. Of course, Imperial beer, the most popular beer in Costa Rica might have helped with that too.

After fishing the first day, on the second day my wife Linda and I went on a guided tour of the National Park with Joe and his wife Donna. We saw scarlet macaws, all kinds of different species of monkeys, iguanas, Jesus lizards (they walk on water), various birds, sloth’s and leafcutter ant colonies like you have never seen before. I won’t bore you here with how structured and amazing these little army ants are, but it is worth your while to learn more about them. After our tour we found a place in town that had great fish tacos. Joe said they made a mean margarita while I discovered a Costa Rican craft beer that was made with blueberries and was really good. The town is only a ten- minute walk from Crocodile Bay Resort but honestly there is not a whole lot to do in Puerto Jimenez.

On day three which was our last full day there, Joe and I were booked to go inshore fishing and try for roosterfish. We were on a smaller 25’ Whaler since we were going inshore. It was a beautiful and comfortable boat. The weather looked like it could be nasty as there were many clouds and just had the feeling of rain. Once we got on the water and were out for 10 minutes we could see rain all over the water but for some reason it was leaving us alone. It was all around us like we had a cone over us. Not 30 minutes from the dock at Crocodile Bay Resort we started trolling live bait about 200 yards off the coast for roosterfish. After about a half hour of this with no bites I grabbed a spinning reel with a popper and gave that a try. It took about an hour into our fishing but a roosterfish (the one on the cover) finally got fooled on the troll and I quickly jumped up and went to battle with the 15-20 pound or so roosterfish. When I was here 18 years ago I caught one over 50 pounds and can still remember what a great fight that was. This guy for his size was quite feisty and did not want to come in but after about 5 minutes I got him to the boat. After a couple of photos that Joe should be proud of the rooster was carefully released.
Right after that the other reel started screaming and Joe went and got his roosterfish. After he got that in the boat we asked the captain if we could go look for the log again offshore. I was sure it was still holding all those dorado and tuna and probably some marlin too. He said this boat was made more for inshore, but it would not be a problem and we could tell he was a little hesitant but eventually said let’s go find that log. The problem was we were the only boat out fishing so unlike the other day when there were four or five boats out and communicating with each other we had one boat looking for a needle in a haystack or in this case a log in the ocean.


Needless to say, all we did was burn fuel the rest of the day. We trolled to no avail, but our captain gave it a greateffort. Since the water was rough with the storms it was probably harder to find the log which could have been 10 miles in either direction. In hindsight we probably should have stayed inshore and caught a few more roosterfish and then tried for pargo, pompano, grouper, snapper and jack which can all be plentiful.

While we were searching for fish, the girls went on a tour of a chocolate factory. I heard it poured but they made the most of it and had a great time on this excursion. There were a few other excursions they wanted to do but we did not have the time. Being Joe and I need to go experience the inshore fishing correctly and the girls have other excursions to do, I think a return trip to this jungle paradise just might be in order.

For information about Crocodile Bay Lodge check out their website at www.crocodilebay.com

The Quiet Revolution- European Style Carp Fishing on The Rise – By Stan Kaplun

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If you follow fresh water angling around the globe, you’ll probably know that carp are arguably the most targeted species throughout Europe and Asia. Originally raised as a food source, these fish have been bred to grow bigger and faster over the years and are now the sport fish of choice for the vast majority of anglers. Their popularity drives a thriving tackle and bait business that rivals bass angling here in the U.S, as a multi-million-dollar industry in itself. At the turn of the 19th century, it was introduced as a food source in New York, but it has quickly spread throughout the entirety of the United States over the years. Although in the eyes of many bass anglers, they are an invasive species, it’s fair to say at this point that rather, they exist happily alongside the other native species here, as well as species that were introduced just like the carp itself.
Having been born in Ukraine, I grew up hearing about the joys of carp fishing from my grandpa, my dad and their friends who still practice their traditional methods here on the lakes of southern California. However, I wanted to hear more about the modern techniques, directly from the anglers pursuing these monster carp under the radar locally. I recently linked up with David Smith, an avid carp angler from the UK, who is now living in Riverside county and his buddy Patrick, a life long Californian fisherman who’s recently fallen in love with these new angling techniques and thrill of carp fishing. Interestingly, David is an owner of a bait company by the name of CarpPro, that supplies this growing group of enthusiasts with some of the products necessary to catch one of these monsters. I’ll touch more on that later!
The guys had decided on one of the many local waters that are known to contain a healthy population of carp for our session. Immediately, I’m struck by the tackle these guys are using. Long 12ft rods and large surf casting reels are standard issue to propel large dough balls the many yards necessary to reach the fish. “Being bank anglers, you a need a rod that has the ability to cast a heavy bait ball to the fish, which sometimes means over a distance of 100+ yards,” explained David. “Carp often tell you where they are by jumping and rolling, something that should never be ignored. Nothings more infuriating than seeing a fish and not being able to get to him!” he said. I watched him cast a float and sinker combo that allowed him to determine the depth and nature of the bottom, at a spot where leaping fish had been seen. “We’re attempting to understand what’s down at the bottom so we know how to present a bait and use the line clip on the reel to cast to the same spot every time by carefully determining the range” added David. Developing a “spot” is key to successful carp angling the guys told me, especially here in California where chumming to create a feeding zone isn’t allowed.
Now that they have established their spot, we’ll move on to the bait and hooking arrangements. Like many traditional carp angling techniques, things are focused largely on the way carp feed by sucking up and blowing around as they vacuum up food from the lake or river bed.
“What’s quite essential is the attraction to bring the carp to our bait, followed by a hook setup that results in the hook flying into the carps mouth, making it extremely difficult for him to spit the bait out. If we get it right, the hook will penetrate the fish’s lip and cause him to run with the bait. By using a sinker that’s fixed, rather than sliding, he will soon hit the weight, drive the hook home, and bingo!” said David. “Its a science!” added Pat. “I’ve seen the way the Eastern Europeans and guys throughout Asia achieve something similar but these guys have taken it to a whole new level”. The key thing is the use of the “hair rig”, something that was developed by UK anglers in the 1970s. They realized that being able to separate the bait from the hook would increase the hook-up efficiency ten-fold over traditional methods of burying the hook in the bait. It transformed carp fishing and is known today as standard practice. The guys call it “rig mechanics” and the variations are numerous, but when you consider how these fish feed, it absolutely makes sense

The rods are now out and we’re waiting for action. How do you know when the carp has taken the bait and your bit? “We know we have bait on the hook, so we can confidently wait for hours if necessary for the fish to show up” said David. “That’s why these stands and electronic alarms were developed, so we could be doing other things while we wait for the bite”. “When I initially got interested in carp fishing, these rod stands and alarms were the first thing I noticed and they grab everyone’s attention,” added Pat. “ I must get asked 5-10 times day, “Hey dude where did you get that setup”!”
We’re all fishing now, so I sit down with Pat to find out why he’s grown to love carp fishing. “I’ve fished SoCal all my life and grew up fishing these lakes and park ponds. Recently however, my trout and catfish fishing have become evermore restricted because of the drastically reduced stocking programs, particularly on the public lakes. When they do get stocked, it’s an absolute mad house, the true definition of combat fishing these days!” he mused. ”I’m looking for a challenge and something entirely new. I’ve caught carp using my traditional methods but this offers me something different. It’s deliberate and made me realize I could target carp specifically. It’s opened up a whole new “scene” for me and I’m learning something new everyday. In addition to that, these amazing fish are probably the hardest fighting fish in our local waters, right up there with striper. And just like that, you have a whole new sport. It’s reinvigorated my fishing!” David added that what we have is an incredible angling resource for our fisherman, “one that is properly managed”, so that we don’t suffer from over fishing. If it continues this way, this could be the best thing we have in southern California.

For those who like to eat carp, if they take a few smaller ones and release the big girls we’ll have an incredible fishery for everyone!” “I’ve hosted several top European carp angling writers and pro anglers and they can’t believe what we have here,” he’d added. I’m starting to think these guys are on to something! Then David mentions something that really peaks my interest! “You need to realize that these techniques don’t just take carp fishing up a notch, we catch some of the biggest catfish you’ve ever seen using these methods. Anglers in our group have probably smashed the channel catfish record on just about every lake in SoCal while carp fishing!” He showed me some photos of a 30lb plus channel catfish caught not 50 yards from where we were sitting!
“BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!!! Pats bite alarm begins to scream and shatters the silence. We’re into a fish. It strips line at 60 yards range. The alarm has caused a stir and shouts of encouragement start coming from all directions “The tug is the drug!” calls one guy fishing for bluegill from the dock.
In this article, you’ll find a photo of Pat standing behind his rod holder. He’s using what’s known as a “rod pod”. This adjustable, go anywhere rod stand is the hallmark of modern carp angling. Able to provide sturdy support for the long rods and heavy reels, it comes equipped with electronic bite alarms that signal the running fish and bite indicators that hang on the line to indicate more subtle activity as fish move in to the spot. Pat found his setup on Amazon at a great price. While you wait for your local tackle shop to pick up on this new trend, eBay and Amazon are a great place to find beginner and advanced setups like these. A short tussle ensues and we end up with a lively 10lb common carp in the net. After quickly photographing and releasing the fish to fight another day, Pat says, “That’s below average size for here” and he’s immediately back in his bait bucket, concocting a new recipe using David’s CarpPro scents and attractors to find the right mix for the big girls. With the forecasted heat wave settling in, fishing slows down and we settle in for the evening bite. As the “daytime fisherman” drift away, we have the back of the lake to ourselves and can confidently fish in to dark. The anticipation is profound as the fish start to show.

It was quite the informative session and I see huge potential in what I’ve seen. Sitting in the shade, rods fishing efficiently, safe in the knowledge that we have baited hooks, it seems to make the perfect way to fish the lakes here in southern California. It’s an enjoyable way, for groups of buddies or families to fish and enjoy a day by the water. With proper and careful management, there’s fun to be had for the catch and release trophy hunters like Dave and Pat, as well the guys looking to put some food on the table. I can imagine any kid who hooks even a small carp, considering they are truly one of the strongest fish pound for pound, will be an angler for life.

These beautiful but largely badmouthed fish really are a wonderful angling opportunity for our anglers during these tough times of largely depleted fish stocks and continued draught. Viva la revolucion!
Useful resources include the following; www.issuu.com/carppro www.carpology.co.uk www.catfishandcarp.com

Ladies Only Fishing Trip – By Rose O’Brien

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Have you ever been around 15 excited women who are dying to go fishing? If you haven’t, then you have no idea what you’re missing out on. It was time for our annual Ladies Only Fishing Trip. Jessica Cano always organizes a fabulous one with many generous sponsors. Several of the women were newcomers including Casey McLay, Charina Cobos, Denise Mace, Ginger Fawn, Lindsey Randlett, Rachel Von Fleck, Sunny Trent and Tracy Hartman. For the rest of us, Belinda Barnes, Donna Sanchez, Kelly Castaneda, Michelle Humphrey, Rica Hatch and myself, it was like a reunion. We were pumped and ready for the fishing shenanigans to begin.

Before we even got on the boat, the Tuna War participants from the Tomahawk and Tribute, were getting back from their trip and were at the landing. Of course, we had to have pictures taken with the Wicked Tuna stars, Captain Dave Marciano and Captain Paul Hebert. This only created more excitement.

Our adventure was to be an overnight on The Voyager with Captain Todd Myers at the helm. Todd and his crew, RJ and Chuck, were about to experience what many crews don’t get to. Fifteen lovely ladies who are biting at the bit to get out on the water and catch some fish. All of our tackle was ready to go and our first stop was to get bait.

Once we arrived at the bait barge, a couple of ladies couldn’t wait any longer and decided to go fishing. Both Kelly and Tracy caught a nice halibut. A few of us tried to get one, but they were the only lucky two. Kelly was smiling ear to ear since this was her first legal halibut she ever caught. Tracy said, “I knew right from the start when we caught these halibut at the bait barge that it was going to be a great trip.” And it was the beginning of an epic trip.

We headed to the Coronado Islands to catch some yellowtail and anything else that would bite. The Voyager arrived at 4:30am and several ladies got up to fish. They were calico fishing and it was off the hook. Every cast they caught a fish. “Waking up with these lassies at 4:30 in the morning next to the island catching bass until sunrise was my favorite part of the trip” said Donna. Hookup Baits, various plastics and sardines were what the bass were gorging themselves on.

The sun rose and so did everyone who was still sleeping. Captain Todd took off to find some yellowtail. They were all around the Coronados, so they were easy to spot. The yellowtail were biting anything and everything. Charina surprisingly states, “I even caught one on a flatfall.” Sunny spent most of her day at the bow using her Seeker baby blue 9’3” rod with an Accurate Valiant 500 using a blue and white JRI jig to catch the majority of her fish. It was an incredible site to watch the yellowtail follow your lure as you reeled it in. As Casey puts it, “When everyone was hooked up on a yellowtail, the excitement was roaring.” Women have a tendency to scream when they’re hooked up to a fish. I know I do. Michelle puts it nicely, “It was a reunion of all women who come together and work together to help one another to fish and have fun.”

My first fish was a huge bonito caught on my Accurate Valiant 300 using sardines. I’m the kind of angler who tries everything just for fun when fishing because you never know what the fish will bite. I tried a surface iron and almost landed the fish except it spit the hook. Using a yoyo setup wasn’t a good choice. The fish didn’t bite it at all. The hot ticket seemed to be the live bait which were sardines and that was what I landed my jackpot fish on. I caught all my yellowtail on them as did most of the other ladies.

The sea lions were in full force as we fished. Jessica was hooked up with one of her many yellowtails and wouldn’t you know it, a seal lion tried to get it away from her. She fought hard for that fish and won. Jessica exclaimed, “When I got the yellowtail on the boat, there were no bite marks on it.” I didn’t get as lucky. The fish was at the boat with color and the deckhand tried to gaff it twice, but he missed both times. Out from under the boat in stealth mode, came a seal that must have been about 800lbs. He was the biggest one I think I’ve ever seen. He stole my fish and next thing you know my line is ripping off my reel. I stared at the deckhand in disbelief as I watched my line take off. The funny part is, I got all my line back and even the sliding sinker was there. The only thing missing was the hook. I hope it caused some pain to the seal’s stomach when he ate my fish.

One thing about fishing with women is they encourage each other. If someone lost a fish, the others would say, “You’ll get them next time.” No one said anything negative about anyone or to anyone. We were there for each other no matter what. There were many levels of expertise on the boat, but we all did great and put the wood to the fish. “Imagine my surprise when we got on some yellowtail and all the women fished well. At one point I was fighting a fish and I looked down the rail and saw 4 women on fish weaving over and under, working together, yelling ‘color’ all over the place and successfully landing them all” said Rachel. We kept the deckhands on their toes and they definitely earned their keep that day.

We tried bass fishing again and it was a blast. Denise caught her personal best on a flylined sardine. It weighed about 6lbs. Using the Hookup Baits plastic is my favorite method for catching bass. They just love them. I don’t even remember how many I caught using them. No one missed out on a chance to fish. We were on a mission to catch as many as possible.

A funny thing happened to Ginger on the trip. She was fishing on the bow when she felt something poking her toe. She took off her boot, but didn’t see anything. She put it back on and the pain was even worse, then suddenly she saw a fish spine broken off in the top of her boot. At that exact moment, she landed a yellowtail. She threw her boot off and started winding it in on one foot while the deckhand worked to get the spine out. The deckhand got the boot back on her foot just in time for him to gaff her fish and this just happened to be the first yellowtail she ever caught.

Jessica caught her limits of yellowtail by noon along with several other ladies. The total boat count was 75 yellowtail, 10 bonito, 12 barracuda, and 53 calico. “No male drama and spending time fishing with like minded females takes fishing to the next level,” stated Rica and that makes fishing with women the best. There were frenzies and bloody decks, but Belinda enjoyed every minute as did I. “We all couldn’t be any more different, but we’re brought together by this cool hobby and lifestyle we all enjoy. We were there to help each other, and hype each other up” said Lindsey.
Jessica got some very generous sponsors for the trip including, Pacific Lures, XtraTufs, Pelagic, Ahcor, Bloodydecks, Aftco, Bluewave Jewelry, Lobster Port, LP Fishing Supply, Wicked Pliers, and Fishing Syndicate. Thank you very much for blessing us with so much!
The trip was phenomenal, and I can’t wait for next year’s trip! Fishing with these beautiful ladies is the best. They are sweet, caring, confident and loving toward each other. You should try it sometime unless of course you’re a man.