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Summer 2019

TAKING A SPIN @ CROCODILE BAY Article by Shawn Arnold Photos by Shawn Arnold, Joe Bahash and Crocodile Bay Resort

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CrocodileBay2 ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ. A sound I love. That is the sound of line peeling off a reel. The screaming noise at the moment was coming from a PENN spinning reel which was making that sweet sound. The PENN spinning reel I was using was part of the excellent collection of rods and reels that were on the boat while I was at Crocodile Bay in Costa Rica. All boats there are equipped with a wide array of updated PENN gear which is some of the best in the business. It always makes me feel more confident when using boat provided gear to have up to date products from a well- respected company.

It was late March and we were trolling for sailfish with live bait when our first mate Alex decided to tie on a green hoochie on a spinning outfit in case dorado were around. The dorado might have been around but for some reason the 70-80 pound sailfish ignored the live offerings for which sailfish normally prefer and attacked the hoochie. Just like a cheetah is the fastest animal in the jungle, most claim that sailfish are the fastest swimmers in the sea. They have been reported to hit speeds up to 68 mph. So, when they have your bait and are trying to get away, they are moving.

Our captain Freddy maneuvered the boat perfectly so I did not have to run around the boat as the sailfish fought. When the fish zigged and zagged so did he. The fighting was always done at the back of the boat. When the fish was finally at the boat, I was handed a pair of gloves to hold the dorsal fin and beak and take a photo. There are huge conservation efforts from FECOP which is the voice of fishing conservation in Costa Rica to ensure that the billfish population is treated with ‘kid’ gloves. These fish are not allowed to be brought out of the water for photos.

Right after fishing I took a quick shower and went into the spa for a massage. The spa is in a separate building on the grounds and has all of the amenities you could want. I asked for the deep tissue massage and told the girl to use as much pressure as possible. Note to self—this was a BAD idea. As she was digging her elbow into my back getting out knots she asked if it was too much pressure. Like a dummy I said no. I lied. Machismo at its finest or worst. I did feel wonderful afterwards though. Having a massage after fishing is a nice treat that not all places offer.

The reason I was back in Costa Rica after going last year?  Redemption. I went to Crocodile Bay last May and wrote a story about it. The offshore fishing was off the charts one day. My friend Joe Bahash and I caught around 70 tuna and dorado combined along with a nice marlin.  The next day we were supposed to go inshore fishing and after catching a roosterfish each Joe and I talked the captain into going offshore looking for the log we trolled around while catching the tuna and marlin a few days earlier. In hindsight we made a bad decision as it was rougher seas, we could not find the log and pretty much took a boat ride. And Joe and I had no one to blame but ourselves.

Since I screwed up on taking advantage of the inshore fishery in May 2018, I decided to come back and give myself the opportunity to experience the Golfito regions world class inshore fishery. Plus, I wanted to come back and experience the great spa, friendly service and Pura Vida (pure, simple life)  lifestyle that Crocodile Bay Resort offers. All the things that make it a perfect choice for our non fishing wives to want to come back to also.

In between my two days of fishing, I went ziplining which was a rush. Sometimes you wonder about doing something like this in another country but it very safe and It was a very professional tour.  Dennis the guide who took us spoke excellent English and had a good sense of humor. After the zipline it was a 15- minute jungle walk back to the van and Dennis pointed out numerous animals, birds and bugs that the rest of us never would have saw but were glad we did.

The second day of fishing was when we went inshore. Most the time we were trolling less than 100 yards from the shoreline. We made our own bait which was fun in it self as were using a sabiki rig to bring up four and fish a drop and some of the baits brought up were barely legal calico bass size. After filling up the live bait receiver we took off for the promised land.

We started trolling maybe 20-25 minutes from the Crocodile Bay pier. The water was blue, calm and the scenery on the shore was breath taking. You could tell this area is pretty much uninhabitated. It did not take long for Joe to hook up to a roosterfish. These fish are good fighters and this one pushed 18 to 20 pounds. After a quick photo shoot, it was quickly put back into the water. Soon after that I was hooked up but this one was not a roosterfish. It was a pesky black tip shark. These sharks live in reef areas and were fun to catch even though they were not on our targeted species list. The black tip sharks jumped out of the water almost like a mako. Most were 3-4 feet long and I would guess about 10-12 pounds. My guess is that between Joe and I we caught nearly 10 of these. Since we were catching and releasing, and these were so fun it was fine with us.

The other pesky fish was needlefish. One of our highlights was watching two, 5-foot needlefish glide on top of the water to try and get the same bait. It looked like two missles on a collision course. We missed quite a few of these toothy fish and actually we were mad they were going through our bait.

We caught a few more small roosterfish and decided to go try and catch some bottom fish for dinner. We moved from the shoreline to about ½ mile off the beach and put our bait on the bottom in anticipation of some grouper or snapper. I caught a couple of snapper that became one of the most delicious dinners I have ever had. It is always nice to eat fish that fresh.

We also had a whale shark come right up to the boat and hang with us for about 5 minutes. It was pretty cool almost not real. That is a memory that will be with me for a while. Joe took a video of it that will be talked about for a long time. This was a great day.

The one thing that really stuck with me in my two visits was how friendly and attentive the staff is. Cory who is the general manager, Olimpia, Flory, Maria, Dennis, Diego, Joje and Allan were the people we dealt with the most and all made our trip better if that is even humanly possible. Allan is in charge of the fishing and does a wonderful job working with the captains on options where to fish and what boats to put the customers on.

All the great customer service, friendly staff, great food and wide variety of things to do was just a cherry on top of the sundae.  I am pretty sure this inshore trip redeemed the last time I was there and made a bad call. And in all honesty, one doesn’t need a reason to come back or go to Crocodile Bay. Just realize that after being there a few days you will be wondering why you have to leave.

 

Paddy Hoppin and Popper Poppin By: Stan Kaplun

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When out on the ocean, on any given day you can stumble upon a juicy piece of kelp. It may be as large as a car, and it may be as small as a trashcan lid. Regardless the size, the paddy you have just found has the potential to hold fish, and a variety of species at that. From yellowtail, to yellowfin and bluefin, to Dorado, these fish have all been known to use these floating pieces of kelp in what seems like the middle of no where, as a “rest stop” as they cover massive amounts of water in search of food and forage. Many times, sliding a bait back on the paddy is necessary to get bit, while other times, the fish are quite willing to eat an iron or some other sort of artificial bait.

Regardless of where I’m fishing, top-water is without a doubt my number one bait to try first. That’s if the fish are willing to eat it of course. Whether it’s a popper, a surface iron, or some sort of walking bait, the intensity of the blow up and the fight that ensues shortly after is one that can’t be matched in my opinion.

My buddy Jeff Cox and I were blessed to run into a couple of these situations last year. We fish out of San Diego area and the water temperature had skyrocketed immensely, into the high 70’s, nearing 80 degrees! You just never know what you’re going to see out there when the water is as warm as it was. The temperature was perfect for all pelagic species, even for Wahoo as we saw them move in as close as the Coronado Islands a couple years ago. The fishing has been fantastic the last few summers. One day, we’re chasing football size schools of foaming bluefin and yellowfin. The next day, we’ve found a paddy holding impressive schools of Dorado and yellowtail. To steal from Forrest Gump, the ocean is like a box of chocolate-you never know what you will get.

One day last year after having ran 40 miles due west in search of large bluefin that wanted to eat the yummy, we ran into a large volume of quality sized yellowfin. Just before we did though, we stumbled upon a paddy that was holding fish, and both started off the day with couple of quality yellowtail. That was not our intended fish but were happy to get them. We stayed on the yellowfin all day and picked a fish off on the popper, essentially each pod of foaming fish that we strategically stopped on. However, even with the volume of fish around, the many boats on the water would often stop right on top of the fish, sending them down much quicker then they came up. Instead of allowing these “foamers” to develop, the boat pressure placed on these fish sends them down almost instantly if the the boat is stopped right on top of them. As the majority of the boats went home, we continued to pick away. Until finally, the school of all schools came together and encircled us, creating an absolutely deafening sound, drowning out the sounds of the motor. It was chaos yet peaceful at the same time, until Jeff and I both fired out a popper, and instantly were both hooked up. These weren’t your typical school sized yellowfin either. They were 25 pounds to 60 pounds, with some that we saw down below the rest of the school that really made you wonder.
You just never know. We left the docks with our sights set on landing a trophy bluefin and ended up catching a handful of high- quality yellowtail and limits of some of the bigger yellowfin I’ve seen in a while. You really just never know in the summer when the water temperature is where it needs to be until you go out there.

A Birds Eye View By: Lori Heath “A SOCal Anglerette’s Advice on fishing on a Sportboat”

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Hey ladies do you love to fish? Or would you like to learn but you don’t know how to start? Maybe your friends don’t fish, you are new to the community or never tried fishing on a sportboat. Or you want to join your boyfriend or husband on the water but your not sure what to expect. If the idea of fishing on a boat full of strangers that are mostly men is intimidating to you then join the club. We have all been there. It can be like going to the movies or a bar by yourself -awkward!
This is a simple guide to help you learn some of the Do’s & Dont’s of Sportboat fishing from myself and other accomplishments lady anglers. I’ve been sportboat fishing for 5 years. Previous to that my fishing experience was limited to freshwater and saltwater fishing from small boats with family or friends. Quite different when compared to the large sportfishing boats out of San Diego.
My first trip on a sportfishing boat was on the Malihini out of H&M Landing. This boat was massive in comparison to what I was used to fishing on. It had a spacious galley with a chef, dining booths and bathrooms, unlike the coffee can that I was used to going in. I was excited but at the same time intimidated and scared. This boat was full of men with lots of rods & tackle and me with my one rod. I started to feel lost..all kinds of stuff was running through my head. Would I catch a fish? Would I know what to do? How would the men receive me being the only lady on the boat? Thank God for my fiancé who had some clue as to what to do, but it was still an unknown to me. As the boat set off I realized that just being out on the water was all I needed to help ease my fears. It was so beautiful and calming. On the way to the fishing grounds the crew gave a safety and fishing seminar to explain what types of fishing methods were working, explaining about following your line, proper baiting and basic reel operation. As we neared the bite zone the captain said throw bait! and all I remember after that was getting squeezed shoulder to shoulder between other anglers as they were getting bit all around me yelling happily and saying over! under! while scrambling along the rail bumping into me and others trying to let them pass. Combat fishing! I didn’t know what to do, and was frustrated wondering what had I got myself into. I learned later that this how you communicate with your fellow Anglers to avoid tangles and successfully land your fish.
Rule #1 Communicate with your fellow Anglers and follow your line. Your odds of getting a bite and landing your fish depend on it. Don’t panic. Everyone is working together, and the deckhands are there to assist if needed.
I let my frustration get the best of me and it hindered my ability to get bit. I got skunked and it was lesson learned. I was determined to catch a fish but I needed a new strategy, so on my next trip I spoke up like all the other Anglers did on the rail on my previous trip. I then decided that getting to know my fellow Anglers would benefit me – especially the ones that are hooking up & look like they know what they are doing. We are all a team at the rail.
Rule #2 Get to know your fellow anglers. They are experienced and willing to help and share what they know as well as the crew on the boat.
I realized that I was also not asking enough questions so Rule #3 -Ask questions and Listen. You can never ask too many questions and learn the terminology of the boat: starboard, port, bow, etc. A great question to ask is what side of the boat should you fish on when the boat stops?- typically you want the wind in your face. Asking and learning equals success so learn and ask as much as you can.
Rule#4 Be polite to the Captains and crew as they want you to catch a fish this is their livelihood and they are very knowledgeable. Say please and thank you. If the bait well is empty and you need a bait say please, then thank you. This goes a long way with the crew. They work hard and deserve your respect. Last but not least,
Rule #5 Stay Positive. This will improve your success like that old Sesame Street Burt and Ernie episode with the two of them in a boat Burt was grouchy and in a bad mood as always and Ernie was relaxed positive and happy so when it came to catching fish all Ernie had to do was say “Here Fishy Fishy Fishy” and he caught fish. On the other hand Burt’s grouchy additude resulted in no fish! So be the Ernie not the Bert. Have a good time with a great additude. Relax it’s not as intimidating as it may seem. I enjoy all my fishing trips on sportboats now and I get excited and look forward to getting aboard, meeting new fellow anglers as well as old friends, swapping stories and just relaxing and fishing. Remember it’s fishing and catching is just the icing on the cake! The following pages are some well known excellent lady anglers and some pearls of wisdom from them
Tight Lines!

 

Theresa Sampson

I have been fishing for over 35 years and have loved every moment. It doesn’t matter if I fish on the beach, on a lake or on a boat out on the ocean. I fish for what it gives me joy, peace and the excitement of challenge. My best advise has and always will be is to share the pure love of the sport, so don’t allow or be intimidated by anyone or anything, but when I am I just remind myself to have fun, learn and share what I can. In the end I find I’ve gained some friends and learned that my love for this sport gives me so much more than I had imagined and I get to take home some fish!

 

Janette Fuson

The first time I stepped on the boat I had no idea what I was doing when it came to deep sea fishing. There was many seasoned anglers and deckhands that are always willing to help with their knowledge and answer every question I had . That made me feel very comfortable. The time went by so quickly because of endless conversation between us all I couldn’t believe how much I learned the first day! And still to this day I’m always learning something every time I go out.. who would have known that my first feelings of being shy on the boat would have turned out to be quiet the opposite.. I love fishing and go out as much as I can. It has turned into my passion.

Sophia Huynh

As a lady angler be confident in the skills you have and things you know but if you are unsure JUST ASK FOR HELP! Don’t let your insecurities stop you from having a good time. Everyone is nervous the first time they go on a fishing trip. That trip may be on a new boat or fishing for a new species or going by themselves. As one of my favorite captains told me “You have to get your mind right to get your line tight” This applies in so many ways. If you get frustrated take a moment to reset, if you seem not to be getting bit then ask what is working, don’t doubt yourself and have fun!!

 

Wendy Tochihara

My advice: Do your homework and figure out what fish you will be targeting. Learn how to tie your own fishing knots and listen to the Captain and crew if you are fishing on a charter boat. The Captain and crew are on the water everyday, they are in the know, listen to them.

 

 

Jessica Cano
Always stay humble. Just remember every time you go out it’s a new learning experience. And most importantly have fun!

 

Some additional tips to get you started on your fishing adventure are below.

#1 Planning your fishing Trip: Booking your trip there are several types of trips available depending on how long you would like to fish…1/2 day, 3/4 day *(May require a passport), Overnight, 1.5 and Long-range.

#2 Learn your knots. YouTube is you best friend when learning new knots. The deckhands can help you with tying your knots as well but when it get busy you can feel confident that you can do it with these 2 easy knots plus men are impressed when a lady can tie her own hooks and leaders. *The Palomar Knot: One of the strongest knots & quick to tie to a hook or jig *The Royal Polaris other wise known as the “RP” Knot it’s my go to for tying Spectra which is braided line to leader. *A Leader Consists if either Monofilament or Fluorocarbon (a less visible leader when the bite is sensitive)
#3 Call the Landing the night before to confirm your trip. They sometimes get canceled due to weather.
#4 The night before eat a light meal if your not sure if you get sea sick there is nothing is worse then feeling sick on a boat. There are various over the counter and prescription medications you can buy so check with your pharmacist or doctor to see what will help for you. I bring ginger chews for passengers that might get a little queasy. It helps to calm the stomach.
#5 Dress appropriately. Wearing layers is great so you can remove layers if the weather warms up. Buy a pair of rubber boots or shoes so your feet won’t get wet when the deckhands wash down the decks during your trip. The crews are constantly cleaning the boat to make it safe and comfortable for you. Bring a hat, glasses, pliers, sunscreen, ID/passport, tackle rod & reels, * if you don’t have your own gear the Landing will assist you with the proper rod & reel to rent along with hooks and weight. Remember to bring cash. The boats don’t take credit cards and you will need cash for your galley & fish cleaning bill and lastly please remember to tip your crew. They work hard long hours to make your fishing trip a pleasant and fun experience.
I hope this advice convinces you to give sportfishing a try. It’s fun, exciting and you just might catch a big one!