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Some years ago, I was having a drink with a friend the night before he left for a trip to fish in Costa Rica. He was yet to finish packing, and the beers were starting to pile up, so he asked if I could help him finish up a few odds and ends, maybe even tie him some flies for his trip while he packed. Assuming that he meant saltwater flies, I told him that I wasn’t much of a saltwater fly tyer and that I had no clue what to throw at roosterfish.
“No, not saltwater flies,” he said. “Tie me a few of those brook trout bugs you always have and maybe add a beetle or two.”
“Ken, what in the world are you talking about?” I asked.
“We’re fishing for trout in the mountains, not saltwater fishing.”
And thats the first time I remember hearing about trout fishing in Costa Rica. Like most people, I had “the world’s greenest, happiest place on earth” pegged for a sure-fire saltwater only destination. Since then I have come to understand that the Central American nation has much more to offer anglers than I ever imagined. So I sat down with Jesse Males from 506 Outdoors to talk about angling opportunities in Costa Rica and all that awaits anglers looking to hook up Pura Vida style.
Q: What different kinds of fishing trips does 506 Outdoors offer to anglers?
A: 506 Outdoors offers jungle trout fishing tours in Costa Rica’s high mountains. Machaca float trips down lowland rivers for machaca, and pacific coast beach hopping tours or kayak fishing tours in northern Guanacaste and some areas outside Jaco Beach.
Q: You mentioned beach hopping and kayak fishing, is there fishing from the beach? As far as the kayak fishing goes, what species can someone readily catch?
A: Fishing from the beach is certainly difficult, but there can be roosterfish, jacks, bonita, mackerel, and plenty of other bi-catch caught in the surf. Kayak fishing gives us better access to these species, but it isn’t really done on fly; as it is extremely difficult in most circumstances to cast the fly while sitting down and strip it fast enough to provide the necessary action. So, most of our kayak fishing is done via spinning rods with poppers and other plugs.
Q: Costa Rica has an abundance of fishing opportunities for fly rodders, but the experience varies so much between the jungle, the rivers, and the ocean. Which is your favorite to guide clients on and why?
A:By far the best experience and most unique to Costa Rica is the Machaca fishing. These jungle rivers are beautiful and offer anglers shots at a fish that is just now getting international attention. In fact it will be featured in a film on 2020’s F3T . It is a cousin to the piranha that eats mainly fruits and nuts that fall out of different types of trees along the river. This means the entire experience is topwater based and these fish sure do put on a show. Large runs, big jumps, and impressive eats make it the perfect target for fly anglers.
Q: Is it possible for clients to fish all three locations on one trip?
A: YES! We have a week long package that takes people trout fishing the first day, machaca fishing the next day, then out on a remote beach camping experience where we focus on ocean fishing via shore and kayak for rooster fish, big jacks, cubera snapper, yellowfin tuna, mahi mahi, and plenty of other awesome species. If people are not into beach camping then local hotel reservations can be made instead.
Q: What are your seasons like?
A: Trout we fish all year long, as the area they are in doesn’t have too much rain in the rainy season to make the fish shut down. Machaca fishing also is all year long but I believe the better season is our rainy season from June to November-ish. Our ocean fishery is all year long with best times being July to February in my opinion. That is when we have lots of yellowfin tuna close to shore followed by mahi mahi.