New Season Crocodile Bay Fishing Report We are just two months out from opening our doors for the 2010-2011 costa rica fishing season at Crocodile Bay Resort. It seems like a long time off but will sneak up on us before we know it. Our crews are staying busy preparing boats, working on the pier and giving the resort some TLC before we open our doors to anglers worldwide.
My prediction and you can smack me if I’m wrong is that the first two months of the fishing season are going to go off like fireworks for a couple of reasons. First of all, the bad child, “El Nino” has headed for the hills. This occasional climate cycle causes the ocean to warm to bath water and prohibits the other natural cycles that moves the billfish into pockets each year, one of them being right in our backyard.
The water temps are right and as we open in November the big schools of dorado (dolphin fish pictured below) will be here already. These fish average 20 to 40 lbs and behind them looking to munch a few will be blue marlin.
November, December are historically two of our best marlin months. The large numbers of sailfish won’t arrive till late December but with the water temperatures down, I expect more than the usual number of sails to arrive to town early.
They have had some very good days fishing sails recently so there is a population that has already moved into the area. December also brings football size tuna, another type of munchies for marlin. If a blue marlin is on your bucket list, November and December is on the best times to visit southern Costa Rica.
Crocodile Bay Resort sits on one of the few tropical fjords in the world. The entire gulf as of June 12th, became the largest MARF in all of Central America. How did that happen? Well no good divorce lawyer would want you to know but what every family counselor in world would advocate, you get everyone involved sitting at the same table talking things out. Dad, mom, the kids, the dog and cat with the goldfish sitting on the table talking about their wants, needs, and frustrations. That is exactly what happened.
The small scale commercial fishing Federation (FENOPEA) sat down with the National Tourist Fishing Federation (FECOPT), the local tourist fishing association (APTC) , INCOPESCA, the Costa Rican governing agency of all fishing laws, and the shrimping industry. Everyone discussed their groups personal well being as well as the future of the Golfo Dulce.
he process took over a year to complete and the inshore fishery inside the gulf has already seen spectacular results. The first to go, were the shrimp boats. They signed an agreement to quit trawling inside the gulf and left last September. It is a know fact that for every pound of shrimp they catch, they also catch 10 lbs of bycatch (small fish and other crustaceans) that are discarded.
Some of them would find a reef on the way out of the gulf and dump there bycatch overboard and when the snapper came up to feed, they would drag their net and take a mother load of snapper with them, though totally illegal.
Last season we saw an immediate change and had the best snapper fishing we had seen in 11 years of operation. It was to the point where you always got a couple smaller dinner size snapper to eat and the big females could be released.
Next was the gill netters. All but a handful agreed to stop using nets inside the gulf. After much debate and with the assistance provided by those willing to give up the practice, it was decided that no licenses to fish with nets will be renewed and the last license expires in 2012. With less than 10 working now, down 90% from before, the incidental mortality rate in the gulf will is drastically lower.
The Golfo Dulce has been divided in half. In the northern half, small commercial fisherman will only be allowed to fish with hand lines. The other half of the Gulf, short bottom lines will be permitted but must all be used by hand, no equipment to haul lines is allowed.
Groups like Mar Viva have gotten involved to train these fishermen in processing and marketing. Much like organic gardening their product now has a higher value, marketed as sustainable caught. With the success of such a program, the commercial guys will not be tempted to return to old fishing methods.
The local sport fishing people agreed to do their part by replacing all treble hooks on lures to single hooks when fishing inside the gulf. There was resistance from a small group of anglers inside the country that rarely fish the gulf and they produced documents from The Billfish Foundation, and the World Wildlife Foundation stating treble hooks were sustainable.
I read the TBF study, and have searched all over the internet for the WWF study but have yet to find it.
My personal argument and backed by many who use the gulf is we are not dealing with fish that can be held in your hand while the free hand can use a pair of pliers to remove the multiple hooks from a fish. We are dealing with big fish, roosterfish 10 to 60 lbs and the extra time that fish is out of the water while multiple hooks are removed is life threatening to them. This will also save me about a half dozen trips to the hospital each year as my crews while trying to release a big fish caught on treble hooks often end up hooking themselves.
The prohibition did not get written into law but Crocodile Bay and most other fishing operations will be making the switch on a voluntary bases. The Siwash series hook, has proven to have an excellent hook up record when used as a replacement for treble hooks.
The sum of all this is: The inshore fishery, roosterfish, snapper, grouper, trevally, and many more species has always been fair year round. It is about to get great!
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