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Two Weeks On The Water At Crocodile Bay In Costa Rica

We recently received this fantastic two-week report from one of our loyal customers, Roy, as he embarks on another trip to the world-famous Crocodile Bay in Costa Rica. Some of you may be aware of Roy’s previous reports which detailed his first experience at Crocodile bay back in 2017. I’ll now hand it over to Admiral Marlow for his fantastic trip breakdown.

Two weeks on the water with Admiral Marlow

Covid restrictions have meant that our adventures have all been moved forward hence this one so soon after our brutal Key West Adventure in January. You will recall that I was fishing with Horatio John and the fishing was so good we caught so many fish we rapidly started to suffer and were soon on pain killers.

This Adventure to the fantastic Crocodile Bay resort in Costa Rica, I am sure will be different in many ways but as usual we will try our very best. Our target species will be Rooster Fish, Sail Fish, Yellowfin Tuna and hopefully several other exotic species. I have fished out of Crocodile Bay twice before, the fishing is totally different from anywhere else I have been in the world, there are no guarantees but we are very optimistic. We will be on the Pacific side and the small adjacent town next to Crocodile is named Puerto Jimenez on the Osa Peninsula.

After an uneventful journey and a very early flight in the morning to Crocodile were are embarking on our first days fishing. It will be a short day so we have opted for inshore fishing with our old friend and Captain Humberto on a Boston Whaler.

This is our day one report and John and I hope you enjoy reading them and feel sorry for us suffering in 30 degrees, fantastic accommodation, awesome food, among many old friends.

Day 1:

We left our hotel in San Jose at 4.30 am and made our way to the airport.
It was a small plane journey of about 40 minutes to Crocodile Bay.

When both of us had to get on the scales with our hand baggage and be weighed you realise that it wasn’t going to be a medium-size plane.
A quick breakfast and we joined Humberto on his Boston Whaler, we had a quick committee meeting to decide the plan for the day taking into account it would be a short day.

With the bait well already full of sardines we were quickly on our way.
Plan A was to target Roosterfish, this would be a more relaxing day and set us up for day 2. With 13 days of fishing in front of us, we knew that we had to pace ourselves; we had only just recovered from the brutal fishing we had in Key West. After about 30 minutes of trying for Roosters without an enquiry, Humberto received a phone call telling us that the Yellow Fin tunas were sighted only about 8 miles from where we were.

That’s when the “pace ourselves “ question started to fall apart.

The Spinner Dolphins are feeding on tiny minnows and push them in front at a very fast speed. The Tunas are then feeding on the hearded minnows in front of the Dolphins. It is amazing how fast these fish are moving, we were tracking them at 8 knots. We are 8 miles offshore in four thousand feet of water with several hundred Spinner Dolphins having a party.

We had 12 outfits all ready to go, that’s just two less than we had in Key West and were ready for any eventualities. Before I go on any further I should explain that the 3 of us looked like we were part of the Dads Army script. Admiral Marlow, that’s me, has a bad knee and struggles to walk very far. Horatio John has a bad arm and shoulder. Humberto has a bad back, you will read the relevance of this shortly. Within minutes, we had our first hook up after Humberto skilfully positioned us in front of the Tunas. This was to be the smallest fish of the day, but at least we had thrown the skunk out of the boat.

Plan B was looking good. But not for long. Humberto and John were both jigging our Williamson Benthos jigs and we also had a live bait out of the back. These were fished, one on our light spin outfits, one on a medium spin and the live bait on our Beasty Rod. Then what had turned out to be a well-oiled machine went to pieces. We had a triple hook up all within a couple of seconds. Now it was organised chaos, with all three lines crossing, it was a miracle that we didn’t cut each other off.

Anyone who has caught Tuna knows how tough they are. Most anglers are using substantial tackle, we were not and it was man against beast. The drags were screaming and rods were bent double but we fought on like true soldiers. Humberto managed to land the first fish which was around 40lbs, The second was a tough cookie but after about 10 minutes, John got it to the boat, we had already got the call that the restaurant needed some Tuna so this one was going back to the dock.

Meanwhile, The Admiral was starting to wain a bit, I hadn’t paced myself and my knee was now being painful. Apart from that it was 30 degrees and I had hardly slept for the last 36 hours, that was my excuse. The fish was still taking line and with four thousand feet of water below it was not a happy bunny.

Because we are a well-oiled team I gave the rod to John knowing that I had severely weakened the Beast and I would be the cameraman. After another ten minutes, I could see that John was in pain from his arm and shoulder injury, which called for the substitute to be called in. Knowing that both Roy and John had tamed the beast it was only a simple task for Humberto to land the fish.

WRONG again.

After another 10 minutes, Humberto was tiring; the committee was offering loads of encouragement but to no avail. Finally, first aid had to be given in the form of a drink; a few minutes later, it was “my backs hurting”, and the Admiral was back in the driving seat.

The battle continued with both John and Humberto having a go. Eventually, and that’s because I had severely weakened the Beast, we could see colour. I can tell you that this was the hardest fighting Tuna I had ever hooked, it destroyed my knee, John’s arm and Humbertos back but we didn’t give in. We got it on board, it was too heavy to lift and this is what an adult Yellowfin looks like. It was high fives all around and time for lunch.

Having recovered most shipmates would have called it a day, but not us. We had just 15 minutes of fishing time left so again we chased down the Tuna shoal. The Williamson Jig did it again and soon John was into a rod bender. Pacing ourselves had gone out of the window, we are tired out and already on painkillers after day 1.

Tomorrow we are on a Strike Boat and expect a less painful day, but who knows…

Day 2:

We had breakfast at 5.45 am and were on the Dock at 6.30 to be greeted by Diego, the fishing manager who organises the days fishing for everyone. At Crocodile Bay, it is a very professional set up and nothing is too much trouble. Always going the extra mile for all the anglers, and it is very much appreciated. Here he is discussing tactics with Horatio John.

Today we are with Manuel, who I have fished with many times before on a Strike Boat which specialises in offshore fishing. He has eyes like a sewer rat and can spot fish I am sure no other human can see. Joining him was a new mate Jason.

Our main plan was to target Sailfish but hopefully also see some Tunas and other species. This involves trolling which is not our favourite way of fishing however, we do it slightly differently.
All of our tackle which we bring with us is much lighter than is used on the standard sports boats.

Today we had 2 of our light spin rods with multipliers and two sets of medium spin rods with multipliers. In addition, up to 4 beasty outfits in case we came across a Marlin.
With up to 4 sets of teasers running behind the boat, we position our rigged Ballyhoo baits alongside. With so many lines in the water, you really must know what you are doing or you will be in a terrible mess very quickly.

Cutting to the chase, we are about 6 miles out and in four thousand feet of water with all the lines in the water. It didn’t take long before John had a hit on his light outfit.

The fish dropped the bait but John dropped it back again and the fish ate it, after the mandatory count of 5 he set the hook and a beautiful Sailfish performed some fantastic aerial acrobatics. After a short battle, the very pretty Sail was alongside and did this perfect jump for the camera!

John only targets the pretty ones and this one lit up for the camera. We were 1 for 1, what a great start. A little later I had a take and again it was the third drop back before the Sail ate the bait. This time it was not happy and I reckon it was on its tenth jump some 200yards away. Sailfish can reach speeds over 60 miles per hour so it doesn’t take long to get a long way away.
This fish really did put up a good scrap on my light outfit.

Moving on. It now got a little frustrating. We raised several more Sails but most just chopped the bait in half, and ate the part without the hook in it. Unlike yesterday none of the other boats had seen any Tuna. We came across a group of White Belly Dolphins that were chasing baitfish, there were also a few Tunas among them but we did not get a take with the highlight being a Humpback Whale that waved at us.

The Shipmates tried even harder and soon we had another Sail Fish that actually ate the bait. A fantastic battle again on our light outfits, and again it smiled and lit up for us.

Just to clarify we don’t bring Sailfish on board for a picture because it can damage them. This fish was just happy to have been caught as you can see from the smile on both our faces. It was now getting serious, we raised some more Sails but they wouldn’t eat our baits. I don’t know why because Jason and myself thought they tasted very nice!

Like proper soldiers, we carried on, we were now like a finely tuned well oiled machine. As soon as we had a hook up all the other outfits had to be very quickly stowed back on board to avoid any tangles. We now had this down to a fine art and all our training came into play in the closing minutes. Another take, and John hooked our last Sail of the day. Years of practice soon had it alongside the boat in the crystal clear water.

Time to head back to the Barn. We had no angler errors or tackle errors, it just seemed that the fish were not really hungry and were happy to bite the tails off of our baits. We will have a committee meeting to analyse how we could have done better. We are out tomorrow again with Manuel and Jason and are working on a top-secret plan.

Day 3:

It is Day 3 of our Big Adventure in Costa Rica. The original plan was for us to pace ourselves, which went out of the window on our first day when we were both on painkillers. The weather here must be the same as back home in the UK, a very pleasant 30 degrees. I thought we would have a frost because the sky is so clear, however, I thought wrong as it is still 24c.

The Shipmates were up wide-eyed and bushy-tailed for a 5:45 am breakfast, then down to the dock where we had a team meeting with Silena who is a major part of the organising team at Crocodile Bay.
Silena makes sure everyone is happy and knows what to expect for the day. We had a meeting to decide our secret plan for the day, I cant tell you what it was because if I did it would not be a secret.

We were again with Manuel and Jason on the strike boat. I mentioned yesterday that we would have a committee meeting (that’s John and Me) to try and sort out why we failed to connect with so many Sail Fish yesterday. Our Fishing Shipmates probably guessed where we possibly went wrong, we made a few minor but possibly important changes to our hooks and leader sizes and hoped this would sort out the problem.

The full committee, including Manuel, decided that offshore would be the best option because the inshore has been very slow. My view is that it’s the moon phase, conditions should improve during the next few days.

With several outfits ready to go we made our way offshore. Yesterday we saw loads of Sailfish in the 3000-foot deep mark around 8 miles offshore; today, we didn’t see any; we did see two Humpback Whales that waved to us with their tails.

After an hour we hadn’t seen a fish and it looked like we would be having a relaxing day and a chance to get our strength back. How wrong could one be? Suddenly we had a hit on our light spin outfit and a Mahi Mahi (Dolphin fish ) was jumping all over the place.

We were like tramps on chips as the other outfits were made safe, it was now a team of well-oiled mechanics. This one we kept for the restaurant.

With all 5 rods back in action, it wasn’t long before John Hooked up.
A great battle and soon another Mahi was alongside to be released quickly. The policy at Crocodile is if you are not going to eat it leave it in the water.

We soon had all the outfits in the water when yet another Mahi hit the baits, the usual mandatory count to 5 and then set the hook, this worked perfectly and I had the biggest Mahi yet, estimated around 50lbs and a personal best for me. It looked just the same as the one above but even bigger. We were now about 12miles out and in over four thousand feet of water and not another boat in sight. A few White Belly Dolphins were spotted and we made our way over to them. Suddenly a reel screamed and a Sail Fish was jumping towards the Horizon. John, on his light outfit, had a great battle and again a perfect release, that now was 4 for 4 a big improvement from yesterday.

Within minutes, all the lines were back in the water, hardly time for a drink when yet another Sail Fish attacked the Ballyhoo. Not a massive fish but pushing 80lbs and it certainly had its Weetabix for breakfast.
I think it must have been to the dentist because the end of its bill was missing.

We were now on 5 for 5, but would our luck hold? It didn’t take long for us to find out. I was up in the Tuna Tower with Manuel when I saw a Sailfish light up behind the furthest bait. My eyes were now used to the surroundings and I reckon I now had eyes like Manuel, and the preverbal sewer rat.

John already had the right rod in hand as the fish ate the bait. It was the mandatory 5 count, engage the reel and wind, just like several takes before it dropped the bait. But the repeated drop back worked again and the fish was on. This was the best fight yet, I was on Camera duty and managed some fantastic camera shots.

We were now on 6 for 6. We were now 17 miles out in almost 6 thousand feet of water and in the distance we could see a group of boats, that could only mean fish, so we headed towards them still trolling at 8 knots. We now had 7 rods out with hooks on them including two Marin outfits. The fishing Shipmates know I don’t get too excited when it comes to Marlin, simply because they are very hard work and the tackle alone wheres you out. Many years ago I caught several Marlin, the first is a lot of fun but after that, I must confess I actually enjoy many other species on the lighter outfits.

Anyway cutting to the chase, it had to happen, the Marlin outfit loaded with 600 yards of 50 mono decided to make a noise like a plane taking off. The reel screamed and I nearly fell off the tower in my effort to climb down the ladder to grab the rod. Shipmates that have hooked Marlin know full well how exciting these first few minutes of the fight is. Some 200 yards away the Gladiator of the sea grey hounded for at least another 200 yards without stopping; the reel was screaming.

The shipmates quickly cleared the remaining rods and a drawn-out battle commenced. It was now man against beast, well not quite as I sat in the fighting chair something I never do, but I had to pace myself and show young Jason that I was man enough for the job.
If you watch Wicked Tuna, it was a bit like that, just a slow hard fight because the Marlin had gone deep and wasn’t coming up in a hurry to see me. Anyway, after about 20 minutes of tug-of-war, we could see colour and Jason grabbed the leader and got the fish alongside.

A very pretty fish, I only catch the good looking ones and this one was held nicely for the camera, and what a great picture by Manuel on the tower.

That was 7 for 7, a fantastic day of quality fish. We also had a couple of Bonito that we used for bait. Time to go back to the barn.

Another great day, I can’t believe we are doing so well, but we are trying very hard. Tomorrow is another day, the committee hasn’t made a plan yet but we will let you know tomorrow.

Day 4:

It’s day 4 of our Big Adventure at the fabulous Crocodile Bay Resort in Costa Rica. We have had three brilliant days fishing offshore, so we would target inshore today even though it has been poor. We were again with Manuel and Jason on a Strike boat.

The Rooster fishing has been very slow, so our plan was just to bend our rods on any species. With 12 outfits of ours onboard, we were prepared for anything. Our first options would be with our fixed spool reels on our ultralights, our light and medium spin outfits. Today there was next to no wind, and it was pushing 30 degrees at 8 am.

We started off catching some additional bait just off the dock, it didn’t take long to catch enough Sardines and then be on our way. Surprisingly we also caught several of the smallest Barracuda I have ever seen. In addition to the “catch anything” plan, we had an ace up our sleeve. We had about 1/2 bucket of chum consisting of chopped up Runners and Sardines plus a considerable amount of roe from our Mahi Mahi from yesterday.

At our first small rockpile, John was soon into his first fish hooked on a Sardine in about 70′ of water, a great fight on his light spin outfit and our first Cabera Snapper of the trip. Like most of our caught fish, this one was returned to grow bigger. I had a couple of Bonitos and a couple of small Groupers along with an eating size Black Spot Snapper.

Moving on, we both just had a couple of fish from each mark but nothing substantial. We moved up to just off Mata Palo Rock and threw in some of our chum. Immediately several Jacks were having a ball below us.
Out came our Ultra Lights and a piece of the roe from yesterday as hook baits.

Jacks are one of my favourite fish to catch and immediately both of us were into the fish. It was just like drifting back free lining for Yellow Tails in the Keys.

Soon the tide eased and the Jacks disappeared, what was now in the chum line was loads of Triggerfish. Jason got shelled 15 times for no Triggers. Clearly, he hadn’t practised on this species. I put on my special Key West Triggerfish outfit and got this one first drop just to show him how easy it was.

We moved on to find some Roosters but there were none around. Back to the rock and in the chum line that we kept going were stacks of other fish. These fish needed all my Ingun tricks to catch them, lighter lines and smaller hooks. They turned out to be Surgeon Fish. I hadn’t caught this species before but I thought it was a member of the Tang family, and it turned out I was correct.

These Tangs are one of 75 species in the Surgeonfish family. This family, Acanthuridae, of fishes, is called Surgeonfish because of their very sharp, mobile spines on either side of their tail that favours surgeons’ scalpels.

The use of a glove is essential to prevent the two razor-sharp spines on the side from sticking you in the hand. We landed another 14 of these pretty fish and, although not that big, fought very well on our ultralight rods. Our last fish was a Rainbow Runner that John caught just to add some variety.

So that was our day; it was interesting and big fish wise, nothing like our first 3 days. To be honest I really enjoy this type of fishing. If we could anchor I think we could catch a lot more. Unfortunately, the very rough rocky bottom dost allow you to do that. It is hard work but someone has to do it, tonight we ate in a very nice local restaurant on the beach just down the road from us.

I am tired, and it’s a 5:15 am wake up call for tomorrow. We will be out with a new Captain, and it looks like we will be offshore. A pleasant day and the fish kept us busy most of the day.

Days 5 and 6:

Thanks to everyone who thought the fish had eaten us; I can tell you we only just survived and had another man down today. It has been challenging for us at Crocodile; shipmate John has to fight off all the lovely people looking after us.

Before I start, I am afraid we have limited photos due to technical issues
Today we were again with Manuell and Jason. We had our usual committee meeting and decided that we would target the Sailfish and have an easy day after being punished by the Tunas yesterday.
It didn’t turn out to plan. Using our medium and light spin outfits, we started in 5000 feet of water with our baits out and with a multitude of teasers on the outriggers to attract the Sailfish.

To most anglers, our light outfits look totally out of place fishing for big fish. In the old days, these would have been classed as 6lb and 12lb outfits; today’s difference is the massive strength these rods have, coupled with reels that have phenomenal drags. Cutting to the chase, John had the first Sail on his light outfit, the initial couple of minutes is mind-blowing, and a Sail tail-walking 100yards away is a sight you just don’t forget.

From then on it was steady and hectic at the same time. We just kept seeing Sails come up in the spread. Every time we hooked, the teasers and other rods all had to be quickly stowed because disaster is always on the cards with all the tackle out the back. But, with shipmate Jason now part of the team, we were like a formula one team, and we just got faster and faster at it. Some of the fish ran at least 100 yards on our light outfits, but with steady pressure and a brilliant boat captain, we soon had the fish alongside for a release.

John always catches the prettiest ones. The Sailfish is the one not wearing the sunglasses. The day just got better; we raised 15 Sails and released 8. For the shipmates who don’t fish, a raised fish is one that is seen next to the teasers or just attacks the bait but isn’t hooked.
We only lost one fish due to a hook pull so we were very pleased and awarded ourselves maximum points. That was unlike Jason, who we let fight a fish, he thought he looked cool, but the committee only gave him 6 out of 10 for style, but he did get 9 out of 10 for effort.
These were our best days ever Sailfish fishing with some of today’s fish over 80 pounds. It was a very hot day and we were exhausted. I hope you feel sorry for us. Limited on photos due to technical problems I am afraid. We finished again as the top boat of the day, so we had to celebrate with a few drinks.

Day 7:

After the last few days of being punished, the committee opted for an inshore day to target Roosterfish and Jacks. Obviously, the fish didn’t get the memo because they didn’t want to play. We tried very hard fishing every style for little reward even tho we still had some nice fish on our light tackle. John had his second “Cubera Snapper” on the light outfit, it was ten points from everyone for this fish.

I saw just two Jacks and caught one of them. The offshore boats also had a tough day, but that’s fishing. A couple of Snappers and a few Triggerfish to make the day. Both of us lost two big fish, if we had landed them it would have been the difference.

I mentioned a “man down” it was me. I had a take, and when I closed the bail arm the braid wrapped around my little finger and pulled it into the first guide. This time there was a pig on board screaming, it was me.

Luckily my shipmates came to the rescue and cut the line higher up the rod. But don’t worry, being tough, I used a hook with the barb cut off like a needle and sowed my finger back on with some braid. We are tough and I just carried on.

Only joking about the finger; it did hurt but did no serious damage. One of our Snappers was destined for dinner. Sorry about this being a short blog and for the lack of pictures.

We are going offshore tomorrow, hopefully, it will be better than today.
We all know there are no guarantees in fishing but we will try our best.

Day 8:

It’s day 8 of our Big Adventure in Costa Rica. We have been pacing ourselves and have now got acclimatised. It’s been interesting and challenging at times.

Today we were out with Oldemar on the Boston Whaler, with the inshore fishing being very slow we had our committee meeting and decided to go offshore. At 6.30 am the sea was like glass, and there was baitfish everywhere.
As we progressed, we heard on the radio that the Strike boats with the high towers were seeing plenty of Sailfish; the problem was they would not eat. We pushed on and set out our spread of baits. We also had a Marlin bait ready to go and attached to the rod with the bait in the icebox. I must say we looked pretty slick.

With nothing showing, we pushed on further out to a seamount some 25miles off the shore; it was still flat calm. We came across a few hundred White Bellied Dolphins eating tiny minnows. These are the wrong type when you are looking for the Tunas. However, there were a few Tuna but they kept deep and only popped up for a minute on the odd occasion.

Suddenly a substantial Marlin attacked the teaser and like a tramp on chips, I grabbed the Marlin outfit and dropped the bait back. I had the take, counted the mandatory 5 and engaged the reel and wound down.

The line zipped off for a few seconds, and that was it; I hadn’t hooked it. That’s how it goes, you can’t catch them all. Just after that, our lure rod with a Rapala Magnum screamed, and I was into a very nice Tuna! We didn’t want to keep it so it was a quick release. It looked exactly the same as this one we caught the other day.

We continued our search and even changed our setups multiple times but to no avail. We were circling a Sea Mount that rose up from 5000feet to 1000feet with rip currents all around, it looked good but again, no hits. We were now 25 miles out, and time was running out.

Suddenly another hit on the Rapala and the reel screamed, John was quickly on the rod, and I thought this could not get off, especially with two sets of trebles on the lure. After a 100yard run it came off; what a bummer. With only minutes left and having tried everything we knew we saw some Tuna surface within casting distance.

Out came our popper rod with a Zargana popper which looks like a Needlefish produced by AnglerMania of a Cyprus. This lure looks so good we knew it would have to catch if a fish saw it. With a mighty splash, we had a tuna on. Again on our light spin outfit, this fish was a perfect match.

It was a great finish and we deserved it, we gave it our best shot; Oldemar had eyes like a sewer rat and put us on fish on a very hard day, so hard we had the only Tunas and the other boats had only 1 Sailfish. We have been fishing long enough to know nothing’s guaranteed but again, we came good. Tomorrow’s another day, and we will try our very best.

Day 9:

It is day 9 of our Big Adventure at Crocodile Bay in Costa Rica.
We knew that every day would not be outstanding and today was one of them. That’s why we always have a long trip with at least 12 days of fishing.

Over the years, no matter where we go, there are always at least three days where the fish just shut down for no obvious reason. Today we were again with Oldemar on the Boston Whaler and after our committee meeting, decided to go offshore again. It was tough yesterday, although we did have two nice Tunas. Today we would try a totally different area, and in fact, we started off fishing not far from the Panama border, close to another seamount. After that, we headed more south and just avoided a soaking from a very dark cloud.

We had the usual set up, two light outfits, two medium outfits and one beasty outfit ready for Marlin. In reserve, we had a popper rod and a jigging rod all set up. We had all options covered. With the teasers out and four Ballyhoo looking great, surely it must happen.

We came across two groups of White Belied Dolphins feeding on minnows but no Tuna with them. It just wasn’t happening, and over the radio, it was the same story from the other boats. With all eyes scanning for life, eventually, we came across a few birds which normally signal fish, but they weren’t feeding either.

Our fish finder showed the baitfish between 30-50 ft down and I think this was the problem, they just didn’t want to come near the surface. Anyway, perseverance eventual paid off and we had a Sailfish strike a teaser. Like a well-oiled machine, Oldemar pulled in the teaser and John skillfully positioned his Ballyhoo behind it. An instant take, the mandatory count to five, put the reel in gear and tighten up.

Then it’s all excitement and for most people panic, but not for the Shipmates. All the other outfits need to be quickly brought on board so they don’t get tangled and the boat can manoeuvre better and also back up. Different from Florida fishing, where the angler fights the fish from the front of the boat most of the time.

Several spectacular jumps and it is bought closer with steady pressure even on our light spin outfits, a perfect combination as you do not require heavy outfits for Sailfish. Once the leader is in the guides it is counted as a release, the heavy leader makes it easy to get the fish alongside to get the hook out.

A perfect release and a very pretty Sailfish. We had one other hit, but it did not take the bait. We tried our very best, but we all know there are no guarantees in fishing, especially in the Ocean.

Tomorrow we will have a different plan if it works we will tell you all about it.

Day 10:

It is day 10, and we are wide-eyed and bushy-tailed because we were in bed around 8:45 pm last night.

We are now fully acclimatised and 30c, it is not a problem for us. Today we were again with Oldemar on the Boston Whaler and after the usual committee meeting, we opted to try inshore and target the Roosterfish which have been few and far between. It was fixed spool rod and reels all set and ready to go.

The first job was getting some extra live baits in the form of Herrings and Blue Runners, which didn’t take long and after about 20 minutes, we had plenty. We started just off the famous rock Matapalo in 40 feet of clear water with two live baits out on the outriggers and two baits on the short line. We always drift very slowly with the engines barely ticking over. It didn’t take long and our first fish on the ultra-light ripped off line and really bent the rod. It was a very pretty Jack Crevalle.

Not long afterwards, another rod bender again on the ultra-light, we really like these rods. To date, we have had fish over 60lbs on them, I am sure one day we will break one. I made the call and called a Rooster; Oldemar called a Jack it was some 10 minutes later before we knew. A great fight and eventually, the tackle and persistence won and as soon as we could see colour, I knew it was a Rooster. The Rooster is one of the must catch fish in the Pacific, great looking and great fighters. All are returned to grow bigger for another day.

It was looking a bit dark on the horizon but the Shipmates are tough and prepared so it was on with our waterproofs. We were now operating like a winning team, and John had the next hook up. I called a Rooster again, Oldemar called another Jack, it’s now two-nil to me. This time a very pretty Rooster for John (he only likes the pretty ones). It looks like John wanted to take this one home with him back to Wales but we made him put it back.

We quickly had another Rooster around the same size, and at the same time, I had a hookup. We finished with three very pretty Roosters, two Jack Crevalle and several Needlefish. We had achieved our objective so a very enjoyable day on our light tackle outfits.

The location is stunning as you can see, we had a very pleasant and exciting day! Tomorrow is another day and we will be ready for anything…

Day 11:

It’s day 11 of our Big Adventure at Crocodile bay, and we are again out with Oldemar on the Boston Whaler. We had our team meeting to decide our best options for the day and opted again for inshore. This time it would be specimen hunting and not numbers so we had a different approach.

The first job was to catch more Sardines for bait; we didn’t want to run out. After about 30 minutes on our Sabiki rigs, we had filled our baitwell. For the Shipmates, it’s more than just catching fish and today it turned out to be an interesting day. The sea was like glass first thing, the opposite to most of our Key West mornings as we quickly got to our first location.

It was our usual light and ultralight outfits and soon we had a double hook up on some very nice Jack Crevalle, they all look the same so we didn’t take a picture. Then I lost a Rooster that got tangled with John’s Jack but no big deal.

We moved on to another location again in about 40ft of water, after a lot of effort John hooked a very big fish on the ultralight after about 5 minutes of tug of war up came a huge Roosterfish it was about 10 yards away on the surface and certainly the biggest I had ever seen, I thought this is it the fish of the trip. Then the hook pulled out, unbelievable. I was gutted. We didn’t cry we just carried on like proper soldiers.

The scenery is stunning where we were fishing, and another first was when three cowboys came along the bottom of the cliffs herding cows.

We were now in uncharted territory, few white men would have fished here before. Almost instantly, we had a double hook up, and fortunately, for most of the time, the lines didn’t cross. After about 10 minutes, my fish started to come to the surface from steady pressure from my light spin outfit, it was another very pretty Rooster. It was quickly on board for a quick photo and returned to grow even bigger.

Meanwhile, John was having an epic battle on his ultralight outfit, we all thought it would be another Rooster, it wasn’t, it was a super Jack Crevalle, the biggest he had ever caught.

It was time to head back to the barn; we had caught 3 Roosters, 3 Jacks, 1 Needlefish and a few other little critters Not a big number day, but certainly quality and very pleasing on our light fishing outfits.

Then to top it all we saw a Twister a few miles away, for the Shipmates a rare sight.

Day 12:

It is day 12 of our Big Adventure in Costa Rica. We were up with the Monkeys this morning and had our breakfast at 6 am.

We are now fully acclimatised and it was pleasant weather with a nice 26 degrees to cheer us on our way to the boats. Today we were with Oldemar on the Boston Whaler. We had our committee meeting to decide on our plan for today. We decided to target a big Rooster Fish, having lost one yesterday.

I had fished an area before that just screams fish going south towards Panama, about a 20-mile run, but the sea was calm again. We just needed the one big fish to make our day. The first job was to catch bait again it didn’t take long to fill our baitwell, then we were on our way.

As you can see this mark looks awesome, with huge rocks some under the water and dozens of fingers coming out from the shore it looks good but still, no certainties. Cutting to the chase, we warmed up with a couple of Jack Crevalle. One of my favourite fish on our Ultralight outfits. These fish really pull and size for size must rate has one of the toughest fish in the sea.

John also got in on the action, nice fish but not as big as the one he had yesterday. Our target was still Roosters and these can be hooked on the surface, on the bottom or anywhere in between. Suddenly John’s rod doubled over as another species decided it didn’t want to play and ran for the rocks, I would guess a Cubera snapper. The fight was a little one-sided. We continued not giving up. This time, the drags on the reels set closer to sunset. The next fish for John played nicely, as soon as it was hooked it raced to the surface and we knew it was a Rooster.

Still an epic battle among the rock formations, this fish was not a certainty. Steady pressure and a smooth drag started to pay, and after another 5 minutes, we had the fish alongside.

In the background, you can see the stunning scenery and the huge rock formations. Catching on poppers has become very popular, our problem is that it is very hard work so after a dozen casts we usually go back to more conventions fishing unless we can see feeding fish on the surface.

However, we are a team, so we designated Oldemar to keep trying. Suddenly a fish boiled at the popper, it was frisky Big Eye Jack that wanted its picture taken.

It was the Zargana popper that did the job. I was trying hard and keeping my wits about me as we worked areas between the huge rocks. Suddenly a take and I was into something too big for my light spin outfit, with the drag on sunset, the fish still made the rocks and cut me off, I reckon another Cubera.

Not to be put off, I retackled and tied on a heavier leader, tightened the drag past sunset and tried again. Another take and I nearly got pulled overboard, I thought I would land this fish because I got it up off the bottom, well not for long as it made another run to the rocks, I was gutted.

That’s twice, I gave myself a good talking to and decided I was outgunned. Out came my heavy spin outfit a big 6500 size reel and a stronger leader. This time I would use a Moonfish for bait, they look awesome and should really be in an aquarium. It didn’t take long before I had another take, this time I was ready like a coiled spring.

I was expecting a Cubera but knew pretty quickly that it wasn’t. Even with the very heavy drag, the fish raced off towards the rocks but this time it was coming up. I backed off the drag a little because I didn’t want to pull the hook as the fish now made for more open water. I was so glad I had upped my tackle because this fish had at least 3 Weetabix for breakfast.

It was a tough fight and even though I had the leader in the guides twice, it still raced away, smoking the drag—what a pretty looking fish, my personnel best Rooster and a perfect end to the day.

Sometimes fish can be a bonus when you have scenery like this to fish.
Tomorrow is our last day, I am amazed that we had a story to tell every day. The fishing has not been easy, but we have managed some fantastic fish.

We will have a committee meeting with Manuel in the morning and I am sure we will come up with a cunning plan.

Day 13:

It is day 13 and it is our last day of fishing at the fabulous Crocodile Bay resort. We have pulled something out of the bag every day, thanks to a great team effort with our Captains and mates. The location as you have seen in some of the photos is stunning and the locals all go out of their way to welcome us.

Back to the fishing, for our last day, we were on a Strikeboat with Manuel and Jason and after our normal committee meeting, we decided to go offshore, hopefully, to catch a few fish and get some good photos. We had our usual tackle set up. Two light spin outfits for close work with the near teasers, two medium outfits for the outriggers, one medium outfit for the centre and a long-range shotgun set up.

My beasty outfit is ready to go with a mounted bait in the cooler for hopefully a smaller Marlin. With two sets of teasers also on the outriggers, we looked the part. Jason had already prepared our baits and were on ice just ready to go and in reserve plenty of live baits in the baitwell.

My plan for today was to be a little different, I would be on the Tuna Tower and be the main cameraman. John would be the number one fish catcher and I would try to get some good photos that are very difficult to take. That meant that Manuel and myself could be scanning for fish, one of us looking back at the spread and the other looking forward and on the sides, hopefully doubling our chances.

In the event of us seeing a Marlin I would slide down the ladder hopefully without injury and try to hook the fish. That was the plan, but sometimes the best plans don’t always come together.

It didn’t take long for our first Sailfish to make an appearance, we saw it behind the teasers but then it dropped back missing our other baits, but my shotgun rig which was 80 yards back fooled it and the line screamed off the reel. Remember I am in the tower so it was another first, for a time I fought the fish some 15ft above the water, not an easy task.

That’s me up the tower; when all the other rigs and lines were in, I could pass the rod down to John and be the cameraman. Getting the Sail to jump in the right place at the right time is almost impossible, but this one played nicely.

Soon we were ready for action again. Then all hell broke loose, a Marlin attacked the near teaser, at the same time I nearly fell down the ladder in my efforts to get to my Marlin outfit. (Not so fit as I used to be). So Manuel pulled the teaser nearer the boat, the idea is to put the bait behind the teaser, so the Marlin grabs it. Now the teaser was just a few feet away on the side of the boat and the Marlin lit up, I could see it’s beady eye clearly, and I reckon it was the perfect size for my Beast outfit, that’s if I could hook it…

Suddenly it shot across to the other teaser and I pitched my bait in front of it, immediately, it went back to the other one. It did this 3 times in about 15 seconds, it must have looked as if I was dancing.

It was now proper lit up and I thought it now must take the bait. Alas, it didn’t and it disappeared into the depths. So no fish, no picture but a great memory.

Back to the plan and soon John was into another Sailfish, on our light outfits, they really go and watching a Sail tail-walking 100 yards away is an awesome site. The problem is you cannot take a good photo at that range. However, this one thought it was a film star and smiled for the camera just 20 yards from the boat.

We were now like a well oiled super team. A little later, this time on the near bait, I saw a Sail behind the teaser, a quick drop back and another fantastic Sail made for the sky with several jumps but way out of camera range. Skilfully John made ground again, with the fish at the perfect range for me to get some photos from the tower.

We finished up with 3 for 6 Sailfish, two of them shed the hook on the first jump. Also, another Marlin attacked the teasers but failed to take the bait, but that’s fishing. We have had a fantastic time and some very memorable fish.

That’s all from me till our next Big Adventure; remember my words, don’t keep putting off adventures like this, it’s tough work and you might not be fit enough to do it, or worse, you could be dead.

Summing up the trip by Shipmate John

A really enjoyable trip.

The organisation is superb and Sportquest made everything run smoothly.

The fishing is excellent but I think it best to adapt and use lighter tackle than the Penn Tuna Sticks and International reels with line that could easily moor a small cruise ship!

The staff here are really wonderful, helpful and friendly, nothing is too much trouble for them.

The skippers and mates are knowledgeable and adaptable, even to us, and to see their faces on the first day when we say we have a dozen rods and reels was a picture!

Costa Rica has reasonably defined weather seasons and it apparently rains for six months of the year (a bit like Swansea only with warm rain) so your choice of dates is crucial.

This was Roy’s third trip here but my first. Would I return? Yes without a doubt, but knowledge is everything when it comes to fishing new destinations so I would say book with a reputable specialist agency and ask others for advice.

Roy and I would be happy to help with any advice should you so wish.

Some final words of appreciation go to Sportquest, Crocodile Bay and the wonderful staff, the skippers and mates and lastly but by no means least to my long-suffering PA, Rachel, for sorting everything for us both including the Covid documentation.

I echo Roy’s sentiments; do it whilst you can; this life is not a rehearsal…

Signing out,

Admiral Marlow


Crocodile Bay Resort really is a one-of-a-kind destination, catering to both anglers and non-angling partners. If the sound of Roy’s trip above has interested you, you can take a closer look at our full Crocodile Bay Resort. Alternatively, if you would like to discuss this trip with our big game fishing expert, Paul Stevens, you can contact him via email at or by calling 01603 407596.

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