60th Wedding Anniversary Crocodile Bay
60th Wedding Anniversary Crocodile Bay We just celebrated my mum and dad’s (Bo’s and Gwen) 60th wedding anniversary in style gathering the ENTIRE family at Crocodile Bay Lodge in Costa Rica. This is our third family trip down to the lodge over the years, and we always look forward to the laid back atmosphere, diverse activities, world class fishing, and face it – hanging out in the rain forest for a week is pretty dam cool!
Crocodile Bay combines outstanding fishing in Golfo Dulce and off the Costa Rican Pacific coast, with Eco-Tours and activities in the local area around Puerto Jimenez and the Osa Peninsula. The young kids and their families took advantage of the tours and spent the week at the beach, zip-lining, gold panning, horseback riding, rain forest tours, fishing on the gulf, and hanging out by the pool. The girls all got treated to a session at the Spa. Topping it all off, we even got a daily wake-up call from a howler monkey from right behind our cabin. As for Robin, Laura, Dad and I, we fished! I can’t say enough about Crocodile Bay Lodge, the facility is well maintained and clean, the food and services are awesome, and the staff flat out takes care of you.
Quotes of the trip:
While trying to save weight in the luggage for the trip I said, “We won’t need our rain gear.”
After meeting us at the dock dripping from head to toe on the first day, Todd Staley (Crocodile Bay fishing director) said “They don’t call it a rain forest for nothing!”
For the week dad booked a pair of 35-foot Striker boats which Todd has rigged ready to fish from stem to stern. My gang laid claim to one and we were fortunate to also get an awesome captain and mate German and Mauricio. The lodge is located 9 miles inside of Golfo Dulce and the ride out to sea is breathtaking. Calm clean water; with rain forest clad mountains jumping straight up out of the gulf. Golfo Dulce is an awesome body of water and one of the deepest fiords in the world.
For an additional treat Golfo Dulce was playing host to several big pods of Humpback whales, including several pairs of mothers and their calves. On one morning, as we headed out, German saw a Whale blowing off the port bow and we moved over quietly to take a peek. There was a mother and her calf, and not only did we not spook them, but the pair came over to us and circled directly under the boat. We figure that mom was teaching the calf a lesson, and it was really something to watch, as the calf would ride its mom’s back as the pair surfaced for a breath of air. Those two were inseparable. Nothing like getting soaked head to toe by a whale blow!
After we saw the whales we stayed and fished inshore primarily targeting Snapper for dinner, and Roosterfish for some serious fun. The Roosters are awesome predators, solid muscle and scrappy fighters. They want nothing to do with the boat, and make spectacular runs with their awesome dorsal Rooster fins up high in the water. The thing I did not notice before is that they also like to play possum. Once you have them subdued they will just lay there like they are dead, then suddenly boom – they explode to life and are gone. We fished for them on reef areas on both the South and North ends of Golfo Dulce. When we were on the north side we found a big bait-ball of Blue Runners on the surface, and set up to drift through them. Timing was perfect, just as we started our drift the bait-ball exploded with white water as a pack of Roosters tore through them. Next thing we knew two of our flat-lines took off and Laura and Robin hooked into a double! For the day we ended up releasing 5 Roosterfish in the 20 to 35 pound range, along with several nice Yellowtail Snapper for dinner.
The offshore bite was best around 15 to 20 miles off the coast. The setup for offshore pelagic fishing down there is to pull a spread of teasers tight behind the boat (mostly bug chugger squids behind birds), and be on the ready with pitch baits. We had both dead and live rigged Blue Runners rigged up for Sail fish, and small Bonitos rigged for Marlin, 20 pound class tackle for Sails, and 50 pound class for Marlin. All the rods were outfitted with circle hooks, and the baits were rigged on a bridle with rigging floss. The basic game plan was as soon as we had a billfish in the baits we would toss out a pitch bait and get it in front of the fish, once he took the bait we let it run for a count of 5 or so and then hit the drag and crank back smoothly.
Fishing offshore we were covered up in Sailfish and we ended up releasing 17 out of 37 raised. For you east coast guys, these are big Pacific Sails averaging over 100 pounds. My favorite Sailfish bite happened on our 4th day. My wife Robin spotted a pair of Sails fins up sunning off the starboard side of the boat. German quickly brought us along side of them and like a pack of wolves they both came into the teasers. The fire drill was on! Mauricio pitched bait out to the first fish handing it off to dad who striked with the fish coming out of the water doing a tailwalking dance directly behind the boat. The second Sail came in on the port teaser, Laura hooked it, and it too came immediately out of the water. Both fish gray-hounded in opposite directions so we had to just put the boat in neutral with dad and Laura just hanging on and cranking. After a good pair of tug of war battles, they got them both to the boat for a double release.
Our only shot at a Marlin was on our second day. After hearing that a couple days earlier another customer went 2 for 8 on Black Marlin, and released one estimated at 500 pounds, I was really excited because I have never had a Black Marlin on the end of a rod. Our first look at one came pretty early. We saw a group of birds working and German brought us into them. Right off the bat we had a Marlin come up and hit our right teaser so hard it broke the braid and we lost the whole rig. We never had a chance at him. As we worked the area we found a big chunk of board, and under it was a school of Bonita’s and small Yellow Fin Tuna. We caught several of the Yellow Fins on a cedar plug for dinner, and a bunch of Bonita’s for the bait cooler. On one of the passes toward the board, German started yelling and looking closely we saw that we had a Marlin following the right teaser. We pitched out a Bonita on a 50-pound outfit, and the Marlin ate it immediately. I let it run for a count of 5 and slammed the drag to strike. At the same time, German punched the throttles forward and we came tight on the fish. As the fish took off for the horizon I lost my balance, and I just remember hanging on to the rod and flying toward the transom. Mauricio grabbed me and we both ended up on the deck with the drag screaming out. I got back up and into the fighting chair, all for naught though; the fish threw the hook a few seconds later. Next time Mr. Black, next time!
What an awesome time and experience. On our last night we had a big anniversary party for mum and dad, complete with a video cameo of all of our lives together, “memories in a bottle”, table decorations and a cake. The best part of the whole event was bringing everyone together and our celebration of life! Thanks to the staff at Crocodile Bay for a wonderful time, and most of all to mum and dad for making it all happen!
Hope you all enjoyed the story! We certainly had fun putting it together.