“Most people my age buy a house in Costa Rica to retire,” said Craig Sutton, of Nosara Paradise Rentals and FishingNosara. “When I bought my first house in Costa Rica, my life was just starting to get interesting.”
Craig first discovered Nosara, Costa Rica on a surfing trip in the late 1990s and immediately fell in love with the people, the culture and the year-round excellent surfing. He purchased a small house near Guiones Beach, bought out his neighbors’ land, and spent the next 15 years building a nature preserve campus of 14 houses plus a pool, common areas and maintenance facilities.
One thing was missing from this surfer’s paradise: good fishing.
As a native Floridian, Craig’s passion for fishing runs deep. He has been a regular on the kingfish tournament scene for years, with his boat Fishtastic posting top-5 finishes in the several tournaments.
“The problem with fishing in Costa Rica is that fish are so big and so harsh that they will destroy your tackle, plus the costs for fuel is astronomical at $7 a gallon and rising,” said Sutton. “Captains trying to make ends meet would have to choose between new lines, new tackle and a full tank of gas, or putting food on the family table.”
After years of struggling to find a Captain in Costa Rica who was willing and able to fish aggressively, Sutton realized his only option was to build his own boats and crew them with hand-picked locals.
“These guys had the drive and the talent to be great fishermen, they just lacked the tools and the logistical support,” said Sutton. “The team-centered approach allows FishingNosara captains to pursue the fish as aggressively as a professional tournament boat without being distracted by losing lures or running up the gas bill.”
FishingNosara launched their first boat, The Wanderer, in 2009 and have added a boat every year since. The results have been astounding. In the 2017 season, the five-boat FishingNosara team ran over 730 trips with over 80 marlin releases and 800 sailfish releases. More importantly, the team inflicted zero billfish fatalities.
“Reviving and releasing billfish is a sacred priority to us as conservationists, plus it makes good business sense,” says Sutton. “We have created a market of charter fishermen, which means billfish are worth more money alive and swimming than they are on a scale at the meat market.”
As for retirement for Sutton, don’t bet on it anytime soon. Last April he scored a billfish grand slam (blue marlin, striped marlin and sailfish) to win the Ship of Fools Billfish Tournament in Costa Rica. Sutton is looking to up-the-ante again in 2018.
Back in the States, a new version of the Fishtastic came online this year. It’s an exact copy of the 32’ Eduardono Harvester currently in Nosara, and Sutton is already amped up for a new challenge.
“My goal with the new boat is to snag a tournament winning king mackeral in July then go catch marlin in August… seems like a good way to bring two worlds together.”