The Fishing of Machaca

By Alberto Gutierrez Acuña • Pura Pesca Costa Rica – Fishing Tackle Shop

In Costa Rica we have many rivers, and in most we find the fish called machaca. Our country has two slopes (Pacific and Atlantic). In each of these slopes we have two different species of machaca, the brycon behreae (pacific) and the brycon guatemalensis (Atlantic). This is hard to believe though, as the impact of human beings, by means of Lake Arenal and its pipelines for the generation of electricity, causes the crushing of the Atlantic invading the rivers of the northern Pacific.

This fish feeds on other fish, reptiles, insects, flowers and fruits, which makes fishing with surface lures very exciting for fishermen. Throughout the year we find different fruits, flowers and insects that fall into the river. Machaca is a predatory fish with very sharp teeth and quite fast.

At the moment we get a bite the machaca jumps quick, and for its size it has a lot of strength. There are records of machaca up to 6 kilograms, but the All Tackle records registered with the IGFA are: Machaca del Pacifico 2.28 kg by Luis Diego Montero and Machaca del Atlántico 4.32 kg by Ms. Barbara fields.

While it is true the machaca can be fished with lures of all kinds, deep and half way to the bottom, using spinners, spoons, and crankbaits, most fishermen choose surface lures. Personally I like to see when they catch the lure . . . it’s more exciting.

For this fishing we have to be very good casters. We have to put the lure under the tree where fruit or flowers are falling. Or along structures in the river, like dead trees and rocks inside the river or very close to the shore, where machaca are waiting to ambush prey. It is also good to cast towards the exits of small affluent rivers.

For this fishing we have to look for the coolest hours of the day and in low light, so we have to take advantage of the morning and sunset. During the normal day we have to identify the trees that are throwing fruits and flowers and look for shadows of trees or walls where the machacas are protected from the sun. in the attached image I show you which are the most efficient lures to fish on the surface. All are very good and the color or choice depends on the fisherman’s taste and what resembles what is falling into the river at that time.

The most innovative is the whopper plopper, which is a new lure of 9 cm that is creating quite a stir . . . it became famous in Costa Rica for its good results. Most of these lures that I show you have to reel slow and continuous except for the popper that is hit with small pulls and at the discretion of the fisherman, where he can work fast or slow. The greatest effectiveness of these lures is in the accuracy of the casting.

If you want to fish for the machaca I recommend the Sarapiqui River and its tributaries, in the area of Cañas and Bagaces, the Tenorio River and its tributaries in the Upala area, and the famous Niño River. These three rivers can be fished from the shore or by boat.