FISHING STORY: Surprise while fishing offshore in Costa Rica

Fishing Story submitted by Thomas Jones with Bahia Rica Kayak and Fishing Lodge

On a recent offshore fishing trip, out of the Bahia Rica Kayak and Fishing Lodge in Costa Rica, we had a very strange encounter. It was a beautiful day and the sea conditions were perfect while trolling about 30 miles offshore when we spotted a school of spinner dolphins chasing bait through the water. In Costa Rica this is a large indicator that yellowfin tuna are nearby since spinner dolphins are often accompanied by schools of them. As we drew closer to the school of spinners and began trolling, it became evident that there weren’t any tuna swimming with this school. The tuna could have been down deeper, but there was no sign of them anywhere so we moved on.

Spinner dolphins are normally a sure fire sign of yellowfin tuna. (Photo courtesy of Bahia Rica)
Spinner dolphins are normally a sure fire sign of yellowfin tuna. (Photo courtesy of Bahia Rica)

Within an hour we spotted another school of dolphins and even a couple of yellowfins leaping out of the water! We knew it was on, so we began positioning ourselves closer to the school and that’s when one of the cedar plugs was attacked by a small hungry yellowfin. Seeing the size of the fish we went on to put out a smaller lure that we often use for peanut dolphin because it actually works pretty well on the tunas too. We set it up on a spinning rod that is capable handling medium sized fish, but it was going to see something bigger on this day. Once the lure had been put out, we saw a fin pop up behind the lure and sure enough it was a marlin! The lure set the marlin in a frenzy and was doing everything he could to get it. Simultaneously, we were doing everything we could to keep the marlin from eating the lure since he would spool the rod and straighten the hook with ease. One of our guests had the pitch bait in the water, but the marlin doesn’t care about it at all and has tunnel vision on the small lure. The marlin took one last big swipe at it and I pull the lure away just in time and the marlin decides he’s had enough and disappears.

We weren’t done yet on this day. On our way back to the lodge, we found yet another school of spinner dolphins and this time there were some big tunas swimming right along with them. There were four or five tunas, at least 60 plus pounds, that kept jumping out in front of the school and had some birds working frantically above them.

Costa Rica fishing
Mahi mahi, or Dorado in Costa Rica, are caught year-round, but are more abundant during green season. (Photo courtesy of Bahia Rica)

We decided that we were going to target them with a nice pink and fluorescent yellow popper that performed its’ job flawlessly. The first tuna blew up behind the popper, but just missed it. Three times after that we had big yellowfins hot on its’ tail and one even had it in his mouth for a second, but one of our guests froze up and couldn’t get the fish hooked up in time! We then trolled around the school a few more times and ended the day with a beautiful 35 pound mahi! When you are fishing offshore in Costa Rica, you never know what is going to pop up in your spread and target your lightest tackle.

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