Golfito, Costa Rica on the Panama border is one of the few places on earth where 3 tectonic plates intersect. Over millennia this has caused intense crust upwellings and volcanic activity which persists today. Any perusal of the bathymetric charts will reveal seamounts and extinct volcanic cones that litter the seabed from Hannibal Bank to the Cocos Ridge off Golfito for a hundred miles offshore. As this structure lays on a 500 to 1000 fathom bottom and intersects the prevailing Chilean current it causes upwellings and forms natural FAD’s (Fish Attracting Devices) that concentrates bait fish which attracts the yellowfins and bonito in great numbers. In turn the Marlin home in on the bounty.
Pre-FAD the drill was to travel from structure to structure until you found the bait with bonito feeding and inevitably the Marlin would be in residence. Capt. Roy Ventura the original owner of Zancudo Lodge along with legendary Golfito Capt.’s Bobby McGuinness, Abraham Concepcion and Tommy Lynskey pioneered this fishery. It was very hit or miss as you could run all day and not score. And once you found the bite it could disappear in a tide change.
All that started to change in 2011 when local Marlin fisherman and respected conservationist Paul Tudor Jones installed the first Costa Rican FAD on the Papa Bank 60 miles offshore Golfito. Its impact was immediate as for the first time a consistent honeypot was created that could be returned to day after day and the Marlin would be in residence. That June we had our most productive day when we released 17 Marlin (15 Blues and 2 Blacks). Before long the word got out and other FAD’s started to appear at various seamounts in the area. Today over a dozen FAD’s have been installed. Now instead of searching out a productive seamount boats travel from FAD to FAD looking for a “flagged” (operating) device. A local business has even developed with people selling hot “numbers” (GPS co-ordinates) on a daily basis. The other change is now knowledgeable Marlin fisherman from around the world are descending on the fishery. Word of Capt. Pete Ray’s record 1000 Blue and Black Marlin releases in 189 fishing days (2014/2015) has gone viral. Yet even that record is currently being attacked by the Hampl father and son’s team attempting to reach 1000 in 100 days. The once slow “offseason” is now a thriving new market for larger sport fishing boats able to make the deep offshore run and overnight.
Avid FLY fisherman targeting Marlin are the newest entrants as “shots” are almost a guarantee.
Other ports in Costa Rica and Pacific Central America are famous for their sailfish bites but when you are ready to up your game visit Golfito and go Marlin fishing.