Publication: BOAT US Magazine.
off Costa Ricas Pacific Coast, the experienced
anglers of Ladies Lets Go Fishings
first-ever Central American trip were beginning to get
a bit impatient. The lull aboard Moondancer, one of
Parrot Bay Resorts 29-foot sportfishing boats,
had lasted nearly an hour, an unusually long time considering
how good the fishing had been for the previous few days.
Captain Steve Petras and mate Alex were doing all they
could to raise the fish but it seemed they just werent
not billfishing off the Pacific Coast of the Osa Peninsula,
one of the Ladies Lets Go Fishing
anglers, Jenny Laws, cools off during a hike into the
rain forest at Matapalo.
the only greenhorn aboard, I wasnt too concerned
and thought this would be a good time to grab a snack.
Opening the hatch below the helm seat, I took out a
banana I had packed for the trip. When I did, I noticed
the horror in Captain Steves eyes and immediately
the three real lady anglers aboard rose
in chorus: You brought a banana aboard?
Captain Steve was much too polite to chastise a guest
but later admitted, I smelled it the minute you
opened the hatch.
one had forewarned me of the superstition about bananas
being bad luck aboard fishing boats. Not wanting to
be responsible for having marred my first trip out,
I made a brief plea for forgiveness to the gods of sportfishing
and ceremoniously tossed the banana into the sea. Not
10 seconds later, Steve was shouting that a sailfish
had hit our teaser and seconds later we were hooked
up. The action never stopped the rest of the day, and
if you think this is just another fish story, Ive
got it all on videotape.
got better after the banana was gone from our boat,
a custom center console Sea Vee. The Parrot Bay Village
resort that hosted the 12 of us from Ladies Lets
Go Fishing has two such boats, the other one captained
by Darren McClave, who also manages the resort with
his wife, Katie. All of the women except me had taken
founder Betty Baumans standard two-day saltwater
sportfishing seminar and were raring to get their first
majestic and beautiful fish, sails are a great leaping
and fighting fish and it did not take me long to understand
the thrill in tracking down and trying to tangle with
one of these illusive and colorful creatures. By contrast,
U.S. Atlantic Coast anglers might try all day for a
sailfish and be thrilled to hook one or two.
Adler from Miami, FL, had come to Costa Rica to catch
her first sailfish. She caught eight sailfish her first
day out, having never before caught one in South Florida
or the Bahamas. There were moments, also captured on
video, where we had doubleheaders two on the
lines at once. I had another strike in which a loose
sailfish decided to swim along for fun and leap over
the one I was fighting. I wasnt sure which one
was on my 60-lb. test line.
told, in four days of fishing in two boats, our group
of 12 released a total of 76 Pacific sailfish, from
80 to 110 pounds, and 22 yellowfin tuna from 10 to 15
as they say in real estate, is everything and we had
obviously come to the right place to fish. Parrot Bay
Village is in Puerto Jimenez in the heart of the Osa
Peninsula, the southernmost region of Costa Rica. The
town, and our resort, is on the Golfo Dulce, a 100-mile-long
arm of the Pacific surrounded on all sides by lowland
and mountainous rain forests, all protected nature reserves
including the 100,000-acre Corcavado National Park.
With nine-foot tides, the gulf drops to 800 feet deep
before flowing out to the midnight blue Pacific where
depths drop off to more than 2,000 feet. On our trips
offshore, the Pacific was truly placid; Ive seen
worse chop on the Chesapeake Bay.
each day of fishing, we headed out to where the Golfo
Dulce meets the Pacific, and whether its due to
the currents at the intersection of the two waters or
the lack of overfishing, the abundance of sea life was
spectacular. As one person said, Reality has exceeded
fantasy, in this beautiful area.
were usually only six miles offshore when we were reeling
in the sailfish and tuna (marlin and dorado had not
been around lately, according to our guides) and we
could see the coast of Panama to the south. Sea turtles
frequent the area and one of our boats was surprised
by a breeching humpback whale putting on a show at the
entrance to the gulf.
treat was a visit by hundreds of spinner dolphins that
Capt. Steve spotted with his razor-sharp eyes before
any of us could see anything. Knowing they swim with
the tuna, he headed our boat to them until we were surrounded
by churning waters and dolphins swimming alongside,
thumping the hull as they played with us and leaping
in the air in triple spins.
to form, the tuna were there and I was able to reel
in the first about a 12- lb. football
which came back to Parrot Bay as sushi for everyone
at the Happy Hour video replays. All of the sailfish
were released, as were the roosterfish caught by the
fishing is also a hit in Golfo Dulce and one boat of
LLGF women spent the day in the gulf rather than offshore
and caught bonito, sierra mackerel, African pompano,
yellow tails and, after an hours fight, a stingray.
Baumans husband, Chuck Baldwin released his first
sailfish caught on a flyfishing rod with 30-lb. test.
Jimenez is a small village and its remoteness is what
makes a trip to Osa Peninsula unlike any standard vacation.
You fly a small plane to get in and out from the Costa
Rican capital, San Jose, about an hours flight.
The town is the ideal jumping off point to visit the
surrounding rain forests. Either day trips or longer
camping treks are easily arranged by a host of professional
guides. You can hike trails into the rain forest or
take horseback rides, or even stay overnight at even
more remote campsites that offer tent-style cabins up
on platforms. Cabo Matapalo, at the tip of the peninsula,
draws surfers to its famous right point breaks.
National Park takes up most of this peninsula and is
the largest expanse left in Central America of virgin
lowland rain forest. Scientists, naturalists and eco-tourists
come to this region from all over to study the 367 species
of birds, 140 species of mammals, 500 different trees,
plus scores of reptiles and butterflies that live in
the untouched forests from the giant anteater
and tapirs to home to jaguars, ocelots and margays.
The area is essentially one big National Geographic
day-treks we saw three different types of monkeys and
even heard the elusive howler monkeys roaring from afar.
The trees were alive with toucans, scarlet macaws, hawks,
a baby boa constrictor sleeping on a branch just off
the beach at Matapalo, and a three-toed sloth high in
a tree. From Puerto Jimenez, a variety of kayak trips
take visitors out to see the dolphins in the gulf or
upstream into the mangrove jungles to spot birds and
caimans, crocodiles that get no larger than alligators,
that reside in the area.
were caimans in the marshes just behind our cabinas
in Parrot Bay and one evening our guide, Carlos, led
us through the dark to see them come out to feed. He
had a bag of scraps from the kitchen, which quickly
drew some four- or five-foot-long crocs to the shoreline
where they snapped them up. As we directed our flashlights
out into the pond, dozens of eyes were peering back
at us from the water, an eerie sight indeed.
people to whom no activity seems extreme, there is rappelling
down one of the rain forest waterfalls and canopy
tours in which guides sling you up to the treetops on
a series of lines and you are swung from tree to tree
to get the birds eye view.
friends at home raised an eyebrow when I said I was
traveling to Costa Rica, but this nation, about the
size of Vermont and New Hampshire together, has been
a stable democracy for over half a century, has no standing
army, and decided in the 1940s to devote its resources
to providing national health care and education for
its people. It has one of the highest literacy rates
in the world and the gracious Ticos (as Costa Ricans
refer to themselves) like Americans, and many speak
English. Crocodiles notwithstanding, the biggest threat
to visitors is sunburn Osa Peninsula is only
8 degrees above the equator and while pleasantly hot,
80s in the day and 70s at night, sunburn, especially
while fishing, requires major doses of high-SPF sunscreen.
is ridiculously cheap and a fine dinner of fresh fish,
veggies, salad or soup, and dessert or luscious fresh
fruit might cost about $10. The U.S. dollar is strong
there, worth about 400 colones, the Costa Rican currency.There
is also a lot to be said for a nation that has set aside
over 25% of its land as national parks.
number of U.S. cities now offer direct flights to the
inland capital San Jose, a city of about 1 million.
The airport is quite modern, nicer than some Ive
been to in the U.S., and there seem to be Americans
living in the country just about anywhere, including
those expecting a chain hotel type of experience might
not go for an outpost like Puerto Jimenez, not having
phones or televisions in our rooms at Parrot Bay was
fine with me.
in the jungle was all part of the experience and one
night a possum-type creature chewed one of the power
lines and we were plunged into darkness during dinner.
Fortuitiously, Betty Baumann had asked the staff if
we could have a bonfire on the beach that night so the
timing of the power outage was perfect. We grabbed our
drinks and took the party out to the beach to sit by
a roaring fire beneath a pitch black sky and more stars
than I could take in at one sitting.
expects Ladies Lets Go Fishing to
make Costa Rica an annual event, especially since this
outing sold out almost immediately.
was better than I could have imagined, said Sandy
Breda, an accountant from Winston-Salem, NC, who came
on this trip on her own. It was perfect.
By Elaine Dickinson
more information, see www.ladiesletsgofishing com, ParrotBayVillage.com
or inquire about travel opportunities with BoatU.S Travel
and Yacht Charters at 800-477-4427.
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