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Maps of Costa Rica Costa Rica Sportfishing & Travel PARROT BAY VILLAGE

Explore Costa Rica's Osa Peninsula

Parrot Bay
Explore Costa Rica's Osa Peninsula
Jan 4, 2007 issue of Marlin Magazine
By Charlie Levine

With perfect conditions, my hubris swelled, and I ended up placing a friendly wager with my fishing buddy, John Frazier. We had arrived in Puerto Jimenez, Costa Rica, two days earlier and caught a half-dozen sailfish on our first outing. On our second day of fishing, Frazier was scheduled to fly-fish on one of Parrot Bay's 30-foot Sea Vee center consoles, and I would fish conventional tackle on a sister boat. We each had our own captain and crew, but the odds were stacked in my favor. Frazier, an expert fly-fisherman with years of experience catching snook, tarpon and redfish, had never targeted billfish with the long wand. I, on the other hand, got to use some very familiar 20-pound conventional tackle. How could I lose?

Our breakfast conversation that morning went something like this: "Man, you ready to land your first sail on the fly?"

"You know it."

"Feeling confident?"

"I guess so. The mates gave me a quick lesson last night while you where bragging about how badly you were going to out-fish me today."

"I bet I out-fish you at least two to one."

"OK, you're on."

The Perfect Bite
We set out our spread of teasers for some pitch-baiting about 15 miles off of Matapalo Rock. The crews of the various lodges in the Golfito and Puerto Jimenez region use Matapalo as their waypoint. The large rock sits just off the point and marks the entrance to Golfo Dulce.

Before heading offshore, we filled the baitwell with a nice supply of blue runners and threadfin herring. After an hour run from Parrot Bay, Capt. Darren McClave eased back on the throttles, and we set out four teasers a skirted ballyhoo in each outrigger and ballyhoo-and-bird combos on the shorts. We ran one horse ballyhoo way back off the shotgun should a
dorado or marlin decide to crash the party.

About a quarter-mile off our starboard side, Capt. Cory Craig set out his fly-fishing spread for Frazier. They ran three teasers, leaving one of the 'riggers up to give Frazier plenty of room to make a cast.

We trolled for about an hour and hadn't seen a single sailfish when the radio crackled to life.

"John just made a cast to a sailfish," Craig said. McClave looked at me and picked up the mic.

"Did he hook it?"


The sailfish fought deep, putting Frazier and his flimsy 12-weight rod to the test. It took him a good 35 minutes to inch the 90-pound fish up to the surface. When he got a glimpse of the tired, all-jumped-out sail, the look on his face quickly transformed from pain to pleasure.

"A bit different from a tarpon, aye, Johnny?" I yelled. He smiled and took one last look at the fish before Craig released it.

With some ground to make up, McClave and I quickly got back into the groove. I watched the baits for another two hours or so, ready to pitch a livey at a moment's notice. Then the damn radio crackled again: "John is hooked up." McClave and I looked at each other, suspecting beginner's luck. "You might want to come over here it's a blue marlin!" Craig said. That's when our jaws hit the deck.

Frazier made two casts that day and caught both fish a sail and an estimated 150-pound blue marlin on a 12-weight! And, he retrieved his fly both times. We didn't raise a single fish (it even happens in the world's best sailfish spots). The only consolation was throwing Frazier in the water when we got back to the pier.[pagebreak]

A Winter Bite
After several years running a research boat and various sport-fishing operations up and down the East Coast, Capt. Darren McClave and his wife Katie moved to Puerto Jimenez full time in 2001 to manage Parrot Bay. They have since built up a large clientele of avid anglers by putting them on fish and providing world-class amenities.

The sailfish action heats up in December and lasts until April. "Mid-January to April is high time for sailfish and marlin," McClave says. "We generally troll teasers and pitch baits, but we try to accommodate the guests and fish however they want. On a banner day, we'll raise at least 25 sails."

In December, crews also encounter a strong yellow-fin bite. "Whenever we find a school of spotted porpoises, we change gears," McClave says. "We'll make one pass by the school with ballyhoo or jet heads. If that doesn't get a bite, we drop down a live bait." These tuna regularly beat the 200-pound mark.

You might want to take at least a half-day to cast live baits into the surf for roosterfish as well. The waters of Golfo Dulce and Cabo Matapalo produce some of Costa Rica's hottest roosterfish action.

Clean and Classy
Parrot Bay's accommodations suit anglers perfectly. Situated on the shore of Golfo Dulce, the grounds back up to one of the most biologically diverse rainforests on the planet. Scarlet macaws hang out all over the property, and you can typically find iguanas, monkeys and even salt-water crocodiles close by.

After arriving back at the lodge, sweaty and sun-baked from a long day of fishing, anglers can grab some shade and a cold drink at the open-air bar. You don't need to wash up and change for dinner, but if you want to, you can head to your air-conditioned cabin for a well-deserved shower.

Guests can choose from one of seven private cabinas or two houses for larger groups. The cabins are spaced about the lodge with pathways through botanical gardens that make the resort feel more like a home than a hotel. You are far enough from town to feel close to nature, but close enough to walk into town should you want to check out the local watering hole. In many ways, Parrot Bay is a perfect compromise between nature and civilization. You'll know you're in a foreign country, but you won't feel too detached from home.

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