Update from Osa Eden #11

Whereas Katie and I had a wonderful 3 week stint back in The States, it was nice go get back to Osa Eden last week.  This week we entertained Sarah Kirby and her dad John (who is a true expert on the bird populations of North and Central America).

I made sure to mention to Sarah that the most consistent thing to count on here on the Osa Peninsula, is to expect to see or experience something you’ve never seen before.  This categorically includes the rainforest scenery, geology, ocean, people, lifestyle/culture, wildlife (birds, reptiles, amphibians, mammals, fish etc.) or weather.  Well, it didn’t take long for that statement to prove true when in the first 48 hours we experienced the unexpected.

Day one was a birding expedition that covered most of the southern Osa Peninsula.  We took in the entire experience from the remote rainforest to the bone-dry grazing fields, from the mountain ridges to the rivers and the Osa Gulf to the Pacific ocean.  See photos.

Day two was a combination of inshore and off-shore fishing with Captain Cory that was truly special.  We thought that experiencing a massive bait ball explosion by three species of Pacific Dolphin may be considered the highlight of the day but it was nothing compared to what followed over the next few hours.

We immediately hooked into a very large Yellowfin Tuna (60+ pounds), that allowed Katie and Sarah to “pioneer” a new technique in fighting monster fish… The “Tag Team.”  This consisted of Sarah – doing everything she could to hold on to the rod with both hands and Katie holding the rod with one hand while simultaneously cranking the reel with the other.  Some limited progress in reeling in the fish was actually achieved in spite of the continuous laughing fits.

This tag team – (aka the leveraged tug of war) went on for about 30 minutes until the fish finally broke under the relentless pressure.  OK, the truth is that I had to grab the rod and crank in the fish for the last 10 minutes because the girl’s arms – legs and backs were completely toast.  Captain Cory was thoroughly entertained as this new technique was clearly a first on his boat.  As a team effort (Cory hooking the fish followed by the girls “tag Team,” followed by the hard-core crank) it was a special fish to land and by far the largest that John had ever seen.  See photos.

If that wasn’t the highlight of the day, on the next accurate casting attempt in front of the Tuna school I managed to hook a true monster.  Throwing my topwater popper from my medium weight St. Croix spinning rod into the middle of the bait ball, I hooked what clearly ended up being the equivalent of a freight train.

Initially, as I saw a mid-sized tuna leap out of the water, I thought that the fish on the end of my line was in the 20 pound class until it made a screaming run – ripping off 50 yards of line in just a few seconds.  Next the fish sounded deep and I realized after trying to slow it down that it may be a little bit bigger than we all initially thought.  If fact – a whole lot bigger.

I spent the next 60 minutes engaged in one of the toughest physical and mental battles I’ve ever had.  As Cory said to me repeatedly … “that’s what happens with you bring a knife to a gun fight,” AND “This is what you said you wanted!”  The spinning rod I brought onto the boat was clearly no match for the sheer size, weight, power and endurance of what turned out to be an 82 pound Yellowfin.  The only way I could break the fish and raise it up from the 90 foot thermocline it was locked into was to eventually “straight line” the rod, crank the reel and hope that the 50 pound line didn’t break or that the hooks in the 3 inch topwater popper would not pull out.

I was completely drenched in sweat as we brought the fish to the boat and set the Gaft.  As Cory wrestled the beast into the boat, it was apparent that I only had one hook out of 6 on the topwater plug that was actually secured into the lower jaw of the fish.  How that one small-single part of the treble hook held secure, on a fish of that size after that hour-long battle, we have no idea.  In hindsight, I should not have been able to land that fish (which exceeded my PR by 30 pounds), under those circumstances.  See photos.

So you might think that would end up being the best (most unusual) part of the day but it doesn’t come close to what we witnessed about 2 hours later.

We were now fishing very close to the Western Osa Peninsula (Pacific Coast) for a nice Rooster fish (which Sarah managed to catch), and we saw something unusual in the distance.  We initially thought it might be a dead whale but as we got closer, we then thought it might be a partially submerged boat or a large pontoon from a sea plane.  Turns out it was a “homemade” submarine that evidently had two motors, a single cockpit for the “captain” (aka DRUG SMUGGLER), a periscope and a large internal compartment for contraband (most likely Cocaine).  Our hypothesis is that it was navigated up from Columbia, past Panama to just outside Puerto Jimenez where it must have rendezvoused with another vessel under the cover of darkness to transfer the contents.  The smugglers must have believed that they sunk the vessel after the transfer but it managed to stay afloat and was under surveillance by the US Coast Guard.  As we arrived to check out the vessel, a Coast Guard Cutter appeared out of nowhere to see if we were somehow related to the incident.  They did a high speed drive by of Cory’s boat and with one close look at us (especially John who at 82 was wearing his West Point baseball cap), they knew the “the Gringo’s” were innocent of any wrongdoing.

You might think It would be hard to top the last 48 hours but this morning we were treated to an unprecedented number of birds at sunrise and a  troupe of Squirrel monkeys that put on a gymnastic display – leaping from tree top to tree top in the Rainforest canopy.

More to follow and plan your trips.

T.O.

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