It was an intense three-day fishing expedition for Blair Karasin and I as we explored the entire diversity of angling, just offshore of the Osa Peninsula.
Day one: We hunted a few miles off shore for Marlin early but were unsuccessful and around mid-morning we heard a report of a massive Yellowfin Tuna school further offshore about 33 miles out. We took off and after about an hour of travel, we were surrounded by an immense school of spinner dolphin that were gorging on a school of baitfish. Just under the dolphin and bait were the Yellowfin that ranged in size from 40 to 60 pounds.
Hooking, fighting and ultimately landing multiple 40+ pound tuna can take a physical and mental toll on the fittest of anglers. Each fish can take 30 minutes or more to land with even the heaviest of gear. It taxes your legs, hips, back, shoulders and arms to the degree of total lactic acid fatigue. What’s worse with these monster torpedoes is that once the fish reach a specific depth thermocline during the fight, they tend to hunker down there and refuse to come to the surface. Just lifting and cranking them up from 100 Ft. down is the worse part of the battle. We ultimately landed 10 (some on multiple hook-ups) and by mid-afternoon, it was time to call it a day and head back to port and recover for day 2. It took Cory most of the 90-minute return trip just to gut and filet all the fish to squeeze them into the overflowing cooler.
Day two: We decided to hunt for Snook about 100 Ft off the western coast and whereas the fishing was spotty again in the AM, we got a radio report that there was another school of Yellowfin Tuna – this time about 7 miles offshore. We took off and in about 20 minutes, we were once again in the middle of a massive bait school surrounded by spinner dolphin and tuna. This time the Yellowfin were in the 20 to 30-pound range and we decided to “go light” and attempt to bring them in on spinning gear. Not only was that challenging but is was also costly as I shattered my new St. Croix rod on just my second fish (for the record, I somehow managed to land a 30 pounder with my rod in 5 pieces). Blair hooked a 35 pounder on an extremely light rod/reel setup and it ultimately took both of us tag teaming the fish to get it into the boat. Between Blair, Cory and I, we landed about 25 of these fish before once again called it a day.
Day three: The game plan was to stay inshore and hunt for Monster Rooster fish and Cubera Snapper. NO MORE TUNA – PLEASE!
Tosh Talbot (Cory’s son) joined us for the final day as he was attempting to land some fish on his trusty handline. We began fishing for Monster Roosterfish on the Motapolo point and it didn’t take long for Blair and I to simultaneously hook up on twin roosters in the 40 pound class. Mine managed to pull the hook as it circled the boat but Blair managed to land his and it was a new PR for him in the 40 pound class.
For the next several hours, we then moved around from reef to reef hunting the elusive Cubera Snapper and we managed to land several small ones that were under 10 pounds. We also landed a few large Jacks (horse eye and Crevalle), Mahi, needlefish and a new species of Snapper for me (the Rock Snapper), that displays incredible brown, yellow and white color bands. We have now managed to catch 34 different species of Game Fish here in the Gulf.
The highlight of the trip was about to begin when Tosh managed to hook an extremely large fish on his hand line. When it took the free swimming live bait (about 200 feet from the boat) we saw it leap about 6 feet out of the water and realized that it was a monster Roosterfish. For the next hour, we were treated to Tosh’s skill as an angler as he managed to fight this beast with nothing more than what amounted to “a large spool of mono.” It came close to the boat about 5 times before it would rip off another run of maybe 50 yards at a time. It was a pleasure to watch Tosh essentially use his forearm and index finger skillfully as if it were a fishing rod – flexing with each headshake of the fish. The 40 pound mono was also extremely “stretchy” and with the sheer power of the fish combined with the distance away from the boat, he was able to constantly adjust to the forceful runs the fish would make as it dove, ran and circled the boat.
Tosh finally managed to wear out the Rooster (as well as his hands) and as Cory and he lifted it into the boat, we all realized that we had just witnessed something REALLY SPECIAL. I’m not sure if this catch would qualify as a “category record” with the IGFA but I will check with Jack Vitek to see if Tosh can receive some recognition. Just another example of how unique this fishery is where every time you go out on the water – something special is likely to happen.
More to follow and enjoy the pictures.
PS: It took me an additional 3 hours each night to process, trim, create tuna steaks and vacuum seal the filets to completely fill the freezers. Looks like Tuna will be on the menu every night for the next month.