October is historically the last month but also rainiest month here in Costa Rica; which is like what leads to it being the slowest month for tourism here as well. It really is the month the charter operators use focus on repairs, maintenance, and improvements for the upcoming season.
This year, we pulled the EPIC for a couple weeks at the Yard at Marina Pez Vela Quepos, went through the tackle, electronics safety gear, running gear - shafts, props, struts seal and bearings to make sure she still purrs. We sand the bottom and apply bottom paint, and sanded and repainted the hull to make her shine again with awl grip Ice Blue, she came out really nice.
Fortunately we did get some fishing in as well in the first week and last week.
The toughest part of fishing October is the weather, it is fishable but sometimes weather dictates where you can go what you can do. There is rain lots of days, but fortunately, this time of year we don't see much if any lighting. But rain does block RADAR from seeing small targets like birds on porpoises (where you find tunas) or even other boats in the distance.
Lots of logs and debris floating around on the way in and the way out - most near shore are freshly washed out of the creeks and streams and not holding much, but you do need to watch out for them as it doesn't take much to bend a prop if you hit one, and the worst ones are heavy waterlogged pieces of wood floating just below the surface and difficult to see. But Find a good Log further offshore, and it can hold boat like small yellowfins tunas, bonitos, blue runners; and is likely to have larger predatory fish nearby, like marlin, sails and mahi.
Also very few boats go fishing this time of year, most days there are just 4 or 5 of us out there with a lot of water to cover to find the fish or even clean blue water.
For the fishing - The sailfish numbers were spotty and low throughout the month as to be expected. Might not see one, but you probably see 1 or 2 a day on average maybe 5 or 6 on a good day, especially if you stayed and work the area where you got a couple bites. The sailfish numbers should begin picking up here throughout November and be good by December and world-class by mid-January.
Marlin - also a little spotty, but almost every day one or 2 of the few boats fishing would catch one. There have been mostly blues around, but coming up here in November we typically get a good run every year of blues and striped marlin on a daily basis.
Yellowfin Tuna - has remained very good to excellent. There have been some out there every day if you can find them, and usually not hard to catch when you do at least for a while before a bunch of boats show up and start driving over them. They are not random bites, they travel in schools with pods of spinner dolphins so finding the porpoises is a must.
It helps to have clear weather so you can find birds on RADAR (which can mark birds 4 or 5 miles away - if you know how to use it) and makes it easier to see them in the distance (good eyes can only see birds working the water about a mile away in clear conditions). Having a several boats cooperating by VHF radio looking for them also helps as there is a bunch of water to cover some days. But the tradeoff is when you do locate them, it is better to have a few boats with knowledgeable captain working the school. often once the location is put out over the radio you have a bunch of goons come running in, recklessly driving over and through the pod of porpoises (they don't like it) and breaking them up and pushing them and the tunas down shutting off the bite.
Fortunately we have had yellowfin tunas around almost daily for over a year now as Costa Rica put a legal border to the tuna purse siener factory ships, pushing them out 45 miles. It seems to have made a difference though I would have like them to be pushed out over 100. Hopefully the yellowfins will continue to be plentiful year round as the have been. We have even been catching small ones 10-20 lbs. on inshore reefs, and just in the past week I have had great success catching lots of them on a small rock just about 5 miles from the Marina, just 2 miles off land. They have been great fun on fly and light tackle spinning gear. Not sure how long they will stay but it would be awesome if they do. So far, I am the only one that knows the spot.
Mahi-Mahi/Dorado - they usually show up in September but have been a little slow. Last year we had very dismal showing of them whereas October & November is usually peak time for them where catch 10-20 good sized gaffers (15-40 lbs.) a day. It's usually pretty easy - often not far from shore on color changes and trash lines.
We have seen a few throughout October but not too many though this past week (first week of November) the numbers do seem to be improving though most have been offshore on logs, not close to shore on color changes. We will have to see what happens as the clear water pushes closer in to shore throughout November.
Inshore - has been good throughout October. We have had good days mixing it up targeting different species: roosterfish, snappers, amberjacks, mackerels, grouper even small yellowfin tunas. Some of the slow days offshore we even saved the day by running inshore and dropping live baits around the reefs.
One neat experience this month was we spent most of the day trying to live bait for a black marlin around one of our inshore rocks. Pulling large live 5 pound bonitos around on the surface. We did not see and black marlin that day, but did land a 70 pound Cubera snapper that came up and crashed the bait on the surface. You never know what you will catch when fishing big live bonitos, but you can sure it will be pretty cool.
Inshore should remain good and even improve over next few months, but to be honest, you have to work at it. It is actually more difficult to consistently be successful than offshore. Not many boats here are good at it or correctly outfitted for inshore, or do it enough to know what is going on.
Too many people kill the trophy fish, like large cubera snappers and broomtail groupers or even rare goliath groupers when they catch them. These species are long lived and slow growing and do not get replaced quickly or easily. I personally encourage tagging and releasing trophy snappers and groupers to be caught again and again. I have seen the constant decline in population and average size here over past several years.
There are better species to target for meat that live shorter lives and are more plentiful - or you can go offshore and fill your cooler with tuna. Killing trophy breeders only makes fishing harder and more difficult in the long run. Offshore fishing here is easy to at least catch something, especially through the next several months (high season December-April) a monkey can catch a couple, any day, where a good crew can catch you a lot.
We have to release all sailfish and marlin so there are plenty to be caught, the same fish get over and over. No shortages in the population makes easy fishing and enjoyable trips. The more fish that get released, the more fish there are to catch.
EPIC Sportfishing Costa Rica
USA call: 561-459-5355
CR call: 011-506-8718-2357