The first annual gamefish excursion was a success. Trent, Giovanni, Greg, David and I met up with Jay Ruby at the Atlanta airport after Trent and I had a hard night drinking and no sleep. Our flight arrived at San Jose a little after 12 noon local time, which is in the Central Time Zone, but not too bothered about all that Daylight Savings nonsense. With directions to our hotel drawn in pink highlighter on a McDonald's placemat map of Costa Rica, we set out from the car rental agency in a Hyundai Galloper II (Yup, it was turbocharged) to look for our hotel, the El Presidente.
Approximately two-and-a-half hours later, we parked the Galloper and decided to walk around looking for it. The local policia did not agree with the highlighter directions and because the one way street situation in San Jose is worse than downtown Alexandria, it did not appear that we would actually be able to drive to the hotel. As it turned out, the highlighter directions were correct as to the location, just not how to get there.
The El Presidente is a nice hotel and Genifer, who works in the bar, did a fine job of keeping up with our drink orders on Friday night. A few of the more adventurous members of our expedition made a memorable excursion later on to sample some of the San Jose nightlife. The reports are cloudy, but apparently everyone had a good time.
View from the News Bar in the El Presidente
On Saturday morning, after a good night's sleep and free breakfast in El Presidente, we loaded up the Galloper (nicknamed the G II) and headed for Tamarindo. Five and a half hours later (due to the fact that the trucks hauling cement around drive real slowly in the mountains) we arrived in downtown Tamarindo. After stopping at a local drinking establishment, we headed over to the Cala Luna Hotel and moved into our Master Suite after being greeted with fresh fruit drinks that had everything but rum in them, an oversight that we shortly rectified with a stop at the local supermercado where Giovanni found to his pleasant surprise that he would not have to go without Jagermeister for the entire trip.
A word on the Cala Luna: Stay there if you are ever in Tamarindo. The master suites have massive living rooms equipped with a stereo and cable TV. The kitchens are fully equipped, they even had a cappucino machine. Each of the three rooms had a separate large bathroom with a large shower and, to top it all off, each master suite has its own pool. As a plus, though somewhat expensive, the restaurant is top notch and is on the opposite end of a large pool from the hotel bar.
Living area of our master suite at the Cala Luna
After confirming the fishing trip with a phone call and confirming the schedule for Sunday, we all headed out to see what the nightlife in Tamarindo had to offer. Its pretty much chock full of surfers and the more adventurous of the spring break crowd. Plenty of Imperial, Bavaria and other refreshments were readily available everywhere.
Sunday morning we loaded up the Galloper at 6:00 a.m and headed to the El Pescador where we were supposed to grab breakfast and meet up with the fishing guide. The Nicaraguan dish of Gallo Pinto (sort of a mix of refried beans, rice and onions) is called "Pinto" in Costa Rica and was available with various combinations of other breakfast stuff. And as a bonus, you get to watch the monkeys play in the trees nearby. Just don't stand directly underneath them.
Obviously male Monkey in tree above the El Pescador restaurant.
Sunday turned out to be a slow day fishing aboard the "Talking Fish," the 38' Topaz that Captain Randy Wilson took us out on. After only seeing one sailfish, we headed back into shallower water where everyone caught at least one fish. We ended up bringing back a yellowfin and a wahoo.
Wahoo caught on Sunday
Unlike the fishing trips in South Louisiana, when you go out on the Talking Fish, the beer, water, soft drinks, sandwiches, hard-boiled eggs, and dessert is supplied by the guide. Just sit back and wait for the fish to bite, and if they don't get drunk. Either way you are 3,500 miles from your office riding in a boat on the Pacific which is a shade of blue never seen in the Gulf of Mexico.
Leaving the Talking Fish on Sunday evening
The mate, Nathan, cleaned the wahoo and yellowfin and Captain Wilson recommended the Sunset Bar as a place to get the fish cooked. He was definitely right. We came back to the Sunset Bar at 7:30 p.m. to find our fish cooked perfectly and served with fresh fried potato chips, beans, rice, fresh salad and vegetable pears.
After a good night's sleep, we reconvened at the El Pescador for breakfast with the monkeys on Monday before another day of fishing. Not intent upon following the same pattern as the day before Captain Wilson decided to try for a few roosterfish early on. Though we got several bites, we could only land skipjack tuna.
Heading out for Day 2
Trent catching a skipjack
Heading out, watching the manta rays, flying fish and dolphin leap from the water, we could only hope for better success with the billfish. Three marlin had been caught in the same area the day before.
After a little trolling, the boat came alive when Captain Wilson spotted three sailfish from the tower. Trent hooked up the fish and Jay was ready with the fighting belt.
Sailfish On! (Notice the bloody water, this sailfish was hooked a little too well.)
One of the Leaps
It would be the only sailfish hook-up of the day. But it was certainly impressive, with leaps that must have taken the entire fish more than 8 feet above the water surface.
Another wahoo took the bait later but after a 10 minute fight, got off right at the boat.
Trent tries out the fighting chair on the way back in.
Giovanni dispels the vampire rumors, or could that be SPF 1000?
David waits for another hook-up
Greg watches Giovanni bring in a fish
After all the fishing on Monday, we were unable to bring back anything to take to the Sunset Bar for cooking. So we went anyway and had some of their excellent fare. It wasn't quite as good as the fish that we had caught the day before, but that was too difficult a standard to hold anyone to.
Tuesday saw a much quicker trip back to San Jose despite going uphill behind cement trucks again.
Group photo at the Iguana Surf Shop with the G II
My friend at the Iguana Surf Shop
Next year's trip looks like a Peacock Bass expedition to the Brazilian rainforest via Rio assuming that a reasonable length (time) trip can be arranged.
View from an "orinal" at a gas station on the way back to the airport
Sunset from Tamarindo Beach