Costa Rica Outdoors, vol. 7 no. 1, Jan-Feb 2002, pp14-16:
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"The southern Caribbean coast of Costa Rica's Limon province is one of
the nation's most beautiful regions, with magnificent beaches, lush jungles,
quiet rivers, marvelously friendly people - most of whom speak English - and
an abundance of tropical birds, monkeys and other wildlife.
Until now, however, the only way you could fish the regions was from shore or by hunting around for one of the locals with a panga.
Some of my first fishing trips upon moving to Costa Rica nearly 20 years ago - my budget being what it was in those days - were in this region, working the surf at the mouth of the Estrella River and camping overnight in my battered old Volkswagen van.
I caught a bunch of jack crevalle from the beach, an occasional small snook, and surprised the heck out of myself one morning when I got a couple of jumps out of a tarpon just a few yards from shore. Still, back then you couldn't really consider the region a prime tarpon destination."
All that may well change with the opening of Jim Diberardinisí new Manzanillo Tarpon Expeditions, which I visited in late November with fishing buddy Doug Kralik.
It was a fast overnight trip, with just one day on the water, and certainly not during the prime season. We found the jacks plentiful, and as we ran south in the 26-foot panga could see an occasional tarpon rolling just outside the mouth of the Sixaola River, which forms the boundary between Costa Rica and Panama.
Krulik and DiBerardinis managed to jump a couple of tarpon on flyrods, while I tried to get a photo or two. Thatís about par for me, and the locals swear they often have more than 20 a day in the air and have boated several estimated at 130 pounds and a goliath that would have gone 180 pounds.
DiBerardinis, a fly fishing fanatic retired from Montana State University, has been scoping out the possibilities of a sport fishing operation on the southern Caribbean coast of Costa Rica for the past several years. He now divides his time between Montana and Costa Rica, where he will be fishing Manzanillo with clients during peak tarpon season from January to [May] 15 and [during September and October].
He and his wife Ann live in a unique home sculptured into a massive reef and tucked into a dense tropical jungle just south of the tiny seaside town of Gandoca in the Manzanillo-Gandoca National Wildlife Refuge, accessible only by wading or fording a shallow river.
Ann is the director of the Talamanca Dolphin Foundation, and spends much of her time on the water doing research. She has even named many of the resident aquatic mammals, and arranges dolphin and nature tours, scuba diving, snorkeling and other activities.
Dominos are a regional pastime among the predominantly black population of the Caribbean. We were there during a biannual tournament. Dozens of Panamanians came in by boat for the animated all-night tourney, punctuated by groans from the losers and victory cries from the winners, breaking only for the immense feast of native dishes that had been brewing in the kitchen throughout the day.
Most everyone here speaks English, albeit with a Calypso accent, and itís hard to bear the hospitality.
Plenty of bars and eateries offer great nightlife and food, particularly fresh fish, shrimp and lobster. Manzanillo Tarpon Expedition fishermen stay at the elegant Hotel La Suerre, with air-conditioning, a pool and a patio restaurant.
Anglers Fish two or three plus a guide to the 26- to 30-foot outboard skiffs. DiBerardinis recommends a stiff conventional or spinning outfit spooled with at least 200 yards of 20-foot line, and an 11-, 12- or 13-weight fly rod with 250-350 yards of backing. Jim ties flies for the area and provides the appropriate shock tippets.
Culturally, Costa Ricaís Caribbean coast is markedly different from the rest of
the country. Handicrafts abound and dominoes area regional pastime of the
predominantly English-speaking black population.
He can provide tackle if you donít bring your own. Rate for fishing is 350
per day, including guide, boat, food and lodging.
Public and private shuttle bus service is available for the four-hour drive from the capital city of San Jose, or you can arrange a van a driver or rent a car.
You will likely need at least one hotel night in San Jose, which of coarse can be arranged through Costa Rica Outdoors Travel Service.
You can also make fishing and San Jose Hotel reservations through Costa Rica Outdoors.
DiBerardinisí email is email@example.com, or you can e-mail Costa Rica Outdoors at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can call our Costa Rica office toll-free from the united states and Canada at (1-800) 308-3394.