04/09/2012 @ 11:27 PM
Contributed by: Larry
Richard, Iowa Sportsman, April 2012
As you long standing members well know, I have a very understanding,
long suffering sportsman's wife. This winter I opted to take her
someplace warm to compensate for my having filled one of my "someday I'm
gonna" dreams by hunting a Dall Sheep. Being the guy I am, however, I
requested that there be a couple of days of fishing which I might do or
we could share in the process. Hearing no objections, I did some
research on places warm, with some chances to fill another slot in the
list.. a tarpon.
of my earliest memories of reading sporting literature are those of
Capt. Stu Apte catching tarpon. As I fill those someday I'm gonna
dreams, I still recall those stories and photos. My research (which I
did on line, amazing myself), I found several, and queried 4. 3 were in
Florida, one in Costa Rica. We opted for the more adventuresome,
probably less crowed, international trip.
We did do some touristy things first, and there are lots of them to
choose from. Zip lining and aerial bridges we passed on, but saw a lot
of neat stuff. We were disappointed that volcano Arenal had stopped
erupting. But enough of that, this is a sporting site, not a travel
site. After a difficult foggy night, hairpin curve, slick road trip
across the mountains we made our way to Tarponville, Manzanillo, Costa
citizens didn't know it by that name, but the policia were kind enough
to call the number provided to get the staff to meet us at the creek,
beyond which the lodge lay. Jim DeBerardinis they knew, just not his
business name. A retired college prof from Montana, he and his wife and
staff knew how to make us feel like family from the outset. A barefoot
crossing of the stream, and 200 yard hike with our gear had us in
comfortable style, surrounded by jungle, beach, the Caribbean Sea, and
fine wood structure. We ate fresh fruit from just beyond the confines,
in fact, a coconut that fell a mere 20 yards from the porch. No turista
here, we were told, and to this time, I've not proven them wrong.
Day one fishing with my guide, Mushe, and his son, made my arm ache
casting a heavy jig, but only a couple of short stikes were produced.
Jim caters to fly fishermen, but did not object to my spinning tackle.
Ann, his wife didn' care how, but wanted a jackfish for a meal, as did
Wilson the cook. We spent the day in a 17 foot boat, with a 40 HP motor
on the ocean, but I didn't feel uncomfortable.
I took a day off, and spent it seeing the local sights. We began early
on day 3. We could see tarpon rolling in near where the rollers broke
over, and being careful not to let any breakers occur behind us, we
slipped ever closer to where we could see the activity. A big fin and
tail rolled a few yards out, and I cast in front of it. One's first
encounter with the Silver King should come with more than 3 meters of
line out. The first hit I missed, but instinctively let the jig settle.
You've all seen fish flash at a bait right? Imagine a 5 foot flash! And
again I missed. I reeled up the slack, let the jig settle, just like I'd
missed a crappie and that fish hit right now. This time I stuck him. OUT
of the water he came, a mere 10 feet from the boat, threw the jig back
at me, and splashed down 2 feet from the boat, leaving me awstruck.
number two I was bound to hook deeper, and when he hit a few minutes
later, I laid the wood to him. And, as a result, broke the 25 pound
line. OUT of the water he came anyway, with my jig stuck firmly in the
corner of his mouth as he jumped twice, disconnected from the source of
his aggravation. l "Maybe not so hard next time, you tihink?" queried
Mushe, as he tied me a new bait. Fish 3 and 4 were one jump wonders.
Number 5 lasted two jumps a 30 yard run and into jump 3 before coming
unhooked. Mushe said I wasn't far from average, and I remembered Jim
telling me that he'd landed strike numb er 22. When number 6 lasted just
two jumps, I was ready for lunch. I told Jim that I wasn't sure what my
emotions were, but it seemed I'd never before had so much fun being
disappointed and unsuccessful.
As we arrived at the reef in front of the river that separates Panama
from Costa Rica that afternood, Mushe noted that the other boats were
out a bit furthure. "Maybe they go out for the afternoon" stated my
guide. "maybe not" says I as I hooked number 7. One jump, two, now a 50
yard run followed by jump 3 and I was still tied on. An hour later, and
several jumps, runs around the boat, under the boat, and lots of just
plain pulling, my tarpon came to boatside. I spent the hour talking
nicely to the fish about staying hooked and I'd make him a place in
history and let him go, and now that he was ours, we did so, somnewhere
between 80 and 100 pounds of siver king.
Fish 8 was one of a double header Mushe ( who was using a hand line) and
I hooked, and lost . Fish 9 staightened the big hook in the jig. Number
10 was a 3 jumper. Number 11 didn't jump, and was predicted to be a jack
by the guide, and 20 minutes later he was proven right. I had my fish
for the caribbean dish called "rundown"
We fished next morning, but breakers were 300 yards further out, and
fish nowhere to be found. We left 15 minutes too late, and got soaked in
a rainstorm. I used my last half day the next morning, and it was plain
the weather had negatively affected the fish. We saw a few roll, but
only a couple light hits. I quit fishing to continue as a tourist and
husband, fine with that, and fulfilled with memories of another bucket
list spot filled. I leflt my spinning gear with the cook and manager for
their use, and safe keeping for if/when I come back. Or maybe I'll try
the fly rod thing, now that I have one under my belt.