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Bad Costa Rica Charter

Old 04-27-2012, 10:09 AM
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Ok, we all see the articles, pictures, and post about Costa Rican sportfishing.
So as many in this sport I get by, by working my ass off to put fuel in the boat and on my first vacation in 3 years I pay a lot of money to fish in Costa Rica.

Our group is my best friend, his wife, and my girlfriend. We are not big shots or anything just people that like to fish. We are staying in Nosara Costa Rica. After asking around we find out about Fishing Nosara. We talk to them and they are knowledgeable and everything looks like it is on the up and up...

While filling out the paperwork and paying CASH (our mistake) we inform and WRITE down that we want to go offshore for Marlin and if slow inshore for bottom fishing. The first sign that something is wrong is they have a tournament coming up and everyone of their boats are taken for practice but they recommend a boat the Aimee Marie a 32 Rampage express.

Keep in mind they recommended and took payment...

So we get to the boat it is a typical charter boat, beat to death, wires hanging out and in a general state of disrepair. I get it Costa Rica, blah blah blah.

So we are running out, excited when the captain stops 9 miles off even though the 40/40 is another 10 miles and then as all of the other boats pass us. He says "saw somthign on my sounder". Again keep in mind the sounder was stolen along with all of the electronics before the charter (we dont know when exactly).

Somehow we managed to raise some fish but it was like watching clowns in a circus. I mean we had horse ballyhoo and tackle that made the stuff int he back of the garage look new. As you could guess we didnt hook anything. The captain upon my inquisition says we are trolling out but for some reason the land is getting closer.

Then we are inshore with about 1.5hrs left on the charter. I am like OK bottom fishing, Well the captain has no Bottom Machine or plotter so we are basically heading in. At this point we threw away $800.

Now we get back and confront Fishing Nosara and they are sympathetic and offer a charter after the tournament. Again as you could guess we had to go home and pay for this whole fiasco. And at this point they mentioned they had problems with this boat and wont be using it but cannot return the money because it is already at the captain. So we said look we dont want a total refund just partial. As we only fished halfway. This is when I ge tthe whole well our offshore is 4 miles out... No offshore fishing is fishing where the fish are not where you save fuel.

In the end they offered a reduced next trip or a discount on a house rental. While this is great we are not going back. Offshore fishing is expensive, travelling is expensive. Next time if I travel and want to fish we will go to a real fishing destination and have a actual experience.

On a side note the exact same thing happened on a different boat (Cowboy) with a friend who ran a 61 Viking and runs boats in tournaments.

Moral of this story, charter fishing better fix itself or else people will stop doing it. Times are tough and while Wall Street is making money the rest of us save to fish.

Last edited by Canyonkeeper; 04-27-2012 at 10:52 AM.
Old 04-27-2012, 10:18 AM
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well put, sorry for the mishaps, my next fishing destination trip is going to be tropic star lodge, those guys are known by every fisherman in the world as a top world class operation. Its a shame they put you on a busted ass boat with no electronics, just a compass and a dream that captain had.
Old 04-27-2012, 10:27 AM
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It really is a shame. Was a great trip besides this. The surf was perfect, the house was great and the weather was perfect too. I have learned a lot. While I work as a mate on private boats and fish offshore out of NJ, people can be out to get you. I have a feeling with fuel prices like this there are a lot of stories like this.
Old 04-27-2012, 10:28 AM
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Sorry to hear about your bad trip, very unfortunate.

Out of curiosity, how'd you manage to bring your girlfriend and your wife?

Originally Posted by Canyonkeeper View Post
Our group is my best friend, his wife, my girlfriend and my wife.
Old 04-27-2012, 10:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Capt Dave View Post
Sorry to hear about your bad trip, very unfortunate.

Out of curiosity, how'd you manage to bring your girlfriend and your wife?
haha beat me to it, damn it!
Old 04-27-2012, 10:47 AM
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I have been seeing better reports in Panama. I have been to Los Suenos in Costa Rica and caught nothing but sailfish. I really wanted some nice size Tuna or possibly a Marlin. The facility is really nice but I think fishing looks better in Panama.

Last edited by Pipo6007; 04-30-2012 at 10:38 AM.
Old 04-27-2012, 10:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Capt Dave View Post
Sorry to hear about your bad trip, very unfortunate.

Out of curiosity, how'd you manage to bring your girlfriend and your wife?
Sorry about the trip, but pls opine on the girlfriend and wife?
Old 04-27-2012, 10:51 AM
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Haha. my bad. Meant to say my best friend, HIS wife, and my girlfriend. My girlfriend is a surgeon, I piss her off I will wake up missing parts.
Old 04-27-2012, 10:52 AM
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For the record I fixed it. LOL.
Old 04-27-2012, 10:57 AM
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I fished with them 2 times but on a smaller boat 20' mako with Capt Edwardo. He was great and we caught fish big dorado and 30 lb YFT non stop. I booked the 1st 5 hour trip thru Fishing Nosaro at 385$ for 5 hours but the capt said to book thru him directly for 250 for 5 hours. I was fishing alone so I chose the small boat. Tackle was Ok but thats it. Bottom line we caught lots of fish.
Old 04-27-2012, 11:03 AM
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Yeah, the Fishing Nosara boats did good and caught fish. My main problem is dont recommend a boat you dont know about. We originally had more people on the charter but 3 backed out at the last minute. That is why we used the bigger boat.
Old 04-27-2012, 11:17 AM
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U fixed it alright and left the wife at home I bet LOL, JK sucks about your fishing trip. We did one in Mexico a couple years ago and had a good trip.
Old 04-27-2012, 12:35 PM
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If you want tuna and marlin then yeah Panama is usually the better option.

That said there are many excellent charters out of Costa Rica in Los Suenos, a few in Quepos, and my favorite Golfito which has a few of the best charters I have ever fished with (Golfito also has some bad charters so like anywhere, choose your captain wisely). I was down there 2 weeks ago and we released 3 blues and broke a forth off, plus lots of sails.
Old 04-27-2012, 03:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Pipo6007 View Post
I have been seeing better reports in Panama. I have a been to Los Suenos in Costa Rica and caught nothing but sailfish. I really wanted nice size Tuna or possibly a Marlin. The facility in really nice but I think fishing looks better in Panama.
Costa Rica is not generally known as a yft destination. The best time and place to target them in CR is in northern CR in the winter. The downside is that it is generally rough offshore in that area in the winter.
Old 04-27-2012, 03:59 PM
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There are YF Tuna here, but you have to go with someone who has a radar and when they are here. Usually you can just call and ask if the Tuna are here and any good company will just tell you. Also, there are quite a few blacks here, in the last year we've gotten 53....but your right, there are a lot more sailfish. I hear tropic star is really something for the big blacks though, and I've heard some good stuff about that pariaso lodge on Coiba. If I were going to Panama, it would be between those two....I've always wanted to fish for the cubera on the Zane Grey or the Hannibal banks...One day...
Old 04-27-2012, 04:25 PM
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John,

Hope your charter venture is going well. Last year we were in Manuel Antonio and were able to book a last minute full day charter for two on the Cowboy Jr.

We bagged a few sailfish, on a slow day, and it was a memorable experience. I love small boat fishing and it was awesome being that far offshore in a small boat.

Hope you and your wife and kids are doing well.
Old 04-27-2012, 04:27 PM
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there definitely is a wide range of quality and consistency among charter boats here in CR (and everywhere is suppose).
I think most people (especially no boat owning tourists) don't realize that and assume all boats/ crews / operations are created equal.
it is a hard business to make money and lots of them are tight budget operation.

I see people come here and book boats moored in the bay rather than in the marina, ( I realize in many parts of CR there are no marinas, an only moorings) because to save a few hundred bucks all the time. but you definitely get what you pay for. if they don't want to pay for a marina slip it because they are cheap, or are doing thing totally legal.
to keep a boat in the marina here is expensive and they are very strict on us about our legal and safety requirements.
that alone is worth a few hundred bucks to me. it shows that the operation is at least somewhat serious, legit, and professional.
you would expect such an operations to spend the money it takes to maintain boat, and have good working electronics,quality tackle, bilingual crew, decent food and drinks

on the other end of the spectrum you get operations that serve crappy food. (I run my own boat and like to have decent food and a variety of drinks) dig discarded line out of the marina trash to spool their reels. buy cheap quality tackle ( if they buy anything, or just have hand me downs)
having good electronics, a wide variety of quality gear and well maintained tackle often makes a difference between catching allot, and almost catching something.


it is sad to see people spend their hard earned money to fish a day or 2 in on there vacation, in a exotic spot the might never visit again, and not get the results they want or their moneys worth. it is fishing and everyone can have a slow day every now and then, but if the choice was between spending $800 on a half ass operation that might catch something of $1200 on a professional operation that will do everthing possible to put you on the most fish, and has a reputation of catching. I would spend the $1200 rather than waste $800


the red tide was a big factor here CR, especially here in the central pacific (Los Suenos, Jaco, & Quepos) though Febuary, .
I don't see it killing off fish and them washing ashore like i have seen in the gulf of mexico, but it definitely is no good for fishing.
out of Los Suenos/ Jaco any decent billfish bite through february and march was been 45-55 miles offshore. red tide out 30+miles.
there are few charter boats that can or will go that distance to put customers on fish.
we usually only need to run 20 to 25 for good action.
it is expensive in fuel and lots of boats with 20kt or slower cruise can't make it in a reasonable amount of time anyways.
I do, and I see the maverick / fly Boats, stay in costa rica's sonny one, the costa rica dreams boats, macusula and tres amigos out there.
any one else i would be cautious of and investigate well before handing out dollars
thank God it has cleared up and now we can fish at 20 miles again

I highly recommend anyone looking to book a trip, to get recommendations from other anglers who have fished where you are going & too really communicate directly with the potential boat's crew, so you can feel them out if they really are professional, serious, passionate and knowledgable, about what you want to do/catch. ask them detailed questions about what techniques they do, what tackle they use.
check out american captain owner /operators- as most of them will be the most passionate about there work and most willing to give it their all. it is not a 9 to 5 for them, and there is less red tape with a boss to answer to, getting in the way of them making it happen.

also if going fishing for anything that requires live bait- such as rooster fish or live baiting for big yellowfins, make sure they have a bait pen, preferably with some bait in it.
it would be a good indicator of how serious they are about it. it can be very difficult and time consuming to catch bait here sometimes, and there is no on selling goggle eyes like in south Fl. it is expensive to catch and keep your own as well, the sabikis($8), spoons($5), leads ($4), and fuel ($5.76/ gallon) add up fast, I would say each blue runner is easily worth $10-20 here (if they were for sale), especially when you don't have any to use. and then when you do, you have to deal with other people stealing your bait out of you pens.- and no charter boat that is not an owner operator lets their crew take the boat out for hours to catch bait, burn fuel and break sabikis and leads off on the rocks.

I see people charter a boat to catch the trophy rooster they have been wanting and planning for months, and spend all day trying to catch bait (it is not always easy) rather than fishing catch roosters.
I will admit i have 3 bait pens, and sometimes they are empty, but they are stocked up whenever I have the opportunity to do so- but at least it shows how serious I am about catching, and keeping bait

and Costa Rica is an excellent place to catch yellowfin tunas, especially if you come in peak tuna season which runs May-Oct. here in the central pacific. the rest of the year they may show up out of the blue if you find a pod of spinner dolphins with birds.june - august is a get time to target them as the weather is still good and we typically find them everyday. most traveling with the spinners, average 50-100, but we catch 100+ pounder regularly and fish up to 300lb on occasion. but once again find someone serious and passionate about it and who has the right gear- fluorocarbon, spectra , popping rods
I love popper fishing for them, and live baiting for the monsters

but if you just book some boat though a tour agency on the street, that they say is good, then good luck, you will need it.
they might put some cedar plugs in and catch you some 30lbers.

we also have excellent marlin fishing. Panama may be better spot to live bait for a very large black on the reef, but overall the best boats in Costa catch more higher numbers of billfish, marlin included.
you may not catch 5 a day but somedays it is very possible. I have caught 8 marlin= 5 stripeys, 3 blues, + one sail in a single day (document by a tournament observer) the same day Let it ride was 18 for 24 on marlin (also with a tournament observer aboard), I have had several of 20+ billfish days over the past few years.
you rarely hear of panama boats releasing 10 + billfish a day from one boat, but in costa (provided you fish with a good crew) that is a good day, not an incredible one
But fish do swim around and fishing goes through cycles and you can't always control what bites your hook, just because you want a marlin, or a huge tuna.
what funny is whenever we are in the middle of an epic billfish bite on a charter, seeing a fish every few minutes while doing figure 8's over the same spot
some always asks "can we catch a dorado now?"

Last edited by La Vida CR; 04-27-2012 at 04:41 PM.
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Old 04-27-2012, 04:27 PM
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La Vida - In defense of us Quepos mooring guys, and I have just as much gear as anybody in the marina (25kw Furuno radar with 6 foot array, Furuno 585 sounder, Penn Gear, extinguishers, lifejackets, 8 large tuna tubes, I fish floro for everything, got poppers too). I think every boat owner is different and because I don't spend a ton of money (it's 1400 a month) on a slip, I have more money for fishing toys. But Quepos is different than Los Suenos. Speaking of toys...I'm saving up right now for one of those new chirps by simrad. i was thinking the new HD lss2 structure scan would be great for the bottom fishing as well, will put up screen shots soon. Maybe Quepos is different though because there is a dock with water, and a river when it gets rough. Obviously I agree with fishing with American owner operators though


fleigenfischer - Awesome! so glad you had fun. I actually just bought a new 23 foot boat and I'm building it now. It's going to have a small cummins and should be a little faster and better fish raiser than the cowboy jr, when I get it finished you'll have to come out and try it out! When I switched my big boat from outboards to diesel, I started to raise twice as many fish, so I'm seeing if that works for smaller boats as well. Going to use the same captain because he is a lucky sucker! Thanks a ton!

Last edited by SailFishQuepos; 04-27-2012 at 06:06 PM.
Old 04-27-2012, 05:57 PM
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Originally Posted by SailFishQuepos View Post
La Vida - I'm on a mooring, and I have just as much gear as anybody in the marina (25kw Furuno radar with 6 foot array, Furuno 585 sounder, Penn Gear, extinguishers, lifejackets, 8 large tuna tubes, I fish floro for everything, got poppers too). I think every boat owner is different and because I don't spend a ton of money (it's 1400 a month) on a slip, I have more money for fishing toys. Saving up right now for one of those new chirps by simrad. i was thinking the new HD lss2 structure scan would be great for the bottom fishing as well, will put up screen shots soon. Maybe Quepos is different though because there is a dock with water, and a river when it gets rough. Obviously I agree with fishing with American owner operators though

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNLe2ZH5Zmg

fleigenfischer - Awesome! so glad you had fun. I actually just bought a new 23 foot boat and I'm building it now. It's going to have a small cummins and should be a little faster and better fish raiser than the cowboy jr, when I get it finished you'll have to come out and try it out! When I switched my big boat from outboards to diesel, I started to raise twice as many fish, so I'm seeing if that works for smaller boats as well. Going to use the same captain because he is a lucky sucker! Thanks a ton!

Sailfish, I was not referring to you, I have actually recommended you to several people. I would expect that you are an exception in your area as well
I was speaking more of the Los Suenos, Heredurra situation. I know quepos is a bit different as the marina is quite newer and it has always a mooring based market, until just recently.where Los Suenos has been around for a Decade, Like I said I realize most places in CR don't have any marina and as you stated you have a much better loading situation than most locales with moorings.I saw the quepos market is a bit softer too, when I was looking into buying the Frenzy II( I bought the 33 L&H instead)
around here you get many tourists, many who are not serious fishermen, who book a trip based on price or a slick sales person, and wonder why all the caught is a mackerel and a Jack.
another thing that should be mentioned is booking a boat through these agencies- when boats take trips from a booking agent/ agency(in costa rica), such as fishing nosara- the standard commission here is 20%. that often is about a 50/50 split of what the boat makes after daily operating costs, especially in times with escalating fuel costs.
some of the people working the desk at bigger places actually want a little extra kickback for them as well for recommending you boat.
many of these places don't actually even have any boats themselves and have no liability or accountability for your experience knowing most people may only visit once. most are only commission collecting machines.
I receive very few trips from booking agents because I have mentioned the truth before, here and on some other forums. but I don't care for most of them anyways.
but the fact is most operations don't take the initiative to try to do the business themselves and end up slaves to these guys. these brokers rely on the fact it is allot of work to promote yourself and your business, and handle bookings, etc, especially if you are on a boat 10 hours a day 100-200 days a year
the fact you ( sailfish quepos) and I are on these forums trying to connect directly with potential clients, really shows our passion for what we do.
Old 04-27-2012, 06:05 PM
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Sorry, didn't mean to come off like that, it's hard to put tone on a forum. I try to put the smiley faces to show I'm not so serious, but again...

Yeah, I don't work with agents either. They are slimy and will tell the customer anything to sell a trip. I did three agent trips when I first came here (and have done none since), and I spent more time looking for the agents after the trip (to get paid) than I did on the fishing trips. Also, the first agent trip I had people looking for YF Tuna, and they were mad at me when I told them there were only sailfish and Marlin out. The customers said Tuna and the office just made up stories about huge school of YF, that just weren't there at the moment. Now, I make sure to tell everybody what I think we will catch, and even if it doesn't work out exactly how I thought, at least they knew what we are after.

Love to come out and see your boat sometime, next time I'm in Los Suenos I'll stop by and see if you are out on the dock. I still think you should have bought the Frenzy!

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