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Fish On! Hooked Up in Costa Rica

"Those are fish!" is what I said to Lauren when I suddenly noticed birds working and fish crashing on the surface. For me this was a big relief.

After all we had just traveled more than 2,000 miles, invested countless hours in preparation, half-forced Lauren into taking a month off from work, and spent about a grand on new rods and gear in order to make this trip happen.

So needless to say I was praying to God I would catch at least one fish!​

Lauren and I were exploring on foot and I didn't have my fishing rod, so there was no chance of me hooking up (yet). The busting fish were feeding at least a couple of hundred yards offshore anyways, far out of my casting range.

But it was a good sign of things to come.​


The Fish Are Here

Eventually we finished our walk and headed back to the jungle house. Lauren went about her business and I set myself to tying knots, organizing plugs and rigging rods.

I had already learned a lot during our first 24 hours in Costa Rica. The night before I had spotted feeding fish at the far edge of my casting range, and was actually able to put a bend in the rod, but was not able to land a fish.​

The night before I was able to put a bend in the rod, but wasn't able to land a fish.

I had also observed local fishermen as they set nets just beyond the breakers. I watched through my binoculars as they boated some sort of large fish, species still unknown to me.

At sunset I watched local fishermen pull nets from simple wooden boats powered by outboard motors.

I had seen bait spraying the shallows, in a desperate attempt to escape the jaws of some unseen predator.

And I had actually seen a large fish, over 40 inches in length, cruising in the crest of a wave before it crashed onto the beach.​

The stage was set for something memorable.

The Right Tide

It was now just a waiting game. I had tried to fish during high tide, and had quite literally, gotten the crap beaten out of me.

Despite lack of wind the surf was large and powerful, and I had to dive beneath crashing waves to avoid being swept back into shore. If it was not for the generosity of MFCC member Matt Bach, I would not be able to fish period.

Matt had loaned me his Van Staal 150 which is impenetrable and can be dunked into saltwater without any issue.​

MFCC member Matt Bach loaned me his Van Staal 150 at the most recent MFCC Breakfast. I would not even be able to fish had he not loaned me his reel, because the surf here is so large.

However, I had noticed that the surf calmed down considerably during low tide. During low tide I was also able to wade out beyond the breakers and launch a cast to the area where I knew fish were feeding.

The "right tide" would be in the late afternoon and to my delight my girlfriend Lauren was down for walking and fishing the beach.

Fish On

During our first 24 hours in CR I had also noticed that the surf got calmer the farther north I walked. So instead of getting pounded in the waves I decided it would be best if Lauren and I walked a ways before I began casting.

After walking for perhaps 30 minutes on the hard packed black sand of low tide I spotted a group of birds diving into the water. Just as on good 'ole Cape Cod working birds lead the way to the fish.

I made a cast into the birds but got nothing. I made another perfect cast but still nothing biting.

15 minutes went by and I was yet to fool a fish, despite seeing several crash on the surface. I was beginning to doubt my fishing ability and came to the full conclusion that I really have no idea what the heck I'm doing down here.

But that all changed within an instant.​

I decided to make one last cast out towards the birds. My lure landed just to the side of the main flock and I began a quick retrieve.


I knew this was a good fish right from the get-go. It pulled yards of line from the reel and I could feel the characteristic "pumping" of a fish in the tuna or jack family.

Something very powerful, and very tuna-like exploded on my lure. My rod doubled over and 30 pound braid began peeling from Matt's Van Staal. 

I turned to holler back at Lauren, but she had beaten me to the punch and had already begun filming...

by Ryan Collins

I'm fortunate to have grown up on the beach, and I've been fishing since kindergarten. I have great family, friends and fishing experiences to be thankful for. Just being out there is enough-catching fish is just a bonus!