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How To Target Snook & Crevalle Jacks In The Surf

Ryan Collins

5 days ago we had a "super moon" which is a phrase used to describe a full moon which is at or near its closest approach to Earth in a given orbit.

What this translated into for us here in Costa Rica, were huge tides, ocean swell and a staggering amount of coconuts, palm tree logs, and other debris in the surf and on the beach. 

Surfcasting has been a challenge the past week, but conditions appear to be getting better. Last night there was much less debris in the water, and most importantly, I believe I may of had the first roosterfish of the trip swirl behind (but not bite) my canal magic swimmer.

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My Favorite Tide

Everyday is so different here "fishing-wise" which makes it challenging to say with certainty what tide is "best" for surfcasting. However, low tide and the first part of the incoming is definitely my favorite. 

It was during this tide earlier this week that my amigo Henry and I made a drive down the beach on his ATV to fish a small outflow near Pavonnes, Costa Rica. Once again the Tactical Angler Ghost Bomb Popper from Canal Bait & Tackle was the ticket to the one bite we got that morning, from a solid crevalle jack.

It seems like most of the jacks hang behind the first set of breakers, and making casts almost parallel to shore sometimes produces better than long casts aimed straight out. With their forked tails, crevalle jacks are almost like small tunas, and even small jacks fight like a bluefish on steroids!

The biggest jack I have ever caught from this beach probably weighed around 25 pounds and it sizzled the drag on my Van Staal 150. However I was talking yesterday to a gringo who has lived here for decades, and he told me he's seen jacks as large as 35-40 pounds caught along this shoreline. ​


The Elusive Snook (Robalo)

Several days ago I was wade casting right in the surf, once again during the first part of the incoming tide. As is typically the case down here, I was given absolutely no warning whatsoever when a nice sized pacific black snook (called a Robalo by the locals) whallopped my plug basically at the end of my rod tip.

As you'll see in the below video, the snook jumped several times, and unfortunately the hooks pulled at the last instant, just before I would of been able to get the fish to shore. I was bummed beyond belief!

Snook have a very fragile mouth, and because of this they are notoriously hard to land. Add in the fact that they love to jump straight clear of the water, and it is no surprise why many snook shake themselves free of the hook. ​

The lure that got this bite is a pink Mikro Series Strategic Angler plug from the guys at the Goose Hummock Shop.​ This plug has a slow side-to-side wobble action that apparently this snook could not resist. I just wish I could of gotten him to shore, because this snook would of made for a great feast!

The snook in this area of Costa Rica can reach weights of 50 pounds, which is darn close to the world record. Like the roosterfish they are incredibly elusive, and typically reside in rivers or near inlets, but they do occasionally make their way into the surf line. 


In Conclusion

Tomorrow we have a small crew of My Fishing Cape Cod members flying into Costa Rica to explore, hang out and fish. This truly is a special community and wonderful area of the world, with sloths, monkeys, coconuts and tons of other wild animals, colorful characters and interesting people. 

About an hour ago I was chatting on the beach with an angler from Sweden who had just been out fishing in a boat with a local Tico fisherman. He reported seeing  bait balls of sardines about a mile off the beach, with roosterfish slashing through them. 

Hopefully these big roosters eventually move back into the surf, like they did during my trip here in 2015. ​Surfcasting for roosterfish is very similar to giant bluefin tuna fishing - lots of effort and casts to produce a single bite - however when that bite occurs you better hold on, because the roosterfish in this area of Costa Rica can reach 80+ pounds and they fight with incredible speed and power.

Tight lines!​

  1. Love the reports! It will be fun to hear how the crew from MFCC does.
    We had our first snow back home, so enjoy the warm weather.

    Reply
    1. I heard about that snow!

      The MFCC crew had one heck of a day yesterday, with dorado, yellowfin tuna, roosterfish, red snappers, spanish mackerel, jack crevalle, bonito, and a couple other unknown species.

      Reply
  2. You mentioned that Roosterfish had recently been seen about a mile off the beach during the day. In some of your writing about Cape Cod you have noted that if Striped Bass are out in deeper water during the day they will often move onto the beach at night. Is this true of Roosterfish as well?

    Reply
    1. That is a terrific question, and one that I do not have an answer to.

      I have not tried any night fishing here, because I get a little “spooked” by the waves and wondering what could be lurking in the suds after dark.

      I will ask around and see if I can dig up any information about roosterfish at night. I know they get snook at night so maybe I should try the river after dark sometime.

      Reply
      1. I was thinking the same thing about night fishing in Costa Rica, especially after seeing how far out you wade in your videos. I usually don’t go past my knees when fishing at night on the Cape and Islands but I can still get spooked at times when I am by myself. It is scary but exhilarating at the same time.
        If you try the river at night keep an eye out for crocs!

        Reply
        1. Saw a monster crocodile yesterday afternoon at the river, just chilling in the sun on a mudbank with his jaws wide open. Had to be more than 12 feet long!

          Reply
  3. Thanks for the update and pictures. Looking forward to hearing how the rest of the trip turns out! Kathleen says she is looking forward to reading an update from Lauren.

    Reply
    1. Sounds good! Lauren has a jack crevalle and needlefish recipe in the works. To be published soon 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻

      Reply

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