Friday, February 2, 2018

Costa Rica

Bri and I visited the West side of Costa Rica for three weeks in January.  Spending time in La Fortuna, Tamarindo, Bejuco and Pavonnes. My parents met up with us for 4 days in the mountains near La Fortuna.

We tried to kill my parents by booking a rafting trip on the Rio Balsa at flood stage.  If I had to guess I'd say it was gushing at over 4000 CFS. But amazingly nobody fell out.  

A papaya farm across the street from our cabin in La Fortuna. The yellow cards are used as sticky traps for the insects attracted to yellow.
Coffee class at Don Juan coffee in La Fortuna.  You'll be a much more informed coffee drinker. 
Chocolate class in La Fortuna.  My mother and my wife taking charge.
Sugar cane pressing and sugar moonshine tasting demo after the day of rafting. All of the tours we did in Costa Rica were first class. They often fed you an amazing meal.  I never did tire of the Gallo Pinto the entire trip. 

Bri fixing a Dutch woman's damaged ankle at the rafting pull-out. 

My parents were very good sports about the high water terrifying rafting.  We saw Howler monkeys huddled in the rain high up in the trees along the river. They warned us the first 25 minutes solid on this river was rapids.... and indeed it was. 

3-toed Sloth - made visible along the highway by the guides spotting scope.

A small hotel overlooking Lake Arenal and the Arenal Volcano.  Toucans and Aracari flew around and ate the bananas put out for them. 

My favorite Looney Tunes character of all time. Hello my honey. Hello my baby. Hello my ragtime gal. 

We are not drunk zip liners - but you would not know it from this zany antics photo. 

Tamarindo, Costa Rica.  Kinda a wretched hive of scum and villany.  You get offered pot and coke on the main drag a lot. This boat at the corner of Playa Langosto - looks staged for modeling shoots. 

Fishing it hard.  Typically I am able to get in 2 hours of fishing before anybody else gets out of bed. By the end of the trip I learned a lot.  Shore fishing there is a high tide fishery - but some areas fish better at low tide. Either way if you have sunrise or sunset lining up with high tide you need to be fishing. 

This 6 lb. Cubera Snapper slammed a topwater lure at first light.  I am persistent and lucky. 

I took it back to the cabin and Bri cooked it up for dinner for us and our new friend Yvonne. 

Here is what Bri whipped up from the big Snapper back at the cabin.  Ingredients: Cubera Snapper, coconut milk, lime, cilantro, carrots, avocado, brown rice. Just add Imperial Beer and a Pina Colada. 

"It never stops" said another fisherman to me. Fishing the rocks at the south end of Jaco Beach. 

Tamarindo - AKA Tamargringo

Tamarindo - as trashy as it is - is a good intro into coastal Costa Rica. 

Under the bridge over the Tarcoles River along the main highway.  Someone is feeding these guys - likely raw chickens at night. There were no less than 20 hanging out here - and the souvenir shops nearby were very busy with the croc gawkers. 

At least 3 estuary mouths in the north looked amazing for fishing - including this one at Playa Bejuco. I fished them hard with little result and then learned in the San Jose Ex-Pat paper at the end of the trip that the north does not have good fishing November to May basically. Just not the season for the rain dumping down the rivers and the bait close to shore.  But the fishing got good and lucky for me several hours to the south. 

Riding horses near Dominical.  Lots of monkeys at the end of this trail ride. 

The horse trail ride terminates at a multi tiered waterfall and you take a cool swim. They feed you breakfast -then they take you on horses to a cabin on the trail and feed you an amazing lunch.  The whole day was $70 a person. 

Enter the tiny town of Zancudo.  Like Everglades city on bad acid with 4 times as many crocs.  My kind of place. I feel like  I need to return in the rainy season to really get a feel for the place.   

I loved the heavy heavy dose of solitude. But it may not be everyone's cup of tea. The three towns near the Panama border are the opposite of a resort.  Cheap, dusty, real and exposed. 

A sign warning of the crocs in the River at Zancudo.  With a crushed 9" Rapala stuck to the sign.  

Very proud of my hard fishing wife.  

Lil' marauders.  Tiny yet powerful jacks patrol the river mouth.  

The ocean bats last.  It is ok to get worked while surfing.  It is not ok to get worked in the rocks while surf fishing in big rocks.  Bri and I had a disagreement when I hooked a mongo Rooster fish from the rocks and got a little smashed while trying and failing to land it  - after a dramatic 20 minute battle the line finally cut on a big rock near shore...  I will remember seeing that beast eat my lure right in front of me as long as I live. 

Chilling in the pool at Finca Los Mangos. 

Big Rainbow Runner caught casting lures over big submerged rocks of the Osa Peninsula from Christoff's boat.  Our host for our stay in Pavonnes was nice enough to take me out on his boat and let me sling lures of the front with my tiny travel rod.  The bigger stronger Rooster fish beat me at least twice on the trip.  20 lb test was pretty much a joke to a lot of the bigger fish off Osa. 

I caught this fish on a lure (3" white curl tail) at nearly 200 feet deep. About 190 feet deeper than I ever fish anywhere else. It was an extremely cute fish that went promptly back in the water. 

Veteran surfer, bluewater expert and all around stud - Christoff Diaz with a serious Rooster fish caught slow trolling the beach from the back of the same boat. I connected with at least two of these guys from the rocks on shore - during my stay in the south of the country - but my light travel gear was no match.  20 lb. line was a joke to the 40 lb. Rooster I hooked at high tide.  I shall return to Pavonnes when my Jedi training is complete. 

Monster Jack at the cleaning station at Golfito.  This boat went out 2 hours past us..... This guy would pull your john boat backwards.  

Guide boat captain filleting a tuna. Where sushi starts - at the cleaning station at the dock at Golfito. French fish nerds and fish groupies like myself gather round. 

Highly highly oxygenated Yellowfin Tuna muscle. The unstoppable force. 

Freshest sushi possible with the local Imperial beer. At Christoff and Sandy's place - Finca Los Mangos

Christoff's rental cabins.  A great minimalist style. The best place in the world.  He is building a wonderful neighborhood in the hills outside of Pavonnes.  I am hatching plans to figure out how to buy a piece there - as he has several lots for sale of various sizes. I experienced my very first earthquake while staying at this cabin. I was up in the bathroom at 3:45 AM and felt the 4.8 shake the whole house. 

We surfed twice on the trip.  I got wrecked and tumbled in the big waves at Tamarindo my first time surfing. (I know that's weird since I skated and snowboarded for 10 years  - 20 years ago. But with a great surf lesson in Pavonnes from Matthew - we were able to ride small waves into the beach.  Bri is definitely a better surfer than me. 

Cornballs in the pool at Finca Los Mangos

All hail Tico culture. 

We shall return. 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Wanderings of Mer-Leprechaun

Looking at the year of Fish: 

Out on the NewPort Jetty at the end of December. Been wanting to get out there for years and figure out what Newport, OR is- but it is a 2 1/2 hour drive from our condo. This is one of those photos that suggest we never fight and that there are no dirty dishes in the sink. 

Bri's photo from our rental cabin on the coast for New Years.  That is a massive Redwood stump stuck in the sand on the beach.  So where the hell is the mer-leprechaun. Sure as shit not guarding his gold. 

I added a few new fish species to my life list this year.  This is one of them - the Cabezon.  A really good eating fish that you do not keep along this particular jetty. At the sweet spot in the outgoing tide it required a full one ounce jig to get the lure down in front of the fish. Feel free to chime in my one cocky friend who thinks he is going to get these on fly. 

New posted regulations along the NewPort Jetty.  No keep on Cabezon and all species of Rockfish.  Lingcod can be kept of spearfished.  This is a good thing. This jetty is real close to a parking lot so it likely gets fished a lot in summer. Late December is not known for good fishing here. 

A bigger Rockfish off the Newport Jetty. This one hit a 3" chartreuse rubber shad on a full ounce jig head.
At between 4 and 5 pounds - this individual may have benefited from the closed season to grow to this size. 

Not my work.  A nice slice of a long mural at Cannon Beach, OR 

Back in Iowa for Thanksgiving.  Due to Bri's enthusiasm for my family and the slow season with the home inspection industry this has become an annual tradition - to get back home to Muscatine.  High snob pie crust is made with either leaf lard or duck fat.  

Iowa farm pond.  Secret Iowa farm pond about a mile from the pie making. The Largemouth were hitting topwater "hula poppers" in late November. They did not hit on the 17 degree day --- but they ate on the 50 degree day.  The most fun you can have. 

My fascination with invasive species. I bet I fished the Willamette River 8 times before connecting with my first Smallmouth. A few times this summer I landed 20 in quick morning sessions before work.  Sometimes connecting on 3 or 4 casts in a row.  This fish is native to only the Ohio River drainage. Its diaspora began with the creation of the Erie Canal and other man made transports. There are no regulations on the Smallmouth here and you will see desperados keeping every single one they catch regardless of size.  

I make it a point to get out an fish the American Shad run at least once while they are in the Willamette in May and June every year the past 4 years. A true godsend - as this fish is another saltwater fish that swims well up into freshwater. Though unlike the East Coast of the USA where they are native - the tributary rivers here are too cold. They appear to spawn in the big main stems - as near as I can tell. 

A makeshift salmon fishing shack along the Cowlitz River up in Washington. 

Releasing a one foot long baby steelhead or "smolt" in Eagle Creek, OR.  This fish would be gradually working its way downstream to the ocean where it can grow big.  These freshwater rivers in Oregon are too cold, too clear and too infertile to support big fish. 

Rehashing the glory of this September Coho. The third cast of the morning at first light - in the lower river. 

Another sweet fishing shack along the banks of the Cowlitz River. You know where to find me. 

Getting the gear ready for Costa Rica this month - the Pacific side.  Last Year - In 3 weeks in Belize all of our soft lures got shredded by the end of the trip. So packing a few durable lures this time. I'll let you know how it goes.

I'm sure 2018 will be mostly home inspecting ...  but I shall try and get out fishing a few times.