The sixth annual Gray International Fly-fishing Tournament Jan. 23-26 out of Quepos, on the central Pacific coast, pretty much speaks for the fishing in Costa Rica over the past weeks.
The tournament is named in honor of the late Harry Gray, a legendary angler and boat operator in Costa Rica, who caught the first ever International Game Fish Association (IGFA) record marlin on a fly.
Thirty-one world-class fly fishermen caught and released 161 sailfish, one blue marlin and one “first-place decision maker” striped marlin on the last day.
During the four days of competition, anglers saw thousands of sails and more than 60 marlin. Seventeen lucky anglers had a chance to sink hooks into those marlin, resulting in the two releases.
The top three teams finished with close totals. Stanley Sherman and Lee Arnett finished in first place, with 15 sails and one striped marlin released aboard La Sarita with Capt. Rafael Solano. Jeff McFadden and Jim Gallagher took home the second-place trophy, with 19 sailfish releases aboard the Gamefisher II with Capt. Richard Chellemi.
Nick Smith and Jim Gill came third, with 13 sailfish and one blue marlin released aboard Old Reliable with Capt. Chip Shafer.
The lucky winner of the distinguished “Bill Barnes Top Angler” award this year was third-place angler Nick Smith, who logged 10 sailfish and one blue marlin released.
The tournament once again raised thousands of dollars to help pay for medicines, equipment and procedures involved in performing liver transplants for children at San José’s National Children’s Hospital.
Next year’s tournament is scheduled for Jan. 22-25. For information, e-mail Marsha Bennett or Christel Cherri of Quepos’ El Gran Escape restaurant at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 777-0765.
No word this week from boat operators farther north, but action continues in Quepos and south of there. ParrotBay Village at Puerto Jiménez, on the southern Pacific coast, reports that John and Sally Hynes, Peter and Jane Doremus, Dale and Candy Neil and Michael and Judy Alexander last week fished two boats for five days, raising 82 sailfish while offshore. They did their fair share of inshore fishing as well, producing a 40-pound roosterfish, 30-pound dogtoothed snapper and some Colorado snapper, blue crevalle, almaco jacks, yellowtail snapper and jack crevalle.
Nearby Crocodile Bay Lodge hosted Wade Boggs, major-league baseball star, fly fisherman and repeat visitor, who has come close to fly-fishing records on past trips and almost made it this year when he hooked a sail estimated at 150 pounds.
“The fish screamed off, taking 300 yards of backing off the reel, and Wade worked the fish close to the boat several times until in one last burst of adrenalin the fish took off, the gears exploded inside the reel and the huge sail escaped,” described lodge fishing manager Todd Staley.
CrocodileBay regular Dick Schram from California landed more than 40 sails last week, while Mike Pizzi from New York had a bang-up day inshore, catching lots of bluefin trevally on poppers with a rooster and a mixed bag of cubera and mullet snapper, as well as a nice grouper. He ran outside and bagged a couple of sails before calling it a day.
On the Caribbean coast, tarpon fishing is reported steady, but not hot. Fish are at the river mouth and up the river, where they are also collecting a few snook to 10 pounds and some nice rainbow bass, according to the Río Colorado Lodge.