I’ve been on plenty of exotic trips that I waited a long time for only to be brutalized by weather, bad conditions or simply lousy fishing. There’s nothing more you can do other than get out on the water and give it your best shot. You don’t blame the guides or the lodge.
One in about five of my travels challenge me with poor conditions. Here at Jungle Tarpon Reserve we didn’t get as much rain last night as the evening before, but we got some. Enough that once again the jungle rivers of Costa Rica didn’t look great for our half day of tarpon fishing and filming for “Atlanticus”.
The area we targeted last night to fish and film from shore this morning was grim. The river was high and not a sign of life. But in the face of the horrible muddy water we found a school of tarpon nestled in a heap of fallen trees and overhanging palms. We had to fish from the boat. It was such a place that if we hooked up, keeping a tarpon on past the first jump seemed impossible. All critters were safe from humans here including the miniature-dinosaur-looking basilik lizard, better known as the Jesus Christ lizard because he literally walks on water.
I gave it a try. A jumped tarpon looks good on film even if he gets away. The cast required was an angled upstream 60-foot shot over a stick and between some tightly snuggled palm leaves. Palms don’t give up the fly and the last thing I wanted to do was snag it and spook away the fish. I worked my way in with non-risky casts at first before going for it.
When I went for it my cast landed good. I had my Scientific Anglers Sonar Titan Big Water Taper 500 gr sinking line so I let the current take it down. On my first strip I felt the thud – do doubt a tarpon sucking my fly. I strip-set like all get out and just as I went tight I could feel the tarpon swimming towards me. I strip set again so far in my stroke I nearly knocked the camera from Grants hands. I went tight again but the tarpon was still coming and the tension left again. On my third attempt I tangled the line (Murphy’s Law) and couldn’t strip anymore. I swept my rod to the side in one last desperate hope to hook him. Just as the tarpon turned away and started to jump he spit my fly completely. The big silver slab was gone for good.
When any fish swims at you they’re hard to hook, let alone the rock hard mouthed tarpon. It was a tough break and nine times out of ten I don’t hook that tarpon no matter what. Nonetheless I botched what turned out to be our one eating tarpon over our two days at Jungle Tarpon Reserve. Grant laughed it off but I’m totally bummed.
At 11 we headed back to the lodge. It was a quiet boat ride home but it was no one’s fault. Conditions and tarpon simply did not cooperate.
After a quick snack from the local store we caught a shuttle for five hours all the way to the other end of Costa Rica. We are presently east of Limon in Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge staying at the owner of Tarponville Lodge’s house. It’s a beautiful sunset and we’re about to grab some grub and take a short night’s sleep. At 5 AM tomorrow we are fishing the mouth of the Sixaola River in the Caribbean for giant deepwater tarpon.