Nicaragua Tarpon – Bruce Tyson

On April 20, I set out for San Jose, Costa Rica to meet up with seven other friends from the Seattle/Tacoma area to head out to Nicaragua for some tarpon fishing.  After a short flight from San Jose to San Juan de Nicaragua, we boarded boats for the 10 minute jaunt to the Rio Indio Lodge.  This lodge was built about 10 years ago and billed as an Ecotourism Lodge, but has since added the fishing aspect as this area at the mouth of the San Juan River is right on the migratory route for big tarpon.  The lodge was really beautiful and built right in the jungle.  We arrived on Sunday and were fishing by Sunday afternoon.  I was the only person fishing flies.  The gear guys were using jigs or bait (sardines) if available.  My partner hooked up and landed his first tarpon early Sunday afternoon.  At around 4:50pm, my Tibor Pacific reel attached to my 14 wt Orvis Helios2 started screaming and the fight was on. Once you get past the first jump (which happens almost immediately), you’re probably hooked up well.  After about 40 minutes, I landed my first tarpon – around 75 lbs.  I caught the fish on my own hand tied Black/Green/White Deceiver on a 6/0 hook using 25 lb class tippet with a 100 lb shock tippet.  Pretty exciting.  Throughout the rest of the week, I had 3 other hookups, but did not land another tarpon.  I did however, land a very nice Jack Crevalle, again on one of my Deceiver ties.  The guys using bait did better, but I refused to go over to the “dark side”.  While at Rio Indio, we also did a day of jungle fishing which was really fascinating.  The guide took us into the jungle through some nasty and shallow water (sometimes having to paddle) to get us to the area where we fished for Guapote or Rainbow Bass.  Lots of fun.  My partner and I caught over a dozen Guapote the largest weighing in at about 6 lbs.  I did very well using a Black Starlight Leech on my 6 wt Orvis Zero Gravity rod.  The last item of particular interest about Rio Indio is its resident crocodile.  The croc, named Juan Cho, has been coming to the lodge dock every evening since the lodge owners first started coming to the area in 1990.  They, of course, feed him.  The Discovery Channel did a special on the croc and he is 125 years old, 19’1” long, and weighs about 1250 lbs.  He just nonchalantly swam up to the boat dock into one of the slips every evening waiting for his fresh snack.  The picture attached shows Juan Cho dining on a Jack Crevalle.  Pretty spectacular sight.  We had a great time at Rio Indio Lodge.

Upon our return to San Jose, four of our group of eight remained to travel to Quepos, Costa Rica for some Sailfish fishing.  We flew to Quepos on April 26 and had Sunday, April 27 off to explore and chill in Quepos.  This is a nice, quaint seaside town and we learned that there were a lot of American expats living there.  The town itself had some really nice bars and eating establishments, but the high rent district was up the hill on the way to Manuel Antonio National Park, which is supposed to be pretty spectacular.  Anyway, our first day of fishing was Monday, April 29.  We boarded the “Sea Lady” captained by CPT Eric along with deckhand El Chita.  We proceeded about 25 miles offshore in search of Sailfish.  I had my 14 wt rod rigged up with a sailfish popper, ready to go, but with trolling eight bait rods with an additional 3 teasers, I didn’t have much of an opportunity to get to the sails with the fly.  I’m not proud, but I did enter the rotation for the fighting chair and landed 3 sails on gear.  I’m not including any pictures of the sails since they don’t count, being caught on gear.  I did however catch a few Yellowtails and small Dorado on the fly while we were fishing for Sailfish.  On the last day, we did some inshore fishing for Rooster fish.  I was using my 6 wt Zero Gravity casting on the bow of the boat.  It was pretty rough as we were right in the surf.  All of a sudden I saw a big fish right beside the boat.  I already had my fly out on that side and as it swung around, the fish saw it and developed some interest.  I stripped it in a few times and suddenly, FISH ON!  This was a pretty big fish for what felt like a really wimpy 6 wt rod.  But, about 45 minutes later with the help of CPT Eric helping in the chase, I landed a 35 lb Tripletail (kind of a black snapper).  Quite a fight on the 6 wt.  Deckhand El Chita indicated that these fish were really good eating and that he would be happy to take the fish, so this fellow was not released unscathed.  We continued on to another area by a bunch of big rocks to seek Roosters.  One of the gear guys landed one.  Beautiful fish – really hard fighters.  Since we were told Roosters would take nothing but live bait, I thought I would use the 6 wt rod with a “live sardine” fly.  Yes I know it’s cheating and I deserve a ration of $*%!, but what the hell.  I wanted to catch a Rooster.  Right at the end of the day, I did hookup and again, after a 45 minute battle, landed a 30+ lb Rooster fish.  The rod broke just as we had the fish up to the boat but we landed the fish anyway.  Catching the Yellowtail and the Rooster on the 6 wt. was quite a battle, but the rod was way overmatched.  I was quite impressed with the strength of the rod.

All in all, this was a really great trip.  I got to explore some new areas, catch some big saltwater gamefish on the fly, and have a lot of fun with a great bunch of guys.


DSC_0256 – My first tarpon catching some air

DSC_0266 – My first tarpon with guide Rocindo

DSC_0316 – Jack Crevalle with guide Roy

DSC_0538 – Trippletail on the 6 wt with El Chita

DSC-0569 – Rooster Fish

P4230790 – Juan Cho dining at Rio Indio

tarpon 256
My first tarpon catching some air
Jack Crevalle with guide Roy








Tarpon DSC_0266
My first tarpon with guide Rocindo
Trippletail on the 6 wt with El Chita








Rooster Fish

Juan Cho dining at Rio Indio
Juan Cho dining at Rio Indio




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