My First Marlin – Los Sueños, Costa Rica

Last weekend I had the opportunity to go to the famous Los Sueños Resort & Marina for the first time, and it definitely lived up to the hype. For years I’ve been hearing about how nice this property is and how incredible the fishing can be, and I finally got to experience it in person. Located near the popular Jaco Beach and just one hour away from the capital of San Jose, the Los Sueños Resort is not only one of the nicest properties in Costa Rica, it is also one of the easiest to get to. The property features luxurious 1, 2, and 3 bedroom condos, private homes, 18 hole golf course, spa, casino, eight restaurants, a 600 acre rainforest reserve, and of course the famous 200-slip state of the art Los Sueños Marina. Three friends and I headed down there on Friday and stayed in the gorgeous Harmon Estate for the weekend. It was a stunning, 6-bedroom house that came complete with flat screen TV, full kitchen, and a beautiful pool area. It was a very unique design as well as there was a spacious master suite on the second floor and two of the six rooms were private, free standing 1-bedroom casitas. Factor in they had a workout room inside the house, a swim up bar in the pool, huge BBQ, and views of the 13th fairway and it is a virtual paradise. To say the least, I won’t forget where I was when I was watching my beloved Pittsburgh Penguins win their third Stanely Cup!

As nice as the house was, the highlight of our weekend was definitely the fishing. On Saturday we headed down to the marina and boarded our boat, the much heralded Super Fly. This is a custom built, 42′ Maverick Yacht and one of the nicest boats in the entire Los Sueños Marina. Built in 2005 by Richard & Nancy Lebo, the Super Fly already has a reputation for being one of the best fishing charters in the entire country. It took second place in the 2008 Los Sueños Signature Billfish Series and and eight place in this year’s tournament. I’ve fished on several boats here in Costa Rica over the past four years and without a doubt this is one of the nicest boats I’ve ever been on. That boats comes fully equipped with two sleeping quarters, fully galley & head, top of the line electronics, ice & water maker, twin 455 hp C-7 Cats with a cruising speed of 28 knots, tuna tubes, live well, fighting chair, teak deck, and even an air-conditioned salon. The captain, David Mesen, was hand picked after earning a reputation as being one of the best captains in Quepos and has been at helm of the Super Fly since 2005. He has two great mates, Simon Cambronero and Carlos Espinoza, who is younger brother to the well known David Espinoza who captains the Spanish Fly.

From the moment we started motoring out of the marina we all had a feeling it was going to be a special day. Carlos and Simon were telling us that the day before was the worst weather and sea conditions they had all year – and they still caught two marlin and three sailfish! After seeing the fishing reports that were coming in from these boats in the high season I had a feeling that if I was ever going to catch a marlin in Costa Rica, this was going to be the day. We were flying as we made our run out to David’s favorite fishing spot, 32 miles away from the Los Sueños Resort. We quickly found a trash flow and giant log floating in the current so we set out to catch bonito (small black tuna) to fill our tuna tubes to use as live bait for the marlin. After about twenty minutes of trolling our tuna tubes were full and then we headed out to find our fish. With six lines in the water we started trolling and by 9:30 AM we had what we were looking for.

David yelled from the fly-bridge that we had a bite, and then looking about 100 feet behind the end of the boat I caught my first glimpse of the lady in the blue dress. I jumped into the fighting chair and got ready for the fight of a lifetime. I had about three seconds to think before Simon handed me that beautiful gold Penn rod & reel, and all I could think about was that I was glad I had been going to the gym again because I had heard stories of people fighting marlin for two, three, or even six hours! As soon as I had the rod in my hands I could feel the heavy pull on the other end. Although I was trying to go slow and take it all in to enjoy the experience of my first marlin, my main concern was to get him to the boat so I could finally say I caught one. He made some hard runs, but between me giving everything I had, my Penn reel, and David backing the boat down we had the marlin near the boat within 15 minutes.

Once he got close he caught his second wind and started jumping out of the water a bit more in an effort to throw the hook, but we had it set and I wasn’t about to let him get away now. One thing I don’t think I will ever forget is the beautiful colors on the back of this blue marlin. With the tropical Costa Rican sun showering light on us and the glistening blue water of the Pacific Ocean, the bright purple stripes and back of the fish was one of the most impressive things I have seen here. After a few minutes of fighting and maneuvering Simon had my marlin by the bill at the side of the boat as I held onto it’s dorsal fin and put my other hand around it’s body to feel the sheer power of this giant fish. We tried to pull him on board for a picture, but he was stubborn and camera shy so instead of harming the fish – or endangering us – we unhooked him and released him unharmed to continue roaming the Pacific Ocean.

There weren’t a lot of spectacular leaps out of the water typical for a marlin fight, unfortunately for both me and the marlin it had swallowed our bonito as it was swimming directly towards the boat so by the time we had the hook set and knew it was on the marlin had already worked the fish down his throat a bit. Costa Rican law states that every boat must use circle hooks as opposed to J hooks in an effort to protect the gamefish as circle hooks are harder to swallow, so even though we didn’t get it hooked in the hard tissue around the mouth we were still able to safely release it. So why this fish tale may not include a fight to the death or a giant monster that was surely a world record, it was my first marlin and a day I will never forget. Our final tally on the day was two wahoo, two big sailfish, and my 150 lb blue marlin. The Los Sueños Resort & Marina, the Super Fly, and fishing in Costa Rica is truly an experience I wish everyone could have.