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Discussion Starter #1
I am starting to plan my winter travels, but not having travelled much outside the UK until a few years ago any advice would be appreciated.

I will be travelling alone and am quite happy with simple B&B at a hotel or a self-catering apartment attached to a hotel. I am running away from the cold and wet but not desperately looking for extreme heat.

I am looking for 3 weeks, ideally in February (I am limited to early November - early March.

Must have some good big game fishing. Last year I went to Grenada, the place was great (if a bit hot) but the fishing was only mediocre, so I am looking for an alternative. Mexico, Costa Rica and Guatemala all look promising possibles with Belize and Venezuela as maybes. Do not really fancy Africa or Cuba. I am a bit cautious of joining a guided group holiday as these tend to be too short and I worry about getting stuck with a noisy or boozy all male group.

From what I have read, it appears that these areas may be better for fishing in November than February.
Have any of our esteemed company fished any of these locations? If so, can you offer any advice / opinions please? Other suggestions welcomed.


Thanks in advance, Percentage
 

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Firstly, of the areas you've mentioned, I'd be somewhat reluctant to suggest Guatemala other than at an organised fishing lodge. Things may have changed but it does, or certainly did whilst I was there, have a reputation for violent crime - guns were somewhat widespread - and, from our experience, it's used as a significant route for drugs into the 'States. That unfortunately can be said though about much of Central America. But Mexico, on Baja, and Costa Rica I would suggest are much safer for independent travellers.

Before coming out with suggestions what sort of fishing interests you? And are you looking for basically shore, boat or a mixture? Also, given that you're looking at three weeks, a single venue or a series? Take Guatemala as an example, the offshore fishing for Sailfish, plus Dorado and the occasional Marlin, great fun for a week but I'd probably want more variety in three. Or do you want to incorporate an element of sightseeing into your holiday?

Budget is also a significant factor. Gameboats especially if you intend to hire them by yourself can be expensive whereas open pangas, some of which venture way offshore for big pelagics, can bring down costs considerably.

Finally in terms of costs is it worth looking at package holidays. Take First Choice for example they fly charter aircraft down to Guanacaste in Northern - Pacific side -Costa Rica. Their flight and half board accommodation packages are quite reasonable.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you for the initial advice and suggestions Dave, to fill in a bit more detail; -

Type of fishing,
I much prefer boat fishing, enjoying trolling for marlin / sailfish etc, with an occasional day reef fishing or fly / lure fishing maybe from a smaller boat.

I would love to try for bonefish or tarpon on fly tackle but am not sufficiently confident that my fly-casting is good enough to commit my whole holiday to it. My experience of fly-fishing is limited to reservoir trout (years ago) and catching mackerel, coalfish and pollack on fly tackle from my own boat off of the west coast of Scotland.

A day or two spinning from the rocks would be pleasant.

I have no interest at all in bait casting from the shore.

The idea of 3 weeks is to make a big hole in the winter. Most specific fishing holidays, 7 or 8 days, are too short for me. Ideal for me would be 4 or 5 days boat fishing plus a few mornings fly or spinning from the rocks, spread out through the 3 weeks with some sightseeing or beach wandering mixed in.

Budget, last year I bought a 3 week B&B Virgin package holiday to Grenada for £2300 then chartered a 30ft Bertram for 4 days at US$550 / day making a total spend of about £3700. I caught 1 white marlin, 1 dorado, 1 wahoo 1 crevalle? and several barracuda. Tried spinning off of the rocks but little success.

The First choice charter sounds a good idea, if I could find a similar one to Cabo St Lucas, a friend has recommended a charter fishing company there.

Please can you tell me if November is significantly better than February for this type of fishing in Central America, I am limited to early November to mid March. Do you know a reliable charter outfit in Costa Rica?

Thanks for your help and Kindness,
Mike
 

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Hi Mike
When I fished that area of Northern Costa Rica it was on a friend’s boat – his crew brought it up from the marina at Los Suenos (Herradura) – there’s a report here - http://www.worldseafishing.com/forums/showthread.php?t=80449&highlight=guanacaste . Oldnipper though, on post 13 of this thread - http://www.worldseafishing.com/forums/showthread.php?t=257964&highlight=guanacaste&page=2 – noted he fished with and recommended this particular operation - Tranquilamar - http://www.tranquilamar.com/ - based in Playa del Coco in Guanacaste. That may well be worth considering? Or perhaps try contacting Oldnipper by PM for further information?

My friend and I did however talk about returning to the area and one of the species we were looking to additionally target were Tarpon. (Unfortunately we still haven’t got back!) The Tarpon migrate from the Caribbean up the San Juan River into Lake Nicaragua and its feeder rivers some of which are in Costa Rica, close to the border and the Pacific. These are just a couple of sites we picked up information on:

http://www.costaricafishingreport.com/tarpon.shtml

http://www.nicaraguafishingsafari.com/index.htm

But to stress we never went any further or even contacted the operations. Perhaps interestingly the second is run by a Brit, Martin Bernard who, I’m sure it’s the same one, was a member of our Club some 25 years ago. That was in the days before the Internet and I haven’t been in contact with him since.

As to when? December through to May is dry season – the weather’s very pleasant with low humidity. At that time of year – I’ve fished Panama and Southern Costa Rica – the Golfito area – usually in January through March - billfish tend to work northwards. So, in terms of Guanacaste I would personally opt for January/February when more Marlin should be present as well as big Sailfish and the other species. (The large Yellowfin tend to appear later in the year.) The only observation I’ve picked up is that it tends to be somewhat 'breezy' offshore along that coast – but I’m sure that’s relative. The Pacific in that area of Central America in dry season tends to be flat calm, just big swells.

You also though mentioned Mexico and, in terms of Cabo, if he doesn’t reply to this thread, I’d be inclined to contact MarktheShark who I know has fished there on a number of occasions. (You should also be able to search for past threads, several other forum members have fished there.) There’s also a report, well more of a photo-essay, on one of our Club’s German members personal web site - http://www.bluewaterfishing.eu/e_start.html. Select Trip Reports from the menu, then Mexico 2008. His trip was in November.

Going back to your original post I know you discounted Africa but, looking at your interests, have you perhaps considered Kenya. Those first three months of the year are when there’s a good run of billfish with Grand Slams always being a real possibility. Boats are also reasonably priced.

If that’s a possibility let me know and I can always move your thread to the International - General forum. That might expand the base of forum members commenting. (May take a few days as I’m fishing this evening and then will be away over the weekend.)
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks again, You have provided a lot of ideas, links and information for me to read through.
I will spend time on them before I go any further. I am sure that one of the Central American locations will suit me and I am not very keen on Africa.
Have a good weekend fishing, our is off due to mechanical problems!
Regards Mike
 

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Perhaps think about New Zealand. Great for freshwater trout (South Island)and fantastic sea fishing off the north of South Island and north of North Island.
 

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Hi there

no cheap charter flights to cabo im afraid , pretty much every flight goes through the states . Its certainly a good option for cheaper fishing but wont allow you the flats fly fishing element of your itinerary .

Good marlin fishing on light tackle , but they tend to be small stripeys . Snapper fishing and rooster fishing is a blast . Also the night life is great.

Puerto vallarta might be worth a look , because there are cheap charters there and i am sure there will be some decent fishing as its just across from the baja peninsular.

Kenyas a good call but it wont be cheap at that time of year because everybody knows the fishing good and they have had a couple of spectacular years , catch reports wise.

Mixed fishing might be an issue in Kenya , you could go to tana delta or somewhere for the popper fishing but its all cash on them big boats .

Maybe bite the bullet and go to cabo , take the longhaul , but the key to your trip will be find the right panga skipper and book him.

Richard
 

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....

As to when? December through to May is dry season – the weather’s very pleasant with low humidity. At that time of year – I’ve fished Panama and Southern Costa Rica – the Golfito area – usually in January through March - billfish tend to work northwards. So, in terms of Guanacaste I would personally opt for January/February when more Marlin should be present as well as big Sailfish and the other species. (The large Yellowfin tend to appear later in the year.) The only observation I’ve picked up is that it tends to be somewhat 'breezy' offshore along that coast – but I’m sure that’s relative. The Pacific in that area of Central America in dry season tends to be flat calm, just big swells.

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Hi Mike
Just back to my earlier comment about when.

That 'breezy' observation I'd heard about related to something referred to as the Papagayo effect. And the seasonal winds - normally experienced February through to April - channelled through the surrounding volcanic region can gust to force 6, or even 7. (Shouldn't be a problem offshore though.) The positive aspect of it, that's the time when there's an upwelling of plankton rich cold water and a mixing with the warm surface water - the start of the food chain. (If you want to delve deeper there's a scientific article explaining the effect here - http://disc.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov/ocean...cean-color/science_focus.shtml/papagayo.shtml. Or, at a practical level, if you decide to contact that operation Oldnipper referred to, mention it and see what they suggest the impact on billfishing is likely to be or whether it will be better earlier, pre-February, given that 'time-window' for holidays you have.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Hi Dave ,
Thanks again for all the time and effort you put into your info.

I came across this on the site of a charter outfit that has been recommended to me http://piscessportfishing.com/montly-catches.php made me wonder if November may beat February. I will probably ring the company for a chat and see what they think. If that is the case then I could move my other cheapo holiday from Nov in Portugal to Feb in Canaries.

I think that I will probably go for a 3 week trip to Costa Rica or Cabo St Lucas, they seem the simplest without resorting to a guided group trip, neither is as easy to get to as Grenada was last year.

A bit of a day dream has come into my head, - to try to find a similar early retired person who also has the time , money, interest in fishing / travel and no commitments to spend 3 or 4 months of the winter bumming around Central America, maybe by bus / train, staying in modest hotels and fish 2 or 3 days each, in a variety of locations, some offshore boat, some inshore, some flats.

The hoilday, I will do - the daydream -who knows!!

Thanks again Mike
 

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Hi Mike
As well as contacting the Pisces fleet try PM-ing MarktheShark who has fished there on a number of occasions.

I'm sure there're other forum members who've fished there and it might be worth searching earlier posts - just bear in mind that the Search engine doesn't recognise 'three letter words' like 'san', 'Lucas'should find them though.

Another source of information is http://www.mexfish.com/cabosanlucas.htm - that has archived material, week by week, for the past several years. Bear in mind though that 2010 has been an El Nino year which will have influenced things.

I recall earlier in this thread there was mention of a lack of charter holidays to Cabo.

Obviously most major US will offer onward connections from the UK, changing at their 'Stateside hub, but bear in mind the lenghty 'connect' times. Since 9/11 you cannot stay airside and are forced to enter the US through Immigration and Customs and then immediately repeat the process prior to boarding your onward flight. One of our members who regularly fishes Costa Rica has now, given the frustration, resorted to travelling via Spain using Iberia. That's something perhaps worth considering.

Another option of which I've no personal experience, but perhaps worth exploring, is taking an inclusive package - hotel and flight - from either Canada or the 'States. This was one such link I found - http://www.destination360.com/north-america/mexico/cabo-san-lucas/vacation-packages. Might prove a cheaper option? Or perhaps even a Spanish company?

When? If it was me I'd personally opt for February, for either Cabo or Costa Rica.

Last point bear in mind when costing things out that the Mexican tax they refer to is 11%.
 

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Hi guys,

First Choice offer a 2 week all inclusive in Matapalo in Feb at approx. £1900. The holiday is a direct flight from Gatwick thus avoiding the unpleasantness of an american transit, I've done 2 too many and will find any route to avoid it.

The nearest port is Quepos so fishing should'nt be difficult to find.

I've fished in Costa Rica( flying with First Choice), Guatemala and Panama in the last 3 years all different but all good. All holidays were found by searching the net for fishing first and then checking weekly reports.

In CR we had (2 of us) 9 big sailfish, and an assorted bag of jacks, roosters, dorado and wahoo in 4 trips. A good relaxing trip in july

In Guatemala 5 of us had 51 big sails, best est. 145lb in 6 trips, plus a scattering of dorado to 40lb, cero mackerel and jack trevalles.

And in Panama this year (April) the same 5 guys/girl - my wife - had literally dozens of football yellow fin tuna, best at 50lb, dozens of cubera snapper to 80lb, a few roosters to 45lb, plenty of Crevally jacks to 25lb, a single 80 lb amberjack plus an assortment of other reef fish mostly big snappers, small white tips and hammer heads and not so small sharks bulls and nurse

Other anglers on the barge had 2 black marlin 250 and 400 and a 260 lb YFT!!. They also bagged up on the reef fish to 80 lb

This was a 6 day charter on the Pesca Panama barge - very comfortable and excellent camaraderie at post fishing bar and dinner. It was expensive at approx. $ 4000 each but the potential is huge. We flew via Amsterdam direct to Panama City then up to David at another
£850 each. Well worth it if you can get 2 or 3 rods together for a 'trip of a lifetime'

Mike
 

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hi mike i also have fished in the north of costa rica great boat fishing with the tranquillamar outfit.. marlin sailfish and big roosters.. ask for mario.. aka super mario.. also you can take a short flight over to the caribbean side and fish for tarpon not sure of the best time..of year for the tarpon ..also lots to do in costa rica... try the zip lineing..cheers johnboy
 

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Hello Mike,

Lot's of good advice here. Living now in Panama I've found it to be the best overall choice for the types of fish you have on your "bucket list". I have fished and lived in Mexico, Costa Rica and now Panama after working in The States as the founder of Budweiser's National Fishing Team.
I still have to laugh when people ask me what I did for a living. The job took me from Alaska to Rio where we fished and hunted year around.

Panama isn't a third world country, it has every species your looking for with a safe environment. In the past i was on the Pacific side fishing, Marlin, Sails, big tuna and Dorado with both conventional gear and on the fly. great fishing at places like Paradise fishing lodge and Hooked on Panama. My passion for fly fishing and light tackle has now brought me over to the Caribbean side fishing for Tarpon. You can get great Tarpon fishing on this side and be fishing for the other species you want in just hours over on the pacific side. The other major advantage is Panama is much more reasonable as far as food and lodging costs. Check out all the resorts mentioned. Great site for sharing information.
 

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Hi Mike, I spend a lot of the winter in Mexico in Puerta Aventuras. Its a beautifull place and the fishing is great and varied, but, the sailfish, marlin and mahi mahi dont realy turn up there till march/april.
If you ever realize your "dream" you could spend some time and fish with us at Puerto, I love to troll for sails or just fish the reef and just south of us is ascension bay, fantastic for fly fishing!
regards John.
 

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Have you considered Panama? In my life's work as captain of Budweiser's National Fishing Team I was fortunate to fish world wide and found Panama to be one of the top destinations. not just for the fish you are seeking but for a safe and beautiful country. I lived in Mexico, Costa Rica for years but chose the Caribbean side of Panama to retire. Here in Bocas Del Toro we have great fly and plug fishing for tarpon and are just a few hours from the Pacific side if you want Sails, Marlin and giant Tuna. December through April is perfect for weather and fish. Budman
 

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Hi guys,

First Choice offer a 2 week all inclusive in Matapalo in Feb at approx. £1900. The holiday is a direct flight from Gatwick thus avoiding the unpleasantness of an american transit, I've done 2 too many and will find any route to avoid it.

The nearest port is Quepos so fishing should'nt be difficult to find.

I've fished in Costa Rica( flying with First Choice), Guatemala and Panama in the last 3 years all different but all good. All holidays were found by searching the net for fishing first and then checking weekly reports.

In CR we had (2 of us) 9 big sailfish, and an assorted bag of jacks, roosters, dorado and wahoo in 4 trips. A good relaxing trip in july

Mike
Mike,
Wrong Matapalo mate!

First Choice fly to Liberia and all their resorts are up in the NW of Costa Rica. Their Playa Matapalo is the tiny one near Playa del Coco and Playa Ocotal up in the Gulf of Papagayo.
That said there's still plenty of fishing to be had there.

The Matapalo about 45 mins south of Quepos is very much a shore fishing destination at the mouth of the Rio Portalon.

(I know 'cos I'll be there, and Ojochal and Quepos and Samara in January for 9 days).
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks again one and all for all of the kind advice and suggestions, just a bit of feed back.

As putting a package together myself for this area seemed more complex than the trip I did to Grenada WI last year, combined with being offered what looked a fair value pakage by one of the specialist agents, I have booked 3 weeks with a minimum of 5 days boat fishing out of Palmas on the Baja peninsular of Mexico. After considering family commitments, looking at the catch returns and listening to advice, I have decided to go in November.

The whole Central American area looks a fishing dream and I hope to learn enough to spend more time and travel more widely within the region next year.

I still very much have the hope / plan / dream of finding a similar retired character to spend a winter travelling / fishing that region with - not quite the same on your own.

Tackle, I am planning to use the boats trolling tackle but take my own 10 and 12 weight fly rods and reels, a Snowbee Tarpon rod with a Diawa Tournament fixed spool reel, plus maybe a 20 - 30lb class boat rod with a TLD 15 or 20 reel. Any comments / advice particularly re flys / lures?

Early December I will put up a report of how I faired.

Regards Mike
 

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Mike,
If you haven't already, check out my report at http://www.worldseafishing.com/forums/showthread.php?t=108295

Most of the photographs have been deleted after I 'reorganised' my photobucket account about 18 months ago, so the links don't work anymore.

Palmas de Cortez is about 10km North of Rancho Leonero in Los Barriles and about 30km North of Punta Colorada.

You will see at the end of the final report section in Post #6 that if I was to return it would be in October or November...you lucky chap!!
(But you probably won't get a big Rooster at that time).

Your gear looks fine to me!

(As it happens I will be in Cabo San Lucas for 3 days and Palmas de Cortez for 4 days in January).
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Thanks Dai, your report was a good read thanks, especially enjoyed how you made your own arrangements and found your way around.

See how this goes but if you fancy a longer roam around central America late in 2011..............

Regards Mike
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Well the rods are packed and tomorrow I am off for 3 weeks, the weather looks great - warm but not silly-hot. Thanks for all the kind advice and suggestions.
I will do some sort of report / feedback when I return.

Regards Mike
 
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