Fly Fishing for Tarpon at Tarponville Lodge - Manzanillo, Costa Rica
Experience heart pounding tarpon action that will leave you week in the knees and begging for more! Tarponville is Costa Rica's southern most fishing lodge and is located on the East coast adjacent the Caribbean. Located just above the border of Panama, Tarponville offers some of the very best opportunities to target large powerful tarpon on a fly rod anywhere. Known for the large adult fish that are found in this corner of the Caribbean, the lodge is an ideal gateway to some unforgettable encounters with Megalopidae. At Tarponville you will fly fish shallow water, and the excitement of these fish will leave you breathless…
The Sixola River forms the border of Costa Rica and Panama on the Atlantic coast. Triple digit tarpon patrol the river mouth year-round and Tarponville lodge is your ticket to the silver king show. Tucked into the rainforest in the Gandoca Preserve, at the end of the road near the village of Manzanillo, Tarponville is the only fishing lodge in the region. Your guides are local fisherman who have spent their entire lives on the local waters and know the fishery intimately. Catering to fly anglers of all levels, Tarponville is your first choice to get immersed in the Costa Rican jungle and chase big, nasty tarpon in a beautiful and wild setting.
Tarpon are the "real reason" to fish Tarponville however there are a variety of species available. For those with permit on the brain, the lodge retains exclusive access to a flat loaded with happy, unpressured permit and bonefish.
Triggerfish swim the reefs near the lodge and provide a challenging distraction if 8 hours of tarpon fishing isn’t enough. Jacks, cuda, mackerel and more are common bycatch at the tarpon grounds and the Gandoca Lagoon is a beautiful place to see abundant wildlife and add a snook to your list. The wildlife is worth the visit alone. Howler monkeys call through the forest around the lodge. Toucans, parrots and woodpeckers fly overhead and sloths laze in the canopy. You will see new and amazing creatures every day.
Tarponville is a wonderful place to bring a non-angling companion. Hiking and snorkeling are available within steps of the lodge. Surf lessons and horseback riding are available and the lodge can arrange jungle tours and ocean kayaking as well. If nightlife is your game, the vibrant town of Puerto Viejo is just up the coast. Or relax, and just read a book and sip a margarita on the beach. Most days the fishing is broken up into morning and evening sessions with a siesta (or more fishing) midday. It’s easy to fish half a day and spend the rest exploring the area.
Tarponville - The Target Species
Tarpon-The Main Event
The tarpon at the Sixola fishing grounds average around 75lbs and fish over 100lbs are hooked daily. Fish over 200lbs are hooked occasionally but rarely landed. These exceptionally powerful fish will give you a spectacular topwater show and make you work for every foot of line. Stout gear is required for these beasts. Bring 12-13 wt. rods and reels with minimum 300yds of backing and a strong drag. Clear intermediate lines are favored but floaters are used as well. Heavy dredgers are not needed. 80-100lbs shock leaders and razor sharp hooks will keep you hooked up. They will eat a variety of standard tarpon patterns, both light and dark colored, including: Black Death, Cockroach, Tarpon Bunny, Tarpon Toad, Thalken’s Cruiser, Deceiver, Whistler, Lemay’s Big Eye, all in #1/0-4/0.
Permit-A Pleasant Surprise
Several small, coral flats exist along the Manzanillo coastline. They hold permit, bonefish and other reef species. However, one flat in particular is home to loads of happy, hungry permit. Spotting two dozen tails in a morning is common. Tarponville has exclusive access to this flat and lodge guests are the only anglers to ever fish it and the locals ignore permit. It’s not something you will fish every day during your stay but a great side dish to mix it up. Permit gear should be 9-10 wt. rods and reels with strong drags. Leaders 10-12’ tapered to 15-20lbs are perfect. Bring a variety of olive and tan crabs #2-4. You’ll need both heavily weighted and lighter flies depending on tides. Favorite flies are: Bauer Crab, Kung-Fu Crab, Sandy’s Fleeing Crab, Ragin’ Cravin and the Raghead Crab.
The Variety Pack
A plethora of flyrod friendly species swim the waters off Manzanillo. The most accessible are triggerfish that tail on all the reefs near the lodge. Fished from the boat or just walking the beach, triggers are fun and challenging. A 7-8 wt. rod is perfect and any small crab or shrimp pattern will do. You just have to get it in front of them at the right moment… Jacks are the most common bycatch while fishing for tarpon. They can reach 40lbs and give you a run for your money. Parrotfish, barracuda, houndfish, mackeral and more are all out there waiting for a dangling fly.
The lodge is currently exploring bluewater fishing opportunities. Most Costa Rican bluewater fishing is done off the west coast but dorado, sailfish, several tuna and marlin species swim off offshore in the Atlantic. Stay tuned for more developments on this untouched fishery.
Tarponville - The Seasons
Tarpon are migratory fish and no one really knows when fish come and go from the Sixola. Some of these tarpon are thought to be the same fish that migrate all the way up the west coast of Florida in the summer. Whatever the truth, large fish are found at the Sixola year round. The weather plays the most important role in determining fishability and the lodge only fishes prime seasons. The spring fishery is March-May, when the weather is generally dry and stable and the ocean swells are calmer. September-October is the other prime time, when the weather dries out again and the ocean is at its calmest.
Tarponville - The Fishing
Tarpon fishing is done primarily out of 18-24’ pangas. These stable and comfortable boats are the ideal chariots for the ocean and the fish. The Sixola mouth is a beautiful 20 minute run south of the lodge and the short ride allows the fishing day to be split into morning and evening sessions, offering the best shots at active fish. Tarpon can be spotted anywhere between the lodge and the river. Color, temperature and current lines crisscross the area and trap baitfish which brings the big boys running. Keep your eyes peeled… The guides will slowly cruise the fishing grounds looking for active rolling and feeding on the surface. Once spotted, the guides maneuver into casting range and you will let loose. Casting into a pod of dozens of slashing and rolling fish all fifty pounds or better is an incredible and common experience at Tarponville. Make sure to keep a firm grip on your rod, the action is explosive. If the fish are not active, drifting and blind casting is the other main technique. It’s not as heart pounding as sight fishing but often just as productive. The guides know the water and the fish.
The permit flat is a short shuttle ride up the coast (an extra $60) and usually fished very early in the morning for half a day. You will wade the flat and fish out of a panga as well. Hard soled wading boots are required, the flat is mostly coral. The fish move onto the flat to feed during rising tides and back off during the ebb. Ambushing them when they’re happy and hungry is key, though they are virtually unpressured and don’t spook like fish in Belize or Mexico. However, as soon as you step onto the flat you need be cool and calm, you’re still permit fishing and anything can happen.
Tarponville - The Lodge
Tarponville is in the Gandoca Preserve and is a destination for those anglers who love being in nature. That may seem a given, but if you expect linen tablecloths and fine silverware, this may not be the choice for you. Once the shuttle drops you off the lodge staff will grab your bags. You will cross a small creek and walk a short ways through the jungle to your oasis. There is no A/C but you will find comfortable and clean rooms with overhead fans and a pleasant, ocean breeze to cool you down. The meals are excellent and filling. They consist of local favorites, or “Tico fare”, and include beef, chicken and fish. Specialty diets can be accommodated with advance notice. You haven’t lived until you’ve tasted a mojito concocted by lodge manager and lifelong local, Dolfi Goodman. A TV loaded with angling DVD’s entertains during happy hour if you don’t want to take a walk along the quiet beach. A walk into town will bring you to Maxi’s for a cold Imperial and some local culture. The Cool and Calm is down the block and a funky spot for live music and cold beer. There is so much to do at Tarponville you will sleep soundly every night, until the howler monkeys sound the alarm for another morning of chasing the silver king.
Tarponville - Getting There
From destinations unknown you will need to get yourself to Juan Santamaria (SJO) in the capital, San Jose where you will be picked up in an air conditioned shuttle. Off the Hook can assist in airfare arrangements if desired. Depending on your arrival and departure times you may spend the night at the Costa Verde Inn. This is also inclusive in your package and all transportation is arranged ahead of time. The shuttle ride from San Jose to Manzanillo takes from 4-6 hours depending on traffic and weather. The drive takes you through the mountain rain forest and down onto the beautiful beaches of Limon province. While it is a trek, once you arrive, you’ll see why Tarponville and the beautiful sandy beaches are worth the wait.
Tarponville - The Rates
Includes: 5 guided days of fishing, 7 nights lodging, including layover nights at the Costa Verde Inn (if needed), round trip airport/hotel shuttles, lodge shuttle-one per group, all meals and happy hour.
Not included: Flights to San Jose, fishing gear (gear is available for rent), flies, gratuities, permit shuttle (if desired). $55 per angler/ 2 anglers at time.
Other packages and non-angling activities available.
Whether you’re a saltwater newbie or a tarpon veteran you haven’t seen anything like Tarponville. Call or email us for more information or to plan your giant tarpon adventure today! (877)228-2477, (707)287-2939 or contact us via email at email@example.com.
A tarpon trip of a lifetime awaits!
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