Greetings from everybody here at Billfish Safaris. Just to give a quick update on what is going on down here is Costa Rica. We are happy to report that our windy season has finally come to a close and we are prepping to tackle our summer fishing season. With decreased winds we are watching the water temps creep above 80 degrees and that means one thing: billfish! Warmer water and less wind means the billfish are on the move and just a short 15 mile run from the docks here at Marina Papagayo. The pelagic life offshore is staging to explode with dolphins and birds working large baitballs of deep water, lanternfish. This influx of life has attracted good concentrations of marlin which has all of us very excited. Trips aboard the Fish Tale II, Plautus and Zara have produced upwards of 10 blue marlin releases in the last two weeks with many more hooked and lost. These fish range from 200-400 lbs. and put on one hell of a show when hooked on a pitch bait right behind the boat. In addition, we are seeing groups of 2-4 sails crashing the baits with the potential for multiple hookups. We have yet to see any tuna action but, with bait, dolphins and birds it is only a matter of time. Inshore, water temps continue to climb which should turn the roosterfish bite on in a hurry. This increase in temp also amps up our night fishing trips which are resulting in multiple shots at large nurse sharks and maybe even a large grouper if you are lucky.
April 18th, 2012 by Sam Friederichs
Wanna catch a marlin for National Geographic? National Geographic Crittercam and Billfish Safaris succeed in filming free-swimming marlin
February 6th, 2012 by Sam Friederichs
As of January 20th, the National Geographic Crittercam project and Billfish Safaris, a Costa Rica sport fishing company, has successfully attached camera systems to both black marlin (Makaira nigricans) and striped marlin (Tetrapturus audax) off the coast of northwestern Costa Rica. The two deployments have accrued approximately 1.5 hours of free-swimming footage as the marlin explored their world away from the prying eyes of humans.
The National Geographic Crittercam is a unique research tool developed to record video information on animal behavior in places and situations that it would be impossible for a human observer. The reason for its success is that the animals are the ones who film their own unique behaviors through the use of special micro-cameras. The cameras are attached in a manner that allows a harmless, first person view of marlin behavior as they go about their daily lives without any human influence. Since it’s inception in 1986, founder Greg Marshall and his Remote Imaging team have successfully deployed these cameras on sea turtles, sharks, whales, penguin and even African lions!
These first deployments were made aboard Billfish Safaris’ 40-foot Gamefisherman, the Plautus, with IGFA world record holder, Sjon Harless, being the lucky angler. Harless, who was recently named 2011 IGFA top female saltwater angler, performed flawlessly with both fish. She fought the estimated 400-pound black marlin on 30 pound stand-up tackle and brought it boat side in just under an hour and she fought the estimated 200-pound striped marlin on 50 pound stand-up tackle for approximately 30 minutes before it was subdued at the boat. Both fish were released in excellent condition with bright colors and swam the cameras away from the boat with no hesitation.
So what did the footage reveal? It revealed only a short glimpse into the lives of billfish but, as is to be expected billfish live in a very blue world. In addition, to the footage an on-board depth/temperature recorder register each fish making quick deep dive away from the boat followed by a series of undulating dives from 50-70 feet. As they made these dives they swam through as described by Crittercam creator, Greg Marshall, a “bouillabaisse” of planktonic life. Watching these fish swim away from the boat, one assumes that they swim through a clear world but, in reality they spend their lives in a pelagic soup. In addition, the camera placement on the black marlin allowed a view of the animal’s eye which is incredibly active. The eye is continually moving, presumably trying to pick up on the movement of their next meal or a potential predator. These initial deployments did not reveal feeding or social behaviors but, subsequent use of the cameras will be devoted to longer deployment times in an attempt to unlock further secrets of billfish behavior.
The Crittercam systems will remain with the Billfish Safaris team in the hope of further deployments and more footage of the prevalent Costa Rica billfish. This represents a very unique opportunity to charter anglers to participate in this very exciting work. Typically, work of this magnitude is reserved for biologists and individuals who graciously donate the use of their sportfishing vessels however; Billfish Safaris has decided to open this opportunity up to its charter anglers. They are the only Costa Rica fishing charters that will be participating in the Crittercam work and are actively seeking anglers who are willing to participate in this scientific work. The reality is there are a number of places on earth to catch a marlin however; at the moment northwestern Costa Rica (with Billfish Safaris) is the only place where you can release a marlin for National Geographic and contribute to the understanding of these amazing oceanic predators.
For further information on Billfish Safaris work with the National Geographic Crittercam project and inquiries about working with the billfish crittercams please visit www.billfishsafaris.com and follow the progress of the project on Billfish Safaris’ Facebook page and Twitter (@BillfishSafaris) for photos and video. Visit www.nationalgeographic.com/crittercam for further information on the Crittercam project in its entirety.
June 26th, 2011 by Sam Friederichs
Greetings from Billfish Safaris! We are pleased to bring you another fishing report from our fleet and this by far the most exciting one we have been able to write in while. To get us going we are happy to report that the first annual Presidential Papagayo Cup Billfish Tournament concluded on the evening of June 25th here in Marina Papagayo. The tournament action was hot and heavy over all three days. A total of nine boats competed with boats coming from Los Suenos Marina in Costa Rica, Guatemala and as far away as Puerto Rico and Texas. These boats did not travel in vain as we experienced a phenomenal sailfish bite with most boats raising 15-20 sails a day during the first two days with a slight drop off on the third day with boats raising 7-10 sailfish a piece. Overall the tournament resulted in 136 sailfish releases across all the boats during the three days of fishing. We are pleased to report that Billfish Safaris’ boats placed very high in the standings. Our 47-foot Riviera, the Zara, took second place overall releasing 18 sails over the three days and they walked away with $11,000 in cash. In addition to the Zara’s amazing work, Billfish Safaris’ mates also took 1st and 2nd place anglers across the entire tournament. First mate on the Zara, Hansel, took 1st place angler by personally releasing 11 sailfish to help his team take 2nd place overall. The second mate on our 35-foot Cabo, the Fish Tale II, took 2nd place angler with 10 personal sailfish releases and the Fish Tale II ended up tying for 4th place in the overall standings. We are very proud of these captains and crews and it goes to show that our boats at Billfish Safaris can successfully compete against the best boats in Costa Rica.
On a slightly different note, we are also pleased to announce that yet another world record has fallen to our own Sjon Harless. While Jamey and Sjon declined to enter themselves and the Plautus in the tournament they were not far away from the action. They spent these three days chasing world records and they were not disappointed. On June 23rd they headed up north to their secret spot in search of giant roosters. They ended up finding the roosters with multiple roosters between 25 and 40 pounds being released with the largest of the day tipping the scales at over 55 pounds caught on 130 lb. test! As the day grew shorter Sjon switched to her 6 lb. rig (basically sewing thread). Her live blue runner didn’t last long as it was eaten by what later turned out to be a large Pacific jack crevalle. Due to believed discrepancies with our scale on the boat we made our way back to dock hoping that the fish would get the job done. We were not disappointed! The fish ended up tipping the scales at 16.3 pounds which will eclipse the previous record of 15.5 pounds. With spirits high we proceeded to fish the following day in an attempt take the women’s 6 lb. roosterfish record and that fish found our bait within two minutes of putting out the downrigger. We saw the fish three times over the course of the fight and it was estimated at over 70 lbs. however; the fishing gods were not with us. Sjon fought the fish stand-up without a harness for over five hours! It dragged the boat 15 miles (almost to Nicaragua), tried to swim through another boat’s anchor line and a gill net during that time period. Sjon was rained on for over three hours during the fight and was covered in jellyfish coming off the line and in the end as the fish stopped to snack on some blue runners it broke her off on some rocks. This speaks of two things. One, Sjon is one bad ass fisherwoman and secondly giant fish prowl our waters and we are just waiting to take you out in search of your own record!
June 19th, 2011 by Sam Friederichs
Greetings from Billfish Safaris! We are pleased to bring you an update on the fishing here in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. It is officially the green season down here and that means it is time for the fishing to heat up. The winds have all but died for the year and the sporadic afternoon rain showers have turned our backyard into the lush tropical jungle that we know and love. In addition, the rains have helped to warm up the ocean as well as flush countless logs into the Gulf of Papagayo. This means one thing for all of our happy anglers: DORADO! These large pieces of debris are a magnet for these colorful (and tasty) acrobats. We have had excellent success on all of our boats on both half and full days fishing floating debris and catching dorado that average 15-20 lbs. with bulls approaching 30 lbs. not out of the question! We have also seen a smattering of football yellowfin tuna as of late which helps to round out our food fish species. Our roosterfish season up at “Jurassic Park” has gotten off to a slow start but, is starting to pick up as the water continues to warm up with the rains. Billfishing has been excellent as of late with both plentiful sailfish and marlin showing up in our spreads. On June 15th, the Plautus released a sailfish and took multiple dorado for dinner on a banner half-day. The Permit III released 8 sailfish and raised an estimated 200 lb. blue marlin during a full day on June 16th. On June 17th, the Gulf Streams released a sailfish and racked up some dorado and yellowfin tuna on yet another banner half-day. On the same day, the Fish Tale II fished a full day and went 2 for 5 on sailfish, released an estimated 350 lb. blue marlin and took home a fine selection of dorado and tuna for dinner. In addition to our half and full days, the night fishing on the Southern Belle has been amazing! We have been catching large numbers of small snappers, jacks and porgies (100+/night) but, the real excitement of late has been the arrival of a large concentration of nurse sharks which have been eager to slurp up a chunk of bonita fished on the bottom. The sharks are averaging around 50 lbs. and have exceeded 100 lbs. with others hooked that simply couldn’t be stopped on 20 lb. line!
On June 18th, we were witness to yet another successful world record hunt on board the Plautus. Billfish Safaris owners Jamey and Sjon Harless fished the Plautus to kick off their annual summer world record fishing season. They headed up to Jurassic Park in search of a record roosterfish or almaco jack for Sjon. What occurred was not expected by anybody on the boat. The day started off sunny and calm when the baits hit the water around 9 am and fishing commenced as usual. The rooster bite was slow and the blue runners being fished on the surface were being plagued by our arch nemesis: large Pacific needlefish. Normally, these fish are written off as a pure nuisance and chastised as they proceed to chew up baits meant for our target species. However, on this day after quick reference to the boat’s Bible (i.e. IGFA world record book) it was discovered that the current all-tackle record for the species sat at 11.4 pounds and was caught in Golfito, Costa Rica. Well we at Billfish Safaris have seen these veritable sea monsters much larger than that so in an attempt to keep these nuisances away from Sjon’s bait Jamey hooked into a typical needlefish for Jurassic Park. After a short battle, the nuisance came to the boat, but after a quick weight on the boga-grip we realized that this individual just happened to be a potentially, new ALL-TACKLE nuisance! The Pacific needlefish weighed in at 11.9 pounds on our IGFA-certified scales eclipsing the current all-tackle record by a few ounces but, an all-tackle record is an all-tackle record! We know we grow them much bigger than that up at Jurassic Park so if you want to chase an all tackle world record come on down and we would love to take you fishing!