Some time ago, in fact, over a year ago, I was contacted by Tom Enderlin, Owner and Head Guide of Fly Release Travels, a company based out of San Jose, Costa Rica. Fly Release specializes in the finest hosted fly fishing and exotic, “exploratory travel adventures” around the world. He and his company focus on creating unique fly fishing experiences that offer diverse cultural exposure and emphasize positive, local impact to their destinations. I was intrigued by his company. He was interested in tenkara. And so, the emails began.
Costa Rica is a country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west, the Caribbean Sea to the east, and Ecuador to the south of Cocos Island. It’s a country untypically stable of Central America and has no standing army. With an average temperature of 70 degrees and 2 seasons – dry (Nov. – Apr.) and wet (May – Nov.) it’s a veritable petri dish to 5% of the world’s species in its cloud, rain, and dry forests and along its 800 miles of coastline. To an explorer, traveler and fly fishing angler, Costa Rica offers up an amazing outdoor arena. Add to that, miles upon miles of interior cold-water rivers and streams, and it’s the perfect tenkara destination. Mild climate, untamed environment, pristine, unspoiled rivers and Costa Rica sounds like heaven on Earth.
While Costa Rica is a world away, it’s an easy destination to access. Flights are abundant and air time, reasonable. From Denver to San Jose it’s about a 6 hour and 45 minute trip – roughly the same length of time to fly to Rapids Camp Lodge in King Salmon, Alaska but substantially shorter than the flight to Las Pampas Lodge in Patagonia, Argentina, two other Zen Tenkara partner lodges. So, if you’re looking for a tenkara destination out of the country, but something more exotic than Pesca Maya Fishing Lodge in Ascension Bay, Mexico or, without having to fly half way around the world, then Costa Rica and Fly Release is your ticket.
I’ll be traveling there in February. Smack in the middle of dry season which should make the experience even more exceptional. I’ll be river scouting with Tom, fishing and exploring tenkara options for those anglers looking for adventure, fly fishing and fixed-line fishing opportunities in exotic locations with the best outfitter around, Fly Release.
Tom and his company are plugged into and really emphasize the extreme biodiversity of Costa Rica. They’re in the business of pushing themselves to bring clients the very best fly fishing that this unique country has to offer. Whether you’re seeking heart pounding triple digit tarpon, powerful roosterfish, delicate dry fly action or, interior tenkara fishing connecting an combining an array of exotics into a custom-built angling quest is what Fly Release does best. They’re your number one resource for planning and executing the tropical fishing adventure of a lifetime. We’ll be targeting trout and machaca. The current itinerary stands as follows:
~Feb 18 – Arrival in San Jose, lodging at Hotel Ave del Paraiso or similar
~Feb 19 – Early morning transfer to trout river, fish all afternoon
~Feb 20 – Full day trout
~Feb 21 – Transfer day, perhaps some small river scouting, bird-watching, an ecotour, beach stop, etc. (we can decide on the specifics later), lodging Hacienda Pacifica
~Feb 22 – Machaca fishing – float, Lodging Hacienda Pacifica
~Feb 23 – Machaca Fishing – float, return to SJ that evening
~Feb 24 – Depart Costa Rica
Trout are not indigenous to Costa Rica. They were introduced into the Chiriquí region on the border of Panama and Costa Rica in the 1950s. With the abundance of cold mountain streams and insects, the trout thrived and eventually made their way further downriver deeper into Costa Rica. They’ve since been cross bred with trout from Canada, Mexico and California and the resulting trout is known as the “Tico” Trout. They’re abundant and eager feeders for the fly, making Costa Rica streams some of the best trout streams in the world.
Machaca are a different story. Cousins to the piranha, they’re aggressive and hard fighting. So much so that they’re nicknamed “mini tarpon”. They’re known for hard fights and impressive aerial hook throwing displays. Machaca have almost human-like teeth made for eating berries and cracking seed pods, similar to pacu, but they also feed on insects. On average, machaca range in size from 3-6lbs but can get up to 10-15lbs. They’re found near river mouths and in streams often hiding under low lying branches and feeding at the surface, waiting for food to drop in.
Tico Trout will be fun and plentiful, machaca will be a brainstorming, problem-solving, in-the-moment challenge that makes my heart pound and fills my veins with adrenaline. Of course, I never know if these kinds of trips mixed with tenkara, will ever really work. But that’s the true thrill of it and what keeps me awake at night dreaming of and imagining the takes and landings of different fish species. Casting to the machaca will be easy, minus the jungle and growth that’ll be surrounding us. Managing them and landing them, the real story. One that will be forthcoming end of February.
Like the tarpon set-up I used in the Florida Keys several years back, I’ll consider incorporating a shock absorbing coil into my line set up. This’ll help with the aerial fights and dramatic hook throws that are sure to occur. As far as rods, I’ll be bringing the Zen Zako for the Tico Trout and the newly re-designed Zen Kyojin for the Machaca. Since both species and fishing conditions will be new to me, I’ll be packing a few other rods and prototypes for testing and experimentation. For now, I’ll be using the Zen Floating lines in various lengths but will also be packing some new grain-weight matched fly lines that Zen is testing for the bigger rods and machaca encounters. I always like to be prepared and lines are light and easy to pack. The rest of the set-ups will be up to Tom and his knowledgeable Fly Release guides, because in the end, they know their water and they the fish….I know the rods.
In the meantime, I’ll begin counting down days and dreaming of the cloud shrouded Talamancas mountains, quetzals flying overheads and streams decorated with orchids and bromeliads. This trip is sure to please and create a plethora of memories and experiences to top any bucket list. It’ll be an intimate experience, limited to 4 anglers for this special adventure. Only 2 spots remain open. If you’re interested in experiencing a totally unique fly fishing and tenkara experience with incredible guides in an amazing, lush backdrop, this trip has your name written all over it. Feel free to contact me with questions or for additional information. Karin@zenflyfishinggear.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.