Day 3: Offshore Fishing for Sailfish with Luna Tours
There is nothing like landing a fish bigger than you are. Today, I would do just that -- and not just once, but three times aboard the beautiful 33-foot Moon Walker, the latest addition to Luna Tour's fleet of sport fishing boats.
Quepos is synonymous with sport fishing and sailfish can be had year-round off the shores of this beach town. Today we were joining Luna Tours, a highly-respected outfit known for their record catches of sailfish, marlin and mahi mahi. Depending on the season, anglers might also catch wahoo, tuna, roosterfish, amberjack and snook.
Luna Tours features both inshore and offshore excursions, and arranges all-inclusive packages to accommodate just about any budget. The company owns five sport fishing boats, ranging from 28 to 45 feet, all equipped with full facilities and tackle along with the latest technology.
The sun shone on the water as we joined our captain, Raffael and mate Junior for a full day of deep-sea adventure. Fellow captain Ishmael, with a name that practically guaranteed a big catch, tagged along for the day. Raffa cranked up the twin engines and we motored out of the harbour, heading what seemed to be due west, over light chop toward the horizon.
I joined Raffa on the captain's perch and learned that he had been running boats for 15 years and loves the sport so much he even fishes on his days off. Being August, the waters were slightly choppy, so Raffa took it slowly as we cruised 25 miles or so offshore. He explained that from December through April (the dry season), the water off Quepos is as clear and smooth as a mirror.
The sailfish had been hitting mostly in the afternoons, but we watched in anticipation as Junior and Ishmael expertly baited the lines with teasers and fresh bonito. Sure enough, around 10 am, one of the spools whined as a big fish took and ran with the bait. Immediately, Junior had the rod in hand, furiously reeling in, only to find a bare hook. This scenario played out a few more times, but I had faith.
About noon, the blue skies turned an ominous black and the rains began. We continued to troll slowly, rocking gently in the waves. As a low-country girl, I was practically born fishing placid lagoons and the lazy intracoastal waterway. But out here in the deep water, there were some tedious moments where I questioned my sea legs and was glad I'd skipped breakfast. I wasn't prepared to head in without landing at least one game fish. And if anybody knew where to find a big fish, it was this crew.
The wind kicked up. An hour passed without a bite. Suddenly, out of nowhere, all three spools buzzed wildly as the lines went out. Ishmael and Junior bobbed around each other in amazing choreography, pulling in two beautiful yellow-fin tuna. I climbed into the fighting chair with the third line, adrenaline pumping, and began reeling as fast as I could. The very instant I realized I held a monster on the line, a 140-pound marlin jumped in the distance. I couldn't believe how massive it was. We fought for 20 minutes and then it threw the bait, releasing itself a bit earlier than we'd hoped.
Not 20 minutes later, we hooked a 35-pound mahi mahi that fought just as long and hard as fish four times its size. Exhausted, I handed the rod to Ishmael who pulled in the iridescent fish. It was nearly 3 p.m., the surf continued to grow, and we'd be heading back soon. As if on cue, two sailfish hit at once and, with the crew's help, we reeled them in after a couple of good jumps. Ishmael carefully draped each magnificent 120-pound sailfish across my lap for a quick photo before releasing them.
It had been a long day offshore, but we returned with the spoils of dedicated fishermen: smiles, some great catches and a story of the one that got away. I had seen my first marlin jump and landed two sailfish and one mahi mahi. Ishmael cut up the tuna and gave us five beautiful filets. We'd be dining on fresh sushi that night! I wobbled off the boat into a water taxi that carried us back to the dock. We thanked our awesome Luna Tour crew for an amazing day and promised to return. Perhaps in January, to fish in those smooth, mirror-like waters that Quepos is so famous for.
Tonight, we were headed to La Colina, a boutique hotel just off the road to Manuel Antonio. We arrived a bit late and were greeted by pleasant staff who led us to our ocean-view suites. Our rooms were airy and spacious, with two queen beds, a sitting area and terrace. Guests gathered in the hotel's Sunset Terrace Restaurant which features seafood dishes, filet mignon and Thai curries, all prepared by chef/owner, Michael McDermott.
Beautifully-landscaped paths wind through the hotel property, blending seamlessly with the surrounding rainforest. Hotel La Colina offers its guests wireless internet, help with booking tours and a hearty breakfast each morning. Set back off the main road, we couldn't hear any traffic from our rooms. Exhausted from our offshore adventures, I took a hot shower and crawled into my comfortable bed, still rocking with the waves.