If you're used to fly fishing for tarpon in the Florida Keys or other crystal clear flats, then muddy jungle rivers and blown out river mouths probably aren’t high on your list of destinations… but they should be.
The history of jungle tarpon fishing in Costa Rica goes back decades and all of the big name dudes that pioneered saltwater fly fishing experienced its glory.
The area that I like best is called Barra del Colorado and is located near the border of Nicaragua and Costa Rica. The area is as remote as it gets with no roads leading in and out of the area. Because of this all travel must be done by boat.
The river there is huge and is constantly pushing tons of freshwater out into the ocean carrying trees and many other forms of debris with it. Unless you know what you are doing navigating this area in your center console can be extremely dangerous, especially going in and out of the river mouth. Because of this a local guide is certainly needed.
While adequate scientific research hasn’t been conducted, the tarpon population that is found here is likely to be the largest concentration of adult tarpon on planet earth. I have fished tarpon in many different countries and have never seen anything like this. Schools of hundreds if not thousands of fish packed outside the river mouth on the ocean side and often found crushing bait along the shores of the river as well.
For this area big flies are my preferred tactic. 4/0-6/0 in most cases and about 6-8 inches in length. We fish 12-14wt rods and use intermediate to full sinking lines. When tarpon are holding in 50+ft of water they are not always ready to eat on the surface. Using lead core or full sinking lines can significantly increase your odds of a hookup.
To give you an idea of how insane the fishing can be here, my last trip to the area we had some of the gnarliest tarpon fishing action imaginable. We had 4 of us on the boat and we had one double hookup and 3 triple hookups in just 2 days of fishing. We jumped 22 fish and landed 10. The fish were certainly happy to see us.
While the tarpon do live here year round, the fishery itself is very heavily dependent on weather and moon phases. Sept-October and late April-May seem to produce the most consistent weather for fishing. If you are looking to plan a trip to fish with me via my guiding service 506 Outdoors, then those are going to be the times when you will want to focus your efforts.
I hope you enjoy the video from the trip and consider making your way down to the jungle to have your own jungle tarpon experience in the near future!
Until next time, tight lines!
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About Jesse Males:
Jesse Males is a longtime fly fisherman from Central Florida and is the owner-operator of , which offers HD fly tying videos as well as photo tutorials. His website also features fishing lifestyle blog posts, and fishing videos of his angler adventures. He is a custom fly tyer at his online fly shop and a guide for both freshwater and saltwater fly fishing in Costa Rica through his guiding business . You can check him out on Facebook and Instagram @backwaterflyfishing.