Northern Costa Rica’s Jungle Tarpon Reserve is a vast inland system of freshwater rivers, creeks and flooded lagoons surrounded by verdant rainforest and swampland. During the dry season the lagoons and creeks are reduced to nearly a trickle, but come August, the area literally springs to life. Runoff from surrounding volcanoes fills the creeks, rivers, and lagoons creating a vast inland sea teaming with migratory baitfish, monkeys, wading birds, and caiman. Somehow the primal tarpon of the Pacific sense this and journey over a hundred miles inland to feed on the bounty of the jungle’s flooded interior. The feast attracts tarpon of all sizes with the majority of the fish weighing 50 to 100 lbs. as well as behemoths in the 150 to 200-pound class.
The most unique and dynamic fishery in the region is unquestionably the river. Flowing through a mosaic of virgin rain forest and active farmlands, this mid-sized jungle river is among the most intense and intimate landscapes imaginable to pursue trophy tarpon. When hooked, these big tarpon typically go wild, leaping into overhanging branches or diving into the dark waters to wrap you on countless obstacles. Fighting tarpon here is active-duty jungle combat at its finest.
The other unique fishery is comprised of a network of shallow creek-fed lagoons. While these are meadows in the dry season, in the fall and early winter they are full of baitfish creating an incredible stillwater tarpon fishery. With wind and chop being extremely rare, the lagoons provide a glassy smooth volcano-ringed arena through which hooked tarpon violently erupt.
The Fishing Program
The Jungle Tarpon Reserve is limited to four anglers per week. All anglers fish two per guide out of local pangas and employ a split-day schedule, typically fishing the river one session and the lagoons the other. Days start early with a 100 yard walk to the boats where a light breakfast of fruit, local pastries and coffee is served on the board as you head out to the morning beat. Late morning you will return to your accommodations for lunch and a siesta and then head out for an afternoon/evening session that typically runs from 2PM-6PM . Fishing will be a mix of casting to rolling or actively feeding fish, blind casting to likely holding spots, or targeting wakes and nervous water in the lagoons. There are even times when the tarpon line up in the mouths of creeks like giant trout and feed explosively on baitfish as they are flushed out of the jungle.
Accommodation and Meals
Jungle Tarpon Reserve is a rustic fishing-focused travel adventure. The lodging is simple but comfortable. Guests stay in private family-owned cabanas less than 100 yards from where they board the fishing pangas. They have two single beds, private baths with semi-warm water showers and ceiling fans. The property has a large covered outdoor area perfect for fly tying, relaxing between fishing sessions and evening drinks. Meals are all taken at one of a number of small simple restaurants in the nearby town. It is a very personal affair providing anglers an unfiltered glimpse of this rural ranching settlement. Almost all the restaurants serve a variation of the same dish: fried fish, chicken, or pork served with a side of rice and beans. If you have elaborate dietary needs, this might not be the place for you.
Jungle Tarpon Reserve is a collaborative effort between head guide and host Tom Enderlin and Solid Adventures of Sweden. It does not take long to notice that American expat Tom Enderlin is a smart, passionate guy looking to create a unique and sustainable fishing destination. He truly cares about the tarpon, the environment, and making a positive impact in the region.
Tom has created a program where all of his anglers will be volunteers supporting conservation through the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust. Each landed tarpon will be measured and scale-samples will be analyzed by their Tarpon Genetics Program. The big picture of this is to better understand how these unique tarpon fit into the global tarpon scheme, and how to better implement protection of these majestic fish for future generations. Tom also operates a small non-profit called Conservación Bosque del Sábalo. The goal of this project is to create an internationally recognized freshwater tarpon sanctuary that would promote environmental stewardship, community awareness, enhanced scientific understanding, and the creation of sustainable economic opportunities.
Day 1: Arrive Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) and overnight at your elected accommodations.
Day 2: Meet lodge representative at your hotel and transfer to Jungle Tarpon Lodge (Approximately 4-5 hours).
Days 3-7: Five full days of guided fishing
Day 8: Depart lodge for San Jose and your elected accommodations.
Day 9: Depart Juan Santamaria International Airport
Typical Daily Schedule:
5:15 AM - Breakfast served in the boat en route to the fishing grounds
10:30-11:00 AM - Break for lunch at a local restaurant and a siesta
1:30 PM - Resume fishing
5:30 PM - Depart fishing grounds for the lodge.
7:30 PM - Dinner at a local restaurant
2019 Rate: $4,490 per person for a 6 night/6 day package
Included: Accommodations and meals at the lodge, round-trip transfer between San Jose and the lodge, guided fishing (two anglers per boat), park entrance fee, fishing license.
Not Included: International airfare to/from San Jose, transfers, hotel accommodations and meals in San Jose, meals and snacks during transfers to/from the lodge, alcohol, fishing tackle, flies and equipment, staff and guide gratuities, phone use, travel insurance and airport departure tax.
Season: August - December
Capacity: 4 anglers
Time: The time in Costa Rica is 1 hour ahead of Pacific Standard Time.