How to Catch a MASSIVE Tuna in Costa Rica By: Salt Life Team Member, Capt. Willy Atencio

With August being one of the best months of the year to catch tuna in Costa Rica, we decided now is a great time to sit down with Salt Life team member and professional charter captain, Willy Atencio, to get the inside scoop on all things tuna. Captain Willy resides in Drake Bay, Costa Rica, and operates the Reel Escape, a 35-foot 2002 CABO Sport Fishing Yacht. Read on for an inside look at the behaviors of tuna and how to reel one in for yourself, straight from Captain Willy - one of the best in the business!

Thanks to the conservation efforts of FECOP and other organizations that protect the waters of Costa Rica, the tuna are back with a vengeance for sport fishermen. I can remember just a few years ago catching tuna was a big deal and a real treat for our clients. Nowadays, tuna are plentiful and we hope and expect for it to stay that way for years to come.  

With that being said, it’s not so easy to consistently catch these beauties. Oftentimes traditional tuna lures like cedar plugs simply don’t work. As more people fish for tuna, the fish get smarter and more selective. However, because we are in such a remote location in Drake Bay, the fishing pressure here is virtually non-existent. Today, I’m here to tell you how we catch huge tuna aboard the Reel Escape in Drake Bay, Costa Rica.

When trying to locate big schools of fish, it’s imperative to have state-of-the-art technology. The Garmin Radar on the Reel Escape can spot birds and other activities many miles away. Did I mention how important this is? I digress, we’ll cut to the chase…

When catching tuna, the most important thing to remember is that they don’t act the same way every day. We have all heard the expression “match the hatch.”  This means you have to watch the behavior of not only the tuna, but also the baitfish, birds, and other marine life that may be in the area. Everything offshore has a symbiotic relationship. When one hunts and feeds, everyone hunts and feeds. The main thing to watch is the surface activity.

When the tuna are feeding on top they will literally jump a whopping 5-10 feet out of the water. When this happens, it’s a good time to cast topwater baits. When the fish are less active, it’s time to switch to jigs or other similar baits that will run below the surface.

While the above-mentioned methods produce fish, we catch the lion’s share on live bait. Tuna can’t resist live bait dropped in front of their noses. Afterall, if I was dangling freshly made Ceviche in front of you, would you walk away?

With Drake Bay’s waters gaining more and more tuna over the past several years, I’ve learned a lot about these magnificent fish. I hope that the insight that I’ve shared helps you land a big one. If not, come visit me aboard the Reel Escape and we’ll put you on top of a massive tuna. Keep your rods bent!

Capt. Willy Atencio

Reel Escape

Drake Bay, Costa Rica


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