Costa Rica’s Zancudo Lodge is certainly a fisherman’s paradise with its modern fleet ready to tap the best of this tropical inshore and offshore fishing bonanza, but the lodge is also a great retreat for eco-tourism and relaxation. Zancudo is easy to get to by car or plane and once you arrive, they take care of the rest.
360-Degrees of Scenery
No matter which direction you look in Costa Rica, you find yourself surrounded by the epic scenery of jungle-covered mountains and water. This was the scene we witnessed as we were whisked away to Zancudo Lodge on a recent trip to see what the buzz is all about. We were picked up by Captain Javier and delivered to Zancudo, nestled up the mouth of the Rio Coto and bordered by the Pacific Ocean.
While Zancudo offers so many options other than fishing, make no mistake, they are a fishing lodge and have a fully equipped modern fishing fleet and professional crews to make your bucket list trip a reality.
After a short walk from the docks, you find yourself at the entrance to paradise in the jungle. The lodge is easy to get to from San Jose and once you arrive, you will not want to leave.
The grounds of Zancudo are something to behold. Lush elegance are the words that come to mind as you begin to explore the grounds. The tropical climate lends itself to the prolific landscape of green leaves, flowers and edible fruit while the lodge itself is stylish and first class. Enjoy the spa, eco-tours, and of course the fishing.
The rush of cool AC welcomes you in as you step into your private rooms. Well appointed and very comfortable, Zancudo Lodge features a variety of accommodations. They have Master and Junior Suites as well as their Standard Double rooms all with complimentary WiFi, robes and slippers.
Oasis in the Jungle
Hitting the head has never been so comfortable and let me tell you that having water pressure in the jungle is so appreciated after a great day on the water or exploring the incredible surroundings of Costa Rica’s eco-offerings. Zancudo is first class in every way.
Blasting off the next morning to sample the inshore fishing, our personal objective, we hit the water in one of Zancudo’s tricked out 32-foot Contender ST center consoles fully rigged for any type of fishing. Comfortable riding and fast makes for more fishing time at the end of the day and that is what it is all about. The entire fleet is ready and able to tap Costa Rica’s fantastic sportfishing opportunities.
Fishing live bait is so important in the tropics and the lodge boats have tuna tubes ready to keep you baits frisky and ready to be gobbled. A variety of live baits can be kept rigged and at the ready in the tubes which pump fresh water into the face of waiting baits.
Captain Javier watches over BD’s Ali Hussainy as he battles something off the bottom. The mystery of what might be next is a big part of the draw for inshore fishing. Zancudo’s guests have over 70 IGFA records to their credit and the crews are a big part of that success.
Pargo is the spanish word for snapper and applies to this colorful and tasty yellow snapper caught dropping live baits on top of some inshore rocky structure in the bay.
The Slow Troll
Slow trolling live blue runners around the rocks and pinnacles nearshore is a great way to target Costa Rica’s variety of popular gamefish like roosterfish, cubera snapper and more.
The iconic roosterfish or Pez Gallo is often at the top of everyone’s bucket list of inshore fish and for good reason. The roosterfish is beautiful with its mix of green, silver and purple colors topped with the fanciful dorsal fin that explains their name. Roosterfish are hard fighting too, like a dolled-up, tropical amberjack with much more prestige to their name.
Another bucket list bottom fish is the cubera snapper with its mouth full of canine hardware and a brute-force fight. These voracious predators are caught on both live bait and lures but getting them out of the rocks is no easy task.
A drop to 400-feet of water brought up these tasty grouper. Cut bait dropped on a double rig with 10-pounds of lead made this catch a chore, but well worth the effort.
Clean Up Crew
Back at the docks, the local crocodiles were happy to wait for the daily fish cleaning to get their fresh fish dinners. Crocodiles of various sizes frequent the area waiting for the by-products of fishing success.
Ebb and Flow
The tidal flow in the jungle is an ancient rhythm that all creatures are tuned into. These mud flats are covered with scurrying life and footprints of last night’s predators in search of a seafood dinner.
Lush is an Understatement
The surrounding plant life on the grounds is so lush, that even the trees are covered in plants. Epiphytic ferns, bromeliads and orchids adorn every surface of this giant tree on the path to the lodge.
The dining room, bar and multiple lounging areas all feature five-star atmosphere and incredible views of the water. Open air gourmet dining in total comfort thanks to the mild evening temps and Zancudo’s property-wide mosquito control system that really works.
Succulent and Fresh
The theory of “water and garden”-to-table thrives at Zancudo’s Gamefisher Restaurant. Nothing could be fresher than local seafood or your catch of the day prepared by their experienced chefs.
Zancudo grows most of its own micro-greens and herbs in their organic greenhouse next to the kitchen. Fruits and vegetables come right from the property while seafood is brought up from the lodge boats each day. It cannot get any fresher than this.
May We Have Another
The next day we loaded up the Contender and blasted further offshore to see what was happening in deeper water. It does not take long to get there with four-stroke Yamaha outboards pushing you.
Zancudo boats are all loaded with the best offshore reels from Okuma. These Makaira reels catch lots of big fish and are kept in the best of condition by the crews. What a pleasure to use great gear in exotic locals where so often that is not the case.
The Pacific sailfish or pez vela in spanish is a prize catch in the blue water. Trolling teasers and baits for sailfish, marlin and tuna is an offshore staple when they are running and Pacific sailfish put on quite an arial show when hooked.
Grouper From the Depths
Another quick drop to some structure in the deep and we connected with this grouper in 500-feet of water. The anticipation of what you might have is what keeps you cranking and coming back for more.
In case anticipation isn’t enough excitement, the fact that these deep-water snapper and grouper are all delicious doesn’t hurt either.
The Weird Ones
Another element of dropping down is the occasional “what the heck is that” fish that has you the species ID book. This frogfish is a prime example of nature’s ability to blend in to one’s surroundings.
While we did not spend much time looking on our trip, Zancudo boats have great success with yellowfin tuna while fishing around the porpoise pods. Great eating and hard fighting, the yellowfin is high on visitor’s lists as well.
Catch and Release
Zancudo is a leader in urging catch and release of most of their fish. They educate anglers and locals alike on the importance of letting most gamefish go to make the area’s sportfishing sustainable. This marlin is revived boat-side before its release.
Dorado for Dinner
The dorado here is headed to the chef, fast growing and delicious, these acrobatic and colorful fish are always a highlight when they make a showing. Dorado or dolphin are often a bonus by-catch when chasing billfish and tuna.
Tis the Season
While many of the desired gamefish can be caught year round, there are some peak seasons that you can target for your visit to Zancudo Lodge. No matter when you come to Zancudo, you will find great fishing, awesome scenery and the trip of a lifetime.
The Ultimate Fishing Adventure
Zancudo’s attention to every detail of your visit is why eighty-percent of all guests come back for a return visit and Trip Advisor has ranked them number 1. See for yourself how a trip to Zancudo might be the best trip you ever take. Visit Zancudo Lodge for more information or to make your reservations for paradise today.