Fishing expert and boat owner Justin DeBoom talks about FAD fishing and what to expect on a multi-night trip offshore to the seamounts of Costa Rica.
FAD fishing (FAD standing for Fish Aggregating Devices) is the ultimate fishing experience for any adventurous angler who likes doing things to the extreme.
Imagine, leaving the beautiful Marina Pez Vela in Quepos, Costa Rica in the late afternoon and heading out to the open ocean. You don’t know what lies in store, but your mind races with ideas and fantasies.
Will the ocean be rough? Will the marlin even be out there? What am I in for?
These things always cross my mind when I head out, even after many trips to the seamounts.
But first a little background for the uninitiated. What is FAD fishing? What’s a fish aggregating device? And what’s a seamount?
What are we talking about here when we talk about FAD fishing, exactly?
Well, a fish aggregating device is a man-made object, like a buoy or a float placed into the ocean, either floating or tethered underwater.
The object of a FAD is to provide a refuge for fish, who love floating devices and enjoy hanging out around them. This, in turn, attracts larger fish, like marlin and billfish.
In Costa Rica, FADs are tethered to offshore seamounts miles off the Central Pacific coast. These seamounts are natural rock pinnacles, like mountains, rising off the ocean floor.
This is deep water around here, 100 miles from land, so these seamounts also attract fish in their own right, and the tethered FADs help them do this.
FAD fishing trips out to these seamounts take at least two nights, to give anglers a full day fishing, although longer trips are possible.
And so back to your adventure. You get comfortable on the boat, drawing straws on which bunk is yours and the adventure begins.
On the way out, the excitement is intense, and sleeping is almost out of the question.
But eventually, you crash out until around 4:30 am when you wake to the crew rustling around. Then the aroma of fresh coffee seeps into your sleeping space. It’s go-time!
At first light, the crew has the spread out and the excitement’s amazing when the first fish strikes. My first thought is always, “how is this possible? We’re 100 miles from land in 3,000-feet-deep water and there’s nothing in sight.”
But my introspection ends as the crew clears the lines and gets you into an optimal position to fight the fish. A little yelling, lots of excitement, and then begins an acrobatic aerial display from a fish bigger than you.
Then you realize you haven’t finished your coffee yet and you have eleven more hours of this madness.
The techniques we use vary from pulling lures to bump trolling live baits. We also offer spinning and fly-fishing gear if you want to take things to the next level.
For me, there’s nothing like pitch-baiting aggressive blue marlin feet behind the boat. Watching that fish crash the teasers, hard-charging every time and then switching off to my pitch bait is the best.
True in-your-face action!
Like all fishing trips, sometimes things are slow to start or don’t start at all. But knowing the marlin are out there to break the silence at any moment is worth the wait.
So if you do multiple days, the reality after the first day’s fishing sets in.
My first thoughts were that I’d never caught a blue marlin before and today I caught five. How could this be true?
Costa Rica’s seamounts are producing some of the greatest blue marlin fishing on earth. And with the addition of the FAD, the fishing is second-to-none.
This trip is not for everybody.
Spending the night out on the open ocean is a unique experience. But like all things with Mother Nature that experience can vary. It can get rough or be the calmest, most beautiful experience you’ve ever had.
But if you’re looking for the ultimate in light tackle blue marlin fishing, this is the trip for you.
Caribsea Sportfishing offers two-nights to four-nights FAD trips for up to four people.
Our prime season for FAD fishing is May–November, sometimes into mid-December, although year-round FAD fishing is possible.
We also have partner boats we can coordinate with if you have a larger group and want a multi-boat FAD fishing adventure to the Costa Rica seamounts.
Justin DeBoom lives with his wife Lucia in Jaco, Costa Rica where they run Caribsea Sportfishing. Justin also works as a travel consultant and fishing specialist at Namu Travel, where he helps people plan trips to Costa Rica and Panama. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.