Check out the full article by Carol M. Bareuther, RD.
Fishing couple Jerry and Deborah Dunaway, of Madam and Hooker fame, were among the first to put the waters off Flamingo, Costa Rica, on the world sportfishing map. In fact, the duo’s 2-pound test Pacific sailfish records—a 111-pounder for Jerry in 1993 and a 102-pounder for Deborah in 1992—still stand in the IGFA record books. Closure of the marina in 2003, and the popularity of Los Sueños, with its good fishing and facilities to the south, stopped some traveling boats from putting Flamingo on their calendar.
Marina Flamingo Rises Again
However, the fish didn’t go anywhere. In June, the new world-class, state-of-the-art Marina Flamingo partially opened to host its inaugural event, the 81st International Light Tackle Tournament Association’s (ILTTA) tournament. Fifty-seven anglers from the U.S., Costa Rica, Guatemala, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and South Africa released 191 sailfish and six blue marlin in four days. Two months later, Joan Vernon hosted her Presidential Flamingo Fishing Rodeo out of Marina Flamingo, with 18 boats and 80 anglers releasing 49 billfish—blue marlin, black marlin and sailfish, plus dorado, tuna and wahoo. The soft opening showed a successful comeback.
The new Marina Flamingo, plus the recent boom in the Flamingo area, has brought visiting boats back with owners and their families in a sophisticated way, with exclusive-vibe development of residential villa suites, hotels, restaurants, shops, water sports and entertainment all focused around the area’s white sand beaches. One of these is the 53-foot Jarrett Bay, Mainline, that’s been based in Los Sueños. The boat, with Capt. Jimer “Tigre” Delgado at the helm, ventured north to test the waters for three days in May.
“We left the dock around 6-6:30 a.m., not going any further than about 20 miles offshore. In that time, we went two for three on blue marlin, released a sailfish, caught ten grouper and boated a 150-pound yellowfin tuna. We were back at the dock by 1 p.m.,” says Delgado, who credits the Flamingo-based charter captains’ willingness to share local knowledge. “Next season, we’ll continue to travel up from Los Sueños with the Jarrett Bay. Then, the owner is going to base his new 32-foot Cobia, Mainline Flamingo, in Marina Flamingo.”
What’s There: Dockage & Facilities
Open now at Marina Flamingo, and available for reservation, are 92 slips on floating docks located inside a protective breakwall. Each slip is equipped with electricity, water, Wi-Fi and in-slip pump plus dock boxes available for purchase. The marina has 24/7 security. Dock A, nearest to the heliport, high-speed fuel dock, ice/store, hauling pier and entrance to Potrero Bay, accommodates vessels 80’-125’. Dock C, closest to the laundry and restrooms/showers and the building housing the marina office, lockers, VIP Club and restaurant/retail space, fits 60’-100’ boats.
Retailers set to open by December include CR Marine Supply, Café Britt Coffee Shop, Surf Box restaurant serving breakfast and lunch, Hazel’s steak house and seafood, Cremrica gourmet ice cream, a beachwear store and bike and paddleboard rental. CR Primo Tackle will also open a satellite location from its main store in Los Sueños. There is a bank on the property too and as well as a 24-hour clinic operated by Hospital Metropolitano. Docks E and F, which are the furthest inland and in front of what will be the Phase II commercial center, offer slips for 35-45-footers, and 55-footers and catamarans, respectively. Phase III, to be built on a 7-acre peninsula of land opposite A and C Docks, will include a hotel and conference center.
A Village of Villas
In essence, Marina Flamingo, whose official grand opening will be in February 2023, is the center point of what will be a luxury Marina Village. Of note is that the marina’s villas, 30 available for long-term and 10 short-term leasing, will open on November 1, 2022. Bill Kirby, who was the marina manager in Los Sueños for 16 years, is the general manager at Marina Flamingo. To contact the marina, Tel: (+506) 4500-3000 or (833 MF-YACHT), Email: email@example.com. The slip information button on the Marina’s web page lists entry requirements. To learn the latest, Marina Flamingo has Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn social media sites.
Each person needs a license to fish in Costa Rica. These cost US $15 for 1-8 days, US $30 for 30 days and US $50 for a year. Go here to get this license.
Marina Flamingo is a one-hour drive from the Liberia International Airport, which services major carriers like Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta, JetBlue, KLM, Southwest and United.
When To Go
The peak season for billfish and pelagics off Flamingo is May to August, while in Los Sueños to the south, it’s December to May. This offers an opportunity for extended back-to-back seasons of great fishing along Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast. Capt. Richard Chellemi has run his Gamefisher II, a 31-foot custom-built Palm Beach, out of Flamingo since 1987. Chellemi, who caught a grander marlin, released 69 sailfish in one day and won the 2020 Presidential Flamingo Fishing Rodeo in 2020 with nine blue marlin released, knows the waters and fishery here better than anyone.
“We usually leave the dock around 7:00 a.m. and return to the Marina at 5:00 p.m.,” says Chellemi, of a typical day of fishing out of Flamingo. “Depending on the conditions provided by the ocean currents, we typically run 16-18 miles, but there are times when a 30-mile run is needed. The continental shelf has some nice rock piles scattered throughout, and the continental slope has quite a few bites (i.e., abrupt changes along the edge) which attract good marlin fishing. On a typical day, you might raise 5-10 sail fish, 3-5 marlin, some yellowfin tuna and occasional dorados as well.”
Chellemi continues, “When the conditions are good (i.e., current, water temperature, bait, etc.) and there is a substantial bite going on, the full moon tends to enhance things, and the marlin can sometimes bite like “Mad Dogs.” The yellowfin tuna fishery is getting better and better because of regulations applied to the tuna seiners. There is excellent rooster fishing and Pacific Dog Tooth Snapper (aka Cubera snapper) fishing as well.”
Flamingo Tournaments Return
While the ILTAA hosts its tournament in a different location each year, the Presidential Flamingo Fishing Rodeo will be back on July 28-30, 2023. Tournament organizer Joan Vernon first fished off Flamingo in the 1980s and started her Presidential Challenge Series in 1997. The newest event in the Series, the Presidential Flamingo Fishing Rodeo, started in 2016. “It’s a legendary fishery here in Flamingo,” says Vernon. “It’s nice to see the new marina and that the destination is getting back on the map.”