Fishing Central America – Nicaragua

Fishing Central America is quite possibly the most diverse sportfishing area in the world for different species of sport fish available is a dream come true. At the Eastern side of  Nicaragua, anglers will enjoy fishing for tarpon, snook, rainbow bass and more species of the Caribbean sea, we call them the Caribbean Sea Trophies. The inland waterways of Nicaragua are teeming with game fish and let’s not forget the world-class surf fishing in the Coast.

Costa Rica alone stood out as a shining beacon of ecotourism for many years. But the 21st century has seen many countries follow Costa Rica’s lead when it comes to smart environmentalism, and Nicaragua, in particular, has excelled at assuming proper stewardship of its natural resources. Consequently, Nicaragua fishing has become one of the premier sports fishing experiences in the world, offering both jungle and open ocean adventures. With jungle river fishing especially useful in the dry season, and tarpon jumping year round in the open Caribbean waters, the east coast of Nicaragua is still shockingly underrated. Most people head to the more populated Pacific coast side, but the eastern jungles and coast are real gems.

The Rama Garden Fishing Lodge has tucked away in the very southeastern horn of Nicaragua, at the bottom of the Indio Maiz Biological Reserve’s vast expanse of untouched jungle. The Indio Maiz is the second largest rainforest jungle reserve in the country. The most part of the rainforest is cut off to visitors, there are no roads or cars. It is true wilderness in a way that is hard to find any other people.

Many times I´ve been asked the same by many of anglers of different parts of the world:

” I’ve asked myself  What’s a Tarpon?  I hear other fishermen talking about these creatures, and the excitement is palpable in their voices. It seems to be a favorite of any serious anglers. So naturally, I had to try myself. ”

Good choice !! Welcome to Nicaragua, you will enjoy!

Giant poons in Nicaragua

The Nicaragua jungle poons, which you might hear referred to as  Sábalo or Tapam, is a beautiful creature. Trophy tarpon fishing is what most guests come for. We call it “Royal Sabalo” but there are all sorts of other outstanding fishing to be enjoyed. Rainbow bass and trophy snook live all of them, around the lodge, as well as machaca, tilapia, and gar. (See a complete list of Jungle River´s species)

The fish are big. Enormous. And there are plenty of them. To be fair, “Royal Sabalo” is fair about every angler’s odds, noting that the fishing is tough. Known for their gleaming silver scales and their insane acrobatic tricks, landing a Nicaraguan jungle poon is a fight, which is why it’s so popular among experienced anglers. Once hooked, the fish can efficiently fight back for hours.

Tarpon that stays year-round in the river are known as Tapam, and while some of them may not be as silvery and shiny as their ocean-dwelling brethren, are as acrobatically talented.It appears that some of them never leave the lagoons and its estuaries, preferring to gorge themselves on the abundant schools of mullet, sardine, snook,mojarra, guapote, guavina and shrimp that spawn here.

Tarpon fish travels over a thousand miles in the open ocean, and they can dive down to 400 feet to lay eggs, you can find adults OFFSHORE or NEARSHORE over wrecks, reefs, and ledges.They thrive in the perpetually warm waters of the Caribbean.

They live primarily in coastal waters, lagoons, and rivers, and can grow into monster adults weighing up to three hundred pounds. Males can live up to fifty years, and females up to eighty. But  Atlantic Tarpon lives to that age because they are pretty smart. We are trying to protect them.

In fact, everything about this fish is amazing. In the very early morning, you can see their enormous silver bodies pushing out of the water to gulp air. The tarpon has a unique trait – it can fill its bladder with air to breathe, like a small lung. Once it has extracted all the oxygen from the air, it expels it in one great sigh, causing these bubbles I had seen. It’s a genuinely surprising evolutionary trait that allows the fish to thrive in even low oxygen waters. We are convinced that our surroundings have one of the largest population of tarpon in Central America.

If you have never experienced one of these massive poons blasting out of the water after being hooked you will not believe your eyes the first time you see it! Watching one jump out of the water with its famous acrobat’s skill is gorgeous. Often the Tarpon will leap 12 feet and jump 5 or 6 times before you get him near to the boat for the very first time.

The sound the silver body makes as it slaps the water is thrilling. If you have had the pleasure of experiencing the unique thrill before, then you can join me is saying “hold of for the thrill of a lifetime!”

That’s the real allure of fishing for Tarpon. Hooking one of these giant beauties is akin to wrestling a bear. Besides their size and strength, jungle poons are champion jumpers, known for deliberately throwing themselves against the water to try and dislodge the hook, or tossing the line like a bear with a chew toy. Whether you’re fishing the Caribbean or the river, the sound of tarpon jumping and beating the water is sure to fill you with excitement. Battling these creatures is an unforgettable experience you’ll be sure to come back for again and again.

Catching Giant Poons on the Fly

We are convinced that ours is an outstanding poon fishery but not an easy one. Catching poons on the fly can be a lot of work and will enjoy but we ask that you do not overexert yourself. Please stay hydrated and help each other reel in big fish if needed.

We fish in 4 ft. to 20 ft. of water.  Running lines with shooting heads are a must.  Have a variety of different weight and shooting heads to adjust for current and tides.  For example: at 28 grains per foot, have 10′, 15′, 20′ and 30′ shooting heads.

Fly fishers should bring a variety of lines from intermediate to running lines and shooting heads in a variety of weight from 450 to 650 grains. Intermediate sink tips can be added if more depth if needed. Backing should be of 25- 30 pound (heavier is nice) and a minimum length of 150 yards.

  • (2) Quality 12 wt. to 13 wt. rods & reels
  • A floating line matching rod’s weight
  • Extra fly lines in case you get spooled or break one
  • (1) Spool of Ande 20 lbs test tippet material (If you are fishing with Class Tippet)
  • (1) Spool of 100 lbs test for shock leader +  (1) Spool of 50 lbs test for butt section
  • Boat bag (waterproof is preferred, keep your gear dry)
    • long-sleeved UV protective shirts
    • Hat
    • Quick dry pants/ shorts
    • Sunscreen/ face shield/ sun gloves

1. Artificial Flies for Tarpon

3/0 – 4/0 hooks, Whistler pattern in red & white, yellow & white, chartreuse & white (with bunny strip tails for added action, is deadly)  Many other fly patterns have worked well and it is our opinion that flies are the most deadly bait for catching tarpon.

  • Tarpon fly box/ Tarpon baitfish box (we recommend bringing more flies than not enough)

When the hook is set, the Tarpon will react by blasting full speed ahead to the top of the water creating a heart-pounding aerial show that you will never forget.

Fly fishing for tarpon is tricky, and it’s important to come prepared unless you want to spend a whole day staring at an empty river. More about Fly Fishing tips and tricks

Use the right fly.An obvious one to any experienced fisherman, but Tarpon is peculiar about what they will bite on. You must match the hatch of the Tarpon´s prey in every moment. You must be ready to place your fly close to the fish fast.

2. Manage the fly line

Never cross the fish with your fly line, or have your fly moving towards the fish. The tarpon will catch sight of the shadow, and tarpon prey never moves towards the fish so that either move will spook the skittish fish, always reel up the excess fly line on the reel. It is also for your safety.

3. Use the right Tackle

Always, bring extra equipment. When you finally hook one, it could more than probably break your rod. Have a backup rod. Many tarpon photographies are lost as well as rods are broken because anglers stop applying pressure on the fish once their guide gets a hand on the leader. Tarpon is a powerful fish and challenging to handle.

4. Sun protection

Three words: sunscreen, face shield, and stripping fingers. Nothing in the world will be as precious to you as the sunscreen because of the glare of the water.

5. Your Fishing Guide

Keep attention to your fishing guide. These are people who have been living with these fish for decades, and it is their job to help you. So when your guide spots a fish, don’t wait to see it yourself. Get in position.

It’s a great experience, and not only you´ll have fun, but all serious anglers will also learn a lot. It is a fly fishers dream but most of them never experience. Lastly, make sure you bring the right flies for other fish too. The Rainbow bass fishing ( Guapote Fishing ) is particularly impressive; they are everywhere.

Rainbow Bass Fishing

Rainbow Bass live in rivers and lagoons of the jungle. They are ambush predators and hide beneath trees and other covers. They dart out to feed on smaller fish, like mojarra, insects, frogs, river shrimps that are found in the weeds. They are aggressive carnivores that when hooked they can´t take off like hounds, are strong enough to snap lines that have a weakly tied knot, and have a territorial.

As the Peacock Bass or Pavón, it is not really from the “Bass” family. They get their name because of their beautiful colors, hence the name of Guapote. In English due to the rainbow hue, they are called “Rainbow” bass. Adult males show a bluish, green and red color on their heads, before showing a body dotted with purple dots and blue, black and dark bars. Adults have a bulge on the forehead that is striking.

Rainbow bass sense the change in wind and sky conditions, they know instinctively that this is the start of poor weather, and they start to feed. That’s why a few of the best fishing takes place when a cold front is coming.

The conditions of the surface of the water affect. The heavy rains diminish the bites, but the soft rains work as activators helping in the fishing of the guapote. The darkened skies that precede a storm bring mist that tends to precipitate the guapote to feed, the light drizzle breaks the surface, which makes our baits more efficient, and the drizzle adds oxygen to the water. When the rain becomes stronger the Guapotes distinguish their prey worse, so they stop and suspend their feeding. The Guapotes are very sensitive to differences in water level after heavy rains, preferring the dry season for Rainbow Bass fishing. You can read more about Guapote fish

Best Tackle for Rainbow Bass

Both the Baitcasting and the spinning equipment work very well, and the flies also work. It is not very known how to fish because its location is very small, we have guapote and we love the fishing of the guapote. I personally fish them with a 30 lb. braid and a 20 lb. fluorocarbon leader. As for the flies I like to use small poppers or imitations of larva or very little fish.

A 5’6″ baitcast rod and reel w/10-12 pound test line – Lures: a 1/2 ounce white/chartreuse spinnerbait – topwater baits.

A 6′ 6″ or 7′ medium-heavy baitcast rod & reel w/15-20 pound test line – Lures: 3/4 ounce black & blue flippin’jig – Texas-rigged plastic worm or lizard in black or purple.

A 6′ medium action spinning rod and reel w/8-10 pound test line – Lures: Bomber Rapalas – topwater baits – finess plastic worms (4-6″) – 1/8 to 1/2 ounce lead jigs with auger-tail plastic grubs.

A 5’6″ spinning rod and reel w/4-8 pound test line – Lures: 1/16 to 1/4 ounce bucktail jigs or plastic grubs – light stick-baits (Rapalas, Rebels) – small crankbaits – ultra-light topwater lures.

Rainbow Bass Fishing Tips

Spinnerbaits in white or chartreuse are easy to fish because all you’ve got to do is throw it out and reel it in. However, altering the retrieve (slow or fast, continuous or jerky) and paying constant attention to the bait will always bring more fish.

Throw the artificial lure in the thickest cover you can find. Raise and lower the tip of the rod, letting the bait bounce off the structure as it goes, and place it on the base intermittently. It launches over structures when temperatures are high, and to a less deep cover during the less hot months. Keep one finger in contact with the line to feel the sting.

Use a jerk-and-pause retrieve past rocks and trees. Fish tend to hit this lure on the pause so be ready and pay attention to the line at all times. Many of the artificial lures used with spinning gear are not weedless so be careful just how close you get to the structure.

The bites are surprising, generally related to the speed of recovery. An abrupt stop and an exciting fight. El Guapote will do everything possible to escape.

*There are so many different kinds of fish in the jungle rivers like giant snooks or Jack crevalle of which we will speak on another occasion.


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