Big Fish Dispatch

By Will Rice

Fflogger learned big tarpon news from a small flyfishing outpost located in a remote area of Costa Rica. According to Jim DiBerardinis, owner of the Tarponville Lodge in Manzanillo, on September 5, 2007 a tarpon estimated to weigh 200.5 lbs was hooked and landed on a green whistler fly pattern just inside Costa Rican waters at the mouth of the Sixaola River. The fish was measured by tape to be 44.5” in girth and 81” in length before being released in healthy condition back into the water. Manzanillotarpon

Ricko Conje of South Africa was the angler who successfully landed the fish and head guide Carlos Arthurs was behind the wheel of the 26’ panga. It was Ricko’s third day on the water when he hooked up just where the waters of Costa Rica meet those of neighboring Panama. The tarpon was brought to the boat using a 20 lb class shock leader in just over two hours.

“We’re not really concerned about IGFA records here at Tarponville. We strictly require every tarpon that is caught to be released and encourage proper handling of the fish,” said DiBerardinis in recent phone interview. “We don’t use gaffs and try to keep the fish in the water at all times.”

Although the leaders used at the lodge are close to being IGFA (International Game Fish Association) standard, they run longer in length than called for by international record keeping specifications.

“We don’t have scales at the lodge to weigh a fish that big. But neither does the entire village of Manzanillo,” said DiBerardinis with a soft chuckle. “The next biggest fish that has been caught down here by our clients was estimated 174 lbs using the same calculation methodology. We won’t kill fish for record keeping purposes.”

Interested in how to estimate the weight of a big fish? The standard estimation formula for measuring a tarpon is: estimated weight = (girth measurement X girth measurement) X length measurement/800.

Record tarpon or not, the waters of Manzanillo Costa Rica are quickly earning a reputation for monstrous tarpon that will eagerly eat a fly. For most of us, isn’t this all that matters?