Jungle Tarpon Reserve
- Fish for 20- to 200-pound tarpon in small rainforest rivers and freshwater lagoons
- Experience a true inland jungle ecosystem unlike any other tarpon fishery
- Enjoy incredible wildlife viewing opportunities while fishing
- Become immersed in an interesting and endearing local community
- Enjoy a fishery with low angling pressure and dedicated rest-weeks
Northern Costa Rica's Jungle Tarpon Reserve is a vast inland system of freshwater rivers, creeks, and flooded lagoons surrounded by verdant rainforest and swampland. During the wet seasons, runoff from surrounding volcanoes fills the creeks, river, and lagoons, creating a vast inland sea teeming with migratory baitfish, monkeys, birds, and caiman. Amazingly, the tarpon of the Pacific sense this and journey over a hundred miles inland to feed in the jungle's flooded interior. The bounty attracts tarpon of all sizes; most weigh 50-100 pounds, yet there are also behemoths in the 150- to 200-pound class.
The most unique and dynamic fishery in the region is the river. Flowing through a mosaic of virgin rainforest and active farmlands, this mid-sized jungle river is among the most intense and intimate landscapes imaginable to pursue trophy tarpon. When hooked, these big tarpon typically go wild, leaping into overhanging branches or diving into the dark waters to wrap you on countless obstacles. Fighting tarpon here is active-duty jungle combat at its finest. The other unique fishery is comprised of a network of shallow creek-fed lagoons. While these are meadows in the dry season, in the fall and early winter they are full of baitfish creating an incredible stillwater tarpon fishery. With wind and chop being extremely rare, the lagoons provide a glassy smooth volcano-ringed arena through which hooked tarpon violently erupt. Now with extremely nice, air-conditioned single accommodations and meals prepared in-house, this program has become desirable for a wide range of anglers keen to explore one of the world's most unique giant tarpon fisheries.
The Jungle Tarpon Reserve is limited to four anglers per week. All anglers fish two per guide out of local pangas and employ a split-day schedule, typically fishing the river one session and the lagoons the other. Days start early with a 100-yard walk to the boats where a light breakfast of fruit, local pastries and coffee is served on board while heading out to the morning beat. Late morning anglers return to their accommodations for lunch and a siesta and then head out for an afternoon/evening session that typically runs from 2:00 to 6:00 pm. Fishing is a mix of casting to rolling or actively feeding fish, blind casting to likely holding spots, and targeting wakes and nervous water in the lagoons. There are even times when the tarpon line up in the mouths of creeks like giant trout and feed explosively on baitfish as they are flushed out of the jungle.
As of 2020, guests stay in newly-constructed Riverside Camp. This luxury house features four private bedrooms and three full bathrooms set across two levels. Amenities include air-conditioning, Wi-Fi, and a swimming pool. The house also has two living room areas with comfortable couches and TVs. The private dock, where fishing days begin and end, is located on the property and is a two-minute walk from down the floating ramp from the main house.
Meals at Jungle Tarpon Reserve are a combination of gourmet cuisine prepared on-site by several local cooks, and casual home-cooked meals by several local families and restaurants. There has always been a strong focus to include the local community as much as possible. Whether by sourcing local ingredients or visiting a family for a unique, traditional meal in their garden, rest assured that the program at Jungle Tarpon Reserve benefits as many local families as possible.
Jungle Tarpon Reserve is a collaborative effort between head guide and host Tom Enderlin and Solid Adventures of Sweden. It does not take long to notice that American expat Tom Enderlin is a smart, passionate guy looking to create a unique and sustainable fishing destination. He truly cares about the tarpon, the environment, and making a positive impact in the region.
Tom has created a program where all of his anglers will be volunteers supporting conservation through the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust. Each landed tarpon will be measured and scale-samples will be analyzed by their Tarpon Genetics Program. The big picture of this is to better understand how these unique tarpon fit into the global tarpon scheme, and how to better implement protection of these majestic fish for future generations. Tom also operates a small non-profit called Conservación Bosque del Sábalo. The goal of this project is to create an internationally recognized freshwater tarpon sanctuary that would promote environmental stewardship, community awareness, enhanced scientific understanding, and the creation of sustainable economic opportunities.
Day 1: Arrive Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) and overnight at your elected accommodations.
Day 2: Meet lodge representative at your hotel and transfer to Jungle Tarpon Lodge (Approximately 4-5 hours).
Days 3-7: Five full days of guided fishing
Day 8: Depart lodge for San Jose and your elected accommodations.
Day 9: Depart Juan Santamaria International Airport
Typical Daily Schedule:
5:15 AM - Breakfast served in the boat en route to the fishing grounds
10:30-11:00 AM - Break for lunch at a local restaurant and a siesta
1:30 PM - Resume fishing
5:30 PM - Depart fishing grounds for the lodge.
7:30 PM - Dinner at a local restaurant
Rates & Details
2024 Rate: Per person based on double occupancy
6 night/6 day package: $4,990
Included: Accommodations and meals at the lodge, round-trip transfer between San Jose and the lodge, guided fishing (two anglers per boat), park entrance fee, fishing license
Not Included: International airfare to/from San Jose, transfers, hotel accommodations and meals in San Jose, meals and snacks during transfers to/from the lodge, alcohol, fishing tackle, flies and equipment, staff and guide gratuities, phone use, travel insurance and airport departure tax
Season: August – December
Fly Water Q&A
Who is best suited to this destination? This trip is best suited for adventuresome and hearty anglers who like getting off the beaten path. Tarpon fanatics who want to experience a truly unique fishery are also good candidates.
Where is the lodge? The lodge is located in a remote portion of the northern Costa Rican interior.
How do I get there? Guests fly to San Jose, Costa Rica and overnight. The following morning, they will drive overland for 4-5 hours on rough roads into the jungle.
When should I go? The season runs from August until mid-December. This is the wet season in this region, and during this time, runoff from surrounding volcanoes fills the creeks, rivers, and lagoons, bringing in tarpon from 20 to 200 pounds. These fish journey over 100 miles inland to spend the season feeding here. As this is the wet season, we recommend coming prepared for rain.
How will I fish? Anglers fish split-day sessions from river pangas with two anglers per boat taking turns on the bow. There are two distinct fisheries: the small jungle river, and a number of shallow lagoons. The river is quite intimate with guides often needing to position the boat to help keep back casts out of the jungle. When big fish are hooked, half the battle can be keeping them out of log jams. There are times in the river where the tarpon will line up like trout at the mouths of small feeder creeks and crash bait. Most of the fishing in the lagoons is done while polling flat-calm water and sight casting to hunting tarpon.
Is there wade fishing? No. Guests fish from the boat only.
Where will I fish? Anglers fish a vast complex of protected freshwater rivers, creeks, and flooded lagoons surrounded by rainforest and swampland.
How long does it take to reach the fishing grounds? Runs to the fishing grounds are anywhere from ten minutes to over an hour. Breakfast is served on the way to the first fishing spot each morning.
What type(s) of fish will I catch? All sizes of tarpon are available. There are some baby tarpon around, but most of the fish average 60 pounds, with a good number of fish in the 100- to 130-pound class. Some fish even tip the scales near 200 pounds.
How many fish will I catch? This depends on the angler and the conditions, but anglers likely have opportunities - eats and jumps - each day. Landing three fish in a week is great, and landing three fish in a day is outstanding. Tarpon here are like tarpon anywhere, they can be moody, and anglers should be mentally prepared for a catch rates of zero to 15 fish in a week.
Will I see other anglers? Yes, you will see some of the locals fishing for their own tables, but they are not targeting tarpon. It is also possible, but unlikely to see tarpon anglers. The fishery has many hidden creeks and lagoons so in the very unlikely event that it happens, the guides can always ensure unpressured waters.
What are the guides like? Guides are from the village and know the river, side channels, and lagoons like the back of their hands. They are new to the art of guiding fly anglers, but they are passionate about tarpon as well as conservation and proper fish handling. Broken English is spoken by the local captains and the destination manager, Tom Enderlin, is fluent in both English and Spanish.
What are the physical demands? The jungle conditions can sometimes be hot, humid, and rainy. Anglers should also be comfortable throwing 12-weight rods and battling these large, strong fish.
Are there any special skills required? All of the fishing is done with a 12-weight and often with heavy sinking lines, so some practice before arriving will help.
Does the lodge provide equipment? They do have some tackle for rent. Ideally, this is coordinated prior to arrival but can also be arranged on-site if needed.
What is your favorite setup for the trip? A fast-action 12-weight rod is preferred for casting large streamer patterns and fighting large tarpon. Fast-sinking links as well as immediate sinking lines are regularly employed.
What are the top flies? Large, weighted streamers in black and other dark colors are the preferred flies for this trip.
What is a typical day like? Anglers typically fish a split-shift schedule with an early morning session that begins well before dawn, returning to the lodge around midday. An evening session follows, beginning around 3:00PM and lasting sometimes after dark.
What is the general vibe, atmosphere, and style of the lodge? As of late 2020, new riverside accommodations have been constructed that offer comfortable surroundings, air-conditioning, and a swimming pool. This luxury house features four private bedrooms and multiple common areas across two levels. The atmosphere is casual and is also inclusive of the local community.
Is there an on-site owner, manager or other point-person at the lodge? Tom Enderlin, the lodge manager, is always available and accompanies all groups. Tom is a passionate angler and expat who has made a home in Costa Rica. While focusing on creating a great fishing experience, sustainability is a key driving force. He truly cares about the tarpon, the environment, the local guides, community, and seeks to make a positive impact in the region.
Where do we eat, and what are the meals like? Meals are taken at the main Riverside house or at one of a number of small, simple restaurants or homes in the nearby town. When dining off-site, there is great interaction with the local community and guests commonly dine with local families.
What is the alcohol policy? Beer and sodas are available for purchase at the lodge. Limited alcohol is available at local stores in the area. If you prefer specific alcohol, please purchase them at at the airport or while in San José.
Where do we stay, and what are the accommodations like? The new lodge is actually a small house that sits riverside with air-conditioning and modern amenities.
Is there internet and/or cell service? There is decent phone service from local providers as well as a Wi-Fi connection available.
Are there other activities? Although this trip is best for hardcore anglers, some wildlife viewing, photography, and simply relaxing at the lodge is also possible. Trip extensions to other fisheries in Costa Rica or an array of eco-adventure activities that this country is famous for are also available.
Are there any other expenses? There are no unexpected large expenses on the trip.
Do I need a visa? No. Guests only need a valid U.S. passport to visit Costa Rica.
Are there any health concerns, dangers or annoyances? There are biting and stinging creatures in the jungle, but guests rarely encounter them. Come prepared for heavy rain, strong sun, and some mosquitoes at night. The guides have umbrellas on board in case of rain showers. Having sunscreen and insect repellent with DEET is recommended.
Costa Rica is a very safe country, but we still recommend visiting the CDC site before traveling to make sure that the situation has not changed or check with your doctor.