John Schucert is the owner of the very successful Quepos Fish Adventure. A native of the USA, John moved the whole family to Quepos, Costa Rica in 2007 after falling in love with the place on a family holiday. John now enjoys some of the best fishing in world with sailfish, marlin, dorado, tuna, wahoo and more offshore, and roosterfish and crevalle inshore.
So now over to Captain John…
IFD: Where did you grow up and how did you begin fishing?
JS: I grew up in South Louisiana. In South Louisiana, it is really swampy and there are a ton of Bayou’s which are kind of like streets but they are water. And then in the swamp there are high places where they build what they call fishing camps, and the bayou is kind of like the road. I didn’t live in the swamp, but we lived about 5 miles from the Pearl River, which led to the Bayou’s. When I was 14, my sister who is younger started playing competitive softball, and that meant my parents were out of town leaving out on Friday and getting back in Sunday night. After a little convincing from a friend, i decided I could “borrow” dad’s truck, hook up the boat and take it to the river. The first trip was a catastrophe, because our boat, which was an 18 footer with a johnson 150HP motor, hadn’t started in years and it didn’t that day either 🙂 So that got me into mechanics. Me and my best friend “borrowed” dad’s truck and “borrowed” some of the lawnmowers and went around looking for people who had high grass and started cutting grass so we could afford to buy a motor repair manual, and then all the parts we needed. It was fun because we had to rebuild the boat engine, but at the same time, my dad couldn’t know we were doing anything so as soon as he would pull out of the driveway, me and my friend, both 14 year olds, would start getting out all the tools we had hidden and start tearing away at the motor. A couple months later, we finally got it all started up, and then that was when I started fishing! We would cut grass all day Saturday to make gas money, and then all day Sunday we would go cruising and fishing in the boat. That carried on until I finally got caught at age 18, 4 years later (still didn’t have a driver’s license), when a softball tournament got cancelled and my parents came home on a Sunday and I was out fishing 🙂
IFD: How did you first visit Quepos and what were your impressions of the place and the fishing?
JS: I came to Quepos quite a bit later. After finishing high school where I spent most of my time in the boat on the weekends, I went off to LSU, which is Louisiana State University. Although my dad was super upset when he found out that I had started a small business and been fishing on the weekends, it did play in my favor eventually. He had been trying to start several small businesses and nothing he did ever worked. So after my first year in school, he asked my if I wanted to drop out of school and help him do something. We took out a loan and built a carwash in houston. These were the “dark years” because even though the business went really well, i didn’t get to fish!!! I did the carwash for 7 years before somebody came in and offered way more than we had in it and we sold it. I got married about halfway through the carwash years, and i had always promised my wife that as soon as we sold the business I would take her on a honeymoon. Well, the day after the sale, we were on a cruise ship for a couple of weeks, and then came with a friend to visit Quepos Costa Rica! Pretty much as soon as we showed up here, we decided there wasn’t much use in going back to Houston, so we went back just to get out things, put the house up for sale, and then we were here. The friend I came here with had a 30 foot boat that he let me use, and that is how I started fishing here in Quepos. That was back in 2007.
IFD: Can you tell us about the fishing offshore?
JS: The fishing here is amazing offshore. In Louisiana in the Bayou, we were looking for fish that rarely weighed a pound, sometimes 4-5 pounds if it was a monster, but most of the stuff there was very small. I remember when we started fishing here, that I could drop down a small hook and catch more fish that were double the size of the fish in Louisiana, without even leaving the buoy and without starting the boat. When we go offshore, we catch at least one fish over 100 pounds on 98 percent of the trips, and this year we had a day where we hooked up with 50 sailfish all over 100 pounds each (in one day!). With marlin catch striped, blues and blacks, and the average sized marlin here is 300 pounds. We rarely see them over 500 and we rarely see them under 200 pounds.
IFD: Whats the inshore fishing like especially for the roosterfish, how common are they what sizes do they go up to?
JS: Inshore fishing 🙂 When I first started, we called the roosterfish the elusive roosterfish because we never caught them. They are super common here, but everything has to be set up just right.
Once we figured out how to do it, we regularly catch quite a few, we actually hooked up 9 yesterday, all over 40 pounds.
We have gotten three in the last three months that were over 60 pounds, the biggest being an 80 pounder. I personally don’t do the inshore fishing anymore, I bought a 28 foot boat and we hired a guy named Johnny that is in love with roosterfishing, and we pretty much bought him everything he could think of for roosterfishing, and Johnny and our 28 footer are by far the most successful roosterfishing boat ever to float out here in Quepos 🙂
IFD: Whats the best time of year for a first time visit?
JS: There really isn’t a best time to visit. There is a dry season where the water is like a swimming pool, and that runs from late November to April. During those months, offshore we get huge runs of sailfish, and inshore we see big schools of sardines which allows us to not only catch roosterfish, but also snook and seabass.
I would say the best time of the year for sailfish would be November to April, but during the other months we have more shot at seeing Wahoo, Yellow Fin Tuna, and Marlin. And even out of sailfish season we still see several sailfish every trip out.
IFD: What have been your personal favourite catches over the years?
JS: Favorite catch would definitely be anytime we get to fish Marlin with live bait. When we live bait fish, we have to find something floating offshore, like a log or dead horse, and those things travel up from south america, and on their way up fish will lay eggs on them. By the time they get here, we can have several hectares of bait fish around them and for some reason, when the fish hatch on something floating, they stay with it. So there are times we’ll find a floating log and there will be millions of baitfish around them, and then outside the baitfish (which are usually some type of tuna) there will be the big Marlin. So what we do is drive over to the floating debris and grab some bait, and then we head outside the bait and drag troll slowly with 4 or 5 little tuna behind the boat, all with big hooks in their heads.
It take a little bit, we’ll all be looking back and there won’t be much going on, but then after a little wait, we’ll see the tuna that we are using as bait, come up to the surface and then they will start jumping. Then, one at a time, they will start exploding!!! When we have 5 back there, the marlin will come up from below, and slap the bait fish with their bills and they will explode like grenades. That’s when we find the baits that haven’t been slapped yet and get ready. The Marlin usually hit two or three before they decide to eat. And then when they do eat, they will usually come across around 60-80 KPH and inhale the bait whole and as soon as we hook them they keep running usually a kilometer or so and jumping and trying to get away. It’s quite a rush to see the big fish so mad. This year we hooked a blue Marlin that was around 600 pounds, and we chased him as fast as we could with the boat, and even with 1500 yards of line on the reel, he almost took everything. We did manage to get him to the boat though 🙂
IFD: Is there any shore fishing around Quepos?
JS: The shore fishing around Quepos is pretty good as well. There isn’t much from the beaches, but at the right time of the year if you get up next to the river mouths about 2 hours before low tide, there are usually snook and snapper that are headed out of the rivers that you can hook into. You usually have to get wet to do that, and there are also 3-4 meter crocodiles fishing the river mouths as well, so although the fishing can be really good, about once a year a local gets eaten!
IFD: What have you been fishing for this week?
JS: This week we landed a few really nice marlin, averaged two sailfish per trip, and then there is a really hot mound down 500 feet about 18 miles from Quepos and we have been loading up on the big grouper and snapper.
IFD: What would be your dream catch?
JS: I think I’ve already caught my dream fish, I really like hooking up big Marlin, and at this point I’ve probably hooked up over 500 so that was a lot of fun!
IFD: And finally John what are your plans for the remainder of 2014?
JS: We are pretty booked up for this year. We did 850 charters between my three boats in 2013 and for 2014 I think we should do over 1000 trip (we are buying a 4th boat), so we are going to keep fishing!
IFD: Thanks for talking to us John hope you have a great season
JS: Anytime Paddy, you too