Gerardo is an artisanal fisherman. With over 45 years of experience, he spends his days in the Bahia Salinas in the top northwestern corner of Costa Rica. Artisanal fishing is defined as small-scale, low-technology fishing practices that are generally undertaken by costal or island families. Gerardo starts his morning at 5am by pulling in the nets from the previous night. He then goes back to shore, cleans his catch, and then heads back out for his line fishing. Generally a single line wrapped around a small board, his style of fishing is very simple. He starts by baiting a weighted hook and simply drops the line from the edge of his boat. If his location and time are just right, it can be a very exciting process of pulling in one fish after another!
Gerardo will take you into Bahia Salinas in his small motor boat. From Puerto Soley, you can see Isla Bolaños, a beautiful bird sanctuary and excellent fishing spot. From there you will circle the island learning his fishing techniques and can spot the frigate birds (or fregatas) and pelicans above. Depending on the time of year, Bahia Salinas is a great place to see whales, dolphins, or the occasional kite surfer. The minimum number of people is set at 3 to cover fuel, bait, and labor costs. If you're group is smaller you can still book but need to reserve 3 spaces to cover operations.
"We have beautiful things here. They are humble, but they are interesting. I don't know where else they do this, but our fishermen here have humble and beautiful roots."
Gerardo has six sons, five fishermen and one is a successful businessman. He says that fishing is a family tradition. He notes that he thinks his sons are truly happy to carry on the family tradition because they are all fat and happy, a local sign of a good life.
Gerardo has been a fisherman in Puerto Soley his whole life, but he knows the times are changing. With the recent addition of a large scale resort less than 15km away, Gerardo knows that tourism will soon be more lucrative than his traditional fishing. But he also has a love for his family history and culture and doesn't want to see these traditions die. That said, he wants to mix the two. He's seen a decline in the amount of fish as the population of his area grows and more men begin to fish. He also knows that with artisanal fishing tours he can throw 90% of the fish back, still having an income while fostering the population of fish in the zone.
If you bring your own lunch, Gerardo is happy to relax with you on the island or a nearby beach while you eat. This tour can last up to 4 hours, however if you would like to extend simply ask him the day of and your tour can be extended for an extra $20 per person per hour (to provide more bate for the fish, and more gasoline and oil for his boat).