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Fishing in Costa Rica
Costa Rica fishing is something that needs to be experienced to be believed. The country’s glassy blue waters are home to over 84 different IGFA records, with 18 for billfish alone. The locals struggle to remember a year without at least three Super Grand Slams reported, meaning that Sailfish, Blue, Black and Striped Marlin were all caught in the same day, by the same boat.
But not only is this a country where you can make a realistic attempt at catching a record Billfish, it is also made up of a web of some of the most diverse and untouched fresh waterways on the planet. Whether you are looking for a Billfish grand slam or a serious addition to your lifetime fish species count, this country deserves its place at the top of your bucket list.
Costa Rica is widely praised for its year-round sportfishing. And with good reason: there is always a great catch to be had in these waters. But before you pack your bags you need to understand that fishing here is relatively localized. This means that if you really want to understand the Costa Rica fishing season, you've got to know which part of the country you're talking about.
Fish from the southern part of Costa Rica (from Jaco down to the border with Panama), and you will be looking at a very different weather - and fish - pattern to what you would get if you were fishing further north. So while December through April means flat seas, calm waters, and double digit Sailfish releases in the south, this period in the north (from the Nicoya Peninsula to the border of Nicaragua) sees very rough seas and strong winds offshore. Northern Costa Rica sportfishing tours mainly stay inshore to fish for Roosterfish at this time of year. (Not that we’re complaining - this area has some of the best Roosterfish fishing in the world.)
Come June, and offshore fishing in the north heats up like crazy, with the pelagics moving closer to ports like Flamingo and Tamarindo. At the same time, the rainy weather down south cramps the style of the beautiful marinas and shiny charter boats. This is the time of year to hook Sailfish, Marlin, Tuna, and Dorado all in one day - especially if you are fishing northwards from the Nicoya Peninsula.
Pretty much the only months that are comparable in North and South Costa Rica are May and November. These transitional months level the playfield, seeing both good fishing conditions and great fish being caught up and down the coastline.
But Costa Rica fishing isn’t only about the Pacific. Head to the Caribbean waters to the East and you will find some of the best Tarpon fishing in the world. The whole area between Parismina and Barra del Colorado has a year-round Tarpon fishery, which peaks from February through May and again from September through October.
Want to try something different? How about fishing for ‘Guapote’ at the foot of a volcano in the stunning Lake Arenal or exploring Costa Rica’s take on the Amazon in the untouched Caño Nero? There really is something for everyone here.
Rules & Regulations
Costa Rica requires that all anglers purchase and carry a valid Costa Rica fishing license. These can be bought online or on the day of fishing and usually cost around $15 USD (this is subject to change). Fishing licenses may be provided with all-inclusive Costa Rica fishing packages, although if in doubt it is always best to check with your captain before your trip.
Types of Fishing
If you are a fan of fly fishing Costa Rica won’t disappoint. Target Tarpon on the Atlantic coast at one of the many luxurious Costa Rica fishing lodges. Otherwise, explore Caño Negro on the fly, or even attempt a heavy tackle fly record in saltwater with an experienced guide.
In salt water, target Roosterfish inshore in the surf or over sandy bottoms. This is the closest you are likely to come to a freight train in shallow water! You also don't have to go far to hook the seriously hefty Cuber Snapper, which will give even the most experienced angler a run for their money. Otherwise, have fun catching tasty Dorado (Mahi Mahi) on light tackle or chasing after a speedy Wahoo.
Most importantly, you shouldn’t really go to Costa Rica without at least attempting to catch and release a Billfish - these waters are famous for their Sailfish and Blue, Black, and Striped Marlin, after all.