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Top Fishing Charters in Tamarindo

Fishing in Tamarindo

Tamarindo fishing is quite possibly the best in Costa Rica - a bold statement for a country made famous for its epic big game fishing.

Tamarindo was one of the country’s very first sport fishing destinations, with pioneering anglers flocking to its white sandy beaches as far back as the early 80’s. What drew them was the fact that, at the right time of year, you could be fishing for the likes of Marlin and Sailfish within 10 minutes of hitting the water.

These angling explorers soon realized they had struck gold in Tamarindo. Blue, Black, and Striped Marlin, Sailfish, Wahoo, Yellowfin Tuna, and Mahi Mahi can all be found offshore, and you can theoretically catch all of them all year round!

 

Known For

Tamarindo sport fishing changes hugely throughout the year, which is unusual for Costa Rica. The fish populations are more or less permanent and if conditions are right you will be able to catch billfish every day of the year.
 
The problem is that the conditions aren’t always right. The surrounding waters lack the protection that the Nicoya Peninsula provides further south and from mid-December through April the strong trade winds make fishing offshore a crapshoot. The fish are there, you just can’t always get to them.
 
What can I do on a half day trip?
From April onward you can head out on a half day and easily target Blue Marlin, Pacific Sailfish, and the half dozen other big game species found nearby. In the winter you may have to stay in the shallows but don’t think for a second that you’ll be missing out on the fun. The calm inshore waters are packed with huge Roosterfish and Snook all year round, and there are also tons of tasty Snapper and Triggerfish to take home for lunch after a morning of light tackle battles.
 
What if I stay out longer?
Again, this depends on the time of year. If you are visiting in the winter (which chances are you are, as this is high tourist season) you will be able to head 20-30 miles south to the more protected waters around the head of the peninsula. You can expect some solid hits of Marlin, Sailfish, Tuna, Wahoo, and Mahi Mahi. If you’re visiting in the summer you will be fishing for the same species, just without the long journey. This gives you plenty of time to split your day, trolling offshore for billfish, then heading in for some tasty food fish.
 
How much will it cost?
Tamarindo may not have a fancy marina like Jaco does but that just means no huge marina fees, and Tamarindo fishing charters are significantly cheaper as a result. Half day trips start at around $750 for something in the 30’ range, and even the largest and most well-equipped boats top out at around the $1000 mark.
 
Full Day trips are admittedly more expensive due to the fuel burn heading south in high season. They run somewhere between $1250 and $1600 depending on the size of the boat. The bigger boats are worth it for serious anglers, though, with tournament-grade tackle, tuna tubes, fighting chairs, and 5-star service provided as a matter of pride among Tamarindo’s premier charter boats.
 
One tip to bear in mind is that many charter companies run discounted “Green Season” rates during the summer, as they have fewer tourists and much lower fuel costs. April through August are the best months for fishing in Costa Rica, and you can pick up a ¾ day Green Season trip for little over $1000 if you’re lucky, giving you plenty of time for some serious offshore battles.

Rules & Regulations

Tamarindo sport fishing charters don’t generally provide licenses. These can be bought from the INCOPESCA website and cost $15 for a week. There are strict laws on catch & release in Costa Rica. All billfish and Roosterfish must be released, and can only be targeted with circle hooks. This will take a bit of getting used to and is particularly important to bear in mind if you are planning on taking your own fly fishing gear - you don’t want to spend your first morning re-tying all your flies!

Types of Fishing

Sport fishing in Tamarindo is great in any depth of water and the local charter captains have spent decades perfecting their techniques. You will generally fish for bait on the trip, with a large stock of artificial lures for if you run out. 
 
Inshore fishing
Roosterfish and Snook are the main targets for inshore trips. These guys both put up a serious fight once hooked and are seriously fun to fish for. The most common way to target Roosterfish is with live bait - Sardines and Lookdowns are the local favorites - while fly gear is popular with both species. Fly fishing is normally done by baiting and switching, trolling live bait first to draw the fish in, then placing your fly at the last minute to provoke the fish to bite.
 
Deep sea fishing
Tamarindo deep sea fishing mainly focuses on trolling. Most boats use a wide spread baited with a mix of live Ballyhoo and bright squid daisy chains. This spread is popular across Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast, and has become recognized by many as the country’s signature set-up. Trolling live Skipjack is also pretty common and tuna tubes are a regular sight on Tamarindo charter boats. 
Tamarindo
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Tamarindo Fishing Seasons

The winter months are peak tourist season in Costa Rica, and with good reason. What better way to start the year than by fishing offshore for Marlin, Sailfish, Wahoo, Mahi Mahi, and Tuna?

Full day trips will give you plenty of time to head south in search of billfish, while the year-round populations of Roosterfish and Snook are a perfect alternative when the winds kick up on a half day.

Spend the day battling Marlin, Sailfish, Tuna, Roosterfish, and Snook, then head to the annual Tamarindo Artisanal Beer Festival to celebrate your catches and mourn the ones that got away.

April marks the end of high tourist season and the beginning of the rains. The Tamarindo fishing calendar is just kicking off, though, and April is one of the best months of the year for offshore big game fishing.

The high winds of winter are just a memory come May and the local fishing grounds are back on form. You can travel 20 minutes from land and be targeting Marlin, Sailfish, Tuna, and more.

Tamarindo fishing seasons don't change much, but the offshore bite does get more active in the summer. June sees an increase in Mahi, joining the big numbers of Marlin, Sailfish, and Tuna.

July 25th is Guancaste Day, celebrating the annexation of the province in 1827. There are celebrations and festivities across much of the province, making for the perfect end to a great day's fishing.

August is the last great month of summer in Tamarindo's deep sea fishing scene. Target Blue, Black, and Striped Marlin, Sailfish, Mahi Mahi, Yellowfin Tuna, and Wahoo - all just a short boat ride from town!

The whole of Central America celebrates its independence from Spain on September 15th. Unsurprisingly, this is quite a big deal, and you can expect happy crowds, celebrations, music, and dancing. 

The golden months of summer may be fading by October but so is the humidity, and with plenty of billfish found year-round in Costa Rica, October is still a great month to visit tamarindo.

November marks the start of high season but doesn't draw the same crowds as December and January. This is a great time to get offshore before the winds and other boats ruin the fun.

Tamarindo is busy in December, there's no avoiding that. There is a very good reason for it, though, with warm weather and great fishing. You may not get the place to yourself but it will still be great fun!

Tamarindo Fishing Calendar

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What People Are Saying About Tamarindo

"Fishing with Jonathan "

Gay Lindsay fished with Grady White / Pargo Negro Tamarindo on August 11, 2018

Go on full day trip - then you can catch some of the other fish.

"3/4 Day with Gerald"

Larry Mcgee fished with Capullo Sportfishing/Rainbow Runner on June 25, 2018

Do it. Great experience. We have fished Hawaii and Mexico. This is better.

"Great full day aboard the rainbow runner"

Charles Rutt fished with Capullo Sportfishing/Rainbow Runner on March 20, 2018

Do a little homework and realize the trophy fish to catch here are roosterfush and cuberra snapper

"Full day with Captain/Owner Randy"

Alec Crawford fished with Talking Fish - 38’ Topaz Express on February 21, 2018

Use this boat. June and July are peak for billfish.

Top Fishing Techniques in Tamarindo

  1. Deep Sea Fishing

Top Targeted Species in Tamarindo

Roosterfish

Dolphin (Mahi Mahi)

Marlin (Blue)

Sailfish

Nearby Fishing Destinations