Fishing In Costa Rica
Costa Rica is surely one of the world’s most attractive destinations for sportfishing. A total of 95 world-record catches have been made on Costa Rica’s coasts and inland waterways. The nation is blessed with two attractive coastlines, multiple rivers, and extensive wetlands, offering vast variety for any dedicated angler. The nation as a whole is interested in conservation; visiting anglers are encouraged to release non-edible fish and billfish after catching them.
Deep-Sea Temptations: Marlin, Sailfish, And Others
The gorgeous blue marlin is perhaps the single species most associated with fishing in Costa Rica. These are formidable opponents; the average weight of caught marlins ranges from 200 and 400 pounds, and lengths of more than 11 feet are common. And Costa Rica marlins are constantly offering up fresh surprises. The whole world was astounded when anglers caught an albino marlin there in February of 2014.
Sailfish are also popular targets for sport fishing in Costa Rica. Though they strongly resemble marlin, sailfish tend to be smaller, with most specimens coming in under 10 feet in length. Marlin and sailfish share exciting behavioral patterns; both varieties are known for fast swimming and acrobatic leaping.
Costa Rica’s deep-sea fishing opportunities also encompass yellowfin tuna, dorado, and wahoo.
Fishing The Pacific Coast
Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast is where some of the nation’s biggest and best sportfishing happens. This region offers marlin, sailfish, yellowfin, wahoo, and dorado not that far out to sea. Closer in, anglers can land snapper, snook, roosterfish, and more. While there are well-known peak seasons for each of Costa Rica’s Pacific fishing destinations, there are rewarding opportunities to be found in every part of the year. Our experts will be happy to learn your preferences and then pre-arrange Pacific Coast fishing charters to suit your interests.
Los Suenos Marina (Central Pacific)
The Los Suenos Marina, as the name suggests, is immediately adjacent to the Los Suenos resort. Both attractions are in the Jaco & Herradura area. This is a top destination for enjoying unrivaled opulence in amenities combined with gorgeous tropical nature. Los Suenos is Costa Rica’s only government-sanctioned marina, and the port offers comprehensive services for luxury fishing boats. The Jaco/Herradura area is particularly noted for excellent marlin and roosterfish.
Crocodile Bay Sportfishing Resort (Osa Peninsula)
The Osa Peninsula is relatively remote, but that doesn’t limit the luxuries available at Crocodile Bay, a deluxe ecolodge expressly designed to suit the needs of sport fishers. Crocodile Bay offers its guests opportunities for offshore, inshore, shoreside, and kayak fishing. The resort is strongly committed to catch and release, promoting the use of circle hooks. The resort operates its own extensive fleet, with more than 40 boats reserved for the exclusive use of Crocodile Bay guests. This region enjoys an excellent reputation for sailfish all year round; at the winter peak, up to 15 fine specimens are caught every day. The resort’s inshore fishing opportunities boast targets like grouper, snapper, trevally, bluefin, and roosterfish. Offshore targets include black and striped marlin as well as sailfish.
Tamarindo Sportfishing (Guanacaste)
Tamarindo offers full and half-day fishing charters throughout the year. While active fishing goes on all the time in Tamarindo, fishing conditions do vary somewhat from month to month. The most productive season for billfish stretches from the middle of April to August. A full-day charter out of Tamarindo is best for hunting marlin and sailfish. The shorter, 5-hour half-day trip is better suited to inshore fishing for amberjack, snapper, roosterfish, and more. There is also a 7-hour charter option for those who want to press further out to sea.
Marina Papagayo (Papagayo Peninsula)
The Marina Papagayo is the most recently-built marina in Costa Rica, and its construction reflects a desire to keep adverse environmental impact to a minimum is every detail. The marina sits on Culebra Bay, next to the Andaz Papagayo Resort. The newly-built marina has extensive slips capable of holding even the largest, most luxurious ships — yachts of up to 220-foot length can be moored here. The waters around the Papagayo Peninsula abound with marlin, tuna, and roosterfish.
Quepos (Central Pacific)
“Quepos” is a name that’s known and respected in sportfishing circles the world over. This central Pacific port town is sometimes called the world’s Sailfish Capital. Sailfish are far from its only attractions, though! The waters off Quepos teem with marlin, snapper, roosterfish, dorado, and more. There are plenty of charters available for offshore and inshore fishing out of Quepos, with full and half-day trips both represented.
Marina Pez Vela (Central Pacific)
Marina Pez Vela is one of the jewels of the region including Quepos and Manuel Antonio. In fact, the marina was chosen to host the 2014 Offshore World Championship. Though Marina Pez Vela does not offer top-of-the-line amenities, it’s an excellent base for a wide range of watersports. In offers charter boats for diving and snorkeling as well as fishing. The Quepos & Manuel Antonio area offers lots of marlin and roosterfish to visiting anglers.
Catch & Release On Lake Arenal (Inland)
Costa Rica’s single most popular inland destination for fishing is undoubtedly Lake Arenal. Situated below the Arenal Volcano, the lake is the nation’s largest. Great catches from Lake Arenal include the rainbow bass, freshwater guapote, and the fighting machaca fish. Bring an experienced guide to find your way to the most productive spots. You can charter a full or half-day tour of the lake; most guides will supply gear if necessary.
Coast Fishing, Northern Caribbean
Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast is noted for the vast wetlands created by the mouths of the Rio Colorado and the Rio San Juan. You can catch snook and tarpon on the Northern Caribbean coast as well as tuna, dorado, and gaspar.
Frequently Asked Questions On Costa Rican Fishing
* What’s the best time to plan a Costa Rican Fishing trip?
Although certain species have high and low seasons, Costa Rica as a whole is marked by good year-round fishing. The Central Pacific Coast, in particular, offers all-year opportunities at its signature sportfishing targets, including marlin, sailfish, dorado, tuna, grouper, and snapper.
* Will I need a fishing license?
Yes, fishing from a boat in Costa Rica requires a current fishing license. Licenses cost roughly $15 per person per week; many fishing charters include licensing costs in their fees.
* How can I get a Costa Rican fishing license?
Fishing licenses can be purchased at any INCOPESCO office, online, or through a charter company. Let one of our Costa Rica experts determine which option is the best fit for your needs.
The waters of Costa Rica have seen anglers set more than 250 world records, and the nation regularly tops the list of most desirable western hemisphere sportfishing destinations. It’s no surprise that Costa Rica is on a lot of avid fisher’s bucket lists! Costa Rica fishing is a perenially popular topic in the fishing media, with magazines, websites, and TV shows regularly discussing the nation’s merits as a fishing Mecca. Costa Rica can be an incredibly rewarding destination for anglers of all skill levels, from the leisurely novice to the consummate professional.
What makes Costa Rica’s fishing so good?
Besides the country’s dual access to both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, Costa Rica has further geographical advantages.
The continental shelf bends close to shore along Costa Rica’s Pacific coast. This pulls cold, plankton-rich waters up from the depths and mixes them with the shallower coastal waters. The seamounts in the area play host to extensive food chains where “bait” fish feed on the plankton and attract large predatory fish. This thriving ecosystem accounts for the region’s ample stock of billfish. It’s no wonder that the Los Suenos Triple Crown, for example, posts numbers like 6,570 trophies taken in just nine days.
Although the Caribbean coast has ample billfish supplies and lots of attractive inshore species, the undisputed king of Costa Rica’s Caribbean fishing is the tarpon. The country’s Caribbean coast is studded with rainforest-fed rivers disgorging into the sea. The ample nutrients emerging onto the shoreline feed vast wetlands and mangrove swamps. This is the ideal environment for supporting big, trophy-worthy tarpon.
Costa Rica’s incredible biodiversity has been hailed by scientists and journalists for centuries. It’s a regular feature, for example, in National Geographic. If you’ve followed angling news out of Costa Rica, you already know that its marine ecosystems are even more diverse.
Conservation is a core value in Costa Rica, and the nation’s government has taken many steps to protect its ecosystems, plants, animals, and fish. For the visiting angler, the core principle to take to heart is that Costa Rican law requires you to release all billfish and non-edible fish after catching them.
Costa Rica is a tremendous success story when it comes to ecological protection. Visit the country’s waters and marvel at one of the world’s greatest, most pristine deep-sea fisheries, and you’ll see the value of careful conservation. Do your part to help keep these waters great by following the rules relayed to you.
Costa Rican Deep Sea Fishing
There are lots of smaller ports dotting the western coast of Costa Rica, but the majority of deep-sea fishing charters are based out of a handful of major marinas. Los Suenos Marina is doubtless the greatest of these.
A more recent addition to the fishing landscape is the Marina Pez Vela in Quepos, which recently increased the stock of Central Pacific fishing berths with its 100 new wet slips. The Quepos region is a major sailfish destination, but it also has ample opportunities for in-shore fishing charters. The many rocky islands in the area are teeming with roosterfish and other attractive species.
Charter fishing on the northern end of the Pacific coast mainly operates out of the two marinas at Tamarindo. In the south, Drake Bay, Golfito, and Puerto Jimenez are all solid destinations.
Though there is almost an endless variety of good fishing species in Costa Rica, the Pacific coast is most famous for its ample stocks of sailfish and marlin — all three species.
Charters For Seamount And FAD Fishing
As well as traditional fishing, Costa Rica also offers a lot of more specialized trips, including a range of charters for seamount fishing and FAD (Fish Aggregating Device) fishing. FAD fishing trips in Costa Rica delivers great results for anglers interested in hooking marlin, sailfish, wahoo, tuna, and dorado. Most of the country’s FAD opportunities are found on the Central and Southern Pacific Coasts.
Costa Rica’s most promising seamounts are found in the Central Pacific area. Seamount charters are particularly common from Los Suenos Marina and Quepos Pez Vela Marina. The attraction of a seamount charter is the underwater geography. Seamounts are underwater mountains that bring plankton-rich waters, feeder fish, and big predators up closer to the surface.
Choosing Fishing Charters In Costa Rica
Though a fishing charter in Costa Rica has the potential to deliver world-class angling bliss, you need to make some intelligent choices when picking one out. Boat size is particularly important. Many of the available charters operate with 14-foot pangas (local fishing boats).
Panga charters and cheap and ideally suited for in-shore fishing. Booking a panga for longer runs or rougher seas is problematic, though. Pangas are not built for comfort, and the amount of bouncing and jostling you’ll be exposed to on an all-day deep-sea run can be brutal. Panga charters are also slow, so it will take longer to make long-distance trips, such as to the seamounts.
Experience matters when it comes to selecting your captain and crew. This is particularly true for specialty charters like FAD fishing and seamount runs. Take the time to ask around and confirm that you’re signing on with an experienced crew.
Deep-Sea Fly Fishing
Both Costa Rica’s Pacific and Caribbean coasts offer world-class opportunities for saltwater fly fishing. Note that this is another form of specialty fishing, and not all Costa Rican charters will have the resources to provide you with the best fly fishing opportunities.
Saltwater fly fishing in Costa Rica requires calm seas, good visibility, and active surface feeding. A charter crew that knows how to find these conditions and set up a fly rod can deliver you to fly fishing paradise.
Gearing Up For A Costa Rica Fishing Charter
Every fishing charter in Costa Rica will provide the bare necessities for standard saltwater fishing. You can expect rods, reels, lures, and bait all to be provided. This means that if you choose to travel light, you can head to your Costa Rican fishing trip without bringing any gear.
If you want to bring your own rods, reels, and lures, it’s strongly recommended that you pack them in a secure fishing gear case and bring them along as carry-on luggage when you fly.
The absolute necessities you’ll always need to supply yourself are a hat, a pair of non-slip deck shoes, sunscreen, and good sunglasses.
Fishing Licenses In Costa Rica
Costa Rica fishing licenses are offered in three durations. They cost $50.00 for a one-year license, $30.00 for a one-month license, or $15.00 for eight days. (These prices are all per person.) The eight-day or one-month options are suitable for most visiting anglers, with the former being particularly popular.
While it’s possible to purchase a Costa Rican fishing license online, you are not saving yourself much hassle this way. Licenses can be easily purchased on the dock; it takes only a few minutes.
If you’re ready to look at specific Costa Rica fishing vacation packages and trips, contact our experts now. We’ll be happy to lay out your options and even help you book fishing charters. Jaco Fish Costa Rica