What makes Costa Rica fishing so special? How about the fact that no spot on earth has produced more “super grand slams” than the Pacific coastal waters of Costa Rica. What is a super grand slam? You can claim this feat by catching a blue, black, and striped marlin and a sailfish all in the same day. If that sounds unreal, that’s only because you haven’t been fishing in Costa Rica.
With two major coastlines, one on the Pacific and another on the Caribbean, along with a robust network of rivers and lakes, Costa Rica seems to be primed for angling action. Ideally located just about nine degrees north of the equator, this little country is in the perfect location for the hardy tropical game fish that fisherman love.
The Pacific coast is a bastion for enormous billfish, and arguably the best place in the world for sailfish. This is not to mention the numerous dorado (mahi mahi) and tuna, or the more elusive but rewarding wahoo and roosterfish. The main centers for fishing on the Pacific are Tamarindo and Playa Flamingo in the north, Los Suenos resort (in Herradura) and Quepos in the central region and Golfito in the South. Chartered fishing vessels run between $250-400 for a half day and $350-650 for a full day. This is for four people with lunch and drinks included. Cheaper prices can be had for coastal fishing vs. going for big billfish, and the dorado, wahoo, jacks, roosterfish and tuna caught on these excursions closer to shore offer plenty of excitement.
June and July are the best months for marlin in the north with June to October being best for dorado and tuna. Strong winds from December to March cause many fishing charters to move from the north to Quepos and Los Suenos on the central coast where there is great fishing year round. Costa Rica fishing during winter is generally better farther south in the waters of Golfo Dulce.
If you’ve got tarpon fever, then you must check out Costa Rica fishing on the Caribbean coast. The rich rivers and lagoons opening into the Caribbean are a favorite hideout of monster tarpon and will give lightweight tackle enthusiasts a real rush. With some spots producing tarpon weighing an average of 80lbs/35kg you’re sure to go home with some unforgettable moments. Maybe you’ll even land a trophy as some of these tarpon on the northeast coast get up to 155lbs/70kg. Snook fishing is also incredibly hot here if you’re looking for some variety. The season runs from August to January with fall being the best time for trophy-sized fish. Try beating 14kg for an IGFA record. Tarpon, however, can be caught year round.
Something many people don’t know is that Costa Rica fishing is not just limited to saltwater. In fact, the freshwater lakes and over a dozen rivers here produce a variety species that are fun to catch. You can find rainbow trout, drum, machaca (similar to shad), guapote (rainbow bass), mojarra (a toothed type of bluegill), and bobo (a mullet that feeds on moss). Rio Savegre is a favorite spot for catching many of these species. The Cano Negro lagoon and the Rio San Juan along the border of Nicaragua both offer excellent tarpon and snook fishing. For lake fishermen, check out Lake Arenal where you can fight with the spunky guapote or rainbow bass which grows up to 8lbs/3.5kg and larger, all while under the looming cone of the still active Arenal Volcano. As a final note, all freshwater fishing is closed from September to December and a license is required, as with saltwater fishing.
While Costa Rica fishing vacations will satisfy any angler’s dreams, it’s also nice to know that this is a fantastic destination for families as well. You can spend the day out on a fishing boat while knowing that there are plenty of things to keep your family occupied. Atv tours, snorkeling, scuba diving, horseback riding, canopy tours and surfing lessons are all easily arranged from most any of the Pacific coast towns. Tamarindo is a particularly fun spot and Quepos is right next to gorgeous Manuel Antonio National Park.
Costa Rica is a great alternative to Mexico because it’s still relatively close and doesn’t have the overdeveloped feel of so many Mexican beach resort areas. It’s also more developed than it’s other neighbor countries and there are a great number of tour companies that will cater to your family’s needs. But in the end, it’s Costa Rica’s fishing that will leave you smiling.