Sport Fishing in Costa Rica
Where else but Costa Rica can you get up in the morning and choose
between fishing two oceans that offer the best angling in the world
on sailfish, marlin, tarpon, snook and countless other species?
Fishing in Costa Rica (continue)
enjoy some freshwater
sport on a high mountain trout stream, a magnificent lake abounding in
rainbow bass, or hundreds of miles of virgin rivers filled with snook
and such exotic species as bobo and machaca, all only a one to three hour
drive from the capital, San Jose?
Fishermen routinely raise 20 to 30 sailfish a day along with
blue, black and striped marlin on the Pacific Coast, and some have scored
all four species of billfish in a single day. In recent years, charter
boats have caught and released an average or 500 marlin during the peak
season from January through August and raised an average of 10 sails per
boat each fishing day from April through mid-August.
Costa Rica's four-day International Sailfish Tournament is
widely recognized as the most productive of any billfish competition in
But billfish aren't all the Pacific Coast offers. Usually
fishing no more than 30 to 40 minutes out, sportsmen score consistently
on dorado, big snapper, tuna,
jack crevalle, wahoo, rainbow
runner, blue runner, amberjack,
grouper, mackerel, trevally,
bonito, and skipjack. World record for
dorado is an 87-pounder caught in Costa Rica in 1976, but challengers
are caught every year.
Other International Game Fish Association records caught
in Costa Rica include all-tackle and/or line-test and fly fishing marks
for Pacific dog snapper, rainbow runner,
Pacific sailfish, roosterfish, big-eye
tuna, big-eye trevally, cubera snapper,
tarpon and snook.
About 120 charter boats are available along the West Coast,
ranging from 23 feet to more than 50 feet, all equipped with tournament
The Pacific Coast is divided roughly into three fishing areas:
the Guanacaste region to the north, the central
coastal area around Quepos, and the Drake Bay-Golfito
region to the south. Despite the short distance the peak months for each
species vary between these regions.
Fishing is hot somewhere in Costa Rica for several species
just about any month of the year. Like any place in the world, fishing
varies in each area according to season, wind, weather, water temperature,
moon phase, and other variables. But no place on earth offers a better
chance of getting on a hot bite than does Costa Rica.
To the north, boats are available at Flamingo
de Coco, Potrero, Playa Hermosa, Tamarindo,
Garza, Playa Carrillo, Tambor
and Jaco area. ( see the tour
section in each location to read more about the local boat).
On Costa Rica's Caribbean Coast, the target of most
sportsmen is the acrobatic tarpon, possibly the most
dramatic and exciting sport fish in the world. Tarpon are caught year
round, but during the peak season, February through June, it's not unusual
to raise 20 or more of the Silver Rockets every day, averaging 80 pounds,
with plenty hitting the 100 pound mark or better.
Tarpon are caught just outside the river
mouths, in coastal lagoons and rivers, and more recently in the lower
San Juan River, bordering Nicaragua and reached by boats from Barra Colorado
and the Sarapiqui River.
November through January there's a light tackle bonanza as
immense schools of a small variety of snook known as calba move into the
area. Calba average around four pounds and are taken on jigs and bass
plugs worked along the river banks. When the run is on, you will hook
a fish on nearly every cast.
Two IGFA record cubera snappers and a jack crevalle world
mark have been caught by tarpon anglers working just outside the mouths
of rivers flowing into the Caribbean, an area with many barracuda, kingfish,
giant groupers, sharks, tripletail, mackerel and other species.
Hottest tarpon action is usually outside
the river mouths where leaping schools sometimes spread for acres in every
direction. But when wind and surf prevent the boats from getting outside,
tarpon can usually be found in the rivers and back lagoons as well. There
you fish amidst incredible tropical jungles, with overhead branches draped
in wild orchids. You're likely to see monkeys, brilliantly colored parrots,
macaws, toucans, herons and egrets, while caimans. and turtles bask along
Big snook are most often caught by casting
jigs and plugs from the beach near river mouths, but are also taken trolling
along the shore just inside the rivers.
Freshwater fishermen find plenty of sport
in Costa Rica. According to University of Costa Rica ichthyologist William
Bussing, there are 127 species of freshwater fish in 33 families in Costa
Rican waters, and some provide excellent sport and fine eating.
Rainbow trout averaging 11 inches are found
in a dozen high altitude rivers, while the warmer lowland waters offer
rainbow bass (guapote), mojarra,
machaca, bobo, and vieja.
in the San Carlos Valley about a three hour drive from San
Jose via good highway, is famous for its rainbow bass,
a member of the cichlid family, fished as you would for largemouth bass.
The season is from January through September. An informal tournament organized
by local enthusiasts is held annually in April or May.
Colored in subtle shades of turquoise, rose and purple with
feathered ends to its caudal and dorsal fins and a distinctive hump on
the mature male's head, the rainbow bass, or guapote,
frequently run five to eight pounds with an 111/2 pounder holding the
Located at the base of a highly active volcano surrounded
by tropical jungle rich in wildlife, the beautiful 15 mile-long lake has
two fishing lodges that offer overnight accommodations, guides and boat
rentals. Hotels in Tilaran and canas are nearby, as are the hot springs
Rivers feeding to the Caribbean also have plenty of guapote,
and visitors to the lodges there often take a day off from tarpon
fishing to go after the hard-hitting rainbow bass and
other exotics farther up the jungle rivers.
Like all fishing, action will vary with the seasons. Most
inland areas are hard to find on your own and may require a 4-wheel drive.
Local tackle stores are helpful.
For Online Reservation Call 1-888-365-0904
Facilities are increasing for fishermen, with new lodges,
more charter boats, and a large corps of knowledgeable guides on both
coasts. For scuba fishermen, equipment and air refills are now available
at major resorts on the west coast as well as in San Jose. You will need
an ocean fishing license which your lodge can get for you (they need your
name, marital status, address, and passport number) or which you can get
from the Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganaderia, Calle. 1, Ave. 1, San
Jose, Costa Rica. .
Fishing lodges are listed by location.For the East Coast, see Puerto
and Barra Colorado. For the West Coast, see Golfito , Osa
Peninsula, Quepos, Puntarenas, Playas Naranjo and Tambor
on the southern Nicoya Peninsula, and Playas Carrillo, Tamarindo,
Flamingo, and Hermosa on
the Northwest Coast.
What to Bring !
For tarpon, Ruhlow recommends bringing a 6 1/2 foot medium
action rod with a conventional or level wind reel that will take 200 yards
of 20 lb. line, such as a Garcia 6500 or 7000. "Hot" lures vary
from year to year, and lodges usually have the latest for sale. Ruhlow
likes plastic tailed jigs such as Scampi or Sassy Shad, and Rapallas in
colors or natural. youcan rent equipment if you don't bring your own.
You should bring a wide-brimmed hat, long-sleeved shirts,
long pants, and a good sunscreen. On the Caribbean coast and southern
Pacific coast near Golfito, bring light rain wear all year. In San Jose
you can buy tide tables and fishing tackle at La Casa del Pescador, Calle
2, Ave. 18/20.
Freshwater fishing is open November 1 to June 1. Permits
for freshwater fishing, including river mouths and from the beach even
in salt water, are available at the Banco Nacional de Costa Rica, Information
Department, Ave. 1, Calle 2/4, behind the main post office, 9-3 p.m. M-F.
Several areas offer trout fishing with fish originally planted, including
the Chacon farm at San Gerardo de Dota, in the mountains near the Interamerican
For Online Reservation Call 1-888-365-0904