Costa Rica Fishing Charters – A Seasonal Guide
Located between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, Costa Rica has so much marine life that entices anglers from around the globe. Whether you dream of catching that bucket list sailfish or tangling with a spirited roosterfish, this Central American paradise delivers unforgettable fishing adventures all throughout the year. Our comprehensive Costa Rica fishing guide provides insights into the diverse fish species you can catch, tried-and-true techniques to ensure a successful outing, and the optimal times of year to embark on your angling journey.
- Costa Rica Fishing Resorts
- Costa Rica Fish Species
- Costa Rica Deep Sea Fishing
- Costa Rica Marlin Fishing
- Mahi Mahi Dolphin Fishing In Costa Rica
- Tuna Fishing Costa Rica
- Striped Marlin Fishing Costa Rica
- Costa Rica Sailfish Fishing
- Inshore Fishing Costa Rica
- Rooster Fishing Costa Rica
- Cubera Snapper Fishing Costa Rica
- Fly Fishing Costa Rica
- Surf Fishing Costa Rica
- Costa Rica Fishing Calendar
- Costa Rica Fishing Packages
- Costa Rica Weather By Month
- Final Thoughts On Costa Rica Fishing Charters
Costa Rica Fishing Resorts
Costa Rica is world-renowned for its fishing. Depending on your interests, you may want to look into resorts that offer a variety of fishing experiences, like deep-sea fishing, inshore fishing, and freshwater fishing. If you’re keen on catching a specific species, such as Marlin, Sailfish, Tuna, Dorado (Mahi Mahi), Roosterfish, or Tarpon, make sure the resort and its surrounding areas cater to that.
Costa Rica has two coasts, the Pacific and the Caribbean, both offering different fishing experiences. The Pacific coast is well-known for big game and sport fishing, while the Caribbean side is famous for its Tarpon and Snook. Depending on what you want to catch, this could greatly influence your choice of resort. Costa Rica is known for its commitment to conservation. Many resorts practice catch and release to help preserve the fish populations. If sustainability is important to you, it’s worth looking into the resort’s practices.
The cost of the trip is also a factor. It’s important to determine your budget in advance and find a resort that fits within it. It’s always wise to read reviews or ask for recommendations before booking a resort. This can provide insight into the experience of others and help you make a more informed decision.
Costa Rica Fish Species
Costa Rica is known for its rich biodiversity, and this extends to its marine life as well. Depending on where and when you choose to fish, there are a multitude of species you can catch. Billfish is usually high on the list, these are some of the most sought-after fish by anglers due to their size and fighting ability. Species include the Blue Marlin, Black Marlin, Striped Marlin, and Sailfish. The Pacific coast is especially famous for these.
Roosterfish is a staple that is a must to knock off the bucket list while in Costa Rica! They are prized for their long flowing “rooster like” dorsal fins and they put up quite a fight! They’re primarily found along the Pacific coast. Dorado or Mahi Mahi is a species that is known for its vibrant colors and delicious taste. They can be caught on both coasts but are more common on the Pacific side.
Yellowfin Tuna are popular both for sport and for their culinary value. Yellowfin Tuna can be found in the Pacific waters off Costa Rica. A fast and aggressive species, Wahoo provide a significant challenge to anglers. They’re often found in the Pacific waters.
Tarpon, also known as “Silver Kings,” these large fish are famous for their spectacular leaps and long fights. They’re mostly found on the Caribbean coast. Snook is another species that’s more prevalent on the Caribbean side. Snook are renowned for their strength and taste. There are also several different species of snapper and grouper that can be caught in the waters just off of the Costa Rica coastline. These are popular bottom-dwelling fish caught for their taste. Varieties of snapper include Red Snapper, Cubera Snapper, and Rock Snapper.
We recently sat down with Diego Camacho from Crocodile Bay Resort to discuss the Costa Rica fishing charters in regards to the best seasons for that particular species that you want to get checked off your bucket list.
Q: What are your seasons down here? And how do those correspond to the different types of fishing?
A: “Well, we only have two seasons, which is the rainy season and the dry season, which is our summer. And usually summertime is really, really good for billfish. So I want to say it’ll start like the third week of November. And it’ll run probably until the end of January to the beginning of February, we’ll have a really, really good run on billfish. And then the sailfish season should start I want to say like the second week of January. And it’ll run until about March. Usually when it is sailfish season we get to see them on the surface, You’ll see them free jumping and stuff. So it’s a little bit easier for the captains to see the areas and find them. I mean, usually around those times of the year we’ll get a couple of days where we have double digits on sailfish catch and releases.
For the Blue Marlin, December and January are usually very good for marlin. But then again, sometimes we get these runs of marlin that just come in and we have amazing days for marlin fishing, not only for blues, but also for Black Marlin, Striped Marlin, transition months are always always good to fish, especially for offshore fishing. Like I mentioned, all the debris that comes out of the rivers and stuff like that, creating all these good currents out there. It’s pretty much like a shelter for baitfish and a big buffett of all you can eat for the big fish. And so it’s a little bit easier for the captains to find them on their radars to find the good current lines and stuff like that and kind of work those currents. And usually we’re pretty successful.”
Costa Rica Deep Sea Fishing
Costa Rica offers a great deep sea fishing experience. With its vast variety of game fish, including marlin, sailfish, tuna, and mahi-mahi, Costa Rica’s waters are a haven for anglers seeking thrilling catches. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a novice, the country’s professional charters and expert guides ensure an exhilarating adventure as you navigate the deep blue, relishing the chance to reel in prized trophies while surrounded by stunning coastal landscapes.
Costa Rica Marlin Fishing
Blue Marlin are one of the largest fish species and can be identified by their cobalt-blue top and silvery white belly. They have a pointed dorsal fin and a long, lethal bill. They are exceptionally large, with females capable of reaching weights over 1,000 pounds. Males are smaller, typically weighing between 200 and 400 pounds. Blue Marlin are pelagic and migratory, found in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. They tend to stay near the surface over deep, blue water. Trolling with large lures or whole, rigged baits such as bonito or small tuna is the most common method used to catch Blue Marlin. Bright colored lures often work well.
Live baiting is another effective method. Common baits include small tuna or bonito. A popular technique involves using hookless teasers to draw the Marlin towards the boat, then presenting a pitch bait. Regarding the best time to catch Blue Marlin in Costa Rica, they can be found year-round, but there are peak seasons depending on the area: On the Central and Southern Pacific Coast, Blue Marlin are most plentiful from December to April.
Mahi Mahi Dolphin Fishing In Costa Rica
Mahi-mahi, also known as dolphin fish or dorado, are a popular target for anglers in Costa Rica due to their beauty, acrobatic fights, and excellent eating quality. Here are some facts and strategies for fishing mahi-mahi: Mahi-mahi are easily identified by their blunt head in males (bulls), long dorsal fin running from head to tail, vibrant colors that range from blue and green to gold, and their capability to change colors when excited or upon death. While mahi-mahi can grow quite large (up to 88 lbs), most of the mahi-mahi caught in Costa Rica range between 10 and 40 lbs. Mahi-mahi are a pelagic species, typically found in offshore warm waters.
They’re often associated with floating debris and sargassum weed lines. This is a commonly used method to catch mahi-mahi. Anglers often use a combination of artificial lures and ballyhoo, a type of baitfish. Mahi-mahi are often found near floating objects or debris, like logs, buoys, and weed lines. Although they can reach a considerable size, mahi-mahi are often fished with lighter tackle due to their acrobatics and speed. Mahi-mahi are attracted to bright colors. Using brightly colored lures or baits can increase your chances of attracting them. In Costa Rica they can be found year-round but the peak season typically occurs during the rainy season, from May to November, when currents carry in debris that attracts baitfish, in turn drawing in mahi-mahi.
Tuna Fishing Costa Rica
I have tuna fished in a lot of places around the United States (Including Hawaii) and I had never slipped back a live bait into a dolphin pod with large yellowfin jumping clear out of the water! It was a very cool experience we experienced at Crocodile Bay. The captain was having to run the boat up at a decent speed in order to stay in front of the dolphin pod, and to be able to slip a bait back to the feeding frenzy.
There are several ways to catch tuna in Costa Rica. Trolling with lures or live bait is a common method for catching Yellowfin Tuna. Lures should be bright and flashy to attract the tuna’s attention. You can vary the speed of the boat and depth of the lures to target different water levels. We also trolled with naked (dead) ballyhoo with a weight under its chin to swim more like a natural live bait.
Diego talked with us on the podcast about tuna fishing also:
Q: Where we tuna fish, there are oil rigs and big structures to congregate these fish and we noticed while fishing in Costa Rica that the captains were looking for big dolphin pods, tell us a little bit about that.
A: Yeah, tuna here like to run with the with the porpoise, either the spinner dolphins or spotted dolphins even the white belly dolphins The only thing is that the white belly dolphins, they’re a little bit too fast for us they move fast so they’ll dive down here and come up two miles away so it’s kind of hard to keep up with those schools though and it is hard to work them but when we find spinner dolphins usually they’ll run with tunas. The easiest way to explain it is, the dolphins will work the bait ball up to the surface and once they have it on the surface then the tuna will come up and eat, they’re pretty lazy. They’ll let the dolphins do the work and then they’ll just come up and eat the bait the dolphins have corralled to the surface.”
On the Pacific Coast, where most of the country’s sport fishing takes place, Yellowfin Tuna are typically most plentiful from May to November. This coincides with the rainy or “green” season in Costa Rica. During these months, large schools of Yellowfin Tuna can often be found, some including fish over 200 pounds. However, the weather can be a bit more unpredictable during these months with more rainfall, especially in the afternoons. This can make fishing conditions more challenging but it often doesn’t deter the serious anglers, as the payoff can be great.
Striped Marlin Fishing Costa Rica
Striped Marlin are pelagic fish, which means they live in the open ocean rather than close to the coast. They are typically found near the surface in warmer waters. Striped Marlin are known for their acrobatics when hooked, including jumps and fast, powerful runs. They feed on a variety of prey including mackerel, anchovies, squid, and other small fish. While they can be caught year-round, Striped Marlin peak season is usually from December to April in Costa Rica.
Trolling with lures is a commonly used method. You can use a variety of lures, but often those that imitate a marlin’s natural prey like squid or mackerel can be especially effective. Lures with bright colors such as blue, green, and silver are often good choices. Live bait can also be used while trolling. Common choices include ballyhoo, bonito, or other small tunas. The bait can be slow-trolled behind the boat to attract marlin. Often, a combination of teasers (lures with no hooks) and meat baits are used. The teasers create a disturbance in the water which can attract marlin, and once the fish is close to the boat, a baited hook (a pitch bait) is presented.
Costa Rica Sailfish Fishing
My wife and I both were able to catch our first Pacific Sailfish during our visit at Crocodile Bay! Both of our fish were caught on ballyhoo while trolling. Pacific Sailfish are usually dark blue to grey in color and can be identified by their long, slender bodies and a bill. The dorsal fin or “sail”, which can be taller than the width of the body, is usually kept folded when swimming and raised only when the sailfish attack their prey or to frighten predators.
Most sailfish that are caught by anglers weigh between 50 and 100 pounds. Trolling is very effective for calling up Sailfish. This is the most common technique, using artificial lures or a combination of lures and bait like ballyhoo. Teasers without hooks can be used to attract the sailfish to the surface, then a pitch bait is presented.
Inshore Fishing Costa Rica
Inshore fishing, also known as nearshore or coastal fishing, typically refers to fishing in shallower waters and closer to the shore. This usually involves fishing within a few miles of the coast or in estuaries and bays. In Costa Rica, inshore fishing can provide a wide variety of target species and fishing experiences.
In Costa Rica’s inshore waters, anglers can target a diverse set of species, including: Known for their distinct dorsal fin and strong fights, Roosterfish are a favorite among inshore anglers in Costa Rica. Various species of Snook can be found in Costa Rica’s inshore waters, particularly in estuaries and river mouths. Primarily found on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, these are known for their acrobatic fights.
Various species of Snapper, including Cubera and Red Snapper, can be caught in the country’s inshore waters. Dropping baits to the seafloor can be effective for catching species that live near the bottom like Snapper. We had a great time slow pitch jigging for snapper and grouper.
Rooster Fishing Costa Rica
Roosterfish, with their unique comb like dorsal fins and powerful fights, are a favorite target for anglers in Costa Rica, particularly along the Pacific coast. Roosterfish are predatory and are known to respond well to live bait. Common types used in Costa Rica include mullet, sardines, and lookdown fish. Each day that we fished out of Crocodile Bay, we stopped and caught what we call hardtails or blue runners to use as fresh live bait for that day.
Roosterfish often hang out in shallow waters near the shore. They can commonly be found around rocky points, sandy beaches, and places with strong currents that bring small fish and other sources of food. This location specifically is how we were able to target the Roosterfish just outside of the breakers in the surf zone with small jigs. We were having success with a 2-3 inch jig, dropped down to the bottom and jigged back to the boat in a rapid motion. Once we figured out that the Roosters liked the jig worked rapidly, we were able to capitalize on that tactic and had great success jigging up these beautiful hard fighting fish!
The peak season for catching truly large Roosterfish is generally during the transition months. “Talking to most of the captains here who have been with the company for as much as 13 years and in seven years of studying the different seasons personally, I’ve noticed that transition months from the dry season to the wet season is when we start seeing Roosterfish over 40-50 pounds,” Diego said. That being said, Roosterfishing in Costa Rica is a year-round activity. If you want to keep up with what’s going on year-round, a great option is to stay on top of a local fishing report, like the one produced by Crocodile Bay, where they detail the bite for all species, including Roosterfish, 12 months out of the year.
When asked what the typical techniques are for targeting Roosterfish, Diego explained what a general strategy looks like. “What we do is drift live baits off the stern while we either cast off the bow with jigs and poppers. They love poppers, anything that makes a splash, and we’re not necessarily trying to get them on the poppers. We’re just trying to get them to come to the boat and bump into our baits in the back. Jigs are really big here as well. Not only for Roosterfish, there are so many different species you can target with jigs, which is one of my favorite methods. That’s a lot of fun.”
Cubera Snapper Fishing Costa Rica
Cubera Snapper, also known as “dog snapper”, is a highly sought-after species by sport fishermen in Costa Rica for their size, power, and their beautiful colors. Cubera Snapper are the largest of the snapper family and can be recognized by their robust body, large mouth with canine teeth, and dark coloration, typically gray or brown. They can grow up to 5 feet long and weigh up to 125 pounds, although most caught by anglers tend to be between 20 and 50 pounds.
Cubera Snapper are usually found in the warmer waters of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. In Costa Rica, they inhabit both coasts but are especially common on the Pacific side. They are generally found near structure, such as reefs, rocky outcrops, and wrecks. My wife caught a nice (her first) Cubera Snapper while slow pitch jigging out of Crocodile Bay!
Fly Fishing Costa Rica
Crocodile Bay is located on the Osa Peninsula, located in southwestern Costa Rica, is a paradise for fly fishing enthusiasts due to its rich biodiversity and wide range of fishing opportunities. It offers both inshore and offshore fishing, presenting an excellent chance to hook into a variety of fish species on the fly.
There are so many opportunities to target species for fly fishing in the Osa Peninsula.
Inshore Fly Fishing:
Roosterfish are one of the most prized catches for inshore fly fishing due to their hard fighting nature. They can be found near the shore in sandy or rocky areas. Various species of Jacks can also be targeted with a fly rod along the shoreline or near river mouths. Snook are often found in estuaries and river mouths and are a popular target for fly anglers due to their aggressive strikes and strong fights. Various types of snapper can be caught on the fly in the Osa Peninsula, typically by casting towards rocky outcrops or drop-offs.
Offshore Fly Fishing:
With the right gear and conditions, it’s possible to hook into a Sailfish on the fly in the offshore waters of the Osa Peninsula. Yellowfin Tuna are also a possibility for offshore fly fishing. Catching these powerful fish on a fly rod can be a thrilling challenge. These fish are known for their hard fights and are an exciting catch on the fly. Remember that the Osa Peninsula is a remote region, there is no substitute for a local guide that specializes in fly fishing. They can provide you with the appropriate gear, local knowledge, and ensure you’re fishing legally and sustainably.
Surf Fishing Costa Rica
Surf fishing in Costa Rica offers a wealth of opportunities, with miles of coastline on both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts. Costa Rica’s extensive coastline and numerous beaches provide ample surf fishing opportunities. From the northern Guanacaste coast known for its roosterfish and snapper, to the southern Osa Peninsula where Snook and Jacks are prevalent, and the Caribbean coast, famous for its Tarpon and Snook, opportunities abound for surf anglers.
A favorite among surf anglers for their strong fights, roosterfish can often be found in the surf zone. Snook are a common target for surf fishing, particularly around river mouths and estuaries. Species such as jack crevalle and Bluefin Trevally can be caught from the surf and are known for their aggressive strikes. Various species of snapper can be caught from the surf, often around rocky outcrops. On the Caribbean coast, Tarpon are a popular target for surf anglers. In order to have success surf fishing in Costa Rica, use baits and lures that mimic the local prey species.
Live bait like sardines, shrimp, or small crabs can be very effective. Artificial lures like spoons, plugs, or poppers that mimic baitfish can also be successful. Look for signs of fish activity, such as diving birds or jumping fish. Also, areas near structure like rocks, estuaries, or river mouths are often productive.
Costa Rica Fishing Calendar
As mentioned in several spots above in this article, you are going to have certain times of year that are better for certain species. Here is a calendar for big game Sportfish from Crocodile Bay that will help make a decision when you need to plan your trip, if you are trying to knock a specific species off of your bucket list.
Costa Rica Fishing Packages
If you would like to check out some packages and rates that Crocodile Bay offers, click here. If you would like to contact them and see if they recommend something specific for you or if you want to fish more, or less days than some of the predetermined packages, fill out the form at the bottom of this page to submit an inquiry.
Costa Rica Weather By Month
We went to Crocodile bay in what they call “the rainy season” and the weather was awesome for us. The “rainy season” was a non issue. We had a few small rain showers, but they were great to get cooled off a little bit! I would not let the “rainy season” deter me if I wanted to go back during that period of time, everyone in our party agreed with this. Costa Rica has a tropical climate with high temperatures throughout the year. The country has two main seasons: the dry season, or “verano” (summer), and the rainy season, or “invierno” (winter). However, local weather can vary depending on altitude and the specific region of the country.
Here’s a general overview of the weather by month:
What they call the dry season is Mid November to April. These months are typically the driest, with little to no rain. The Pacific coast is usually sunny, with temperatures ranging from the high 70s to the mid-90s (°F), while the Central Valley enjoys mild temperatures in the 70s (°F). On the Caribbean coast, rain can still occur, but it is generally less than other times of the year. Transition months are May and June, these months mark the transition from the dry season to the rainy season. You can expect more frequent afternoon and evening showers, especially in the Pacific region and Central Valley. Temperatures remain warm.
The rainy season is going to be from May to Mid November and these months are part of the rainy season, but there is often a short break in the rain known as “veranillo” or “little summer,” particularly in the Pacific region. The Caribbean coast doesn’t typically experience this break and continues to have rainfall. September through November are typically the wettest months, particularly in October. Rainfall is more frequent and can last all day, particularly on the Pacific coast. The Caribbean coast, however, tends to be a bit drier during these months due to its reverse weather pattern.
Final Thoughts On Costa Rica Fishing Charters
If you are looking to plan a trip to Costa Rica, specifically for Costa Rica Fishing Charters, make sure and do your due diligence. There is nothing more frustrating than to spend a lot of time, money and energy flying to a destination and being unhappy with your choices. I hope that this article has been a resource for you to help decide when you will be going to Costa Rica and what species you will be targeting.