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Costa Rica Fishing Info - What to Fish

Some of most common and well-known fish that you will find on your Costa Rica Fishing trip are Greater amberjacks, Dorado, Marlin, Roosterfish, Sailfish, Snapper, Snook, Sword Fish, Tarpon, Trout, Wahoo and Yellowfin Tuna

Costa Rica Fishing Boats offers the best Sport fishing thorughout the year for both common anglers and world class fisherman . Costa Rica is renowned for its marine life as for its terrestrial and avian fauna--most famously, perhaps, for the billfish (marlin and sailfish) that cruise the deep blue waters offshore, and for tarpon and snook, feisty estuarine and wetland game fish. It is why Costa Rica is one of the top fishing places and home of the world most important fishing tournaments

For further information and profile on the different Costa Rican most common fish species please click on the pictures below.  

Greater amberjacks (Pacific Coast)

Costa Rica Greater amberjacks, Seriola dumerili, are the largest of the jacks. They usually have dark stripes extending from nose to in front of their dorsal fins. They have no scutes and soft dorsal bases less than twice the length of the anal fin bases. They are usually 18 kg (40 pounds) or less, and are found associated with rocky reefs, debris, and wrecks, typically in 20 to 75 m (10 to 40 fathoms). Amberjacks are voracious predators, which feed on squid, fish, and crustaceans, and are thought to spawn offshore throughout most of the year. Juveniles can be caught in about 25 feet of water, near floating objects. Greater Amberjacks fishng in Costa Rica is good in Golfito and Drake Bay in the south, Quepos in the Central Pacific and Guanamar, Tamarindo and Flamingo in the North West.


Dorado (Pacific Coast)

The Dolphin, also known as Mahi Mahi or Dorado, is one of the most exciting offshore gamefish to catch and see in the open ocean. This beautifully colored fish can be found in all tropical and warm temperate seas of the world. When hooked these fish "light up" with almost neon colors and put up an exciting, high jumping, tail walking fight. Dolphin are prolific breeders, rapid growing and short lived which make them an excellent choice as a gamefish because they can sustain recreational catch efforts without fear of overfishing. A dolphin can grow to a weight of about 80 pounds and live only about five years. The dolphin’s coloring can range from a dark blue along its back and changes laterally through a green – gold – yellow color spectrum as look from their back to their belly. Mature males or bulls are easily distinguished by their high flat forehead and are usually larger than the females or cows. Smaller fish travel in schools (schoolies), which can range from a few fish to several dozen. Larger bulls and cows travel alone or in pairs. Dorado Fish in Costa Rica are commonly found near floating objects and Sargassum weed lines and patches. They feed on the sea life, which seek shelter near and in the floating structures, such as flying fish, squid and sea horses. Dolphin like warm water, generally greater than 68oF, 78o – 85oF is preferred. Costa Rica Dorado Fishing is great, once a school dolphin is hooked and brought to the boat, leave it in the water. The rest of the school will usually follow and stay nearby. Chum with cut bait or glass minnows will bring them in close and put them in a frenzy, For a wild and exciting experience start casting your spinning rods/fly rods with yellow or white bucktail jigs/flys . Usually they will hit so fast you just have time to set the hook as it hits the water. Wow!!


Marlin (Pacific Coast)

The marlin is a large game fish. It has an elongated body that in larger species can be in excess of 4 metres (13 ft) long, a snout like a spear, and a long rigid dorsal fin which extends forwards to form a crest. Marlin are fast swimmers, occurring in the Costa Rica’s Pacific coasts and hunting small and large fish. The larger species include the Atlantic blue marlin, Makaira nigricans, which have been reliably recorded in excess of 2 metres (7 ft) in length and 120 kilograms (250 lb) in weight, and black marlin, Makaira indica, which have been reliably recorded in excess of 5 m in length and 670 kilograms (1,470 lb) in weight. It is a cousin to the Swordfish. Marlins are very fast and can swim 100 metres (330 ft) in about 4 seconds (Approximately 56 mph). Marlins are popular sporting fish in Costa Rica and are also commercially important as a food fish. Top Marlin spots in Costa Rica include Golfito and Drake Bay in the south, Quepos in the Central Pacific and Guanamar, Tamarindo and Flamingo in the North West Marlin are rarely table fare. Most modern sport fishermen release marlin after unhooking. Some marlin that are top record setting fish are taken and weighed on shore. Those records are most often recorded in the IGFA World Record Game Fishes books.


Roosterfish (pacific Coast)

The roosterfish has an unusual arrangement of its ears: the swim bladder penetrates the brain through the large foramina and makes contact with the inner ear. It uses its swim bladder to amplify sounds. Rooster fish can reach 4 feet in length and over one hundred pounds. The weight of the average fish hooked is about 20 pounds. The fish is popular as a game fish, but like most fish in the jack family (besides the amberjack) it is not considered a good eating fish. The Roosterfish is widely distributed throughout all waters of Costa Rica including all offshore islands. It is viewed as a prized game fish that can generate an adrenaline rush as it chases live bait on the surface. Once hooked it is one of the strongest fish in the sea. The Roosterfish is normally a “catch and release” species, as its food value is poor.


Sail Fish (Pacific Coast)

They are blue to gray in color and have a characteristic sail (dorsal fin) on top, which often stretches the entire length of the back. Another notable characteristic is the elongated bill, resembling that of a swordfish. All sailfish species grow quickly, reaching 1.2 to 1.5 meters in length in a single year, and feed on the surface or at mid-depths on smaller pelagic fishes and squid. Individuals have been clocked at speeds of up to 68.5 mph, making them the fastest fish in the ocean. Generally, sailfish do not grow to more than 10 feet in length and rarely weigh over 200 pounds, although larger specimens have been seen off the shores of Costa Rica’s coasts. Sailfish are highly prized game fish and are known for their incredible jumps, some of the world’s most prestigious billfish tournaments are held in Costa Rica, sailfish has engraved Costa Rica on every angler’s wish list. Double and triple hookups are not uncomoon. Quepos and Jaco (Herradura) in the central pacific are the center of the action from December to March, with February the key month with the highest concentration of sailfish and the [posibility of 20 or 30 hookups a day. Sailfish also abound trhoughout Costa Rica’s pacific from the southern port of Golfito to the northern ports of Guanamar, Tamarindo and Flamingo. The sail is normally kept folded down and to the side when swimming, but it may be raised when the sailfish feels threatened or excited, making it appear much larger than it actually is. This tactic has also been observed during feeding, when a group of sailfish use their sails to "herd" a school of fish or squid.


Snapper (Caribbean and pacific)

The red snapper commonly inhabits waters from 30 to 200 ft (10 to 60 m), but can be caught as deep as 300 ft (100 m) or more on occasion. They stay relatively close to the bottom, and inhabit rocky bottom, ledges, ridges, and artificial reefs, including offshore oil rigs and Shipwrecks The red snapper's body is very similar in shape to other snappers, such as the mangrove snapper, mutton snapper, lane snapper, and dog snapper. All feature a sloped profile, medium-to-large scales, a spiny dorsal fin and a laterally compressed body. Red snappers have short, sharp, needle-like teeth, however they lack the prominent upper canine teeth found on the mutton, dog, and mangrove snappers. Coloration of the red snapper is light red, with more intense pigment on the back. Juvenile fish can also have a dark spot on their side which fades with age. Like most other snappers, red snappers are gregarious and will form large schools around wrecks and reefs. These schools are usually made up of fish of very similar size. The world record of 78 pounds was caught off a resort in Costa Rica. Red snapper are a prized food fish and are caught commercially, as well as recreationally.


Snook (Caribbean and pacific)

The Snook is a large, Pike-like fish with a protruding lower jaw and a prominent black lateral stripe that runs from just behind the gills to the tail. The Snook is overall a silvery-green color with fins that are sometimes bright yellow. The Snook is a sleek and extremely strong fish. They range in size up to 48" and 50 pounds. Snook are tolerant over a wide range of water salinity from freshwater to offshore saltwater. They are however, extremely sensitive to temperature changes, particularly cold weather. Water temperatures below 60 deg. F can cause the Snook to go into shock or even die. In cold-water areas, Snook can be found congregating in the warm water discharges of power plants. They normally tend to gather near shorelines, inlets and estuaries and prefer structures for shelter such as mangroves, rock formations and reefs. The Snook is a powerful fish and a thrilling catch, much like the freshwater Largemouth Bass. That is one of the reasons why it is one of the most sought after and prized gamefish to catch. Once hooked it’s strength and speed is hard to compare to any other game fish of its size. Snook fishing in Costa Rica seems to be from August through January when it rains the hardest. Consider an Atlantic fish Snook do appear in Costa Rica on the pacific coast off the Osa Peninsula and the Savegre River out of Quepos.


Sword Fish (Pacific Coast)

The swordfish is named after its sharp bill, resembling a sword (Latin gladius), which together with its streamlined physique allows it to cut through the water with great ease and agility. Contrary to belief the "sword" is not used to spear, but instead may be used to slash at its prey in order to injure the prey animal, to make for an easier catch. Mainly the swordfish relies on its great speed and agility in the water to catch its prey. Top Sword Fish spots in Costa Rica include Golfito and Drake Bay in the south, Quepos in the Central Pacific and Guanamar, Tamarindo and Flamingo in the North West Regarded as the toughest of all the billfish due to it's deep and rapid dives it takes when hooked. The mouth and body flesh is soft compared to other billfish and reel drags should be kept a practical minimum and gaff shots should be deep. Large swordfish are usually females, males seldom exceeding 200 pounds; except when spawning females believed to prefer water cooler than that favored by males; feeds on squid, octopus, and pelagic fishes of all kinds.


Tarpon (Caribbean coast)

The tarpon is a large thick-bodied fish generally silver in color other than its back, which can range from a dark green to gray. It has a large scoop shaped mouth and the last ray of its dorsal fin is greatly elongated. Its scales are large and thick like a coat of armor. The Tarpon is a large, hard fighting fish and is judged by many to be the world’s most exciting gamefish. Once it feels the hook being set it begins the spectacular display of frequent, twisting, acrobatic leaps into the air to free itself from the hook. Most Tarpon landed in Costa Rica are between 25 to 90 pounds on average but can range from a few inches in length to about 300 pounds. It is an inshore and offshore fish, anglers come from every corner of the world looking for tarpon fishing in Costa Rica. Our captain Eddy Brown “The Tarpon King ” is one of the top Tarpon guides in the world.


Wahoo (Pacific Coast)

The Wahoo (Acanthocybium solandri) is a dark blue scombrid fish found worldwide in tropical and subtropical seas but seems to concetrate during the summer off Costa Rica’s Pacific coasts. The body is elongate and covered with small, scarcely visible, scales; the back is an iridescent blue green, while the sides are silvery, with a pattern of vertical blue bars. These colors fade rapidly at death. The mouth is large, and both the upper and lower jaws have a somewhat sharper appearance than those of King or Spanish Mackerel. Specimens have been recorded at up to 2.5 meters (8 ft) in length, and weighing up to 83 kilograms (180 lb). Growth can be rapid. One specimen tagged at 11 pounds grew to 33 pounds in one year. Wahoo can swim up to 75 kilometers (47 miles) per hour. The Wahoo may be distinguished from the related King mackerel by a fold of skin which covers the mandible when its mouth is closed. In contrast, the mandible of the King mackerel is always visible as is also the case for Spanish and Cero mackerels. Their teeth are similar to those of King mackerel, but shorter and more closely set together. Wahoos tend to be solitary or occur in loose-knit groups of two or three fish, rather than in schools. Their diet consists essentially of other fish and squid. The flesh of the Wahoo is delicate and white and regarded as very good in quality. This has created some demand for the wahoo as a premium priced commercial food fish. However, because of its solitary lifestyle, it is taken commercially only as a bycatch in the long-line fishery for Tuna and Dolphin. Wherever found, it is a prized sport fishing catch. Not always catchable, but otherwise it can be very delicious.


Yellowfin Tuna (Pacific Coast)

The yellowfin tuna is a type of tuna eaten by humans as food. It is found in open waters of tropical and subtropical seas worldwide. It is an epipelagic fish ranging in the top 100 m (330 feet) of the water column. It has been reported to be up to 239 cm (94 inches) in length and 200 kg (440 lb) in weight. The fish is also known as ahi tuna, after the Hawaiian word for "fire", due to the vibrant red color of the flesh. They are becoming a popular replacement for bluefin tuna because of the yellowfin's low conservation threat level and the severe depletion of the number of bluefin tuna. The second dorsal fin and the anal fin are both bright yellow, thus the common name, and can be very long in mature specimens, as are the pectoral fins. The main body is very dark metallic blue, changing to silver on the belly, which has about 20 vertical lines. In Costa Rica Yellowfin Tuna is extremely valuable commercial fish, but also valuable as a game fish, Yellofin in Costa Rica are very common all year round, but the really big ones are found May throught November all along the coast. Yellowfins tend to school with fishes of the same size, including other species of tuna, and larger fish are often seen with dolphins, porpoises, whales and whale sharks. Yellowfins eat other fish, crustaceans and squid. Commercial fisheries catch yellowfin tuna with encircling nets (purse seines) and with longlines. The fish are mainly sold in frozen or canned form, but are also popular as sashimi. Yellowfin tuna are a popular sport fish in many parts of their range and are prized for their speed and strength when fought on rod and reel as well as for their table qualities. Yellowfin is popular in restaurants as the primary protein in an entree. Presented in much the same fashion as fine red meat, it is often cooked seared to rare to medium-rare, though it takes on a rich flavor similar to tri-tip when cooked through.