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Costa Rica consistently takes the lead as one of the top fishing destinations around the globe. The country is known for its many fishing world championships and anglers often make record-breaking catches here. But fishing in Costa Rica isn’t just reserved for the pros. With an excellent variety of offshore, inshore, and freshwater options, fishing can be enjoyed by all. When planning your Costa Rica tour, consider these top fishing destinations for a “reel” good time.
For a Costa Rican sailfishing vacation, look no further than Quepos, which is widely regarded as the sailfish capital of the world. A frequent host to The World Offshore Championship, the sea here is teeming with giant Pacific sailfish that routinely set new world records. On average, anglers can expect to catch fish weighing 110–120 pounds and may catch anywhere from 5 to 15 fish in a single day during high season.
- Best time to visit: November to April for sailfish; September and October for Marlin
- Species of fish: Sailfish, marlin, yellowfin tuna, amberjack, snapper, roosterfish
Take a Costa Rica Experience tour and go fishing on a stop at Quepos.
Jacó is a bustling coastal city with the country’s first government-sanctioned marina, Los Sueños Marina. This full-service port is an excellent place to reserve a luxury sport fishing charter for inshore and offshore adventures. The jewel catch of the coast here is billfish, for which the competitive Signature Triple Crown Billfish Series is held each year.
- Best time to visit: December to March, though fishing is good year-round
- Species of fish: Dorado (mahi mahi), yellowfin tuna, Pacific sailfish, marlin, snapper, roosterfish
Check out this day tour to fish in Tarcoles river near Jacó.
Tamarindo offers great fishing conditions all year round and is home to many outfitters who can provide half and full-day charters for inshore and offshore fishing respectively. While Tamarindo lacks a marina, boats are moored just in the bay of Tamarindo Beach for easy access. Summer months bring numerous sportfishing competitions.
- Best time to visit: Mid-April to August are best for billfish, but all year offers great fishing
- Species of fish: Marlin, sailfish, snapper, amberjack, rooster fish, dorado, mackerels, wahoo
Papagayo is home to one of the newest marinas on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast, which notably was constructed with an environmentally-conscious plan. Papagayo Peninsula is quickly earning more recognition as a top relaxation retreat with its fantastic scenery and incredible ocean topography. Angler’s will appreciate the possibility of catching record-holding fish, while those searching for a slower pace might enjoy taking the rod out to the bay for some fly-fishing at sunset.
- Best time to visit: September to November for big marlin, snapper and rooster fish year-round
- Species of fish: Marlin, roosterfish, Yellowfin tuna, dorado, snapper, wahoo, sailfish
Osa Peninsula, one of the country’s most remote tourist destinations, is widely regarded as the most unique place for sportfishing in Costa Rica. In addition to the plentiful, large, and vibrant fish to catch, the the surroundings of the bays, rivers, and estuaries make for some of the best possible fishing scenery. After sundown, night fishing under the moonlight can be a truly remarkable experience. A few sport fishing lodges have popped up to create particularly intriguing opportunities for a fishing holiday.
- Best time to visit: January to April for sailfish; May through September for marlin, mahi-mahi, and Wahoo; others year-round
- Species of fish: Snapper, grouper, roosterfish, mackerel, marlin, sailfish, wahoo, mahi-mahi, yellowfin, big eye tuna
Inshore and offshore fisherman alike will delight at the thought of fishing in Golfo Dulce, home to one of only four tropical fjords on earth. The fishing here is diverse as Golfo Dulce continues onward until reaching the Pacific Ocean, where offshore fishing adventures await.
- Best time to visit: Inshore fishing is excellent year-round; November to December or March and April for marlin and sailfish
- Species of fish: Roosterfish, yellowfin tuna, jacks, snapper, mackerel, snook, marlin, sailfish, dorado, barracudas
If you’re looking for more variety, consider a fishing trip to Tortuguero where you can fish the sea and the river all in one day. Tortuguero is a small village boasting a variety of ecosystems, making it a real treasure for fishing in the Caribbean side. This is a particularly fantastic destination for light tackle game fishing and fly fishing.
- Best time to visit: October to December for surf fishing and river trolling, January to May for tarpon
- Species of fish: Tarpon, wahoo, mackerel, yellowfin tuna, snook, crevalle jack, corvina, snapper, guapote, mojarra, machaca
For freshwater fishing, the best place to fish in Costa Rica is undoubtedly Lake Arenal in Arenal Volcano National Park. This 53 square km lake is home to many big hard-fighting fish and calm waters. Lake Arenal is a popular destination for conventional, spin, and fly fishing. Plus, you can spend your sunrise fishing in perhaps one of the most scenic places in all of Costa Rica with Arenal Volcano in view.
- Best time to visit: November to June when the lake waters are low
- Species of fish: Guapote, machaca, bobo, blue tilapia, mojarra
- To fish anywhere in Costa Rica, a fishing license must be obtained. Purchased individually, the cost is USD 15* per person for an 8 day period, but this may be included in the rate of a fishing charter.
- Charters provide necessary supplies for fishing, but it is possible to bring your own supplies and fish independently in some areas.
- Try connecting with a local fishing expert for your tour. The best tours may be more pricey but are more likely to invest in your actual fishing experience, rather than providing a simple boat or sailing tour.
- Sailfish, rooster fish, and marlin are catch and release only.
If you weren’t ready to hit the water before, we hope this guide has helped you prepare for your dream vacation of fishing in Costa Rica. With some of the world’s most abundant fishing opportunities, stunning scenery, and local fishing experts, you will have everything you need to tackle your dream catch while on a trip to Costa Rica.
*Prices quoted are as of March 2018