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This is one of the Northern Pacific region’s main attractions. Artisan and recreational fishing are possible, but of greater interest are the tournaments in which several world billfish records have been broken. The fish are returned to the water after weigh-in.

Costa Rica is an angler’s dreams come true. The country’s Pacific ports and beach resorts provide access to some the best deep-sea fishing in the world, while the canals and rivers of the northern Atlantic coast feature world-class snook and tarpon fishing. Billfish are the country’s biggest attractions, with abundant sailfish and marlin off the Pacific coast, but the fishermen also hook plenty of other feisty fighters, such as wahoo and roosterfish. Deep sea fishing is the country’s forte, there is also has great fresh water fishing in Lake Arenal and the larger rivers in the Northern Zone, where anglers can fight with the small but ornery guapote, a hump-backed fish also known as the rainbow bass.

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Costa Rica’s central Pacific coast has long been known for its world-class Sailfish, Marlin, Yellow fin Tuna and Dorado (Mahi-Mahi) Sport fishing. We catch and release hundreds of billfish each year!

Our prime fishing season is December – May. But we catch fish year-round because the Gulf of Nicoya is a magnet for many different species of baitfish. Our prime fishing season is also dry season, so the seas are generally calm December – May. Our waters abound with whales, dolphins, turtles, manta rays, and many other species of marine life throughout the year.

Various species and seasons

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Indo-Pacific Blue Marlin (Makaira mazara)— These are strikingly beautiful blue and one of the biggest fish in the world. They can reach 14 feet in length and weigh more than 1,985 pounds, though average sizes tend to be in the range of 11 feet and 200 – 400 pounds. They are caught every month of the year; with mid November to early March exceptional, then slowing a bit from April into early June when it picks up again, peaking in August and September. Read more.

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Indo-Pacific Sailfish (Istiophorus platypterus)— Range is size from 5.7 to 11 ft and weigh 120 to 220 lbs. They are blue to gray in color with white underbellies. They get their name from their spectacular dorsal fin that stretches nearly the length of their body and is much higher than their bodies are thick. They are found near the ocean surface usually far from land feeding on schools of smaller fish like sardines and anchovies, which they often shepherd with their sails, making them easy prey. They also feast on squid and octopus. Sailfish are caught throughout the year; with May through August normally the top season. They may begin to thin out in September and from late August Through November. Read more.

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Wahoo (Acanthocybium solandri)— Wahoo are long and covered with small, scarcely visible scales; the back is an iridescent blue, while the sides are silvery, with a pattern of irregular vertical blue bars and have razor sharp teeth. Wahoo can swim up to 60 mph and are some of the fastest fish in the sea. Wahoo tend to be solitary or occur in loose-knit groups of two or three fish, but where conditions are suitable can be found in schools as large as 100 or more. Their diet is made up of other fish and squid. The first showing begins about the time the rains start in May, peaking in July an August. Most are caught around the rocky points and islands, but you will pick one up occasionally fishing offshore. Read more.

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Roosterfish (Nematistius pectoralis)— Easily distinguished by its “rooster comb” of seven very long spines of the dorsal fin, this game fish can reach over 5 ft in length and weigh up to 110 lbs, though the weight of the average fish is around 20 lbs. Available all year, but are more caught in the Papagayo Bay area from November through March. That may be because more boats in the northern most area of this region are fishing inshore during those windy months, and the roosters like the structure of the shoreline and islands where they’re found 50 to 60 feet of water. Read more.

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Yellowfin Tuna (Thunnus albacares)— Torpedo-shaped game fish with metallic dark blue on the back and upper sides, changing from yellow to silver on the belly. The dorsal and anal fins, and finlets are bright yellow. They are a popular game fish because they are large, reaching weights of over 400 pounds, fight hard and are excellent eating. Peak months for tuna are probably August through October; but when all these fails, there are always tuna, anytime of the year you want to look for them, and more often than not when you’d just as soon avoid them to concentrate on bill fish. The yellow fin and some big eye tuna are often found well inside the Santa Catalina Islands, 30 minutes or less running time from the beach, while schools of 12 to 20 lbs. are usually abundant on the outside. You frequently find concentrations of 40 to 60 pound tuna, and there are plenty of the 200 to 400 lbs caught every year. Read more.

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Mahi Mahi (Dorado)— More properly known as the common dolphinfish or dorado are among the most beautiful fish in the world with brilliantly colored iridescent blueish green and gold scales, compressed bodies and long dorsal fins extending nearly the entire length of their bodies. Males have distinctive rounded, large heads, while females’ head tend to slope down towards the mouth. These colorful game fish are most abundant from late May through October when the seasonal rains flood the rivers, carry in and out debris that forms trash lines close inshore that they like to lie under. Troll past a floating long and you’ll like hook a Dorado. Read more.

Links & Other Resources

View Our Slideshow | View Keys of Costa Rica Fishing Trip Video