Local Knowledge on Costa Rica Fishing is something you cannot order over the web. I have been able to contact the best person I know of with local knowledge on fishing in Costa Rica.
He is constantly fishing and traveling to all corners of the country 365 days a year and was kind enough to give me answers to the most commonly asked questions he has received over the years about fishing in Costa Rica.
I think this is about the most complete answers to fishing in Costa Rica that I know of and covers about 99% of what most people want to know before they go to Costa Rica.
It answers everything from fishing on the both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts as well as surf casting and everything in between. Enjoy!
Costa Rica Fishing Questions and Answers:
We are planning a month visit to the Playa Flamingo area for the month of Feb. I’ve been trying to find a place to do some inshore fishing, I’m not into the deep sea stuff. I’m looking for a small boat rental with a local that can show me the ropes since this is the first time in Costa Rica. I’m also into fly fishing and wonder if you know of any places on the Pacific side that might be into that.
In Flamingo during the winter months we tend to get what we call “Papagayo Winds” that can get to 30-40 knots and come out of nowhere. For that reason I do not suggest any craft that could withstand the seas created by the winds. There are fly fishing opportunities inshore but if there is a run across open water to a place like the “bat islands” I would suggest a bigger boat, say at least 30 feet.
My wife and I would like to catch some sailfish in late October. Where should we go? We were in Papagayo Bay before and did not catch any sails and only had one hook-up. We did catch a lot of roosters, fortunately.
I am actually quite surprised you did not do better in June at Papagayo. Most people do well there in the summer months…as opposed to October, which is probably one of the less productive times of the year. Nonetheless if that’s the only time you can go then a good crew is essential. Some of my best days at the Bat Islands have come in October. If you cannot get a good boat then do not waste your time and money.
Where would you recommend going for 3 days of fishing with my wife as well as enjoying Costa Rica in luxury? We have never been to Costa Rica but have heard wonderful things about the country.
For a luxury trip you want to go to Los Sueños. The condos are quite nice and the boats are first class. The fishing is almost always steady, even good. The beauty of the big boats at Los Suenos is that they can get pretty much anywhere the fish are and quite quickly, whereas the boats in the other areas must pick what they can reach in an hour or so.
Is it possible to catch, keep and freeze fish? How is the bottom fishing? We like to stay in an area that offers jungle excursions, night life and anything else the country has to offer. Can you tell me where is the most affordable place to stay and the best time of year to go?
There are a couple to go on the Caribbean for good fishing. The best is Barra Colorado. Remember this is in the jungle and the only nightlife is swinging from the trees. Its one of my favorite spots. Try Silver King Lodge.
They will freeze fish for you but you need to check with your carrier to see if they will allow you to ship it. I suggest a “soft” cooler which you can get on Amazon or I am sure at local store near you and then put it in a suitcase. If you show up with a big cooler you will attract too much trouble. When in doubt of what to do they will say “no go.”
What are a couple of resorts you would recommend for a Nov-tarpon/snook fly fishing trip. I don’t really need one all inclusive because my wife will only fish a little. For her we would need some eco stuff and nice accommodations.
Because the lodges are isolated they are all inclusive deals. For more of a nature lodge area you can try Tortuguero but there is alot of boat traffic there which is not good for fishing on fly.
If I were going to bring a teaser daisy chain to give to the captain what size, color and type would you think is best far sails and marlin in Costa Rica.
You may want to bring some teasers, orange, purple, red and green all work. A couple of cedar plugs and a Rapala or two for tuna, dorado and wahoo may be fun too. Try to get to the Bat Islands (Murcielago) if the winds are low.
I am wanting to go fishing during the first week of July. What is the best location for that time of year? Billfish preferred but is there any other fishing that is in season that week?
I would suggest you try Tamarindo. The winds are usually way down and the fish tend to move up to Guanacaste at that time. You could also try Los Suenos and run around the Cabo to Guanacaste.
I am going to Costa Rica in Late April or May and want to do both offshore fishing and snook fishing. Is it my best bet to book 2 days on the Pacific ( Southern, Central, or Northern) side for offshore and then travel across the country to the Rio Colorado for snook?
The offshore dates are great for the Central and South Pacific but I can’t assure you that the snook fishing on the Caribbean is worth the trip. Some of the bet snook fishing is done the old fashion was.. at river mouths from the beach. With my charter boat there was only one rule.
No snook fishing. The reason is that you have to get the boat as close to the shore break as possible and every year a rogue wave would take a boat, clients and all, up on the beach. The only exception would be with the guys at Crocodile Bay that can keep you in the Golfo Dulce.
The rivers on the Pacific side hold a lot of big snook so if you are willing to wade and cast you may save yourself a ton of cash and hook a some nice fish.
Can I visit a dock and charter the next day? Where can I find smaller charters with more hands on for a party of 3?
Your best bet is Quepos although you may also be able to find one in Los Suenos. In Quepos you can check in the Gran Escape around dinner/cocktail time. The boat captains and crews are usually in there and you can find out how the bite is.
A friend and I are in the initial stages of planning a 3-4 day trip to Costa Rica sometime between March and July. I was in Quepos with my wife in October and we got skunked. I was hoping you could provide me with some expert advice on when the best time would be (March-July), what area would be best to go, and what I could expect fishing wise.
September and October are the roughest months. Its part because of the currents and the lack of anglers too. Most of the boats work together when it comes to finding fish.
With 40-50 boats out there is a good chance someone will come across some fish and let the other boats know. In October there are fewer fish and fewer boats out to find them but even still skunked is rarely heard of in Quepos.If you can go in March go, Followed by April and then May then go back to Quepos.
We are planning a trip for five guys and we are all torn between going to Quepos for Fishing or going to Los Suenos. Most of the websites and books say Quepos is the better bet but there are a lot of people that we know who have visited there an said that Los Suenos is better. We are looking for the BEST overall fishing experience. We will be heading out for two days for offshore billfish.
Quepos is an old banana port town with a downtown area where locals and visitors mix. It has used to have an old pier that the boats back up to rather than just walking up to a slip but now with the Marina Pez Vela there, its gotten a little more “sophisticated”.
The onshore activities are probably better in Quepos but you will fish the same general area no matter which place you go out of.
One tip! Make sure to ask if you can take pictures of any released sailfish. With some of the nice big boats sporting paint jobs approaching six figures some do not like to pull the rough fish over the side of the boat.
We’d like to concentrate offshore for sails, marlin, dorado, and rooster fish. We wouldn’t mind maybe catching some tuna as well. I was wondering what spot you would recommend for this particular time of year.
That is peak time for offshore action in the southern and central part of the Pacific Coast. Depending on your budget and what kind of onshore activities you wish to do you have three options. Los Suenos, Quepos or Crocodile Bay. Los Suenos is the highest end, set in a resort.
Quepos has the most options on boats and hotels, bars, restaurants etc. and Crocodile Bay is a lodge that is set in a more remote area that has all inclusive.
I will be in Costa Rica during the month of June. Will I have a good chance of doing some good offshore fishing? Where should I concentrate?
June is one of those months that brings good fishing offshore just about everywhere in Costa Rica. Nonetheless, I would consider fishing up north, off the Bat Islands. The Papagallo winds are gone and the Bats hold all different kinds of fish when the clean water is in.
In fact some of my best days ever have been at there. That is not to say the action out of Crocodile Bay or Quepos won’t be great either. Its just a matter of this time of year being the beginning of the season up north and beautiful place to fish.
When & where is the best large Tuna fishing?
Up and down the coast we get many schools of football size Tuna which provide great light tackle action.
Occasionally we also get some big fish mixed in there with the larger concentrations being off the Central and Southern coast. The time of year is generally in the off season of May to December, when floating logs provide cover for baitfish.
I’m going to be going to Costa Rica in March. On a limited budget but have never caught anything big. Would love to go deep sea fishing but most prices look out of reach.
I understand what you mean. Unless you have someone to split a charter with its a pricey deal for just one person. That said, I know you can find some towns to split a charter and some places you cannot.
If you are also looking for some fun nightlife there is only one place to go. Quepos. There are several agencies in town, several restaurants and bars that attract anglers and charter crews. Wacky Wandas and the Gran Escape are two good places to look
When and Where would you suggest a surf fisherman to go in Costa Rica for a successful fishing trip? Either Coast, anytime.Would like a Do-it-yourself type trip, but if its smarter to get a guide for a day or two, that would be fine as well
The Pacific Coast is dotted with rivers that produce great action, the best being in the Central Pacific for large snook often over 40lbs or more (Tiveves, Damas, Savegre rivers) and the southern zone in Drake’s Bay having the most action with snook, snapper and corvina.
You need to try to get live bait but unless you bring a cast net you need to uses artificial OR bring some leaders, hooks, spool of line or jigs to trade a local angler that does have a cast net. Drake’s Bay works best at high tide and you should “work” all cover changes (river water mixing with ocean water) and try to fish along side where the locals are.
I’m kinda lost on what surf casting setup I would need. What do you recommend for rod length and action, line and leader strength, and lures for general fishing in the area.
The best is to find points, structure (rocks) or rover mouths. You need to cast (jigs and poppers) a lot unless you are using live bait. You can may be able to catch snapper, snook, corvina or even roosterfish.
I will be near Playa Conchal, is there any snook or tarpon fishing to be done anywhere near this place…..I know the real snook are on the caribbean coast but I hear it is very difficult to get over there from where we are staying…looking for some inshore fishing near Conchal…any suggestions…we are willing to travel anywhere within reasonable time frame
Tarpon are definitely not an option on the Pacific side, although a few have slipped through the Panama Canal.Snook are available on the Pacific Coast and in substantial numbers and species.
In fact the better “big snook” fishing is now in the Central Pacific Coast areas near rivers like Tivives, Damas and Savegre.
Up north, the river flows are less significant and that seems to make a difference on the snook size and numbers, but you CAN find them.
There are some small inshore boats that know what they are doing and might be willing to come pick you up (beach launch) or have you drive about 45 minutes- 1 hour 15 minutes from Conchal that can take you to the most productive river mouths.
We will be at Playa Tambor and want to do some surf fishing there. Any tips on tackle, rods etc. Haven’t tried anything like this before. Can we expect to get a few fish in this area?
There is some fun fishing in that area off the rocks at some of the points. Just plan on using jigs (yellow and red) and poppers, which you can get on Amazon, as well as top water lures, at the changing tides, and if you are near some outgoing creeks or streams always fish the color change.
Keep an eye out for when the locals appear, my brother in law lives further up the coast and he fishes for dinner consistently, so they are there if you figure out what to do. Bring extra hooks and tackle to trade for “Local Knowledge” and live bait.
Some of the best Snapper I have ever had come from Garza (also up the coast a little) but you should have great fun.
I will be on La Isla Palo Seco. The Pacific is on one side of the property and a river is behind. I would like to fish both areas and am wondering what type of gear to use. (rod size, line test, lures, live bait, wire leader) Do you fish the bottom with live bait or suspend?
You want to think about 16lb test as a base. You may want to go higher or lower depending on what you like.
There are things in the water that can cut you off so keep that in mind. You can fish live bait either way, depending on what its in the water. Snook like free swimming bait while snapper tend to “ambush” anything they can and will compete for food. The current can make a difference but you want to fish the tide changes and the color changes.
Top water plugs can attract fish ( you can find on Amazon) while buck tail jigs (with rubber tales or hook covers for debris)(find on Amazon as well) also work around structure of fallen trees and small banks. That area you are fishing is VERY productive and there are “locals” that come from all over to fish this area.
Max Gomez – The Costa Rica Fishing Expert that helped with this post has a resume (or C.V) that reads as follows:
- A trained U.S. lawyer
- Costa Rica Charter Boat Owner
- One of the original founder’s of the Costa Rica Classic fishing tournament.
- Bilingual in both English and Spanish.
- Has over 30 years experience living in Costa Rica.