One of the reasons I first came to Costa Rica was because of what I heard about the outstanding snook fishing.
I was very fortunate to be befriended by one of the pioneers in the Costa Rica fishing industry and a legendary snook fisherman, Bill Barnes. I owe everything I know about snook and the many fishing adventures I experienced in the water to him.
Snook is a prized game fish in Costa Rica for a couple of reasons: They are an intelligent fish and there is a knack to fooling them into taking a bait. When they hit the frying pan, they are a real treat to the taste buds.
If you are new to snook fishing, there is a lot for you to understand. Read on to learn how it’s done.
Snook Fishing Seasons in Costa Rica
What is the best time of year to go fishing for snook in Costa Rica? The short answer is anytime you can. If you have time to plan though you should go with what historically has proven the best time.
Keep in mind that a changing barometer (a front moving through) takes a couple of days to straighten out. Also some of my best days fishing for snook have been in months I do not mention as “best”.
Large snook in Costa Rica become more numerous in April and increase in numbers through May. They move freely in and out of salt and fresh waters, making the snook fishing possibilities almost endless. They are abundant at the river mouths that run into the ocean and also can be found far up the rivers and creeks, miles from the ocean.
Costa Rica has 8 different varieties of Snook, 4 on the Pacific side and 4 on the Caribbean side. Knowing when to go and then using the right tackle and techniques are the most effective ways of fishing for Snook in Costa Rica.
The cabla (Fat snook) make their runs at End of November to the End of January. It is light tackle action at its best with, at one time, the all tackle World Record being just over 8lbs, and was taken at Casa Mar.
From August through October the rains in the central valley send fills the Colorado river and downstream the logs and leaves make the conditions perfect for taling big snook in the river mouths and often from shore.
The smaller ones come in around twenty pounds and its not uncommon to get a couple in the mid thirties. If the river is just to big then trolling or working structures in the river can be equally productive.
Snook Sportfishing on the Pacific Coast
The Pacific Coast of Costa Rica 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 Drakes Bay having the most action with snook.
Drakes 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.
In the surf, a 10 and 12 pound line is usually sufficient. Rods should be light enough for continuous casting without causing fatigue. Spinning rods of medium weight designed to handle 10 to 20 pound test line are ideal. Six to seven foot lengths are popular.
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.
Plug casting rods in 5 to 6 foot lengths are popular for inside waters, while in the surf 6 and 7 are better suited. Surf fishing along this coast does not require the type of long sticks used along the mid Atlantic shores of the U.S. Most one-handed spinning or bait casting tackle will be sufficient.
Reels for snook should have a capacity of 150 to 200 yards and a good drag system.