October 4, 2023

Hardcore Game Fishing

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Costa Rica Fishing Seasons Guide

Reading Time: 11 minutes

Golden beaches, phenomenal scenery, and friendly locals. What’s not to love about Costa Rica? It’s a paradise on earth but also a destination where world-class angling adventures take place all the time. But before you’re ready for yours, it’s always a good idea to get familiar with the fishing seasons in Costa Rica.

With a warm climate and some of the most bountiful waters in the world, Costa Rica enjoys year-round fishing. There’s fantastic freshwater action in its rivers and lakes but it gets even wilder once you hit the saltwater.

In the ocean, there are fish biting both shallow and deep. Your targets will include some of the fiercest game fish out there, all depending on when you visit. And to find out when is the best time to go for your target fish, read on.

What are the best months for fishing in Costa Rica?

Species Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Blue Marlin Great Great Great Good Good Great Great Great Good Weak Good Great
Black Marlin Great Great Great Good Good Great Great Great Good Weak Good Great
Striped Marlin Great Good Good Weak Weak Weak Weak Weak Weak Weak Good Great
Sailfish Great Great Great Great Good Good Good Good Good Good Great Great
Yellowfin Tuna Great Great Good Good Good Great Great Great Good Weak Good Great
Dorado Great Great Great Great Great Good Good Great Good Weak Great Great
Wahoo Great Great Good Good Good Great Great Good Weak Weak Good Great
Snapper Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Good Great Great
Roosterfish Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Good Good Great Great
Snook Good Great Great Great Great Good Weak Weak Great Great Good Weak
Tarpon Good Great Great Great Great Good Weak Weak Great Great Good Weak
Rainbow Bass Great Great Great Great Great Good Good Good Weak Weak Good Good

Costa Rica generally has two seasons. A dry summer takes place from November through April, after which a rainy winter begins and lasts until sometime in October. Each of these has its own perks when it comes to fishing. The dry season brings the bait fish close to shores, while during winter, you’re more likely to run into fish amidst feeding frenzies.

While it may seem like there’s equal opportunity no matter what time you pick for fishing in Costa Rica, the dry season is generally considered to be somewhat better. It’s when most of the sportfishing tournaments take place in these waters. It’s also when you’ll have the best chance to reel in your share of pelagic fish.

You should also consider where you’ll be fishing from. The fishing opportunities vary both depending on whether you’re in fresh- or saltwater, the Pacific or the Caribbean coast, and which part of each. For more details about Costa Rica fishing seasons, check out our monthly breakdown below.

January

While folks elsewhere around the world are cleaning snow off their driveways, the weather in Costa Rica is warm and fishing is on fire. Inshore, it’s prime time to battle one of the toughest coastal fish on the planet – Roosterfish. You’ll find them in great numbers, especially if you visit the Central Pacific Coast and places such as Playa Herradura.

This photo was taken aboard Sport Fishing El Gato III

Offshore, however, there are even bigger fish to hunt. January is one of the best months to target one of the most acrobatic fish in the ocean – Sailfish. Along with them, you’ll often hook into Dorado and Yellowfin Tuna. Lastly, you’ll also have the chance to hook into Blue, Striped, and Black Marlin.

Meanwhile, January also marks the start of the high season in Costa Rica’s freshwaters. Hit Lake Arenal for Rainbow Bass, locally known as Guapote, which is Spanish for “The Handsome One.” Or, visit the Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge. Besides an abundance of Bass, its waters are also home to Gar, Snook, and Tarpon!

February

As the summer continues, the angling only gets better and better. Similarly to the last month, fishing close to shore will have you facing Roosterfish. Besides them, the nearshore waters also hold Snapper in good numbers, with February bringing even better fishing compared to the previous month.

Two men in the water, swimming with a Sailfish in Costa Rica.
This photo was taken by Capt. Jorge Fernandez aboard Snook Sportfishing

Of course, offshore waters are still the main draw. The Sailfish action is at its peak in February, with Quepos serving as one of the best starting spots. And whereas Wahoo, Dorado, and Yellowfin Tuna might be considered rare catches elsewhere around the world, in Costa Rica, they’re standard fare. Finally, there’s always the possibility of getting into a tussle with a Marlin.

For anglers interested in reeling in some of Costa Rica’s freshwater species, the dry season brings great opportunities. The water levels usually go down at this time, leaving less space for fish to hide. When this happens, it’s your cue to reel in some Rainbow Bass or Machaca, the latter of which are often called “mini Tarpon.”

March

We’re still in the middle of the peak Billfish season in Costa Rica. The weather is hot with hardly any rainfall, making it suitable for offshore trips. Swimming through these waters since the beginning of the year, Sailfish remain the main target in March. You’ll also see their Marlin cousins racing through the Pacific, along with Tuna, Wahoo, and Dorado.

Two Costa Rican anglers standing on a boat, each holding a big Snook they caught.
This photo was taken by Capt. Christian Chatard aboard Buenavista Sportfishing

If you try live baiting around reefs and rocky points nearshore, you’re likely to run into big Roosterfish. While they’re available in these waters year-round, the dry season offers the best chance to hook into these magnificent fish. The reefs also feature a variety of Snapper species, including Cubera, Pacific Red, Mullet, Yellow, and more.

But what about the Caribbean side? There’s plenty of angling to be done there, too, of course. In the coastal waters, Snook and Tarpon are usually the main targets. Meanwhile, offshore waters offer a mix of Snapper, Mahi Mahi, and Jacks.

April

April is your last chance to go fishing during Costa Rica’s dry season. During the month, the weather fronts will shift, bringing lower, more pleasant temperatures and rainfall. The summer does end with a bang, though, since the Pacific waters will still be teeming with all kinds of game fish.

A shot of a hooked Marlin leaping halfway out of the water.
This photo was taken by Capt. Jeff Holiday aboard Bucket List Sportfishing

In the deep seas, the Sailfish bite is still great. However, as the month progresses, it’s actually Black Marlin that’ll become the start of the show. With them and Sailfish in the waters, you’ll get the opportunity to fight both of the fastest fish in the ocean. Can you already hear the drag screaming?

But if you’re still in doubt whether April is the right time to visit, Quepos actually organizes the Offshore World Championship tournament during this month. And in case you’re not interested in hunting for Billfish, there’ll be plenty of Roosterfish inshore, as well as Tuna, Mahi Mahi, and Wahoo offshore.

May

The rainy season on the Pacific side has begun but the fish won’t care – they’re already wet! Luckily, it mostly rains in the afternoon, so there’ll still be mornings when you can get on the water and stay dry. But most importantly, the fish will bite as ferociously as ever.

An angler on a charter boat, holding a Wahoo he reeled in at the start of the wet season in Costa Rica.
This photo was taken aboard Sea Star CR

We’ve previously mentioned that Black Marlin fishing picks up in April. This trend continues throughout May, so you’ll have plenty of time to try to land one. The Wahoo bite will also be on fire, joined by Dorado near the end of the month.

Along the coast, you can still catch Roosterfish. At times, Yellowfin Tuna visit the nearshore waters, offering exciting battles with delicious results. And if you turn to freshwaters instead, you’ll still find the fish somewhat concentrated, before the rain raises the water levels. Depending on where you go, there’ll be Jaguar and Rainbow Bass, Snook, Machaca, and more to reel in.

June

The green season continues, bringing more rainfall. If you don’t mind the weather, the accommodation prices are usually lower at this time of year, and there are also fewer tourists. This means there’ll be less fishing pressure for anyone willing to get on the ocean.

An angler holding a huge Cubera Snapper he caught fishing on the Pacific side of Costa Rica.
This photo was taken by Capt. Gerald Ruiz aboard Capullo Sportfishing

The northern part of Costa Rica’s Pacific coast boasts a great fishery in June. Depart from Playa Flamingo and you’ll get to reel in Blue, Black, and Striped Marlin, Sailfish, Wahoo, Tuna, Dorado, and more. Inshore and around rocky points and reefs, there’ll be Roosterfish and Cubera Snapper.

There’s fishing on the Caribbean side as well. However, the region will be prone to rainstorms for the next couple of months, often getting in the way of any angling plans. As for freshwater, you can still hit any of Costa Rica’s lakes. The rivers might be flooded though.

July

If there’s an advantage to fishing during the wet season, it’s the fact that the winds that usually blow during summer have died down. So while you’ll still need your raingear, you can count on the seas staying relatively calm on the Pacific side.

A woman posing for a photo, holding a Yellowfin Tuna she caught high up in the air.
This photo was taken aboard Sea Breeze Fishing & Adventures

For anglers hunting for Billfish, the northern part and fishing hubs such as Tamarindo, are still your best bet. But there’s a chance of catching them no matter where you start your adventure from. And if you’re only after the likes of Yellowfin Tuna, Wahoo, and Mahi Mahi, all parts of the coast will serve you equally well.

In fact, Yellowfin Tuna often come fairly close to shore during this time of year. You’ll occasionally see Amberjack and Mackerel as well, along with Snapper and bruiser Roosterfish. Alternatively, the freshwater fishing on Lake Arenal is still good, despite the fish being less concentrated.

August

Besides Lake Arenal, the most epic freshwater fishing in Costa Rica takes place in the Caño Negro region, near the Nicaragua border. However, because of the Tropical Gar spawning season, these waters are closed for fishing between April and July each year. Now that it’s August, you can once again explore Caño Negro in hopes of reeling in one of these river monsters, along with Snook, Tarpon, Guapote, and more.

A pair of anglers on a small river boat, posing with a Tropical Gar they reeled in.
This photo was taken by Esteban Blanco aboard Guanacaste Fly Fishing

Because of the unstable weather on the Caribbean side, saltwater angling is once again all about the Pacific. There, the August fishing conditions in large part resemble the rest of Costa Rica’s green season.

The rains often flush more debris into the ocean. These attract bait fish and consequently other fish such as Mahi Mahi. Offshore, you’ll also run into Marlin and Sailfish, even though it’s outside their peak season, as well as Tuna and Wahoo. Close to the coast, there’s always the chance to get into a scrap with some Roosterfish.

September

On the Pacific side of Costa Rica, you can still expect it to rain nearly every afternoon. The Caribbean side, however, enters its dry season in September. Embark on a wilderness tour to Tortuguero National Park and get a glimpse of its wildlife, including spectacled caymans, sea turtles, and howler monkeys. While you’re at it, try catching some Tarpon and Snook.

A hooked Tarpon leaping out of the water somewhere on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica.
This photo was taken by Capt. Franco Alvarenga aboard Sábalo Costa Rica

But if you don’t mind the wet conditions, the saltwater fishing on the left coast of Costa Rica is as stellar as ever. The bulk of the action takes place along the northern part of it, with Marlin, Tuna, and Mahi Mahi being the ever-present adversaries. For a starting spot, you can consider visiting Coco.

On the other hand, Roosterfish can be caught throughout the Pacific coast. So if you’re going for them, there’s no need to be too picky in terms of departure spots. This being said, for the best chance at catching these fish, hit the waters off of Northern Pacific Region.

October

With favorable weather and all the Snook and Tarpon action you could ever wish for, now’s the time to visit Costa Rica’s wild Caribbean shores. You’ll find fish in the coastal waters, but also inland along the various rivers. There, you’ll see the likes of Guapote and Gar eat your bait, along with the two aforementioned species.

An angler holding a Rainbow Bass, also known as Guapote, which he caught fishing on Lake Arenal during the wet season.
This photo was taken by Ty Madill aboard Lake Arenal Fishing

On the Pacific coast, it’s nearly the end of the green season, with rainfall steadily dwindling over the course of October. With this being said, this might be the only time when fishing actually slows down in these parts. Winds tend to pick up as well, creating a challenging set of conditions for anglers.

Still, there’s no such thing as a bad fishing season in Costa Rica. Roosterfish, as well as Mahi Mahi, can be caught fairly close to shore. The Snapper action will be getting better and better throughout the month, so there’ll always be something to catch for dinner. And although the fishing is slower, the Billfish are still out there.

November

In November, the fish return to Costa Rica in full force, turning its Pacific waters into a world-class fishery once again. The dry season finally arrives as well, bringing an end to the long rainy days of summer.

A man and a woman on a boat, posing for a photo with a big Mahi Mahi they caught during their peak fishing season in Costa Rica.
This photo was taken aboard Sea Breeze Fishing & Adventures

While there are Billfish, Tuna, and Wahoo swimming through the waters, it’s actually Dorado (Mahi Mahi) that are the stars of the month. If you visit Quepos in November, you can even take part in the Dorado Derby. It’s a one-day Mahi bonanza, with the heaviest fish taking the prize.

Freshwater fishing on the different lakes and rivers will start improving as the dry season brings the water levels down. However, on the Caribbean side, it’s once again the wet season, with less-than-ideal fishing conditions.

December

As we arrive at the end of the year, Costa Rica once again enters its peak fishing season. You’ll see more and more Marlin and Sailfish visit the local waters, giving you the opportunity to once again battle the toughest game fish in the ocean.

An underwater shot of a hooked Marlin.
This photo was taken by Capt. Jeff Holiday aboard Bucket List Sportfishing

Besides Billfish, you’ll get to catch Yellowfin Tuna, delicious Mahi Mahi, and lightning-quick Wahoo. There are very few fisheries out there that can compete with the quality and the volume of pelagic fish you’ll hook into in Costa Rica. And that’s not even counting Roosterfish and Snapper that you can catch close to shore. For the best action at this time of year, visit places such as Jacó in the Central Pacific Region or Puerto Jiménez to the south.

Also, while it’s not quite yet the peak season for freshwater angling, it’s just around the corner. With lakes steadily drying up, the fish will be getting more concentrated, which means it’ll be easier to seek them out. If you need a reminder, Lake Arenal is one of the best lakes in the country and it holds Rainbow Bass, Machaca, Mojarra, and more.

Costa Rica: A Year-Round Fishing Paradise

An aerial view of a beach and the Pacific Ocean near Quepos in Costa Rica.

We’ve spent the whole article singing praises about how good fishing in Costa Rica is. But can you really blame us? It’s one of the finest vacation destinations out there, both in terms of angling and just your regular tourist appeal. Everyone needs a little bit of pura vida in their lives and there’s only one place on the planet where you’ll find it – Costa Rica.

What’s your favorite season to go fishing in Costa Rica? What’s the species you enjoy hunting for the most? Hit that comment button and let us know!

The post Costa Rica Fishing Seasons: The Complete Guide appeared first on FishingBooker Blog.

By: Marko
Title: Costa Rica Fishing Seasons: The Complete Guide
Sourced From: fishingbooker.com/blog/costa-rica-fishing-seasons/
Published Date: Tue, 21 Mar 2023 17:16:22 +0000

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