Best Fishing Spots in Costa Rica

See the sea | © Joel Hatfield/Flickr
See the sea | © Joel Hatfield/Flickr
Photo of Jenn Parker
9 November 2017

The aquatic territories in Costa Rica, both fresh and saltwater, are quite abundant in fish. For this reason, both novice and expert level anglers from around the world are lured to Costa Rica with fish on the brain. Read on for the top spots to go fishing in Costa Rica.

Before you go, know…

Fishing in Costa Rica requires a fishing license, which can be purchased for around $15 for up to 8 days and is often included with your half or full day charter. It is important that you only catch what you are going to eat and release sailfish, marlin, rooster fish, and sharks. Unfortunately, a lot of illegal fishing takes place, mainly by international fishing fleets, around Costa Rica and the numbers of sharks, tuna, dorado, and other high demand fish populations are rapidly declining. Enjoy your time out on the water, catch some dinner, and leave the sea in peace and plentitude.

Save the sharks | © Les Chatfield/Flickr

Jaco/Los Sueños Marina

Sport fishing in Costa Rica has long been synonymous with Los Sueños Marina in Jaco. It was the first government sanctioned marina in Costa Rica and is home to 200 wet slips and 116 dry slips and a fleet of luxury fishing yachts and boats. While there is great fishing all year around in the Central Pacific in Costa Rica, December through March are the best months for catch and release fishing of blue marlin, black marlin, sailfish, and rooster fish.

Jumping marlin | © Dominic Sherony/Flickr

Quepos/Marina Pez Vela

Quepos holds the title of the “Sailfish Capital of the World.” As part of the Osa Peninsula, the waters here are especially rich in marine life. Snapper, dorado, marlin, and rooster fish are also common catches in this zone. In 2014, Marina Pez Vela held the Offshore World Championship. Quepos is very close to the Manuel Antonio National Park, so parlaying a rainforest adventure after your fishing day is very convenient and makes for an incredible itinerary.

Always release | © Matty Rigney/Flickr

Gulfo Dulce/Crocodile Bay

Just outside of Puerto Jimenez in the far southern part of the Osa Peninsula is Gulfo Dulce. Gulfo Dulce, or sweet gulf, received its name because multiple freshwater rivers and streams empty out into the bay. This area has been highly protected and has strict fishing regulations. For this reason, the fish populations are booming here and embarking on a fishing charter in this gulf is almost always fruitful. The Crocodile Bay Sport Fishing Resort is a famous eco resort that specializes in fishing this remote and astonishingly beautiful area of Costa Rica. Cubera, snapper, amberjack, grouper, African pompano, and trevally are a few of the most popular catches within Gulfo Dulce.

Dolphin like to fish too | © Tilly C./Flickr

Tortuguero/Caribbean Coast

February through May and September and October are prime months for tarpon and snook fishing on the Northern Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. This remote coastline is only accessible by boat or small plane. It is also home to the largest population of sea turtles in Costa Rica; all four species of sea turtles in Costa Rica nest here and the waters are teeming with fish. This is a dream fishing destination for those interested in hooking a 100 pound plus tarpon. Tortuguero also has a healthy population of fresh water fish.

Water water everywhere | © Leonora (Ellie)/Flickr

Gulf of Papagayo/Marina Papagayo

Up in the northwestern region of Costa Rica is the Gulf of Papagayo. From December to March, the Papagayo trade winds can be incredibly strong, which makes the conditions for fishing up here poor. However, once June rolls around the waters start bursting to life. June through October is an excellent time to fish up here. Some of the biggest rooster fish can be found in the gulf, as well as marlin, sailfish, tuna, and dorado. The Marina Papagayo is the newest marina in Costa Rica and was built with the environment in mind.

Reel up, bend down, repeat | © Jason Boldero/Flickr

Tamarindo/Tamarindo Charter Company

Tamarindo is one of the premier deep sea fishing destinations in Guanacaste. The fishing is great in this area all year around, however, the type of fish that you will catch will change from month to month. From May through September, blue and black marlin are the most prevalent; April to August sailfish are in season; June through September yellowfin tuna are abundant; while snapper stick around all year. The Tamarindo Charter Company reigns supreme as the best charter company to embark on a full day or half day trip with when you are staying in the Playa Tamarindo, Playa Langosta, Playa Avellenas, Playa Negra, Playa Grande, or Playa Negra area and are keen on catching some fish.

Tasty tuna | © Nathan Siemers/Flickr

Lake Arenal/La Fortuna

For the fresh water lovers out there, Lake Arenal is a fantastic place to go fishing. Rainbow bass, machaca, and mojarra are the three most popular fish to catch in the lake. From the lake, you will have views of the Arenal Volcano and the lush countryside. The conditions are typically way more mellow on the lake than out at sea, which makes this a better choice for families with young children or for those who are prone to sea sickness. The location of this fishing ground is also very convenient for exploring the La Fortuna/Arenal area, which is famous for its hot springs, volcano hiking, hanging bridges, waterfalls, zip lining, and birding.

Like glass | © BernhardFotoAlbum/Flickr