Costa Rica Sportfishing Travel Guide

Come to the mecca of world-class sport fishing. The deep blue warm waters of Costa Rica (Caribbean and Pacific) are full of marlin, mahi-mahi, sailfish, tarpon, snook-to name a few, year-round. Sportfishing is one of the best things to do in Costa Rica.

Best Sports Fishing in Costa Rica:

Northern Caribbean

Barra del Colorada has been ranked as one of the top ten sport fishing places in the world. The freshwater of the 600-meter Rio Colorado forms a unique habitat where monster tarpon and two species of snook thrive. This is the only place in Costa Rica where you can catch 100-plus pound tarpon year-round.

Tortuguero offers fishing excursions to Barra del Colorado and the remote village of Parismina, just south of Tortuguero, offers all-inclusive fishing retreats with luxury lodges where tarpon and snook can also be caught year-round.

Women finishing in costa rica

Southern Caribbean

Puerto Viejo and Cahuita will offer you a new kind of fishing, yet it is not new to the local fishermen who have been doing artisan fishing for generations. On these tours, you will hop into a small dugout canoe or wooden panga and use a hand-reel and line. Bet you can’t do this one at home.

Northern Pacific

Tamarindo, Playa del Coco, and Flamingo are happening beach towns with great year-round sport fishing. They are so into sport fishing that Flamingo hosts an annual sportfishing tournament every July, when the tuna and sailfish are plentiful.

The most popular catches in these Pacific waters:

  • Blue, black and striped marlin – year round, with peak times from November to mid-March
  • Yellow fin tuna – year-round, with peak times from August to October
  • Dorado
  • Sailfish – year-round, with peak times from April to August

Central Pacific

Quepos, Manuel Antonio, and Jaco are the places to be for sportfishing charters.

The warm waters are full of:

  • Black snook
  • Cubera snapper
  • Dorado
  • Tuna
  • Pacific sailfish – peak season, in Quepos, is from December to April
  • Marlin

Puntarenas also offers fishing charters. The best time is from mid-December to April.

  • Wahoo
  • Dorado
  • Tuna
  • Marlin

sportfishing in costa rica

In the Southern Pacific big fish are caught year-round in Drake Bay, which holds many big game fishing records and every species has its season. To access Drake Bay you need to come from the Sierpe River which is bordered by a mangrove estuary. This area is home to:

  • Giant wahoo
  • Yellowfish tuna
  • Spanish mackerel
  • Snapper
  • Corvina
  • Snook
  • Pacific cubera snapper (mainly found around the reef)

Dominical is great for inshore and offshore fishing where anglers get a run for their money. Fishing is good year-round, with the peak season from December to April. The warm waters teeming with:


  • Sailfish
  • Wahoo
  • Mahi-mahi
  • Marlin


  • Macherel
  • Jacks
  • Roosterfish
  • Snapper

Golfo Dulce

Inshore fishing

  • Roosterfish
  • Jacks
  • Black tuna
  • Mackerel

Offshore fishing

  • Sailfish
  • Marlin
  • Mahi mahi
  • Yellowfin tuna
  • Snapper

fishing from a boat in costa rica

Freshwater Fishing

Freshwater fishing is just as exciting, in Costa Rica, as is deep sea fishing.

Central Valley

Tapanti National Park, in the Orosi Valley, is 1.5 hours from San Jose where the Rio Grande de Orosi is full of trout. Fishing is only permitted from April to October and only with a permit, which can be purchased at the ranger station.

Southern Highlands

Lure fish and catch 11 inch Rainbow trout in the Rio Savegre of the San Gerardo de Dota Valley from December to March. And if you’re into fly fishing, you’ll find the months of May and June to be the best.

Arenal Lake

This 100% man-made lake, created by ICE (the National Electrical Institute) in 1979 for hydroelectric power, is one of the best freshwater fishing spots in all of Costa Rica. Catch rainbow bass, machaca, mojarra, and tilapia in the most beautiful and largest lake (33 miles long) in Costa Rica with Arenal Volcano as its primary backdrop. We’ll arrange the best tour for you.

Northern Lowlands

Close to the Nicarguan border, the Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge has a freshwater lagoon with a series of canals. Fishing is permitted here from July 1 to March 31 and can only be accessed by boat from Los Chiles or Cano Negro village. You must also buy a fishing license at the ranger station. Contact us for a reservation, in one of the lodges, around this area and to arrange a one-day to a multi-day fishing trip (licenses included).

  • Snook
  • Tarpon
  • Drum
  • Machaca
  • Rainbow bass
  • Gar fish

Sportfishing tours are some of the best adventure tours being in Costa Rica. There are trips for all ages and levels of experience. There is no excuse for missing this activity!

Enjoyed this post? Pin it!

Fishing In Costa Rica: Travel Guide for Sportfishing in Costa Rica

Last Updated on May 15, 2023

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.