On both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts, schools of gamefish frolic below the surface, making angling in Costa Rica, a game fishing dream come true. Ensure that you have good tackle because because you’ll experience “screaming and smoking-hot reels” like never before. After setting out on a charter boat that suits the numbers in your team, in no time at all, everyone will be believing that the next catch will compete for a world record. If you miss a strike do not be discouraged, they will be on your line just as soon as you can rebait. Everything required is included in the charter, including the beer. Experienced Captains and crews know the hot spots to ensure a day full of unforgettable game fishing adventure in Costa Rica. Ready your camera to capture spectacular photos of yourself doing battle with a billfish performing wild acrobatics.
The waters surrounding Costa Rica, on both the Pacific and Caribbean sides are teaming with marine life and trophy game fish. Few other places can offer the comparable variety and numbers of pelagic species found here. Wherever big fish school, sport fishermen will follow them searching for a new world-record-entry. The ‘World Record’ ratings are awarded to anglers landing the heaviest of the specie, using the lightest class of tackle, in accordance with the strict rules-of-engagement prescribed by the officials. As the name ‘Offshore’ implies, most of the angling is conducted in relatively deep, open-sea, not to be confused with ‘Onshore Angling’ which is also great in this country. A well-appointed boat, a knowledgeable crew, and good equipment are as important as the skills of both anglers and captains.
Sportfishermen chase big game fish the world over to establish World Records and the ‘bragging rights’ that go with the catch. Contrary to popular belief, today’s sport anglers are some of the leading marine conservationists. The details of each fish landed in a tournament is recorded and shared internationally to keep accurate records of each species; the numbers, size, location and feeding habits are accumulated. Few of the fish caught are actually taken from the water; they are instead, tagged, photographed, and released; that is, unless the fish is a potential record contender and required for verification, as happens in some tournaments.
The fishing here is superb on any given day; boasting a few Sailfish, and a Marlin or two, is a common occurrence. Dolphin (Mahi Mahi), Grouper, Yellow Tails and many other types of Snappers, Wahoo, Cubera, Roosterfish, and the ever popular Snook, are always plentiful. An angler is sure to smoke a reel or two before lunch time, and then do it again before dusk.
Game Fishing Records Set in Costa Rica
The most recognized officiating fishing authority worldwide is the International Game Fish Association (IGFA). The IGFA Mission Statement says it all, “The International Game Fish Association is a not-for-profit organization committed to the conservation of game fish and the promotion of responsible, ethical angling practices through science, education, rule making and record keeping.”
Currently, over 70 IGFA World Records have been set in Costa Rica, along with another 17 ‘All-Tackle’ records. In the recent 2014 Offshore World Championship tournament, in Quepos, Costa Rica, a new world record was established for catching and releasing 2,314 billfish in the three day tournament. Of that number, 2, 307 were Sailfish, and seven were Blue Marlins; that number does not include an additional 63 Dorado (Mahi Mahi or Dolphin).
On a regular basis, Captains registers a ‘Costa Rican Super Grand Slam’, i.e. a Sailfish, A Black Marlin, a Blue Marlin, and a Striped Marlin, caught all on the same day. The next best thing is the ‘Grand Slam’ -landing three of the four billfish instead. The sheer number of fish along both coastlines makes Grand Slams a regular event. Many anglers have parked the heavy terminal tackle in exchange for the sport of Fly Fishing for the same big game trophies.
Fishing Off the Caribbean Coast
The Caribbean coast is the home to world record Snook, Tarpon, Roosters and many others. The Marlins here are exclusively Blue Marlins and equally as sporting that their cousins on the Pacific coast. Many of the rivers along this coast are navigable, with islands located in their midst; many lagoons are overflowing with feisty Tarpons, Snook, Roosterfish, lurking for a fight. Picture the utter dismay on a Tarpon’s face when it realizes that it has been hooked; then begins the aerial-acrobatic-show, simply priceless. Closer to the rivers mouth, where the water is most brackish, Barracudas, Kingfish, Sierra, Tripletail, Cubera, Jacks, Grouper and other big-boys school in waters enjoying the food transported there by the rivers. Some anglers prefer the more relaxed sport of ‘Drop-Line Fishing’, whether by day or at night this is very rewarding in Limon’s rivers or along the coastline; many tasty treats await even the most novice angler. However, this is all about ‘offshore gamefishing’ so we will venture up the rivers and into the lakes in another blog.
- When planning a Costa Rican Sportfishing adventure, start with a map that identifies charter locations, lodges, and most importantly the fish species and best time to hook-up with them. Check out AnywhereCostaRica.com for an angler’s map of the country and other helpful fishing information.
Most charter companies will have different sized boats available. The larger the boat, the greater the number of anglers and the higher will be the cost. Charters are available for either half-day or full-day excursions. Charter companies will assist in arranging ground transportation to the dock and back. Remember to negotiate that in the deal. Most Captains are bi-lingual, and most speak English. Captains are assisted by crew, a mate or mates who will assist anglers before and during the fights. Electronic equipment, working radios, navigation, weather and satellite aides, are all standard. Ask to be directed to their safety equipment before leaving the dock. A charter fee will also include ice, tackle, bait, liquid refreshment, lunch, and snacks. Notify the Captain if there are any special requirements and they will be sure to go overboard to assist. A fishing license or a registration card may be required. The charter company will assist in arranging same. Warning, there are varying opinions on the topic of licenses, read this explanation on the necessary documents for some clarification. A deposit will be required to confirm the booking. It is customary to tip the captain and crew back at the dock. It may be advisable to depart from a dock that is near the resort or hotel you are staying at to facilitate an early morning departure.
Where to go Fishing in Costa Rica
When considering where to cast-off, this is how the areas are divided:
Along the Pacific Coast
The Pacific Coast is divided into three zones called the Northern, Central, and Southern territories.
- Northern Pacific Coast
Charters from, Coco’s beach; Tamarindo; Ocotal; Potrero; Brasilito; Cabo Blanco; Nosara; Garza; Samara; Carrillo beach.
- Central Pacific Coast
Puntarenas; the Nicoya Peninsula; Jaco Beach; Punta Leona at Drake Bay; trips to Caño’s Island.
- Southern Coast
Dulce Gulf; Golfito; Puerto Jiménez; Zancudo beach; Matapalo Cape.
There are several fishing lodges, and resorts, that will arrange fishing trips along the Limon coast. Notable spots for chartering are-Barra del Colorado; Tortuguero National Park: and Parismina.
Remember the fishing is always great in Costa Rica, and you don’t always need a boat to enjoy it. We will tell you more about great fishing, inland, and along the shore when we look at ‘Casting Away in Costa Rica’.
Tight Lines and