Costa Rica BillFish Guide

Large Sailfish: Offshore Fishing

Billfish Angler’s Guide to Costa Rica

Commonly referred to as the Billfish capital of the world, Costa Rica is known for the incredible year-round action for both sailfish and marlin. The country’s Pacific waters are home to some of the largest sailfish populations on the planet. One particular type of fishing that has attracted a lot of attention all over the world to Costa Rica is sail fishing. The thrill of catching one of these magnificent creatures has made Costa Rica a favorite destination for sportfishing enthusiasts.

One of the reasons sailfish fishing off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica has attracted so much international attention is the total number of sailfish that can be caught in a single day. It is not uncommon for fishermen to catch and release dozens of sailfish in a single day of fishing. This abundance of fish is due to the unique underwater terrain of the Pacific coast, which creates an ideal habitat for sailfish.

Sailfish may be one of the most famous species of billfish found in Costa Rican waters, but they are not the only billfish in Costa Rica water. In fact, Costa Rica Pacific waters are home to a variety of billfish species, each with its own unique characteristics that are attractive to fishermen. One other major billfish species found in Costa Rican waters is the marlin. These big, powerful fish are known for their acrobatic displays when hooked and can put up a serious fight for even the most experienced fishermen.

One of the most exciting challenges for anglers is billfishing. If you have ever dreamed of catching a big game fish, there’s nothing bigger than a billfish. To catch one of these muscular, fighting predators, there are a few things you need to know. In this article, we will give you a complete guide to billfish fishing in Costa Rica.

Billfish Fishing in Costa Rica

Billfishing is a world-renowned fishing experience that draws anglers from all over the world to Costa Rica. The country’s Pacific coast offers some of the best fishing opportunities in the world, with a wide range of species and various fishing techniques available. One of the most popular billfish species found in Costa Rica is the sailfish. These fish are known for their incredible speed and acrobatic displays when hooked, which make them a thrilling catch for any angler. The following are the four main species of billfish that can be found in Costa Rican waters:

1. Sailfish: This is the most common species of billfish found in Costa Rica. They are known for their incredible speed and acrobatic leaps, which make them a favorite target for sportfishermen.

2. Blue Marlin: The blue marlin is one of the biggest species of billfish, with some individuals exceeding over 1,000 pounds. They are commonly found in deeper water offshore.

3. Black marlin: They resemble blue marlin, but black marlin has a longer bill and a more slender body. They are most commonly found in deeper seas.

4. Striped Marlin: The striped marlin is the smallest of the four billfish species found in Costa Rica, usually weighing between 50 and 150 pounds. They are most commonly found in shallow water close to shore.

Best Time to go Billfishing in Costa Rica

The best time to go billfishing in Costa Rica is usually around December to April, which is the dry season in the country. This is the peak season for sailfish, which are the most commonly caught billfish species in Costa Rica. During this period, the waters are calm and clear, which makes it easier to spot and catch billfish. However, it’s important to note that billfish can be caught throughout the year in Costa Rica.

So it’s always possible to have a successful billfishing trip no matter when you visit. Generally, it’s best to consult with local fishing charters and experts to determine the peak time for bill fishing in the specific region of Costa Rica you plan to visit, as conditions can vary depending on location. From the beginning of January and the end of April, when Central Pacific coast of Costa Rica experiences the country’s largest sailfish bite. Fishermen fishing from Los Sueos Marina or Pez Vela Marina may spot over 50 sailfish on any given day during this time.

How Sailfish are caught in Costa Rica

When it comes to billfish fishing, every location has its own style, and Costa Rica is no exception. In Costa Rica, sailfish are usually caught trolling with a spread of teasers and dead bait on circle hooks, as well as with live bait on reefs and reed lines. Of course, sailfish are a catch-and-release-only species. Circle hooks are required in Costa Rica when using natural baits, so calmly attach the reel to the gear and start reeling.

Sportfishing is subject to stringent laws in Costa Rica. There are limitations on the number of fish that can be caught and kept, and all fishermen are required to hold licenses. To safeguard sustainable fishing methods and save the nation’s marine life, it is important to abide by these restrictions. Before your trip, you can acquire a fishing license online at incopesca.go.cr, the website of the fisheries agency INCOPESCA.  According to the agency, sport-fishing charter crews and fishermen are not permitted to sell fish. Every billfish must be released under the law.

Choosing the Best Fishing Charter Service in Costa Rica

There are over 600 Costa Rica registered fishing boats available to charter for billfish and other game fish. These boats are usually owned and operated by local fishermen who have experience and knowledge of the local waters and fishing techniques. Most of these boats are found on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, with popular fishing destinations including Los Sueños, Quepos, and the Osa Peninsula.

No matter where on a country’s Pacific coast you’re looking to charter a fishing boat, remember that communication is key to any good charter-fishing trip, and that should start before you even get on the boat. Although most crews speak at least some English, it wouldn’t hurt to learn a few simple Spanish phrases before traveling to Costa Rica, as this is the native language.

You will probably be familiar with the basic greeting like “Pura Vida” which is a Costa Rican greeting that means “Everything is great,” or “Cerveza fría” which is a way to request a cold beer. Also, while fishing, the boat’s captain will often shout commands to the crew from the tower to help them find and catch fish. The following are the ten common Spanish words or phrases that a captain might use:

1.        ¡Pez! – Fish!

2.        ¡A la izquierda! – To the left!

3.        ¡A la derecha! – To the right!

4.        ¡Arriba! – Up!

5.        ¡Abajo! – Down!

6.        ¡Rápido! – Quick!

7.        ¡Cerca! – Close!

8.        ¡Lejos! – Far!

9.        ¡Aguanta! – Hold on!

10.      ¡Suelta! – Release

Charter and lodge map of Costa Rica

The Charter and Lodge Map of Costa Rica is a popular guide for visitors who want to explore the natural beauty of Costa Rica. This map lists the best charters and lodges in Costa Rica; it also provides visitors with a complete list of accommodations and activities. The map covers the whole country and highlights the best destinations for outdoor enthusiasts, including wildlife reserves, national parks, and beaches. It also contains information on the different types of lodging available, from luxury resorts to rustic cabins.

You can visit the official website of the Costa Rica Tourism Board (https://www.visitcostarica.com/en), which has a section dedicated to maps of the country. You will find detailed maps of the different areas, including locations for charter and lodge accommodations. Another useful resource is the Costa Rican Chamber of Tourism website (https://www.cct.or.cr/), where you can obtain information about various tourism-related businesses, including charter and lodge accommodations.

Costa Rica Fishing Charters Operations

The following are some of the fishing Charters operating in Costa Rica, most with a good variety of boats to choose from. All of these operations and crews speak at least functional English, with many of the staff fluent in it. Many fishing-charter Companies and captains rely on repeat customers, so they want to make sure your trip offers more than just a boat ride. The following is the information about some of the fishing Charters companies operating in Costa Rica:

Gamefisher Charters (gamefisher2.com)

This is a fishing charter company located in the Quepos region of Costa Rica. They offer a variety of fishing trips, ranging from half-day trips to multi-day packages, for fishermen looking to catch a variety of fish that include sailfish, marlin, dorado, tuna, and wahoo.

They have several boats in their fleet, including the 36′ Topaz “Gamefisher II” and the 33′ Bertram “Game fisher.” Both boats are equipped with the latest fishing tackle, including Shimano and Penn reels, and their experienced captains and crew know the local fishing grounds.

Fishing area: Flamingos in the north, and Quepos in the central

Years of operation: 35 years

How to get there: 1-hour drive from Liberia airport

Crew: Captain and two companions

Season: May – December. The peak for sailfish and marlin is from June to August.

Boat: 31-foot twin diesel Palm Beach

Accommodation: Gamefisher Charters can arrange waterfront apartments or private homes.

Fishing Tackle: Penn International reels, Shimano rods, and reels, 20-80lbs

Fly tackle: 14- to 18-weight, with Billy Pate and Able reels

Fishing Time: 7 am to 5 pm

The average trip to billfish territory: is about an hour (20 miles)

Cost: $800 (half day) to $1,450 (full day)

Phone: 904-410-1041

Flamingo Bay Pacific Charters (fishcostrarica.com)

This is a fishing charter operation located in the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica. Flamingo Bay Pacific Charters offer a variety of fishing charters for fishermen looking to catch a variety of species like marlin, sailfish, mahi-mahi, and tuna.

They have several boats in their fleet, which include the 33′ Dawson “Tuna Fish” and the 36′ Topaz Express “El Jefe.” These boats are equipped with the latest fishing tackle and their experienced captains and crew knows the local fishing spots.

Fishing spot: North Guanacaste (Papagayo to Flamingo)

Years of operation: 34 years

How to get there: 1-hour drive from Liberia airport

Boat: 10 boats, from 27 to 40 feet in length

Crew: The Captain and one or two of his colleagues.

Season: May-October. Sailfish peak May-August, marlin JuneJuly

Accommodation: These can be arranged by Flamingo Bay Pacific Charters in Flamingo and Tamarindo

Tackle: Penn spinning and Shimano Tiagra Conventional

Fly tackle: None provided, though some crews have fly-fishing experience

Average speed to billfish territory: 30 minutes to 1 hour

Fishing Time: 7 am to 4 pm

Cost: $950 (half day) to $2,200 (full day)

Phone: +506-8713-3386

Fishing Nosara (fishingnosara.com)

This is a fishing charter company that is located in the Guanacaste area of Costa Rica. They offer a variety of fishing trips to fishermen of all skill levels, from half-day trips to multi-day packages, targeting species like sailfish, tuna, dorado, marlin, and rooster.

They have several boats in their fleet, which include the 42′ Maverick “Release” and the 31′ Bertram “Sailfish. The boats are equipped with the latest fishing tackle, including Penn and Shimano reels, and their experienced captains and crew know the local fishing spots.

Fishing area: 3 to 30 miles from Nosara

Years of operation: 21years

How to get there: Two and a half hour drive from the Liberia airport

Boats: Four boats, from 23 to 32 feet

Crew: Captain and mate

Season: all year. The peak for sailfish and marlin is July, August, and November.

Accommodation: Private houses in a nature reserve are part of the Nosara hunting packages.

Fishing Tackle: Penn spinning and Shimano Tiagra Conventional

Flying Tackle: None provided, although some crews have fly fishing experience.

Average speed to billfish territory: 30 minutes to an hour

Fishing Time: 7 am to 6 pm

Cost: $600 (half day) to $950 (full day)

Phone: 904-591-2161

Ifish, Quepos Marina Pez Vela (ifishquepos.com)

ifishquepos is located in the Quepos region of Costa Rica. They offer a variety of fishing trips for fishermen of all skill levels, from half-day trips to multi-day packages, targeting species like sailfish, tuna, marlin, dorado, and rooster.

The company boat fleet includes the 36′ Topaz “iFish” and the 42′ Maverick “iFish II,” Both boats are equipped with the latest fishing tackle, including Shimano and Penn reels, and their experienced captains and crew are knowledgeable about the local fishing spots.

Fishing area: 15 to 40 miles from Quepos

Years of operation: 6 years

How to get there: 2 1/2 hours by car or 20 minutes by local plane from San José

Boat: Represents a large fleet of sport-¬fishers from 26 to 57 feet

Crew: A captain and one or two companions, depending on the ship

Season: all year. Sailfish Peak January – April, Marlin November and December plus July and September

Accommodation: Lodges available

Tackle: Shimano and Penn, 20-, 30-, 50- and 80-pound gear

Average range to billfish territory: 1 hour

Fly tackle: On some boats

Fishing Time: 7 am to 4:30 pm

Cost: $950 (half day) to $2,600 (full day); FAD multi-day cruises cost between $4,000 and $7,000 per ship, depending on the duration.

Phone: +506-2774-9006

Crocodile Bay Resort (crocodilebay.com)

Crocodile Bay Resort is a luxury fishing and eco-tourism resort located in the Osa Peninsula area of Costa Rica. Crocodile Bay Resort offers a variety of fishing charters for fishermen looking to catch a variety of game fish, including sailfish, tuna, marlin, roosterfish, and dorado.

The company boat fleet consists of several boats, which include the 33′ Strike “Crocodile Bay” and the 35′ Strike “Fish Tank”. Both boats are equipped with the latest fishing tackle, including Shimano and Penn reels, and their experienced captains and crew are familiar with the local fishing spots.

Fishing area: South of the Panama border and beyond 25 miles or more

Years of operation: 20 years

How long to get there: Six hours by car or 45 minutes by plane from San José

Boat: Several boats that range in size from 23 to 33 feet

Crew: Captain only on outboard boats; the captain and his mate are in the tower of the ship.

Season: all year. The peak for sailfish is January-April, marlin November-December, as well as July-September.

Accommodations: 28 rooms and three private houses available as part of all-inclusive tours (daily rates also available)

Tackle: Spinfisher spinning and Penn International 30s and 50s, Fathom levelwinds reels

Fly tackle: Templefork 10- and 14-weight rods

Average run to billfish territory: about an hour

Fishing Time: 6:30 am to 3:00 pm

Cost: $895 to $1,650; More about FAD flights

Phone: 800-733-1115

Maverick Sportfishing (mavericksportfish.com)

Maverick Sportfishing is a fishing charter company in Quepos, Costa Rica. The company offers a variety of fishing charters for anglers looking to catch a variety of species, which include sailfish, tuna, dorado, marlin, and rooster.

The fleet of boats consists of several boats a 33′ Maverick “Maverick” and a 42′ Maverick “Maverick II. Both boats are equipped with the latest fishing tackle, including Penn and Shimano reels, and their experienced captains and crew are familiar with the nearby fishing spots.

Fishing area: 20 to 40 miles from the anchorage; Up to 150 miles on long voyages through seamounts

Years of operation: 4 years

How to get there: 1.5-hour drive from San José

Boat: 10 boats from 32 to 50 feet

Crew: The Captain and one or two of his colleagues.

Season: all year. The peak for sailfish is January-April, marlin November-December, as well as July-September.

Accommodation: Condominiums, private homes, or a Marriott hotel arranged to the hunters’ wishes by Maverick

Tackle: Alutecnos conventionals with 20-, 30- and 50-pound-test

Fly tackle: On select boats

Average run to the Berberlands: 1 to 2 hours

Fishing Time: 7 am to 4 pm; Two to three days for FAD flights

Cost: $1,900 to $3,250; FAD cruises from $2,700 to $14,000 (depending on the size of the ship and number of days abroad)

Phone: 866-888-6426

Fisheries Management Making a Difference

Recent years have seen a major improvement in Costa Rica’s fisheries management, particularly in terms of billfish conservation. The following are some examples of how fisheries management has had a positive impact on billfish.

Closed seasons: Costa Rica has implemented closed seasons for certain billfish species, which include sailfish and marlin, during their peak spawning periods. This helped protect breeding stock and ensured the population sustains itself in the long term.

Catch limits: The Costa Rican government has set catch restrictions for billfish, which help in preventing overfishing and ensure that the population can recover if it gets reduced.

Sport Fishing Regulations: These regulations are to limit the amount of marlin that can be caught by recreational fishermen. This has helped prevent the accidental catching of billfish by recreational fishermen, which can happen when fish are not properly released.

International cooperation: To encourage sustainable fishing practices and protect migratory species like billfish, Costa Rica has collaborated with other nations and international organizations. For example, Costa Rica is a member of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), which works to manage and preserve tuna and tuna-like species in the Atlantic Ocean.

In addition to these, a small group of charter captains also formed La Federación Costarricense de Pesca, or FECOP, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting responsible and sustainable fishing practices in Costa Rica. The organization has made significant contributions to the management and conservation of Costa Rica’s territorial waters.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Costa Rica Billfish Angler’s Guide is a must-have resource for any angler who wants to experience the thrill of catching billfish in one of the world’s top fishing destinations. With its comprehensive information on the best spots, charters and techniques, this guide will help you make the most of your time on the water and increase your chances of catching a trophy fish. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a novice, Costa Rica offers a fishing experience like no other, and the Billfish Angler’s Guide is your ticket to success. So pack your gear and get ready to cast into the blue waters of this beautiful country. A world of adventures awaits you.