In-Shore and Offshore Sport Fishing

Sailfish in Costa Rica

Exploring In-Shore and Offshore Sport Fishing on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast: A Seasonal Guide

Guide to In-Shore and Offshore Sport Fishing
Snook Caught

The lure of the Pacific coast of Costa Rica is irresistible for sport fishing aficionados, promising a medley of pelagic sport fish species throughout the calendar year. With December to April, dubbed as the peak fishing season, the region teems with some of the most sought-after aquatic catches. This article serves as a comprehensive guide to the thrilling sport fish species inhabiting the offshore and inshore regions of Costa Rica’s Pacific coast, dissecting the best times and techniques to land a successful catch.

During the prime fishing months from December to April, Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast morphs into the ultimate angler’s paradise. The prime example of this can be seen in the staggering numbers posted at the 2023 Signature Triple Crown and Ladies Only Tournament billfish series, which boasted a whopping 2,327 billfish releases over 12 action-packed days.

Diving into the Monthly Breakdown:

Jaco Fishing Charter: Inshore Trip
Jaco Fishing Charter: Inshore Trip


January:

Offshore: The year starts off splendidly with January being a hotspot for sailfish on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast. Trolling with live bait or teasers proves to be a valuable technique to nab these dynamic fish, which roam in large schools offshore. This period also offers chances of landing blue and black marlin, for which circle hooks are endorsed considering their conservation benefits.

Inshore: January marks the start of the Costa Rican summer and the Pacific coastal waters become a playground for in-shore species like Roosterfish, Snapper, and Jacks. The aggressive Roosterfish and the prized Red Snapper are common catches during this month, along with Crevalle Jack and Yellow Jack.


February:


Offshore: February sees abundant sailfish and tuna, including Yellowfin and Bigeye tuna, making the deep sea an angler’s haven. Trolling with live bait and lures remains the go-to strategy, while the prospect of hooking a blue or black marlin always remains.

Yellowfin Tuna: Offshore Trip
Yellowfin Tuna: Offshore Trip


Inshore: Inshore fishing continues to thrive with the presence of Roosterfish, Snapper, and Jacks. Moreover, February is an ideal time to angle for Groupers, particularly the Black Grouper and Goliath Grouper.


March:


Offshore: The adrenaline-filled sailfish and tuna fishing continues into March. Striped marlin joins the party too, and similar to previous months, trolling with live bait or lures works well. Blue and black marlins may not be frequent visitors, but there’s always a chance to hook these formidable predators.

Fishing For Marlin Costa Rica
Fishing For Marlin Costa Rica During March

Inshore: March keeps up the momentum for in-shore fishing, still boasting an active population of Roosterfish, Snapper, and Jacks. However, this month is exceptional for those seeking the large and elusive Cubera Snapper.


April:

Offshore: As April comes around, the peak sailfish season starts winding down, but these swift swimmers can still be caught. Yellowfin tuna is a frequent catch this month, and once again, trolling with lures or live bait stands out as the best technique.

Inshore: April follows the pattern of the previous months, seeing plenty of Roosterfish, Snapper, and Jacks. The added thrill comes from targeting Amberjack, which is known for its strong fight and delectable taste.


May:

Offshore: May ushers in the marlin season, with blue and black marlin being the stars of the show. Yellowfin tuna and Dorado (Mahi-Mahi) can also be caught this month, and trolling with artificial lures or rigged baits is an effective strategy for marlin, while live bait or lures work for tuna and Dorado.

Inshore: May presents a chance to angle for the usual Roosterfish, Snapper, and Jacks, along with the robust and acrobatic Dorado.

Red Snapper Fishing: Bottom Fishing


June:

Offshore: The month of June is prime time for marlin fishing, boasting plenty of blue and black marlin. Yellowfin tuna and Dorado also continue to offer sport to anglers. However, be prepared for choppy waters and potentially rough conditions during this month.

Inshore: June is another fantastic month for hooking into Roosterfish, Snapper, and Jacks, along with the robust Yellowfin Tuna, known for its burst speeds reaching 30 mph and hard strikes.


July:

Offshore: July is a hotbed for blue marlin fishing, with the best catch rates around the Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs). Sailfish and yellowfin tuna also offer fantastic fishing opportunities, with trolling using live bait or lures is the recommended approach.

Sportfishing Roosterfish: During July

Inshore: The same set of species – Roosterfish, Snapper, and Jacks continue to offer plenty of action. July, however, is the month to cross the Wahoo off your bucket list. Known for lightning-fast runs and sharp teeth, this formidable fighter is a worthy adversary.


August:

Offshore: Blue marlin remains active in August. Sailfish and yellowfin tuna also continue to bite, while Dorado joins the scene and can be effectively caught using lures or surface plugs.

Inshore: The usual in-shore suspects, Roosterfish, Snapper, and Jacks, continue to populate the waters, with August also being a great time to land a delicious Spanish Mackerel.


September:

Offshore: September is a golden month for yellowfin tuna fishing. Sailfish, blue marlin, and Dorado can also be caught during this time.

Dorado Sportfishing


Inshore: In-shore fishing remains excellent, with Roosterfish, Snook, and Amberjack being the most prominent. Snooks are famous for their aggressive nature and spectacular acrobatics when hooked, while Amberjack, often dubbed as the “reef donkey”, is valued for its powerful fight and tasty meat.


October:

Offshore: Dorado takes center stage in October, promising exciting offshore action. The sight of these colorful fish breaching the water and making fast directional changes is truly spectacular. Sailfish and yellowfin tuna remain consistent catches.

Inshore: The in-shore action continues to be excellent in October, with Roosterfish, Snook, and Amberjack still in the mix. But it’s also the time to target the bottom-dwelling Grouper and the Cubera Snapper, both known for their size, delicious flesh, and the challenge they offer to anglers.

Needle Fish: Inshore Fishing


November:

Offshore: November is exceptional, as all three types of marlin (Blue Marlin, Black Marlin, and Striped Marlin) make an appearance along Costa Rica’s Pacific coast. Sailfish, Dorado, and Yellowfin tuna can also be caught during this month.

Inshore: November promises superb in-shore sport fishing, with a variety of species including Roosterfish, Snook, Grouper, and Cubera Snapper.


December:

Offshore: December continues to excel in terms of offshore fishing along the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. Dorado is a prime catch, with other fish like Sailfish and Yellowfin Tuna also being available. The preferred method for these species is trolling, using either live bait or lures. Blue Marlins are particularly active, and the best strategy to hook them is trolling with rigged baits or artificial lures.

Inshore: The climax of in-shore sport fishing along the Pacific coast of Costa Rica occurs in December. This period promises a diverse pool of fish species for anglers, encompassing Roosterfish, Snook, Grouper, Cubera Snapper, and the much-sought-after Yellowfin Tuna, renowned for its impressive size, potent strength, and scrumptious flavor.

In summary, the Pacific coastline of Costa Rica is a hot spot for world-class sport fishing, hosting an array of pelagic sport fish species throughout the year. From January to June, each month presents unique opportunities to hook Sailfish, Marlin, Tuna, and Dorado. By employing the correct techniques and handling the fish responsibly, anglers can expect a successful and pleasurable fishing adventure in this picturesque locale.