What kind of fish can you catch in Costa Rica

Quepos Fishing Charters

Exploring the Rich Waters of Costa Rica: A Guide to Fishing in Paradise

Costa Rica, a gem between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, offers a dazzling array of opportunities for anglers of all levels. Renowned for its rich biodiversity and pristine ecosystems, this Central American country is a top destination for fishing enthusiasts worldwide. Whether you’re pursuing a serene freshwater experience or the thrill of deep-sea fishing, Costa Rica’s diverse aquatic environments cater to every fishing preference. This article delves into the types of fish you can catch in Costa Rica, the best spots for fishing, and some tips to make your fishing trip successful.

Mahi Mahi Fish

1. Saltwater Fishing in Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s extensive coastlines offer some of the best saltwater fishing in the world. The Pacific coast, in particular, is famous for its sport fishing, drawing anglers eager to hook some of the ocean’s most coveted species.

a. Marlin (Blue, Black, and Striped)
Marlins are the stars of the Costa Rican waters. The country’s Pacific side, especially Quepos, Los Sueños, and the Osa Peninsula, are prime marlin territory. Blue marlins are prevalent throughout the year, with peaks around November to March. Black and striped marlins also make significant appearances, particularly during the warmer months.

b. Sailfish
Sailfish thrive in the warm waters along Costa Rica’s two coasts, with the Pacific coast being exceptionally productive. The peak season for sailfish runs from December to May, when they are abundant and large.

c. Tuna (Yellowfin and Bigeye)
Tuna fishing is year-round in Costa Rica, with yellowfin tuna being especially common. The southern Pacific regions like Golfito and Drake Bay are noted hotspots for these powerful fish, particularly during the summer months.

d. Dorado (Mahi-Mahi)
Known locally as Dorado, these colorful and fast fish are popular among sport fishermen. The best time to catch them is during the rainy season from May to October when they are typically found in more significant numbers.

2. Freshwater Fishing in Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s freshwater systems, which include lakes, rivers, and estuaries, are teeming with diverse fish species. These areas offer a more relaxed fishing experience but are no less exciting.

a. Tarpon
The Caribbean coast is famous for its tarpon fishing, particularly around the Tortuguero and Barra del Colorado wildlife refuges. The best months to target these large, powerful fish are from January to May and September to October.

b. Snook
Snooks are prevalent along both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts of Costa Rica. These can be found in the surf, estuaries, and up the rivers, especially during the wet season when they spawn.

c. Rainbow Bass (Guapote)
Found in Lake Arenal and the Cano Negro lagoon, rainbow bass, or guapote, provide excellent freshwater sport. These vibrant fish are best targeted during the drier months from December to April.

3. Best Fishing Spots in Costa Rica

Costa Rica boasts numerous fishing spots, but some areas are particularly outstanding for their fish populations and beautiful surroundings.

  • Los Sueños Marina: Located on the Pacific Coast, this is one of the most prestigious spots for offshore fishing, especially for marlin and sailfish.
  • Golfito: Known for its inshore and offshore fishing, Golfito is ideal for catching tuna and dorado.
  • Tortuguero: This area on the Caribbean coast is a haven for tarpon and snook fishing.
  • Lake Arenal: Not only is it scenic, but it is also one of the best places for freshwater fishing, particularly for rainbow bass.

4. Tips for Successful Fishing in Costa Rica

  • Hire a local guide: Local knowledge maximizes your fishing experience.
  • Respect the regulations: Costa Rica has strict fishing regulations to protect its ecosystems; familiarize yourself with these to ensure a responsible fishing trip.
  • Be prepared for the weather: The weather can be unpredictable, and being prepared will ensure your comfort and safety.


Fishing in Costa Rica is an experience that combines the thrill of the catch with the unmatched beauty of its landscapes. Whether you’re wrestling a mighty marlin or tracking down a sleek snook, Costa Rica offers a world-class fishing adventure that caters to all tastes and levels. Prepare to cast your line into the waters of this tropical paradise and reel in not just fish but unforgettable memories.