The rich waters of Costa Rica have enticed you as an angler with their promise of gifting you with the bounty of the sea! The vast Costa Rican coastline on both the Pacific and Caribbean sides, offers some of the best sports fishing experiences in the world. Here’s your comprehensive guide to sport fishing in Costa Rica. The suggestions to follow are sure to help you navigate through the exciting angling opportunities in Costa Rica!

view of a fishing rod during sunrise

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Types of Fish in Costa Rica

Let’s begin by learning about the types of fish that frequent the waters of Costa Rica.

Pacific Coast Waters

On the Pacific Coast you’ll find marlin, sailfish, mahi-mahi (also known as dorado) and yellowfin tuna. Dive down to the deep to learn more about these exciting fish.


As some of the fastest fish in the ocean, sailfish have long challenged anglers with their mind-blowing speed! They are sure to provide you with a challenge as soon as you cast your line. Their distinctive sail-like dorsal fin and elongated bill make them a uniquely memorable catch. Sailfish are highly prized by sport fishermen for their fighting ability, often leaping and using their bill to fight when hooked.

These agile and community-oriented fish work together to herd their prey, such as sardines and anchovies, making them fascinating to watch. Peak season for catching sailfish is from December to May.

The meat of sailfish is a bit more lean than other billfish. It has a mild flavor that lends itself well to a variety of cooking methods, including grilling, baking, or frying. In culinary uses, it’s often marinated or cooked with bold spices like paprika, dill and garlic and sauces to complement its texture and flavor.

Marlin (Blue, Black, and Striped)

Next up are marlins. What makes a marlin one of the most sought-after big game fishes is their sheer size, power, and beauty. Blue marlins are known for their incredible speed and agility, often putting on a spectacular show when hooked by leaping out of the water.

Black marlin is the heaviest of the species, known for their brute strength. Striped marlin, while smaller, are known to give anglers a spirited fight. You can find striped marlin in the cooler waters. They are predatory fish, feeding on a diet of squid and smaller fish. The best months to find marlin are from December to April.

Marlin meat is firm with a mild flavor, somewhat similar to tuna but with a steak-like texture. You’ll find that marlin steaks are best prepared either grilled or broiled. Marinating marlin steaks before grilling can enhance the flavor. Be sure not to overcook the meat and ruin a great catch. Season and cook well to maintain its moisture and tenderness.

Yellowfin tuna being sliced

Yellowfin Tuna

These prize-winning fish are available year-round, but the best time to cast a line is from August to October. They are known for their bright yellow dorsal and anal fins and shiny, sleek, torpedo-shaped bodies. Yellowfin can reach remarkable sizes and will give you a run for your money. They can be found traveling with dolphins in the open ocean, feeding on fish, squid, and crustaceans.

Yellowfin tuna has a rich, creamy flavor and a firm, steak-like texture, making it one of the most popular tunas for eating. It’s versatile to cook, ideal for sashimi, sushi, grilling, or searing. The key is to cook it rare to medium-rare to preserve its moisture and flavor. It’s best served with a light seasoning or a soy-based sauce.

Mahi-Mahi (Dorado)

Best caught between May and October when the waters are warm. Mahi-mahi, also known as dorado, are fast-growing fish known for their dazzling tropical colors—bright blues, greens, and yellows. It’s interesting to note and observe that the fish’s colors fade quickly after the fish is removed from water. They’re aggressive feeders, often found chasing small fish and can be seen leaping out of the water when hooked. Mahi-mahi is a schooling fish and can also be found in open water.

Mahi-mahi has a sweet, mild flavor and a firm texture that holds up well to grilling, baking, and frying. Its flesh is lean, making it a healthy option, rich in vitamins and minerals. Mahi-mahi is best cooked with light seasonings or marinades to enhance its natural flavors. It can also be encrusted with spices or herbs and served with salsa for a refreshing meal.

Each of these Pacific Ocean species offers a unique combination of challenge and thrill. All embody the richness of Costa Rica’s biodiversity.

Caribbean Coast

Making our way over to the Caribbean coast, you’ll find a different selection of fish to reel in. These include tarpon and snook.


The northern Caribbean coast is famous for tarpon fishing, with peak seasons in the spring and fall. These large, migratory fish are known for their silver scales and spectacular fighting ability, including high jumps and powerful runs when hooked. They can grow up to 8 feet in length and weigh over an astonishing 200 pounds!

Tarpon are primarily catch-and-release and isn’t commonly eaten. They are a challenge to hook and an even greater challenge to land, making them a prized catch. Tarpon is not widely consumed by many because the meat is full of small bones, making it difficult to clean. However, in places where tarpon is prepared, it is often smoked or used to make fish broth. The primary appeal of tarpon fishing is for the thrill of the sport rather than a delicacy.


Found in the rivers and along the coastline, are the sleek-bodied snook! These guys can be found from September to November. Snook is a highly prized because of its sleek, lateral body and aggressive feeding habits. Snook can be found in both fresh and saltwater, often lurking around places like docks, mangroves, and estuaries. As an ambush predator, they are known for their powerful runs and fighting ability, also making them a favorite target for anglers. Use your finesse and power to reel in a snook. You might find that for this ambush predator, live bait may produce the best fishing results.

Snook is highly regarded for its white, flaky meat that has a mild flavor, making it versatile for various preparations. The flesh is lean with a texture similar to that of bass or halibut. It’s excellent when grilled, baked, or fried. A popular preparation method is to fillet the fish and cook it with light seasonings to let its natural flavors come through. Snook is often served in tacos, ceviche, or simply grilled with a squeeze of fresh lime juice.

Keep in Mind

When it comes to sportfishing, be sure to consider local regulations and practices. Many areas have specific rules regarding the catch and release of tarpon due to their significance in sports fishing and conservation efforts. Similarly, snook may have seasonal closures and size limits to protect and preserve their populations. Always check and follow local fishing and conservation guidelines to ensure sustainable practices when you fish.

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Best Waters to Fish in Costa Rica

Los Sueños Marina

Los Sueños Marina, located in the town of Herradura opens you up to a world of bountiful fishing waters in the Pacific. Known for its large populations of billfish, it’s a premier destination for sport fishers seeking marlin and other sailfish.

This full-service marina is home to charter boats equipped with top-of-the-line fishing gear and expert crews. With high-end accommodations, amenities, and services, Los Sueños Marina is the perfect combination of luxury and functionality, attracting novice and seasoned anglers.

Because of its prime location, you’ll have quick access to fishing hotspots. This helps reduce the time spent traveling to other offshore grounds. Less travel time means more fishing time!

Golfito & Puerto Jimenez

This area is known for its inshore and offshore fishing. Come here to target a wide variety of species, including but not limited to, marlin, sailfish, yellowfin tuna, dorado (mahi-mahi), and more. Inshore fishing offers the excitement of catching roosterfish, snapper, and grouper!

A more serene and intimate fishing experience is in store for you at Golfito and Puerto Jimenez. Both Golfito and Puerto Jimenez are light on the crowds unlike other fishing destinations in Costa Rica. The surrounding rainforests and pristine coastlines make for a scenic and exciting visit.

The remoteness of these areas means the fishing grounds are abundant of fish. It is believed that fish are more aggressive, and the sizes can be impressive due to the healthy, thriving ecosystems.


Guanacaste’s waters are known for their seasonal fishing patterns, offering you the chance to find varied species throughout the year. The region has many options for lodging, dining, and other activities. This makes it an excellent choice for anglers traveling with family or friends, since there are plenty of activities to keep everyone entertained.

Guanacaste’s coastline allows for both inshore and offshore fishing, often within the same day. Its beaches and estuaries are fertile grounds for inshore species, while a short boat ride out can put anglers in the path of migrating billfish, tuna, and dorado.

Fishing Packages

Stay In Costa Rica is proud to offer a variety of fishing packages to make your Sport Fishing trip seamless and memorable! These packages include accommodations, guided fishing tours, and sometimes even meals and transportation! To save on your fishing in Costa Rica journey, check out what these packages include.


Multi-Day Fishing Trips

These multi-day packages are designed for an immersive fishing experience. Spanning several days, you’ll be able to explore different fishing spots and target various species.

Accommodations from Los Sueños Resort gives you easy charter reservations and access to fishing locations. Meals may be included, ranging from on-site dining options to packed lunches for day-long excursions. The fishing charters include boat, captain, and crew, with equipment and bait provided. This option offers a more relaxed schedule to try different fishing techniques and target multiple species.

Group Discounts

If you’re traveling with a group, choosing a Costa Rica Los Sueños fishing package benefits the angler and their families, friends, or fishing club! This option is tailored for groups, including group accommodations, possibly in larger villas or multiple rooms, and a private charter boat or multiple boats depending on the group size.

All-inclusive Packages

The most hassle-free option, all-inclusive packages cover virtually every aspect of your trip, from the moment of arrival to departure. Transportation to and from the airport, accommodations, all meals, and drinks (sometimes including alcoholic beverages), daily guided fishing tours, and sometimes additional amenities like access to resort facilities (pools, gyms, etc.), and non-fishing activities for any non-anglers in the group are all provided!

You don’t have to worry about planning details or itineraries. Everything is planned out for you! This option is particularly appealing for first-time visitors to Costa Rica or those looking for a more relaxed, everything-handled experience.

Many operators, including Stay In Costa Rica, offer customizable packages that can be tailored to your preferences and fishing goals. This could include targeting specific species, focusing on conservation-minded catch-and-release fishing, or incorporating special activities for family members. Keeping sustainable tourism in mind, some packages emphasize eco-friendly practices, such as supporting local conservation efforts or using sustainable fishing techniques.

To get the most accurate and detailed information on fishing packages, including pricing, availability, and booking policies, contact Stay in Costa Rica. They can provide personalized advice and tailor a Los Sueños fishing package to your specific fishing needs!

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Important Must-Know Details

Fishing License

All anglers need a fishing license, which can be purchased online from the Costa Rican Fisheries Institute (INCOPESCA).

Conservation Efforts

Costa Rica promotes catch-and-release fishing, especially for species like marlin, sailfish, and tarpon, to ensure sustainable fishing practices.

Best Time to Visit

While fishing is available year-round, the best time to visit depends on the species you’re targeting. Consult local fishing reports or charters for the best times.

Equipment and Guides

Many Los Sueños sportfishing charters provide all necessary equipment. However, bringing your own specialized gear can enhance your experience. Local guides are invaluable for finding the best fishing spots and techniques.

Experience the Ultimate Sports Fishing in Costa Rica

There you have it! The Insiders Sport Fisherman Guide to Costa Rica. Get ready to experience a unique and exhilarating fishing experience in the waters of Costa Rica! Book your excursion today with Stay In Costa Rica.

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Joaquin Rodriguez

Joaquin Rodriguez

Joaquin Rodriguez, originally from Argentina, fell in love with Costa Rica’s magic in 2002 and never looked back. This experience grants him an insider’s perspective to curate unforgettable adventures in the heart of Los Sueños. As a partner at Stay in Costa Rica, he leverages over 20 years of experience in both resort and travel management and property management services. He helps travelers create dream vacations while ensuring homeowners get the most out of their properties, all with a seamless and stress-free experience (as holidays should be!). When he’s not crafting the perfect itinerary, you might find Joaquin teeing off on a local golf course, exploring a breathtaking national park with his wife and their two teenage daughters, or playing fetch with his beloved dogs.