EVERYTHING YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT FISHING IN COSTA RICA – THE ANGLER’S PARADISE
JACO, NEW YORK, COSTA RICA, April 14, 2019 – Fishing in Costa Rica – The Angler’s Paradise
Nature has endowed Costa Rica with vast swathes of rich coastal ecosystems, making it one of the best fishing destinations of the world. Sandwiched between the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean, Costa Rica commands 800 miles of coastline. The sportfishing opportunities here are nothing less than phenomenal.
As a top fishing destination, the country attracts thousands of eager anglers and trophy hunters every year from the US and Canada. While the most sought-after game fish in Costa Rica is the billfish (the collective name for marlin and sailfish), anglers can put their skills to test in big game involving dorado, tuna, snapper, roosterfish, and wahoo.
In the unrelenting world of sport fishing, Costa Rica manages to emerge victorious many a time, going by the fishing records, which include dozens of prestigious IGFA titles. Many a reputation has been built here. Many a record created or trounced. To illustrate from a recent example, 54 marlins were caught and released during the Offshore World Championship Billfish Tournament held this year. If you know your marlin well, it’s one tough cookie. Forget 54; getting just one could be your crowning moment.
All seasons are not made equal and neither is the fishing experience. But the good news is that in Costa Rica, any time is a good time for fishing. Says Parker Bankston, a fishing veteran, “The ocean is calm 95% of the time. There’s great fishing to be done, no matter what the season is.”
How can this be? Aren’t summers universally the best time to fish? To understand this, we need to make ourselves familiar with how the seasons play out in Costa Rica. (Most of what is explained here applies to the Pacific Coast. The Caribbean side has slightly different weather conditions.)
The concepts of summer and winter don’t really apply to Costa Rica. The country enjoys a tropical climate and experiences two kinds of seasons – dry and wet. The average annual temperature is 70 to 81 degrees Fahrenheit. There is no drastic variation in temperature during the dry or wet seasons; rather the seasons are distinguished by the amount of rainfall received.
Dry Season or Verano (Dec-Apr)
The dry season is marked by clear skies and calm waters. Together, they set the stage for some serious billfishing in the Pacific. Starting December, the billfish make their way into Central Pacific. Their numbers start swelling from January through April. Many a tournament is launched, creating near frenzy among anglers to exhibit their competitive prowess.
Wet Season or Invierno (May-Nov)
It is when Costa Rica receives most of its rain, which averages 100 inches. Also called the green season, Invierno comes as a relief from the summer spell. Fortunately, the rains are mostly confined to afternoons and evenings, which leaves a window of opportunity open for fishing in the mornings. During May, June, July, and November (called the hedge months), it only rains for a few hours in the afternoon. October, by far, is the rainiest month.
Inshore Vs Offshore Sport Fishing in Costa Rica
For inexperienced anglers, the whole inshore and offshore conundrum might be a little perplexing. Does it make a difference if you are fishing inshore or offshore in Costa Rica? Yes, it does. Where does the best fishing happen, inshore or offshore? In both places. It all depends on your tastes and the expectations and goals you set for fishing in Costa Rica. Let’s first unpack this whole inshore and offshore thing before wading deeper into those waters.
Fishing anywhere within 30 miles of shoreline classifies as inshore fishing. The average run time is between 15 minutes to an hour, so inshore fishing trips can be made with just half a day to spare. However, once you get the taste of inshore fishing and get reeled in by a giant rooster, you’ll want to hang out the entire day. Because of the relatively relaxed style of fishing, inshore fishing is a hit with families out with kids.
If your heart is set on the deeper treasures of the ocean, the marlin, sailfish, wahoo, or yellowfin tuna, you need to head as far as 120 miles into the Pacific. Equipped with sonar, GPS, and state-of-the-art fishing gear, and steered by a hardy captain and crew, your offshore fishing trip could result in some epic encounters with the elusive marlins, which travel at a speed of 60 miles per hour.
Sport fishing in Costa Rica: Legal Aspects
Fishing is an important source of income for Costa Rica and regulations are in place to ensure that fishing-related activities are responsible and the fish stock is not depleted. Here’s a quick rundown of things to be aware of when fishing in Costa Rica:
Fishing License All anglers need a valid fishing license issued by INCOPESCA, the Costa Rican Fisheries Institute. The license, which can be obtained online, costs $15 for 8 days, $30 for a month, and $50 for a year, regardless of whether you are a native or a foreigner.
Catch and Release All billfish should be live-released by law. To ensure their chances of survival, they are brought only up to the side of the boat before being released into the ocean. Anglers are free to keep and consume other fish they catch, such as snapper, dorado, tuna, and wahoo.
Start Planning Right Away!
A great time is guaranteed, no matter whether you are a new, lapsed, or an accomplished angler. Remember to pack your camera and leave your tackle behind. They aren’t as effective in the Pacific as they are in the Atlantic. All the leading fishing charters in Costa Rica are fitted with top class gear for the fast-paced fishing demanded by the Pacific.