Fishing Tours in Costa Rica

There are many individuals and companies who offer fishing adventures in charter boats, but the range of prices all begin at around $500 for half a day.
There are many individuals and companies who offer fishing adventures in charter boats, but the range of prices all begin at around $500 for half a day. | Source
Fishing on the beach can be very productive at times.
Fishing on the beach can be very productive at times. | Source
Costa Ricans frequently fish with only a reel.  This includes commercial fishermen who go out in small boats to catch red snapper and dorado.
Costa Ricans frequently fish with only a reel. This includes commercial fishermen who go out in small boats to catch red snapper and dorado. | Source

Book a Fishing Tour as Part of Your Vacation

I have lived in Costa Rica for the past five years and I am always amazed at the variety of things there are to do here. Take fishing for instance, no matter what time of the year, there are always places to go to catch fish! There are some saltwater species that are caught year round, like sailfish, snapper (pargo ), mahi mahi (dorado ) and roosterfish. There are peak seasons that vary with each of the species and the seasons vary according to whether one is in the north, middle or southern Pacific region of the country. A table that lists the various peak season times for blue and black marlin fishing is listed below.

The peak tourist season for fishing vacations in Costa Rica coincides with the winter months that are experienced in temperate climates like the United States and European countries. It is a good time to escape to a warmer climate that is almost always in the mid to upper 80's Fahrenheit. This time also coincides with peak marlin catch periods in the mid to lower part of Puntarenas province on the Pacific.

Sailfish can usually be caught any time of the year on the Pacific side, but there are peaks from May to October in Guanacaste locations in the northern part. In the middle and southern part of the Pacific coast, sailfish catches peak during the December to March period.

Tourists come to Costa Rica to catch freshwater species as well. The species which can be caught in Lake Arenal and the Tortuguero area include rainbow bass (blue guapote ), machaca , tepe , machin , mojarra , blue tilapia and more. For photos of freshwater species of fish in Costa Rica, click on the link. The Caribbean side of the country is known for its snook and tarpon fishery. A species of tarpon is also found in the lagoons of Reserva Cañas Negro, in the in the north central area bordering Nicaragua. You can also fish for tarpon near the mouths of the rivers where they meet the Caribbean, where the individual catches usually weigh more than those from the lagoons. However, seasonal rains in the Límon province that sometimes make getting out in the water difficult, particularly during May through September.

Below I discuss some of the tours that offer these varying experiences to tourists. These tours include flyfishing, billfishing, and freshwater fishing. Another type of tour that is discussed is fishing from kayaks, an experience that can give you an opportunity to catch a roosterfish and other inshore species. A map is included at the bottom of this article that has all of the locations discussed.

Catching Roosterfish from a Kayak

On the Osa Peninsula, where there is Corcovado National Park, there is a place where you can do half-day, full day and multiple day tours in sea kayaks. The video above shows someone catching a roosterfish from a sea kayak that is outfitted for fishing. The tour guide of this operation, Costa Rica Kayak Fishing, is Joe Lynberg and he is located in the town of Puerto Jimenez on the southeast tip of the peninsula. Half a day of inshore fishing is $100, including the tackle, water, snacks, fruit and him as your personal guide.

A Fishing Tour from Golfito, Costa Rica

Billfish and Inshore Fishing Tours on the Pacific

As mentioned in the first photo at the top of this article, renting a boat for a single day for billfishing starts at about $500, and it can go as high as $3200, depending on the type of boat that you want to rent. Packaged fishing tours help lower the cost to each individual. Tour packages usually include shuttle services from the two international airports, Liberia and San José, lodging, fishing for 2 days for a 5 day trip and meals. The cost of such a package is around $1800 per person, and it doesn't include your airfare to Costa Rica.

Inshore fishing for species like tuna, snapper, dorado and roosterfish is a half day trip, and I have seen prices that go as low as $450 for center-console boats, which don't have a cabin or any other amenities.

Peak Marlin Fishing Seasons

Province
Locations
Peak Month
Guancaste
Tamarindo, Flamingo, Playas Coco
April to mid-August
Puntarenas
Quepos, Manuel Antonio, Jaco
mid-December to April
Puntarenas
Golfito, Osa Peninsula
January to March

Machaca Fish, Río Frio

Source

Freshwater Fishing Tours in Costa Rica

If you want to do some flyfishing while you are in Costa Rica, contact Peter Gorinski of Fly Fish in Costa Rica. He can show you where to go to catch tarpon in the Cañas Negro Reserve and Río Frio. You can also arrange trips to go in search of rainbow trout on the Río Savegre south of San José or there is relaxing drift fishing for machaca on the Río Niño near Upala. Lake Arenal can also be fished for the bass-like guapote which has a reputation as a very strong fighter. Peter can provide your fishing gear and he packs a lunch for you. To find out more about flyfishing read the article about Gorinski's tours in Costa Rica Outdoors.

If you wish to fish Lake Arenal while you are visiting around Arenal Volcano, you can check out Captain Ron's Lake Arenal Fishing Tours. Ron Saunders outfits you with the gear, food and complimentary cigars and takes you out on his 18-ft. boat that has plenty of horsepower to get around the lake. You can use conventional bait casting gear or flyfishing gear. You can do half-day and full day trips. As mentioned below, other guide services can also be found to fish this long, narrow reservoir which provides irrigation water and hydroelectricity.

You can also arrange trips to catch tarpon using conventional tackle to Rìo Frio which feeds the lagoons of Cañas Negro. December to May is the best time to go there and catch average size fish weighting from 30 to 40 lbs. Arenal Sportfishing Tours is one of the choices take you there, or to Lake Arenal to fish for guapote.


Places Mentioned for Costa Rica Fishing Tours

show route and directions
A markerPuerto Jimenez, Costa Rica -
Town Center, Puerto Jiménez, Costa Rica
[get directions]

Rooster tail and other inshore fishing with sea kayaks. costaricakayakfishing.net

B markerPuerto Viejo, Costa Rica -
Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Costa Rica
[get directions]

Snook and Tarpon Fishing - luredtocostarica.com

C markerLake Arenal, Costa Rica -
Lake Arenal, Costa Rica
[get directions]

Blue guapote (rainbow bass), machaca, blue tilapia.

D markerTortuguero, Costa Rica -
Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica
[get directions]

Tarpon, snook rainbow bass, machaca, bobo and others. luredtocostarica.com

E markerPlaya Flamingo, Costa Rica -
Playa Flamingo, Costa Rica
[get directions]

Billfishing, inshore fishing for yellowfin tuna, roosterfish, snapper, mahi mahi, wahoo

F markerPlayas del Coco, Costa Rica -
Playas del Coco, Costa Rica
[get directions]

Billfish, inshore fishing for yellowfin tuna, wahoo, snapper, mahi mahi

G markerJaco, Costa Rica -
Jaco, Costa Rica
[get directions]

Billfish, inshore fishing for all other species

H markerLos Chiles, Costa Rica -
Los Chiles, Costa Rica
[get directions]

Silvestres Caño Negro, where you can catch tarpon via conventional and flyfishing tackle.

I markerUpala, Costa Rica -
Upala, Costa Rica
[get directions]

A place to go on a drift fishing trip on the Río Niño to catch machaca.

J markerSan Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica -
San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica
[get directions]

Rainbow trout fishing in the Río Savagre.

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Comments 10 comments

dennislee58 4 years ago

Sounds like a lot of fun! . . . the kayaking. A rooster fish look pretty stout!


Randy M. profile image

Randy M. 4 years ago from Liberia, Costa Rica Author

Come on down and we can do it together.


shiningirisheyes profile image

shiningirisheyes 4 years ago from Upstate, New York

Randy - This waas great! Fishing in the South Pacific sounds enchanting. My Dad was a huge deep-sea fishing enthusiast and I spent most of my younger years begging to be taken along. Finally, in my late teens he took me on a fishing trip in Glouster, Mass. I started and proceeded to feed the fish shortly after with sailed! I found out the hard way how motion sick I can become.

Great job.


costaricasilks 4 years ago

Excellent article Randy !


Randy M. profile image

Randy M. 4 years ago from Liberia, Costa Rica Author

Thanks Wendy and Shinggirisheyes! Sh - Did you catch any fish or were you sick the whole time on the Glouster trip?


Ann1Az2 profile image

Ann1Az2 4 years ago from Orange, Texas

Wow - I want to go! Sounds much better than fishing in the Gulf of Mexico!


Randy M. profile image

Randy M. 4 years ago from Liberia, Costa Rica Author

There are a variety of choices. Get in touch with me because I may want to go with you. We can split the cost.


Ann1Az2 profile image

Ann1Az2 4 years ago from Orange, Texas

I think you misunderstood me, or perhaps I wasn't clear. I just meant that you make it sound so great that I'd like to go - I didn't mean I could go right now! Sorry.


xcubist profile image

xcubist 4 years ago

I have long dreamed of doing a little Costa Rica rooster fishing, its on my list to accomplish one day.


Randy M. profile image

Randy M. 4 years ago from Liberia, Costa Rica Author

Tranquilo, Ann1Az2. I can't go right now either. Xcubist - I hope to catch a few here in the near future and put pictures on this article. I plan on a December trip.

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