With over 750 miles of coastline to explore, anglers fishing in Costa Rica have a multitude of options to try their luck for both inshore and offshore sport fishing in this marine rich part of the world. It’s a big ocean out there, and if you don't know what you are doing you can spend a whole day driving around burning expensive gas and finding absolutely nothing to put a bite on a hook! The main key to a successful day of offshore or inshore fishing is frankly knowing where and how to find the fish!
Naturally, there is no replacement for local expertise when it comes to finding fish, they live and breath the sport and no one
wants you to have a good fishing day more than your Captain and First Mate, so lean on them for the best results! Every good captain knows where to find the fish, but if you are out for a day on your own, or if you are practicing to become the next best fishing captain for your next lifetime, you may find the following information helpful while exploring some new (or old) fishing grounds.
The first and foremost important tip for finding the fish is watch for Variation. Variation can come in several forms, some of them very obvious and others more subtle, so here are some helpful hints for you in case you are headed out for a day of great fishing action!
Los Corrientes (The currents)
The most recognized tried and true method to finding gamefish in Costa Rica is fishing in “los corrientes”. These currents can be
spotted by a subtle change in color and in the temperature of the water. Baitfish and predators tend to be more plentiful in these currents, so an experienced captain will generally work the edges of “los corrientes” to see how the action is going before moving on to other options. When fishing from the areas of Quepos, Jaco, or Herradura, charters will find “los corrientes” about twenty-five to thirty miles offshore during peak billfish season and will generally head that direction to start their day. For that reason, it is almost always recommended to plan at least a 3/4 to Full Day of fishing to allow enough time to get into the really thick action!
Ocean Floor Geography
Invisible to the naked eye, the underwater geopgraphic structures such as canyons, reefs and other natural formations can increase
the flow of ocean currents, increasing the chance of good angling or even extreme angling in particular areas. The rapidly moving currents can trap bait fish allowing the large game fish to move in seeking an easy feeding session on the trapped bait. Similar to the seasonal currents, these fish rich currents are often spotted by looking for subtle changes in the water color or surface ocean temperatures. Professional and experienced Sport Fishing Charter Captains for the Costa Rican shores will always have one eye on the bottom (think GPS) and one eye on the surface looking for those subtle changes that are going to lead them to their prize.
The rainy season in Costa Rica may not be the optimal months for hooking the larger Gamefish (though they are prevelent year round,
so don't let the rainy season scare you away!), but it is the hottest time of year for Dorado, including Bull Dorado which can often times come in weighing over fifty pounds! Since the heavy rains in the mountains of Costa Rica run out the local rivers located in the Quepos, Jaco and
Herradura areas, the experienced fisherman knows that fish love structure and obstacles, even temporary formations resulting from debris washing out to sea from the rain swollen rivers, so its always a good idea to head that way. Fishing deep around areas such as weed lines, floating pallets, or logs can yield a great Dorado hit, meaning a possible great dinner will be on the table that night! Other game fish can be found beneath the debris as well, so this is an area that is especially worth an anglers undivided attention!!
Wrecks and reefs provide structure or should we say a vacation home for large bottom fish including Cubera Snapper and Grouper. This so called structure is also home to plankton and other small organisms that serve to attract baitfish which in turn attract the bigger game fish on the prowl for an easy meal. Keep in mind.....the main structure area may be overfished, while potential surrounding "satellite" sites around the structure can often be teaming with life as well, so keep your eyes and your fishing lines open. Larger Gamefish often hang out at these quieter satellite sites, so work that whole area for best results.
Its a big ocean out there, but sometimes you can see obvious "slicks" on the surface, so keep your eye out for any and all oily slicks on the water's surface since these can often be a good sign for hungry for action anglers. Big game fish such as Dorado, Tuna, Marlin and Sailfish when feeding are chasing bait to the surface which releases fish oils, resulting in the "slicks" that you may witness. If you are lucky, this very slick could hold the trophy catch you have been seeking!
Offshore birds are always fishing in Costa Rica, so it is always a good idea to keep an eye on the sky as well! Searching for bait pods, tuna feeding, or trolling Billfish, pay particular attention to the Frigate Birds who are great spotters, especially those that are circling in one particular location. The experienced fishing guide knows that even a lone Frigate Bird can lead you to a trophy Tuna, Marlin or Sailfish.
With prices high and time limited during a Costa Rica visit, when fishing offshore in our gamefish rich waters of Costa Rica, the
importance of local expertise cannot be overstated. Natural underwater geographic structures are consistent and well know and local Costa Rica Fishing Guides now have the ability to record the best fishing spots to GPS, giving them the edge when fishing for big game fish in these open waters.....something someone who does not live in the area is never going to know about. In addition, an experienced captain and mate will have developed keen eyes and experience, with some experienced Captains and First Mates able to spot schooling Tuna miles away just by looking for disturbed water and many of the other hints listed above.
So on your next Sportfishing outing while fishing in Costa Rica (or wherever!), keep the above hints in mind for best results, and
be sure to find out more about Pacific fish species, fishing seasons, fishing reports, and the local weather conditions beforehand by checking out our link on fishing in the Quepos, Costa Rica area via your local Costa Rica Vacation House Rental or Costa Rica Hotel, where they are happy to steer you in the right direction for an unforgettable day of Game fishing in an area that still boasts some 17 IGFA World Records! You could be the next World Record Holder!! FISH ON!!!!
Kimberly Barron, originally from Malibu, California has lived in Parismina and Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica for 20 years. Starting as a certified tour guide, she spent 15 years managing fishing lodges on the Caribbean Coast and later 4* & 5* Hotels on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. Currently semi-retired, Kimberly still works as the Marketing Director for Byblos Resort & Casino and owns and operates her own Costa Rica Vacation Rental Home business at Manuel Antonio Rental Homes!