Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast is plush with billfish offering some of the greatest sportfishing locations in the world
If you are looking to reel in a 500+ pound marlin, or want to snag yourself a record-setting sailfish, the first part of the battle is knowing where to cast your line. We can point you in the right direction, but then, of course, the rest is up to you. Let’s start with two words: Costa Rica! Billfish love the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, and have many favorite spots that sportfisherman have honed in on throughout the years.
Starting on the northern Pacific coast with Flamingo Beach, Tamarindo, Nosara, Samara and Playa Carrillo, you’ll encounter a goldmine of billfish. Further south, in the central Pacific region of Costa Rica, you’ll find a plethora of well-suited sportfishing locations as well, all the way from Cabo Blanco to Drake Bay; this is where you’ll find the infamous Los Sueños Marina. Down near the Panama border the southern Pacific region offers abundant sportfishing in and around Golfito and Playa Zancudo, which may not be as popular as Los Sueños but the fish don’t know that and they don’t seem to care either.
NORTHERN PACIFIC REGION
Cabo Blanco to the Gulf of Papagayo
Flamingo Beach, with its full-service marina, and nearby Tamarindo, Nosara, Samara and Playa Carrillo are the sportfishing centers in this area. Fishing will vary with prevailing conditions, but here’s how it generally runs for the more popular species. Look for winds north of Cabo Vela from about December into mid-May.
Marlin: Caught every month of the year, with mid-November to early March exceptional, then slowing a bit from April into early June when it picks up again, peaking in August and September.
Sailfish: Caught throughout the year, with May through August normally the top season. They may begin to thin out in September, with the slowest months running through November.
CENTRAL PACIFIC REGION
Cabo Blanco to Drake Bay
Los Sueños and Quepos are the centers of fishing on Costa Rica’s central Pacific coast. Some sails are taken throughout the entire year. It’s seldom more than a 12- to 20-mile run to the blue water where most of the billfish action is found. Boats out of Quepos also offer multi-day trips to the Drake Bay and Caños Island area, over-nighting at one of the several lodges centered around Drake Bay and there are a few boats based at Drake Bay, also a top diving area. The Drake Bay region is best known for its wahoo, big cubera and roosterfish, but there are also tuna, dorado, sails and marlin.
Marlin: October is normally the top month for marlin in this area, but action is also good in September and November. Occasional blues and a rare black are likely to be found anytime of year.
Sailfish: Mid-December to the end of April is rated the best season, but the big schools often move in about October and stay longer. A few sails always show among the catch from June through September, mixed with the other species that are found inshore during those months.
SOUTHERN PACIFIC REGION
Golfito and Playa Zancudo
Golfito is the center of activity on Costa Rica’s southern coast. It’s a rare day during peak season that boats don’t raise a dozen sails and a marlin or two, along with plenty of jacks, runners, mackerel and perhaps an amberjack, roosterfish or big snapper inshore. Light-tackle fishing inside the bay off Golfito, with its profusion of small coves and rocky islets, as well as off the shoreline, is good for small barracuda and snapper, corbina and occasional snook to more than 40 pounds.
Across the bay there are lodges on Playa Zancudo. Operators offer day charters and three- to five-day packages with all meals, lodging and an open bar. One of the lodges there has posted more than 40 IGFA records on various species. Fishing the drop-off outside Matapalo produces sails, marlin, tuna and other blue-water species, and inshore there are roosters that average more than 30 pounds (a couple up to 100 pounds), grouper, jacks, barracuda, trophy-size Pacific cubera snapper and more.
Marlin: August through December is peak season, but an occasional blue or black may be taken most any month if the water temperature is up. This year, the marlin bite was incredible from February in March, with some to 750 pounds.
Sailfish: A few taken off and on year-round with the exceptional fishing from December through March. Often slows from April into early June, then picks up again and begins to peak in August or September.
What are you waiting for, come have the fishing adventure of a lifetime and cast your line in Costa Rica’s amazingly abundant waters…see if you can’t reel in some pez muy grande!