Costa Rica is a small yet popular tourist destination in Central America, and sportfishing is one of the main reasons this country is so popular and sought-after. It is a dream destination for avid anglers seeking an unforgettable fishing adventure. With its vast coastlines, crystal-clear waters, and diverse marine ecosystem, Costa Rica offers different types of fish and phenomenon fishing opportunities. From massive marlins to speedy Sailfish, this beautiful country has become a dream destination for passionate anglers and every fishing lover.
Costa Rica is home to around 1,112 species of fish, of which 980 are found in marine environments. Despite having only 0.034% of the world’s landmass and a proportionate amount of water territory, Costa Rica boasts an impressive 3.25% of the world’s fish species. This small country has a rich marine biodiversity that attracts tourists from around the world. Some popular fishes in Costa Rica that tourists can enjoy during their fishing excursion or while participating in any fishing tournament in Costa Rica include Marlin, Sailfish, Dorados (Mahi-Mahi), Roosterfish, Tarpons, and Rainbow Bass.
Costa Rica is renowned for its thriving fishery, both inshore and offshore. The volcanic coastline is a paradise for fishing enthusiasts, providing them access to some of the most sought-after trophy fish in the world. The Pacific Coast, in particular, boasts abundant marine life, with as many as 12 species of snapper identified in the coastal waters surrounding popular fishing destinations like Puerto Jimenez and Golfito. So, if you ever have to choose which coast offers the best fishing experience in Costa Rica, always choose Pacific Coast.
Here, we have curated a list of the top 10 fish species found in Costa Rica famous for sport fishing.
The coastal waters of Costa Rica are renowned for providing some of the most exceptional opportunities for anglers looking to catch Sailfish, which is considered one of the most prized game fish in this region. These fish are known for their impressive size, reaching 10 feet long and weighing over 200 pounds. Sailfish have a distinctively long bill and a large, sail-like dorsal fin that they use to maneuver through the water. They are known for their incredible speed and acrobatic jumps, making them a touch catch. They feed on prey, including squid, small fish, and crustaceans.
Tarpons are a popular game fish species found in the waters off the coast of Costa Rica. They are known for their impressive size, acrobatic jumps, and high-speed runs, making them a challenging catch for even experienced anglers. Tarpons can be found in the waters of the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea and are a popular target for sport fishing in Costa Rica. While they are not a protected species, regulations are in place to ensure their sustainability across the country. Anglers must adhere to strict catch limits and use sustainable fishing practices to avoid overfishing and preserve the population for future generations. Overall, Tarpon is a fascinating and challenging fish to catch, and its popularity among anglers in Costa Rica will continue for many years.
3. Rainbow Trout
Rainbow Trout were introduced to the mountainous regions of Costa Rica in the 1950s as an attraction for foreign anglers. Today, sustainable populations of Rainbow Trout can be found in these areas. The Costa Rican Rainbow Trout, also known as Tico Rainbow Trout, is a hybrid of the Kamloops and Pacific coast varieties. These fish are known for their vibrant colors, including a reddish stripe along the side and black speckles on top. While they have the potential to grow up to 18 inches long, most catches are typically 10 inches or less. Fishing for Rainbow Trout is popular in Costa Rica, particularly in colder mountainous areas.
The Roosterfish is a large and unique species of fish that derives its name from the comb-like structure atop its head. They can grow up to 5 feet long and weigh as much as 110 pounds. They are known for their aggressive behavior and ability to put up an intense fight, making them a popular target for anglers participating in fishing tournaments. Additionally, Roosterfish are predators that feed on smaller fish, such as sardines and mullets. Anglers flock to Costa Rica and Panama, which are known to be the best locations for catching this prized game fish.
Due to its vulnerability to changes in environmental and climate changes, the Snook (also known as the sergeant fish or Robelo) is considered a protected game fish. While it typically grows to about 1.5 feet in length, some specimens have been caught measuring over 4 feet. Catch-and-release policies are enforced to conserve the Snook population in Costa Rica, especially in areas where it is protected.
6. Rainbow Bass
Rainbow Bass, or the Guapote, is a popular freshwater fish species in Costa Rica. The name “guapote” is derived from the Spanish word for handsome, which suits this fish well due to its striking colors. Its vibrant markings range from green and red on the head to blue on the fins, making it a visually appealing species. Although it is called a bass, rainbow bass is a carnivorous fish from the cichlid family. It typically weighs between five to 10 pounds, but some species can also grow up to 15 pounds. Rainbow bass is known to be intelligent and can display aggressive behavior.
Corvina is a small blueish-grey saltwater fish that inhabits the Pacific Ocean waters surrounding Costa Rica. This fish can reach a length of approximately 16 inches. Despite being sometimes referred to as a sea bass, this name is incorrect. The Corvina is a popular food fish in Central and South America, renowned for its taste, similar to that of snapper. It is primarily used in traditional dishes such as ceviche.
8. Cubera Snapper
The Cubera Snapper, also known as the Cuban Snapper, is a large and solitary fish species found in Cuban waters and can live up to 55 years and reach a length of up to 5 feet. This fish species primarily feeds on other fish and crustaceans. Due to its popularity as a food fish, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the Cubera Snapper as vulnerable. During certain times of the year, they gather in groups of up to 10,000 to spawn, making them easy targets for anglers. However, overfishing has caused a significant decline in the Cubera Snapper population.
Found in the Pacific and Caribbean waters surrounding Costa Rica, Marlin is a highly sought-after species among anglers for its size, speed, and incredible fighting ability. In these waters, anglers can catch both Blue and Black Marlin, with Blue Marlin weighing up to 1,000 pounds and Black Marlin weighing even more. The thrill of battling one of these giants on the line is an unforgettable experience that draws anglers from all over the world to the stunning waters of Costa Rica. Anglers must follow fishing regulations in Costa Rica to preserve the population, ensuring that future generations of anglers can also enjoy this magnificent species.
10. Mahi Mahi
Mahi Mahi, also known as Dorado, is a popular fish found in the warm, tropical waters off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. These fish are known for their bright, iridescent colors, with blue, green, and gold being the most common. Mahi Mahi has a long, slender body with a blunt head and a distinctive, forked tail. They can grow quite large, with some fish reaching lengths of up to 6 feet and weighing over 80 pounds. They are carnivorous and feed on squid, small fish, and crustaceans. They are also known for their jumps and high-speed runs, making them a popular target for sport fishing in Costa Rica. Anglers must adhere to strict catch limits and use sustainable fishing practices to avoid overfishing and preserve the population for future generations.
Fishing in Costa Rica is a must-do activity for any angler looking for something exciting and adventurous. With so many species to catch and popular fishing spots in Costa Rica to visit, it’s no wonder this country has become one of the world’s top fishing destinations. However, it’s important to remember to practice sustainable fishing practices to ensure that these beautiful waters and their inhabitants will be available for future generations of anglers to enjoy the fun and thrill of sportfishing to the fullest.
So, for seasoned or novice anglers, adding Costa Rica to their bucket list of fishing destinations is highly recommended. Anglers seeking additional information about sustainable fishing practices and rules and regulations followed in Costa Rica can refer to one of our informative blogs, which addresses some of the frequently asked questions about sportfishing in the country.