Sport fishing of the 'catch and release' variety (though a small number of fish are kept to eat or mount as trophies) is a tremendously popular activity despite the very high cost involved. People on fishing vacations routinely spend several hundred dollars a day to fish, and the most exclusive all-inclusive fishing packages can cost over $1000.00 a day. This doesn't stop 12% of foreign tourist from saying that one of the reasons they are here is to fish. They say it's worth it because the fishing is world-class and several of the fish caught in Costa Rican waters have broken world records. (only Roy's Zancudo Lodge in Playa Zancudo counts with over 50 world records)Local anglers say that a bad day of fishing in Costa Rica is often better than a good day of fishing in most other places.
To help protect this resource, local skippers, guides and anglers adhere to a catch and release philosophy - if they didn't the excellent fishing would become endangered.
The most popular fishing areas are on the coast, rather than inland. People often stay at local fishing lodges and go out to sea on state-of-the-art fishing and navigation equipment. Some people prefer to spend their entire time living aboard a boat, and this option is also available. The best place to look for fishing lodges and boats are in Parismina, Tortuguero, and (specially) in Barra del Colorado on the Caribbean side and Golfito and Quepos area and many parts of the peninsula Nicoya on the Pacific side, though there certainly are other places.
Note that while most of the fishing lodges provide tackle, inveterate anglers may prefer to bring their own Lures and other essentials are sold by the lodges but, because of import duties are more expensive than at home. Lures are not included in the packages. The lodges will be happy to advise you about all aspects of fishing equipment if you make a reservation with them.
Inland, trout fishing in rivers and lake fishing are also popular, though no as much as the coastal fishing. Particularly recommended are the Rio Savegre near San Gerado de Dota for trout fishing and Laguna de Arenal for guapote of rainbow bass, although you can fish almost anywhere you have a mind to.
You can fish almost anytime. Laguna de Arenal has a closed season from October to December and certain rivers may have closed seasons sometimes - check with local operators. The ocean is always open and, if you are prepared to fish on either coast and accept what species are biting, there is fishing year-round. Some books and brochures provide mouth-by-mouth breakdowns of what fish to catch where. Having looked at several of these, all I can say is that anglers love to tell stories - and each one is different! Certainly, fishing varies from season to season. As a general rule, the Pacific Coast is slowest from September to November, though you will get better fishing if you are on the south coast in those months, and the Caribbean can be fished year-round, tough June and July are the slowest months.
The fish most sought after by angles are Tarpon and Snook on the Caribbean side and sailfish and black marlin on the Pacific side.
Fishing licenses are required but are cheap and included in outfitters packages and tours.
Pictures by David Carlson taken at the Crocodile Bay Lodge in Puerto Jiménez. The team of 1-CostaRicaLink and Costa-Rica-Information-Mobile wishes you the best of times in our little paradise called Costa Rica.
Text by Lonely Planet.
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