Seasons of the Fish found in Either the North, Central, South Pacific and Caribbean Ocean. A few fresh water locations are also listed below:
Where and When to Find What?
written by Jason Coffrin (aka Mr. Trigger)
It is the abundance of billfish that has made the Pacific area of Costa Rica famous, with Sailfish and Marlin being taken in record breaking numbers. The Pacific Fishing is known as one of the best places worldwide to catch Sailfish, Blue Marlin, Black Marlin, Striped Marlin, Yellow fin Tuna, Wahoo, Roosterfish, Spanish and Cero Mackerel, Mahi Mahi (aka Dorado) and Dog tooth and Cubera Snapper being caught regularly. There are plenty of marinas, ports and beaches out of which you can charter boats to experience "the Pacific Fish". In the northwest province of Guanacaste, charter boats work out of the new marina by the Four Seasons, playa del Coco, playa Ocotal, Flamingo Marina (once the only safehaven between Acapulco and Panama City), Playas Tamarindo and Carrillo. Further south along the coast, you can fish out of Tambor, Puntarenas, Punta Leona, Quepos - Manuel Antonio, Dominical, Drake Bay, port of Golfito and Zancudo. The fish move up and down the south following the weather and bait depending on the time of year. April through September is great season up north because there is very little wind and the abundance of bonito and sardines. Down south from October to March is Sailfish and Marlin season with the billfish coming in real close for bait fish and to mate. You can catch 10-20 Marlin or Sailfish in a trip!
Between Cabo Blanco on the Central Pacific to the Gulf of Papagayo in the far North Pacific, Flamingo Beach, with a marina, is the major sport fishing center in the northern coastal area. The newly developed marina in the Bahia Culebra by the Four Seasons Resort to the north, and boats also chartering out of nearby Playas del Coco, Tamarindo, Ocotal, Potrero, Brasilito, Garza, Samara, Nosara, and Carillo; a region that gets more protection from the north-south Papagayo winds that normally blow late December into March and April. Another great thing for for boats like Mr. Trigger and others in the Flamingo area are the months from May through October, which means big Marlin, Sailfish, Yellow fin tuna, and lots of Dorado. This time of year there is no wind and these large game fish move in very close to shore to feed, sometimes catching large Marlin within only a mile offshore.
- Marlin: Caught every month of the year; for Mr. Trigger and other boats in the area November and December are very good for large Black Marlin and Blue Marlin because of the bait that comes through. Bonito, Dorado, Mackerel, and Jacks are a favorite for these large pelagic fish also there and abundance of small Yellow fin tuna that is a Marlin favorite. These fish bring fisherman and all other interested people to the area because of there size. An average Marlin caught around this area is from 200-500 pounds with some 600-1000 (like this one right) and over being caught once in a while. With Costa Rica being a country with an all Marlin release law you will have a great chance on catching this awesome pelagic monster. Later in the year like May through September we see a lot of Striped Marlin because of the amount of ballyhoo, and flying fish, these Stripe Marlin love chasing these smaller faster baits.
- Sailfish: Caught throughout the year; with May through August normally the top season. They may begin to thin out in September and from late August through November. Sailfish are why sport fishing came to be in Costa Rica. These fearless, fast fish and be caught at any time of the year and very popular in many different ways. From live bait drifting, kite fishing, trolling rigged bait or teasing them up and hooking one on a fly rod. They eat a large array of small baits from bonito, blue runners sardines, ballyhoo, and flying fish. The best time of year to catch them for Mr. Trigger is May through August when the winds are calm. The swell pushing north helps them glide through the water as they stock there prey. And anyone that loves fishing thinks this is the most beautiful fish they have ever seen. In the Pacific off Costa Rica they are larger than anywhere else in the world.
- Yellow fin tuna: Peak months are probably August through October; March is a great month for Yellow fin tuna for a couple weeks the smaller tuna 20-30 pounds move through in 200to 300 foot of water range. but when all these fails, there are always tuna, anytime of the year you want to look for them, and more then than not when you'd just as soon avoid them to concentrate on billfish. The yellow fin and some big eye tuna are often found well inside the Santa Catalina Islands, 30 minutes or less running time from the beach, while schools of 12 to 20 ponders are usually abundant on the outside. You frequently find concentrations of 40 to 60 pound tuna, and there are plenty of the 200 to 400 ponder caught every year.
- Dorado: More properly known as dolphin fish, this colorful gamester are most abundant from late May through October when the seasonal rains flood the rivers, carrying out debris that forms trash lines close inshore that they like to lie under. Troll past a floating long and you'll like hook a Dorado. The average size of these fish is 10 to 40 pounds but singles are caught all the time well over 60 pounds like this one shown left. These are an amazing fish the fastest growing fish in the water, very hi concentration of them in the Flamingo area and are as well a great fight on heavy and light fishing gear.
- Wahoo: The first showing begins about the time the rains start in May, peaking in July an August. Most are caught around the rocky points and islands, but you will pick one up occasionally fishing offshore. The larger ones hold around current lines and floating logs. Some times they follow whale sharks and other large animals in the sea. A very good fish for dinner this is also one of the fastest fish in the sea. It stalks its prey like a cheetah would look for something small and weak. With a short burst of speed well over 70mph it strikes lures and trolled bait with an explosion of power and a fun challenging fight on light tackle. Sometimes Mr. Trigger trolls at speeds over 14 knots to get them to attack lures for clients.
- Roosterfish: This is the game fish that attracts most people to fish inshore in Costa Rica, A very hard fighting and beautiful fish to catch and very fast. Very rich and oily skin so not much for eating, but this hard fighting character eats baits way over its size. Trolling for these fish is a common way to catch them. Weighing everywhere from 10 to 100 lbs ( pictured left is a 150 pound fish caught on MR. Trigger) Most of the time Roosterfish can be caught all year but its best in the months of May through August when the water is very clean and full with sardines.
Central & South Pacific
The areas of Quepos, Drake bay, are some of the richest fishing areas of Costa Rica. One reason is because of Sailfish season and the Marlin that come in at the same time. This season is from January- March and people from all over the world come to catch these monsters on trolling baits and fly.Charters can be also found out of Puntaranes, Playa
Mr. Trigger heads down there at this time to fish with clients for these pelagic fish getting 10 to 20 shots and Sailfish and Marlin a trip. Also Jaco just north with Los Suenos resort and Marina host some of the richest billfish tournaments in the world. Hosting 4 of them a year bringing the best billfish captains and mates to this area to compete for millions of dollars! Another area in the Canos islands witch are great refuge for small yellow fin tuna, Wahoo, and occasional large black marlin looking to eat one of those other species. Beach fishing for Roosterfish and Snook (aka Robalo) is a favorite for those inshore guys. With the commercial fishing at a minimum down in that area world record Roosterfish and Snook have been caught in the area numerous years in a row!
- Marlin: October being the best time of year for Marlin. There are years when Jaco and Quepos have had so many marlins that there isn’t room for Sailfish. Every bite is Blue Marlin Stripe Marlin or maybe if your lucky the elusive Black Marlin. Mr. Trigger will take full days past the smaller bait school farther out to the next ledges 20 to 30 miles out for a Marlin if the client requests it with no problem. Live bait for these monsters is a great way to get one because the abundance of bonito this time of year. There are so many that the whole ocean looks alive! Through the months of January- March this huge rush of Marlin can happen at any time getting clients 5 to 10 shots at this amazing pelagic fish a Mr. Trigger favorite in Costa Rica.
- Sailfish: Sailfish season down in this area is an awesome feet according to Jason “ Mr. Trigger” Coffrin on the boat Mr. Trigger. Sailfish come in from December to about March by the hundreds. On a charter you can get 10 to 15-30 shots a day on the water this time of year for a Sailfish. Another big deal about this time is fly fishing for them down here. If you are trying to catch a great Sailfish on a fly this time of year in the area of Quepos, Hemmosa, and Jaco are the places to be. The Sailfish come in so close because of the bait in the water. Sardines, bonita, and blue runners come in by the thousands this time a year bringing in the magnificent pelagic fish to feed.
- Tuna: Quepos area for these smaller tuna is not common but in the south around Drake bay they can be found 10-20 pounds. Farther offshore in the current lines 30 miles and further them larger yellow fin can be found 50 to 300 pounds but that is far for a charter and hard to target where as they is moving north or south very fast chasing the bait.
- Wahoo: It is really hard to find wahoo in the area the different currents and not a lot a structure keep them in other places. The positive thing about hooking a wahoo here it might be in the 50 to 100 lb range when it happens!!!
- Dorado: These fish can be caught all year around but when the rainy seasons come May through November they can really go off. The smaller ones hanging around sticks and trash in the water and the older larger Dorado hang around large trees and different floating objects that attracted bait fish. A fun way to catch these large Dorado is live bait pitching. On the Mr. Trigger pull up to a large log and pitch baits on light tackle and hold on!!! These fish are not also great on the grill they are real drag screamers.
- Roosterfish: Roosterfish is the favorite for the clients and Captains in this area. Mr. Trigger does a lot of trolling for these huge hard fighting drag screaming fish. They like to hit large lures and huge live baits. Caught all year around it is a real popular fish because there so fun to fight on light tackles. Ranging everywhere from 10 to 100 pounds with line class records caught all the time in this area. They move all around the coast from the beaches in the surf to the rock cliffs heading offshore. Sometimes they are caught offshore trolling live baits for Sailfish or tuna!
- Snook: Costa Rica and this area alone have the biggest Snook in the world. With locals catching fish in the 60lb range not worried about records but for food are caught all the time. The world record was caught at a beach just north of Quepos called Rio Naranjo on a lure. Captains in the area take people to these rivers to chase these huge fish ranging in the 10 to 50 lb range. The best time is when the surf is up July to November in the rainy season. The Snook feed on blue runners, sardines, mullet, and even herd of them eating small bonito when they can catch them. Known for there lateral line all over the world of fishing these lin siders are a great fight and great on the grill with a very white meant with little or no fish taste if prepared correctly.
In the Caribbean there is an abundance of snook and tarpon probably one of the best places in the world to fish for these fish. The lush rainforest and amount of river mouths and estuaries brings out an array of bait fish that these predators feed on. With an average size of 80 pounds these smaller Tarpon are a great catch in these rivers while there parents live in the mouths of these river and range from 80 to 200 pounds. The snook here are all over catching over 5 to 10 a day in the rivers and the ocean beaches along the Barra del Colorado, Tortguero and Parismina canals. You can catch up with and Captain in the area and have a great fishing trip for these animals including Billfish, Dorado, and Wahoo offshore.
- Tarpon: Tarpon being one of the most famous game fish in the world, with a history of line ripping runs and acrobatic jumps this amazing fish has brought people from around the world to the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica to pursue this monster. With the world record at one time being caught here weighing in at 283 pounds, these animals normally grow to about 150 pounds with fish taken at 200 pounds all the time in the river mouths of this coast. Another reason is the popularity of this fish in this region. There are more tarpon on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica than anywhere else in the world at one time. It is not uncommon to catch 10 to 20 a trip. Most of the Captains troll live bait or lures but, fly fishing is getting more and more popular every year like it is in Florida Keys for these silver giants in armor.
- Snook: Big Pacific black snook generally peak from March through May because of the rain and the amount of sardines and other bait fish that accumulate in this area. September through November is another time these fish really feed because it is a mating season for these fish that reach up to 60 pounds and 40 pounds are caught often.
- Billfish: When you can get outside to the blue water you will find Atlantic blue marlin most any time of the year. Most are caught from February through September because that is the rainy season and there lots of logs and usually unlike the other coast there are weed lines coming from the Gulf of Mexico. Weed lines are a habitat in there own for baby Marlin, Sailfish, Dorado, and Yellow fin Tuna. This brings larger predators like the Marlin and Sailfish to feed on these smaller Dorado and tuna a favorite of the Sailfish and Blue Marlin. Although there are different Marlin in this area and smaller Sailfish! The Marlin are Blue, and White only with there cousins the Black and Striped on the Pacific coast.
- Wahoo: February through June is a great time to catch this speedster! This line ripping, rod bending toothy pelagic is not also a great fight but around the world great on the grill and the Caribbean coast is a great place to catch one of there fighting fish. Mostly being caught trolling at height speeds, spear fisherman take pride in getting on of these trophies off the coral reefs here because they love structure and tend to stay around it making it a great adversary for the spear gun and free diver.
- Dorado: Like the Marlin and Sailfish these great eating fish thrive off the runoff from the river for habitat and for food. Best times for a big fish are February through September. These Dorado can get up to 100 pounds and common fish are 20 to 50 pounds.
May through June host a couple other fish you will catch along the way while fishing for these other species listed here. Tripletail, barracuda, kingfish, Spanish mackerel, and Cero Mackerel are smaller species but a great fish to fight and eat after a long day on the water fighting one of these other monsters!