If you’ve been on the angling scene for a while, you’d probably know that an impressive percentage of IGFA world records have come out of Costa Rica. Furthermore, if the Central American country is one of your must-visit destinations for angling, you’re not alone.
However, if you’re like most anglers, you’re likely also wondering if there’s a particular season you should target when traveling to Costa Rica for recreational fishing.
Not to worry, you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, we explore the best seasons and times for angling in Costa Rica so you can plan your vacation during the peak biting timeframe.
Fish in Costa Rica: What is the Best Time?
Costa Rica has a tropical climate, meaning it does not experience four seasons, unlike the countries where many anglers live. So, how do you know the best time to fish in such climates?
Generally, fishing in Costa Rica is usually at its peak during two periods every year.
The first is during the dry season (from December to April), when the drier weather draws sportfish and baitfish into coastal waters. The second period is during the wet season (from May to November), when the seasonal rains can spark a feeding frenzy among several species of gamefish.
However, this is not to say you cannot enjoy an exciting fishing experience in Costa Rica at other times of the year.
That said, let us break down two seasons such that you have a clearer picture of what to expect.
Breaking Down the Two Seasons in Costa Rica
Costa Rica’s proximity to the equator is why it experiences only two major seasons — summer and winter. Or better still, dry season and wet season.
Now, let us explore what happens in fishing waters during these two seasons:
December to April (Summer)
During the summer in Costa Rica, water temperatures are typically warmer and more comfortable. So naturally, this leads to increased activity among aquatic life. In other words, baitfish grow and move around more, thereby attracting large schools of the prized trophy fish you want.
May to November (Winter)
In Costa Rica, the winter (or rainy season) usually comes with an average of 100 inches of rainfall per year. This amount of rain comes with unique opportunities for anglers — depending on which species you’re targeting.
Best Season to Book Fishing Charter in Costa Rica
Now that you know the two major fishing seasons in Costa Rica, you’re wondering which you should choose when booking your fishing charter.
First off, you should know that Costa Rica is a great fishing spot throughout the year. After all, that is one of the greatest tourist attractions in the country. Nonetheless, anglers target some periods as they usually yield peak catches.
But, your choice of timing for your fishing charter in Costa Rica should depend on the species you hope to catch. For instance, billfish are usually abundant during the summer, while marlin peaks during Costa Rica’s winter.
Fun Fact? Most fishing charter businesses in Coast Rica report that their busiest periods span from May to September. However, you may even enjoy off months better as there is less angler competition.
Costa Rica Fishing Calendar
In the following paragraphs, we examine how the months can influence your angling catch in Costa Rica. Keep reading to discover our quick guide on what specie to expect each month of the year.
The first month of the year is one of the most popular for species like the blue marlin, black marlin, big sailfish, yellowfin tuna, and big dorado. Also, January may be your best bet if you’re aiming for a grand slam!
February is also a good month for Grand Slam hopefuls. You’d typically catch several blue marlins, sailfish, and the occasional striped marlin during this time.
March is a transition period for fishing spots in Costa Rica. It is a top month for the big yellowfin tuna and big roosterfish if you’re fishing inshore. As colder water travels inshore, the chances of snagging cubera snappers and groupers also increase.
During this period, record-sized roosterfish, cubera, grouper, snappers, and several other coastal species are a common sight. You can also expect some yellowfin tuna and billfish.
May is arguable the best time to hook large roosterfish and cubera snappers. You can also expect to see some bluefin, grouper, and trevally in shallow waters. Some sailfish may also show up offshore.
Sailfish bites peak during the half-year mark, with many anglers recording double numbers. Also, you may be able to hook some black marlin and blue marlin during this time and can even record record-size roosterfish catches.
In July, grand slams for black marlin, blue marlin, and dorado are very common. You can also expect some large roosterfish catches.
August is the ideal time for blue marlin and sailfish. In addition, yellow tuna are usually in a feeding frenzy during this period. So, you can expect a decent catch of those too. You can also try inshore fishing to try and hook some cubera, snapper, or roosterfish.
If you’re an inshore angler, September may be the best period to try for Wahoo. However, large dorado and yellowfish tuna are also attractions for offshore anglers. You can also expect blue marlin and sailfish.
You can expect black marlin, blue marlin, and sailfish in October.
Both inshore and offshore anglers can enjoy fishing during this period. Large catches of blue marlin and black marlin are not an uncommon sight. Also, you can look out for some dorado and yellowfish tuna.
December is an excellent month for almost all fish species. All species — from marlins to sailfish, dorado, roosterfish, and cubera snappers — bite during this month.
Best Fishing Season for Certain Types of Fish
Now, we’ll walk you through the best fishing seasons in Costa Rica based on specific fish species. Here’s a quick guide on fishing periods according to fish species:
Technically, roosterfish bite all year round. However, their peak period is between June to September. During this period, these hard-biting fish will do a ton of biting along river mouths and reefs.
Pro Tip? When fishing roosterfish, ensure you hold on to your rig tightly as these fish have powerful bites.
This color and delicious fighter fish are most plentiful from the end of May until early October when the heavy rains flood the rivers.
The blue marlin is one of several species with an above-average bite rate all year. However, on good days, fishing boats can get between 20 to 40 bites in a day. On slower days, between five and ten bites are likely.
However, the best period for fishing blue marlin is between December and April.
The rainy season in Costa Rica (especially between June and November) is the best period to fish cubera snapper. During this period, cubera snapper catches ranging from 50 to 80 pounds are a common sight. However, this fish species also bites well all year round.
This specie generally bites throughout the year. But, its peak season is from May to August, while its slowest period is between September and November.
The best months for fishing snook are between July and November. However, some of the biggest catch of the species typically happens in December. Several 20 to 40-pound snooks bite hooks every year during this peak fishing period.
Fun Fact? The IGFA World Record for the Pacific Black Snook bit the hook south of Quepos (a small town in Costa Rica).
Wahoo fishing typically begins in Costa Rica at the end of May and usually peaks between August and September.
Yellowfin tuna is also one of the more abundant fish species in Costa Rica that bites all year round. However, the peak period for this fish is between June and October.
Best Time of Day for a Costa Rica Fishing Charter
Once you’ve decided on the specific time of the year you want to go on your fishing vacation in Costa Rica, the next step is choosing which time of the day you want to be out on the water.
More often than not, you will have two options — morning fishing and afternoon fishing. Let us quickly explore both options.
Most captains of fishing charter boats in Costa Rica want to launch before 6 a.m. So, if you’re going the morning fishing way, you’ll need to be up very early.
However, it’s not all about the captain’s preferences.
Getting onto the water at first light is advisable because many of the trophy fish you’re targeting will usually be very far off the shoreline. Unfortunately, this means traveling times reaching up to two hours in some cases. So, if you want to get to your target fish as soon as possible, getting up at dawn is a great idea.
While morning fishing is typically best for prize fishing, there is one drawback. You’ll typically experience a lot of competition in securing charter boat slots and even out there on the water.
Afternoons can also be a fantastic time to fish in Costa Rica. However, due to the hotter temperatures in the country, sunburn and sunstroke are an ever-present concern. So, if you’re going fishing in the afternoon, arm yourself with all the necessary gear to avoid sunstroke and keep yourself safe.
On the bright side, you’ll typically have to deal with fewer anglers as most people prefer to go on the morning fishing trip.
Wrapping It Up
No matter the time of the year you travel to Costa Rica, you’ll typically see a lot of fishing action. However, if you want to ensure you hook some specific species, it is best to go during their peak season.
Hopefully, this article has given you valuable insight into the best times to travel to Costa Rica for a fishing vacation and the species you can expect to snag during specific periods.
Do let us know if you have more questions!