When you ask a search engine or even a tourist agent to suggest a spot in Costa Rica where beginners will be comfortable, there isn’t one. Instead, Costa Rica fishermen, tourist agents, and visitors suggest that every place is good and every fish is obtainable for beginners and experienced sport fishing enthusiasts. Among the thousands of people who visit yearly for this very purpose, hundreds are new to fishing. They are about to discover how rich with piscine activity the waters along these shores really are.
Fish in Costa Rica
With numerous species visiting this area at different times throughout the year, there is never a bad time to fish. Maybe some days are leaner than others, but it is uncommon to end the day without hauling a big fish into the boat. Species found here include Marlin, Bill Fish, Yellow Fin Tuna, and Snook. People fish out on the ocean, in the lakes and rivers. Lake and river fishing expeditions go out in search of Rainbow Bass, Tarpon, and Snook along the San Juan River and Lake Arenal. Other familiar names are Snapper, Sailfish, Wahoo, and Rooster Fish.
Major Resort Locations
Hotels, motels, hostels, spas, and resorts are set up all along both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts. They are ideal launch pads for fishing along the Gulf of Papagayo in the West, close to Tortuguero National Park in the East, and Cahuita along the southern end of the Caribbean Coast. San José is situated in the center of the state, so it’s not far from here to any appealing location. Visitors to these spots spend non-fishing days hiking, snorkeling, and enjoying the natural beauty of Costa Rica. Locals and tourists take part in numerous water sports all year long.
Hiring a Charter Boat
Tourism agencies would recommend visitors hire a charter boat to go fishing. Trying your hand at fishing without this expert support is tempting since almost anyone can catch a fish here; they are always biting. That might not be the case if you are headed out alone. Charter boat captains have followed the fish along these waters for years, maybe decades, and they recognize fishing seasons even if they aren’t apparent from the surface. A beginner should always go out on a charter boat with an experienced captain to catch fish, both for safety and for success. Even regular visitors choose this option; it’s a hassle-free way to haul in a Marlin, Dorado, or Sailfish. Captain and crew take care of most details, although you should obtain a fishing license before climbing aboard.
Finding a Charter Boat
Approach this from one of three ways. Visit a tourist agency for advice about local charters. Numbers of these agencies have increased tremendously in the past few years owing to the popularity of sport fishing and the growing number of tourists who come to the country on vacation for other purposes as well. More than half come from the USA according to tourism statistics. Agencies might charge a booking fee, but this could be a quick way to find exactly what you are looking for, and the fee won’t be much.
The internet is an excellent resource, but not all good captains are on the internet. Wealthy companies make it to the web, but several wonderful vessels led by warm, friendly crew operate by word of mouth or local advertising. Rich captains sometimes charge too much and offer luxuries you don’t need.
That’s why it pays to take a walk along the docks if you have time. Short-stay visitors should opt for choice number one or choice number two. If you have time to relax, talk to captains, deck hands, visitors, and employees at your hotel or resort. Let them give you some good ideas based on their knowledge of the people who operate these vessels and their reputations among locals.
Things to Look For
Anyone new to boating and fishing could easily overlook certain expectations other boaters bring with them to the dock. They expect staff on a boat to be gracious but firm because your safety is at stake. They don’t mess around or let you mess around either. Crew should walk passengers through all emergency measures and equipment before setting sail.
Usually, rods and reels are all set up. Are accessories available on board such as bait and hooks? These are things you need to check before boarding as it would be a quiet day on the ocean without such items. Everything is probably supplied, but make no assumptions. Also, bring money with you. Certain services are included; others are not. For example, if you do not want to gut the fish you keep, pay a deck hand to do it for you. He will not charge much. Besides, unless you have worked at a fishmonger’s shop and are accustomed to the process, this is a difficult task and messy. Newbies lose as much fish as they take home and wind up with lots of bones in their so-called “fillets.” Other extras might include photographs and refreshments.
Can you book the charter for just you and a friend or the family or do you have to share with others? If you want the whole boat to yourself, it is going to cost a lot more. But with a small family aboard, that might be all the captain can legally permit anyway. Costa Rica sportfishing is popular with all ages. Locals frequently see couples, parents with young children, and parties of women or men on the water celebrating a birthday, anniversary, or honeymoon.
Learn a little bit about the species that swim these waters, about what you want to catch, and the locations you are most likely to catch them from during your stay. Yes, a charter boat captain can tell you all that, but you shouldn’t be completely ignorant. This makes for a frustrating conversation with the ship’s captain. He needs to know what you want to catch so he can stock the boat with appropriate bait and also give you sound advice. Fishing is an unpredictable business; there are no guarantees of catching what you wanted, but you will certainly catch something.