Fishing in Costa Rica

Find out about the fishing categories, seasons and the permits required to fish along the coast and in the fresh water rivers of Costa Rica...

Deep-sea, mangrove, river and lake fishing are available in Costa Rica, generally on a catch-and-release basis.  Deep-sea fishing is available off both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts. Deep-sea catch include: marlin, sailfish and tuna. Nearer to shore, fishers can expect to find snapper, wahoo, roosterfish, tarpon, mahi mahi and mackerel. Freshwater species include rainbow bass, drum, snook, trout and alligator gar.

For freshwater fishing, most of the best locations are found in the north. Some of the freshwater fishing locations are at relatively high altitude so fishers should bring appropriate clothing as temperatures can be cold.

The Savegre River (Rio Savegre) in the Talamanca mountain range contains rainbow trout; however, they are typically not caught with flies as fly fishing is uncommon in Costa Rica.

Arenal Lake is a popular destination for anglers fishing for rainbow bass (guapote) and machaca.

The Colorado and San Juan Rivers offer very good tarpon fishing from December to March. Estuary and river mouth fishing from shore can be dangerous due to the presence of crocodiles in some waters, therefore it is recommended to seek local guidance before fishing in these places.

Fishing Licenses

A license and small fee is required for all fishing in Costa Rica. License validation periods can range from one day to one year. Licenses can be obtained in the post from INCOPESCA (Instituto Costarricense de Pesca y Acuacultura), the local dock (for sea fishing), from hired fishing guides, from ranger stations and online. If applying online, the applicant may also apply for licenses for traveling companions who will be on the same fishing trip.