Fish Species in Costa Rica

Fish Species in Costa Rica


fish species in costa rica



For anglers and world-class fishermen Costa Rica is the right place to fish for both small and large game fish. The type of fish you are mostly likely to catch is largely based on the type of fishing you want to engage in, as some of them are often found in shallow water while others typically spend their time in deeper water. Not only that, the time of the year you go fishing also determines the species of fish you will in deep or shallow water. We will go over the common fish species in Costa Rica that you can land while visiting this beautiful country.

To catch many of the fish species in Costa Rica, you can use cut bait, artificial lures, and live bait. Sometimes, you can catch them right on the bottom, while other times you would have to jig just a few feet off the bottom both in deep and shallow water. By either trial and error or using a fish locator, you can also find schools suspended in between. With a good-sized lure, you can be able to catch a larger fish, and other baits, such as shrimp or squid, can also be used.

Fishing is pretty fantastic all year round in Costa Rica, and it is very possible to catch just about any species of fish on any day. But, here is a list of the most sought after species in Costa Rica:



Roosterfish is quite fascinating and popular amongst anglers fishing in Costa Rica. They have a distinctive dorsal fin with seven long spines protruding from it. This fin, when out of the water, resembles a rooster’s comb once they stand up in a straight up manner.

Fascinatingly, the roosterfish’s rooster comb often lays totally flat when they are in the water, which allows them achieve greater maneuverability while swimming and also hydrodynamics. They are entirely capable of fully extending their dorsal fin underwater, but it’s only when they are out of the water their spectacular coloring and rooster comb can be fully visible ad appreciated.

They have an impressive appearance even without their rooster comb. Their body is made of brilliant, shiny silver with a light aqua blue accent on their stark and back, striking dark stripes that accent in both sides.

Costa Rica waters are abundant in Roosterfish, which has only one type. These are fighting fish, and will give you a fun catch, whether you are an expert or a notice. In Costa Rica, there isn’t a specific roaster fishing season, so it can be caught at any time of the year. However, they are more abundant between December and April with a slight reduction between September and October.

You will definitely want to come along with your camera to capture this beautiful creature.



Just as the name implies, its sail-shaped dorsal fin is one of the sailfish’s most outstanding feature. When swimming, the collapsible fin is extended to assist its speedy and narrow turn, and also, to make it look bigger to prey.

Sailfish are typically cobalt or navy-blue in color, with some of them having showing stripes or spots when hunting. It is a member of the billfish group, with its upper jaw extending up to three times the length of its bottom jaw to form a spear, which it uses to stun fish when hunting.

Sailfish generally feed on small Dorado, squid, and other types of pelagic fish. They have a terrific speed and use their elongated upper jaw to stun their prey in series of powerful blows. Sailfish swim up to 50 knots and can be found alone or in small groups of about 2-3 individuals.

Grown sailfish usually have a length ranging from about 7-10 feet. Their juveniles grow rapidly and may grow as long as 4-5 feet in just a year. Most sailfish have a weight of between 60-100 pounds, but pacific sailfish that are found in Costa Rica may weigh up to 221 pounds.

Sailfish always gives a thrilling catch due to its speed, aerial acrobatics, and fighting ability. The currents and deep waters in Costa Rica usually attracts Sailfish all year round, but between April and September, there is a noticeable increase in Sailfish and are therefore regarded to as the best months for Sailfishing.




Snappers are easily recognizable by their four large canine teeth. They have a spherical shape and broad tails. Some are usually pinkish to red in color, with a very pointed anal fin, for instance, the red snapper.

They generally prefer reliefs or rocky structures with ledges and caves, which they use as shelter or protection from predators. Snapper feed on squids, crustaceans, and other smaller reef fish. They can be caught jigging or bottom fishing, but at the right time or season, they become aggressive and can hit lures at the surface. Once they are hooked, they almost instantly try to return to caves or reefs where they can spread their fins and lock themselves in, so they can’t be pulled up

Costa Rica is a home to a large volume of all species of snapper. The Red and Cubera Snapper are the most preferred for a fantastic and large enough dish for your party or dinner. Costa Rica does not have a particular snapper fishing season since they can be caught all year round. However, there is a slight peak in the available volume of snappers from January to July.



Marlins have an upper jaw which is elongated into a pointy spear shape. They have a dorsal fin that is pointed near their head before tapping off, which is along their anal and pectoral fins. Their backs and fins have no spots or fins.

You can easily recognize the blue marlin by its bright cobalt or royal blue coloring on top with silver sides and a white underbelly. Whereas, black Marlin can be identified by their rigid pectoral fins which cannot be folded against their bodies unlike the blue Marlin.

Marlin generally prey on small tuna, Dorado, squid, and other pelagic fish species. They stun their prey with their elongated upper jaws, not by spearing it, but by whipping their bodies with incredible power and speed. Once their prey has been stunned or killed as a result of the blow, they feed on it at their leisure.

Marlin fishing in Costa Rica is one of the most sought after fishing due to the immense size and speed of this species, coupled with their fantastic aerial acrobatics which they display once hooked. Costa Rica has the 3 species of Marlin in abundance, that is, the Black Marlin, Striped Marlin and the Blue Marlin. The best season to go on Marlin fishing in Costa Rica depends on the species you are interested in.

Between December and April, the Black Marlin and Blue Marlin are highly prevalent, while the Striped Marlin can be caught all year round. Usually, the Black Marlin becomes more prevalent between April and May.



Without a doubt, anglers and fishermen around the world accept the fact that Wahoo is the fastest fish in the ocean, with a speed of about 60 MPH. They usually travel alone which makes catching them a bit of a challenge.

The only thing better than the struggle that comes with catching them, is the fish itself. They are delicious and are even more exquisite because of their elusiveness.

Thanks to their size and speed, Wahoo are usually a thrill to catch. Wahoo fishing is pretty consistent all year round as there is no specific season when they are more prevalent. But, Wahoo are somewhat scarce as they tend to be found in solitary, or in loose-knit and small groups.



Dorado is a colorful and acrobatic fish found all over the world. While big, hard-fighting Dorado can be found off-shore, the small Dorado can be found in-shore just around Island pinnacles. Once they are hooked, they struggle to break loose with high leaps and lengthy tail walks.

They generally feed on smaller pelagic species such as squid and flying fish, but are well known to feed on just about any small fish. Dorado is commonly found in current lines and garbage flows, where they hide in masse underneath floating garbage, trees, and anything else they perceive as a cover.

As with many fish species in Costa Rica, they can be caught all year round, but are more prevalent between October and April. It is always advisable to employ special methods, techniques and baits to increase your odds of catching a monster Dorado.



In Costa Rica, the type of Mackerel that can be found are one of the most prettiest fish you will ever see, both on the inside and out. The come with a bronze-green back with iridescent silver-blue sides that are highlighted with lateral golden spots and a single aqua blue to dark blue stripe that traces from the back of the grill to the tail.

Just like many other species, mackerel fishing season is Costa Rica is all year round. They are usually found close to shore around wrecks, rocky outcroppings, reefs, or any other form of cover.



Tuna is probably one of the strongest fish in the sea. Once they are hooked, they give you a fight to remember. That’s why most people refer to them as a ‘ball of muscle’. Unlike most fish that jump when hooked, they give constant and hard runs that would test your strength and will power. This is most likely going to wear you out, but once caught, they make for a wonderful meal either on your boat or in your apartment or hotel.

The main diet of Tuna consists of various juvenile fishes, crustaceans, and squids.

Tuna fish are typically found in large schools feeding just alongside Dolphins. Costa Rica has Yellowfin, Bigeye, and Skipjack Tuna, which are all fun and exciting to catch, and also delicious. Although Tuna can be caught all year round, they are particularly prevalent from May to November.



Also known as Robalo, Snook has been highly regarded to as one of the better tasting fish in the World. Although there are technically 5 species of Snook, the most common species in Costa Rica is the Common Snook because they can found in both fresh and salt water all over Costa Rica.

Just like tarpon, Snook feeds mainly on small reef fish and crustaceans. They can be easily caught using a live bait like artificial lures, mullet fish, or spoons.

As other species, Snook can be caught all year round. However, December and January have been reported to be the months to go Snook fishing. This may be due to the increase of the number of fishermen during this season.

In general, Costa Rica is abundant in wonderful fish species, and is one of the most popular place of visit for most anglers and fishermen.