Costa Rica Fly Fishing Guides

10 Places for Fly Fishing in Costa Rica

For fly fishermen, there are few countries that can offer the variety of species and locations that Costa Rica provides. Costa Rica Fly Fishing Guides is a company of local and English-speaking fly fishing guides offering packages and guided fishing trips in the best fly fishing spots in this Central American country. Here are the top 10 fly fishing destinations in Costa Rica:

1- NATURAL WILDLIFE REFUGE OF CAÑO NEGRO: “JUNGLE TARPON RESERVE”:

The Jungle Tarpon Reserve is the name given to fishing in the Caño Negro National Wildlife Refuge. This place is considered one of the best in the world for fly fishing for tarpon in freshwater. It is located over 300 miles from the Caribbean Sea, where tarpons migrate up the Frío River to reach this area of streams and flooded lagoons teeming with lush vegetation, flora, and fauna.

In addition to tarpons, there are other species such as tropical needlefish, sawfish, and bull sharks, which, like tarpons, feed on a large number of small fish. The best months for tarpon fishing in the Jungle Tarpon Reserve range from August to February.

From March to July, fishing is prohibited within the Natural Refuge to protect the breeding of a native fish species. Fly fishing is done in boats designed for two fishermen per boat. To fish in this setting, it is essential to have good casting technique. However, this setting allows us to get very close to the fish, more so than in other destinations around the world.

Can you imagine catching this explosive fish surrounded by monkeys, birds, and even jaguars? To access the Caño Negro National Wildlife Refuge, a 4.5-hour drive from San José, the capital of Costa Rica, is required.

2- RAINBOW TROUT IN THE CLOUD FOREST:

Costa Rica’s cloud forest, also known as “bosque nuboso” in Spanish, is a type of humid tropical ecosystem characterized by high humidity, constant mist, and dense vegetation primarily composed of evergreen trees and moss. This type of forest is typically found in mountainous areas of medium to high elevation, where clouds condense around the treetops due to the elevation and ambient humidity.

In these mountains, numerous rivers were stocked with rainbow trout by American military personnel in the 1950s.

Can you imagine fishing for trout in the habitat of the quetzal, jaguar, tapir, and a wide variety of orchids and bromeliads?

One of these rivers is the Savegre, located next to the Quetzales National Park. There exists an excellent population of small to medium-sized rainbow trout that have become naturalized there.

3- TENORIO RIVER

The Tenorio River, a tributary of the Corobicí River in Costa Rica, originates near the Tenorio Volcano in the Guanacaste province, northwest of the country, and is part of the Arenal-Tempisque Conservation Area. It is renowned for its excellent opportunities for fly fishing for machaca, as well as for adventure sports in its rapids, such as rafting.

This river is the best place in all of Costa Rica for catching machaca, but other species like rainbow guapote and snook can also be caught. Machaca is an omnivorous fish that feeds on plants and fruits. They typically weigh between 2 to 6 pounds, although larger specimens can weigh from 10 to 15 pounds. One of the most effective flies for catching machaca resembles a small green golf ball tied to a sturdy hook. Poppers are also widely used.

The success of these flies lies in the noise they produce when hitting the water’s surface, which attracts these fish even in brown-colored waters.

4- BARRA DEL COLORADO

The Colorado River is a branch of the San Juan River that forms the northern border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua. This river flows into the Caribbean Sea and forms the famous Colorado River Bar, a protected area categorized as a Wildlife Refuge.

The Barra del Colorado Wildlife Refuge is a natural reserve located in the Limón province, on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. This protected area encompasses an extensive area of wetlands, rivers, mangroves, lagoons, and tropical forests, making it a vital habitat for a wide variety of flora and fauna species.

One of the most outstanding features of the Barra del Colorado Wildlife Refuge is its great opportunities for tarpon fishing. Tarpons in this location can weigh between 80 and 100 pounds, and every year, some are caught weighing between 150 and 200 pounds.

This place is one of the few locations in the world where tarpon weighing over 100 pounds can be caught year-round.

Fishing operations in Barra del Colorado are centralized in the town of Barra del Colorado, which is divided into two parts by the river. To access this town from San José, it is necessary to fly in by small plane. It can also be reached by bus with the final stretch by water using flat-bottomed boats and through canals.


5- TAMARINDO: ROOSTERFISH FISHING IN THE PACIFIC.

Tamarindo, located on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica in the Guanacaste province, is famous for its expansive white sand beaches, perfect for surfing and relaxation. Additionally, it offers a lively nightlife, a wide variety of culinary options, and the opportunity to explore nearby natural reserves, such as the Las Baulas National Marine Park, home to giant turtles.

This paradisiacal destination is recognized as one of the prime spots for roosterfish fishing in Costa Rica, along with other locations on the Pacific coast such as Golfo Dulce, Golfo de Papagayo, Quepos, and the Osa Peninsula. The allure of Tamarindo lies in the fact that both anglers and non-anglers have plenty of activities to enjoy.

Roosterfish are known for their strength and stunning beauty. Their distinctive crest and black stripes make them one of the most beautiful fish in the world. Typically, these fish feed on sardines and needlefish, so using imitations of these bait species is necessary for fly fishing.

Roosterfish fly fishing in Costa Rica is carried out from boats offshore, cruising near the coast in search of seabirds and roosterfish schools. Costa Rica is not a suitable destination for wade fishing for roosterfish.

To attract roosterfish, the captain and guide cast bait into the water, posing quite a challenge to catch them on the fly. Necessary gear for this Pacific coast fishing includes 10 and 11-weight rods with sinking or sinking-tip lines. You can also use an 8-weight rod with the appropriate reel if planning to catch both small roosterfish and other reef species.

Roosterfish can be caught in Tamarindo year-round, although the best months are from December to April, coinciding with the dry season.

6- COROBICI RIVER

The Corobicí River in Costa Rica is a tributary of the Tempisque River. Like the Tenorio River, it is excellent for machaca fishing. However, due to its larger size, we prefer the Tenorio River for fly fishing.

7- PACIFIC COAST

On the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, several world-class marinas are found, ideal for fly fishing for spectacular fish such as sailfish and marlin. The prime fishing spots are near islands, reefs, and river mouths. In addition to these species, you can also find jacks, mackerel, snook, snappers, and the coveted roosterfish, allowing for year-round fly fishing in this area.

Each species has its optimal fishing periods. Generally, it can be summarized as follows:

  • Blue Marlin: The best months are December, January, February, June, and July, while September and October are less favorable.
  • Black Marlin: December, January, August, and September are the most suitable months, with less activity in April, May, and October.
  • Dorado (Mahi-Mahi): Fishing is favorable throughout the year, although September might have fewer catches.
  • Yellowfin Tuna: The best months are January and from May to September.
  • Wahoo: The best months are January and from May to September, while October is less favorable.
  • Snapper: Optimal months range from May to July, with less activity in October and November.
  • Roosterfish: December to June are excellent months for fishing, with October being the least active period, although the rest of the year is also favorable.

For fly fishing for these types of species, charters are arranged, accompanied by a fly fishing guide.


8- GULF OF NICOYA

The Gulf of Nicoya, located on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, is famous for its stunning natural landscapes and rich marine biodiversity, making it an ideal destination for wildlife observation and fly fishing.

This destination is well-known for its opportunities for offshore fishing of blue and black marlin, sailfish, dorado, wahoo, and yellowfin tuna. Fly fishing for these large fish can be alternated with fishing near the reefs and islands near the Gulf, where jacks, snappers, groupers, mackerel, and the famous roosterfish can be caught.

Fishing is conducted from a chartered boat accompanied by a fly fishing guide. To access the fishing areas, you need to travel more than 20 miles from the port. Generally, the motor is used until surface activity of yellowfin tuna is found. Also, debris such as trash, wood, and other floating items are sought where large fish often lurk, camouflaging themselves from their prey.

Our fishing trips in the Gulf of Nicoya range from San Lucas Island to Chira Island. For these offshore trips, it’s essential to bring sunglasses, sunscreen, and swimwear.

9- SAN JUAN RIVER

The San Juan River, of considerable length, acts as a natural border between Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Its origin lies in Lake Nicaragua (Cocibolca), ultimately flowing into the Caribbean Sea. During the period of the Sandinista Revolution in Nicaragua, fishing in this river was restricted.

However, following these events, the San Juan River emerged as a prominent fishing destination, especially for tarpon fishing. Specimens weighing up to 300 pounds have been recorded. Currently, obtaining a special permit is necessary to fish in these waters, as the activity is subject to strict regulations that include catch and release fishing practices.

The ideal months for tarpon fishing during the peak fall season are September and November, while in the peak spring season, the best months are March, April, May, and early June. In addition to tarpon, anglers can enjoy catching other species such as snook, rainbow bass, and machaca.

10- Family Fishing Theme Parks: Tilapia Park and Truchas San Pablo

Tilapia Park, located in Turrucares de Alajuela, less than an hour from San José, is a theme park focused on the breeding and exhibition of tilapia, a freshwater fish. In addition to learning about tilapia breeding, visitors can participate in fishing activities. The park also offers natural trails, picnic areas, restaurants, and gift shops, providing an educational and recreational experience related to aquatic life and aquaculture in Costa Rica.

On the other hand, Truchas San Pablo, located on the Tabarcia River, is not only dedicated to the production and sale of trout but also offers tourist experiences of sport fishing on the Tabarcia River.

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