Fishing in Nosara: fish you might catch

The Fish Species of the Nosara Coastline

Did you know that the waters that surround the Guanacaste peninsula are regarded as some of the best fishing on the entire planet? The reasons for Guanacaste’s reputation as such a hallowed fishing ground vary. However, the main reasons include hemispheric drift (the waters where the two hemispheres meet), a rich array of bacteria and tiny carbon based life forms, and a unique topography where shallow water intersects suddenly with very deep water. Consequently, Nosara is one of the very few places in the world where landing the fish of your dreams, without having to travel too far offshore is more than possible – it’s entirely probable.

Here is a guide to the many species of fish you may be lucky enough to catch on one of the many ocean fishing charters that leave Nosara daily.


Fishing in Nosara Costa RicaOften referred to as either  Dorado, Mahi-Mahi, or Dolphin fish these strong, agile, beaked fish are known for putting up a strong fight. The best time to fish for them is in rainy, or ‘green’ season when the excess water coming from the rivers carries a flow of debris offshore, and creates a trash build up that dorado inhabit in search of food. This fish has a reputation as an exciting fish to catch and is best caught using relatively light tackle. Although their colors range from iridescent blue and yellow, once removed from the water their color gradually fades into a grayish light yellow. Male dorado, also known as ‘bulls’ have a distinctive body culminating in the streamlined forehead which allows them to move with such speed. Females are generally smaller, and can be identified by a less defined, more well rounded forehead. Although dorados have been caught weighing up to 55 pounds, and measuring upwards of six feet they are generally a little smaller. Dorados are very common off the Nosara coastline, making them a popular choice with many of the restaurants and seafood vendors in the local area.


Snook fish in Nosara Costa RicaAlthough these fish mainly inhabit tidal estuaries, tributaries, and river mouths they can occasionally be caught a little further offshore. Snook are common all year round and are ambush predators who take advantage of murky waters to lie in wait for smaller fish to come along. They can be caught on a variety of tackle, however, most snook fishermen prefer rapallas and jigs, or live bait such as sardines and mullet. Due to the fact that snook are rarely hunted by offshore fishing boats it is unlikely they will be featured on the local restaurant menus. If you’re looking for a snook for the dinner table then the best place to find them may be to approach one of the local fishermen.



Fishing roosterfish in Nosara Costa RicaRooster fish are extremely common on the Guanacaste coastline. Although they are not commonly thought of as  good eating, they are often sought out as a a catch and release sport fish. The rooster fish takes its name from the distinctive, large, fan like fin  behind it’s head. Upon being hooked, the Rooster fish will raise this fin high. The best place to find Rooster fish is at relatively shallow inshore depths. The terrain they inhabit ranges from reefs, rock formations and sandy bottoms, where they spend their time hunting for smaller fish. Although rooster fish can be caught with a range of different lures, they are particularly attracted to live bait.



Fishing in Nosara Costa RicaFirstly, in comparison to the other species of fish inhabiting the Guanacaste coastline the chances of catching a wahoo are slim. However, if you actually manage to snag one you’ll understand why these guys are so prized by both sport fishermen, and restaurants. Wahoo are streamlined, agile, and as well as being one of the fastest fish in the ocean they also have a reputation for being fierce fighters who don’t know when to quit. Wahoo travel in small schools, and they’re preferred habitat ranges from rocky points to open ocean. Like dorado, they are most commonly caught during rainy season. Their colors are dark blue, with a colorful green-blue back, with a series of black tiger stripe patterns running the length of their body. Ask any local fishermen and they’ll tell you that wahoo are as delicious as they are difficult to catch.



Snapper fish in Nosara Costa RicaSnapper come in a range of different sub-species, however the most famous of these are the Dog Tooth Snapper (large, powerful, excellent fighters) and the Pargo, also known as the Cubera, or the Red Snapper. These fish can be caught all year round, In addition, they’re abundant numbers and delicious flavor  make them extremely popular with local restaurants. Most snapper can be caught in relatively shallow water using bottom fishing techniques. Snapper are good sport fishing and

great eating.




Grouper Fish Nosara Costa RicaThere are many different types of grouper that inhabit the Guanacaste coastline. Although relatively cumbersome, their size and strength enables them to put up a powerful fight thus making them a prized target for sports fishermen. Additionally, their soft white flesh also makes them popular with restaurants and vendors around town. Grouper are usually found on rocky seabeds  in and around the shoreline at a depth of between 50-400 feet. They are attracted to a wide range of different tackle , but often prefer live bait such as Sardines and Ballyhoo.





Fishing in Nosara Costa RicaThere are several different species of jacks inhabiting the Guanacaste waters. The most common include Jack Crevelles, Horse-eye Jacks and Trevally’s. Although not highly prized for eating, they are large, strong, agile and highly sought after by sport fishermen for their tendency to put up a noble fight. The largest jacks may weigh anything up to 50 pounds, and can be caught on light tackle, live bait, jigs, poppers, or lures. . These fish are voracious predators and are most commonly found in shallow waters, often near floating objects.




Fishing in Nosara Costa RicaWhen you think of true sport fishing it’s pretty much guaranteed that the first thing that pops to mind will be will be on of these huge, graceful, and insanely powerful species of sailfish, the most famous example of which is the Marlin. Although these guys are extremely common off the coast of Nosara, the fact they inhabit deep offshore waters means they require traveling sometimes up to 20-30km from the shore to reach.  Although they can be caught year round, like many other species they most commonly appear during rainy season, through the months of May – November.

Whether it be sailfish, Blue Marlin, Black Marlin or Striped Marlin, these massive fish can put up a fight that can last many hours. When hooked, it’s often the case that the fishing pole gets passed around from angler to angler to share the physical burden of landing these fish. In addition to being massively powerful, they are known as a fish that despises being hooked, and have been known to perform a ‘death dive,’ meaning they will crash themselves into the ocean floor rather than be caught alive.

Although their colors are black, blue and purple, all sailfish have the ability to change color, and they are known to light up, and become particularly iridescent when hooked. It is thought this ability to alter their coloration serves as a means of communication between the species. Billfish, particularly marlin have been known to weigh in at upwards of 1000 pounds. Little wonder that these fish are considered the ultimate trophy for all fishermen. Billfish are strictly a catch and release species.

You already decided you want to fish while in Nosara? Here are some other activities for the rest of your trip!

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