By now it’s no secret that Costa Rica is home to some of the best sport fishing in the entire world. Countless TV shows and magazines have documented the incredible inshore and offshore action, it hosts several international fishing tournaments every year, including the huge Offshore World Championship, and it’s been nicknamed ‘the billfish capital of the world’ for its incredible year-round billfish bite. Anglers have been traveling to fish Costa Rica’s coastlines for three decades, but many first or second time visitors still need to ask “when is the best time to fish in Costa Rica?“. We’re here to help explain Costa Rican weather and fishing seasons, and our Costa Rica Fishing Calendar below will give you an overview of which species will be at it’s peak depending on which part of the country you visit and what month of the year you are here.
Costa Rica has two weather seasons: the dry season, which runs from December through April, and the green season, which runs from May through November. On the Pacific Coast where all the incredible inshore and offshore action takes place, there are two fishing seasons that mirror those exact same weather patterns. The dry season, or summer as it’s called here, is considered the traditional ‘peak billfish season’. During the months of December through April the fishing is best along our Central and Southern sections of the Pacific Coast and when we see the biggest numbers of billfish. For that reason the fishing hot spots like Los Sueños and Quepos host all their major billfish tournaments between January and April every year. While it’s hot and sunny in northern Costa Rica as well, they get very strong seasonal winds this time of year known as the ‘Papagayo Winds‘ or ‘Christmas Winds‘ which makes the ocean pretty rough most afternoons and the fishing much slower than in the south. To better understand the science behind this, you can read our blog about Costa Rica’s peak fishing season. Without any doubt, for anglers targeting billfish the best time of year is December through April and the place to be is either the famous Los Sueños Resort & Marina or the popular fishing town of Quepos an hour farther south.
The green season arrives once the afternoon rains start in May. When this happens the fishing shifts from southern Costa Rica to northern Costa Rica as the strong winds up north die down, the fish have more room to spread out, and the southern part of the country receives the most rainfall. Many people incorrectly assume that if it’s not ‘peak billfish season’ the fishing must be slow, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. The months of May-Nov still offer plenty of sailfish, a second season for marlin, and it’s the peak time of year for anglers who like variety as we see more dorado, tuna, and wahoo offshore. It’s also the peak season for meatfish like snapper and grouper along with the aforementioned pelagics, so for all those anglers who want to cook what they catch or freeze fillets and bring them home, that is the most productive time of year. While the fishing remains productive around Los Sueños and Quepos through July most years, historically the weather and the fishing tends to be better this time of year up north in the Guanacaste region. This is the hottest and driest part of Costa Rica so even in the green season they receive very little rainfall. It’s also the further west point of Costa Rica, so the run times to the fishing grounds are usually much shorter here and the inshore fishing is fantastic with several islands and reefs. Referencing the Costa Rica Fishing Calendar above, you can see the best months to fish the Guanacaste region are May through September.
Over on the Caribbean Coast there is an entirely different weather pattern. The Caribbean basically has two dry seasons and two wet seasons, so knowing when to go tarpon fishing in Costa Rica is of the utmost importance. The first season is mid-Jan to mid-May as more often than not the weather is hot and sunny. Because it’s winter in North America, the Caribbean Coast can be affected by cold fronts which blow down through the Gulf of Mexico and make things windy and rainy for 2-3 days at a time. That is most common in January and early February, while March and April tend to be the hottest and driest months. During the months of June through August the Caribbean Coast receives a lot of rain and big storms, so even though the fish are there it simply isn’t very inviting fishing conditions. On the Pacific Coast and in the Central Valley, the months of September and October are the peak of the rainy season and historically the wettest months of the year. However on the Caribbean it’s a cause for celebration because that is their dry season so more often than not the weather is hot and sunny and the seas are glass calm – which is why we call it our peak tarpon season.
As a reminder, this Costa Rica Fishing Calendar is a general guideline based on traditional weather and fishing patterns. Every year is slightly different here based on ocean currents, ocean temps, and baitfish – but the good news is no matter what time of year you want to fish in Costa Rica there will be something to catch!