The machaca fish is one of the most exciting freshwater game fish found in Central America. Actually a relative of the piranha, Machaca put up such a good fight and aerial display they have earned the nickname “mini tarpon.” Once hooked they’ll leap into the air several times in an attempt to throw your hook. Machaca fishing in Costa Rica is enjoyed floating down our jungle rivers or on the 33 sq. mile Lake Arenal.
Machaca are aggressive and territorial feeders, and although they’ll eat the occasional bug they are for the most part herbivores. Their impressive set of teeth are made for eating berries and cracking seed pods, not gripping or tearing flesh. Machaca have deep bellies and are mainly silver in color, though their heads will take on a darker or golden color. Most machaca fish are in the 3-6 lb range, but the world record was caught in 1991 near the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica and weighed in at nearly 10 lbs!
What do Machaca Eat?
Young machaca will eat whatever they can to survive – insects, larvae, leaves, or seeds. Once mature, machaca are mainly herbivores that feed on berries, fruit, and seeds that fall from trees into the water.
Best Ways to Catch Machaca
Machaca are aggressive surface feeders, which makes them a ton of fun to fish for on fly gear or light tackle spinning gear. They are extremely reactionary to fruits, seeds, and bugs falling into the water so they will actively take surface poppers almost any day. If the river waters are murky and brown from too much rain, sometimes a dark colored wooly bugger or streamer that gets deeper into the water column works best. Machaca are reactionary, so if they don’t hit your fly within the first 2-3 strips pick it up and cast again.
If you are fishing with light tackle spinning gear, machaca will hit small minnow and shad lures. This is more effective on Lake Arenal where the machaca tend to be bigger.
Where is the Best Machaca Fishing in Costa Rica
Machaca are found in fresh water rivers and lakes all over Central America from Mexico to Panama. They are typically found between 0 m and 600 meters elevation. Their population and quality rivers & lakes makes machaca fishing in Costa Rica the best option in Central America. While they are most often found in rivers, the biggest machaca seem to be pulled from Lake Arenal in Costa Rica. They are often found near river mouths and streams, or hiding from the sun under overhanging branches waiting for food to fall into the river. Because of their aggressive behavior and splash-happy responsiveness, machaca are a blast to fish for with surface poppers as well as fly fishing.
Machaca Fishing Packages
Below you can check out three sample packages to experience the best machaca fishing in Costa Rica. You can spend an entire week freshwater fishing in Costa Rica, or combine a few days floating down the jungle rivers with a few days fishing on the saltwater. Once you contact us we will customize your own private itinerary to include exactly what you want.