Fishing in Costa Rica


Both tarpon and snook can be taken any month of the year, and the Rio Colorado Lodge is the only fishing resort in the area that remains open year around. But like fishing anywhere, there are never any guarantees, and at certain times of the year chances of scoring big are greater than others. The dry season, from January through May, is considered the peak season in the quiet river and lagoons for tarpon as the aerial acrobats swarm in by the thousands to spawn. We have also had some outstanding sport as late as July and early August on the inside, but in the fall the sea is calm and the fish move to the ocean, providing prime action along the coast. In other words, the fishing is good year around.

The snook are also present year around in the waters of the Rio Colorado Lodge, and are taken casting, trolling, surf fishing and even on flies. Small snook, called "calba" move into the rivers in November-December and provide furious action for two to three months, with 20 to 80 fish per rod not an unusual day's catch. They average about five pounds, so light tackle is in order. But beware! There are always a few up to 30 pounds mixed in with the smaller calba. The best surf fishing and trolling in the waters near the river mouths is in the late fall, and that's when the monsters from 25 pounds on up are usually caught. You're also likely to tie into a big jack crevalle, bonita dorado or mackerel while fishing in the sea.

Light tackle gamesters including guapote, mojarra, machaca, and drum are taken in the rivers, creeks and estuaries 12 months of the year, so don't forget a light bait casting or spinning outfit.


These are the king of all game fish, and there is no thrill in fishing to compare with hooking a tarpon. Set the hook hard when they strike, then watch the water erupt as they head for the stratosphere, leaping and twisting clear of the water eight or twelve times! Average size of the tarpon taken at the Rio Colorado Lodge is around 80 pounds and fish to 207 pounds have been brought to gaff. You can expect to jump eight or ten fish a day, and when things are really hot, anglers often jump 25 or more tarpon in a day's fishing. Only artificial lures are used, and all of the fish are lip-gaffed so they can be released after the photos have been taken.

Most of the action will be in the calm waters of the jungle rivers and lagoons, with monkeys and brilliantly hued birds to be seen in the vines and branches of the verdant, orchid draped trees that line the shore. When the fish are on the outside, your guide will often put you in the middle of a school of literally hundreds of leaping fish spreading over an acre or more of calm sea.


You will troll along the banks of the quiet jungle river or drift silently into a likely lagoon, plugging toward the brush. When the snook hits, you'll know you have a real fish on the line as these sluggers know all the tricks, one moment bulldozing toward cover, then often reversing their field to break water as they try to shake barbs. Except during the calba runs, the average snook of close to 20 pounds. Thirty-pounders are not uncommon, and fish in the 50 pound bracket have been taken locally.

Hooking a snook in the surf as you stand waist deep in the warm waters of the Caribbean is an experience you won't soon forget, especially since the fish in the surf tend to run much larger. They will circle and jump frantically, using the surge of the tide and waves to their advantage and testing the angler's skill to the limit.


If you should tire of wrestling lunker tarpon and snook all day you may elect to spend an hour or two in the late afternoon finessing guapote, mojarra or machaca along the shoreline near the lodge. The guapote fights for all the world like a black bass, and may run to 12 pounds, although the average size is probably closer to three pounds. The mojarra looks much like a huge bluegill, except the colors are more brilliant and they frequently run one to two pounds or more, and will hit voraciously on small trout spinners or flies. Machaca have been called "miniature tarpon" because of their propensity for aerial acrobatics. They will average four pounds, and nine-pounders have been weighed in at the Lodge. Try working a surface lure or popper close to the bank, then watch the water explode! Drum feed in the estuaries and lagoons near the river mouths and will take small spinners, bucktails or plastic-tailed lures bumped along the bottom. In the evening, you can catch big catfish right from the boat dock. All but the machaca provide excellent table fare.


For both tarpon and snook, we recommend a six to seven foot rod, stiff enough to set a hook in the tarpon's bony mouth, and a quality conventional or spinning reel spooled with 150 to 200 yards of 12 to 25 pound test line. A lighter bass outfit or spinning rod spooled with 6 to 12 pound line is suggested for small snook and light tackle gamesters, and a little longer rod is more suitable for fishing in the surf. The Lodge maintains quality loaner equipment if a visitor should be caught short.

Favored lures for tarpon fishing inside the river are floating Rapala Magnum 11 Series 14 in orange, red/white or silver and green mackerel colors. The same colors in Rapala Super ShadRap work well in the rivermouth as well.Two ounce Sea Hawk lures are used in the deeper holes and 65M-11 Mirrolures are used when the fish are in the lagoons.

In the Caribbean tarpon will readily take a variety of lures with jigs being the most popular. Jigs should be one to two ounces with a strong short-shank hook. Popular jigs are Bomber 1 to 1 1/2 ounce in white, green or yellow and 12 Fathom Shad Tail Jigs. Sea Hawk and 65M-11 Mirrolures also work well. CD, CD11 or CD 14 Diving Rapalas can be slow trolled in the ocean for tarpon jack crevalle, or an occasional king mackerel or barracuda.

Snook prefer jigs in the surf and lures inside the river. Bucktail or shad tail 3/4 ounce jigs work best when casting. Bomber 600HD series in fluorescent orange or green and Magnum 11 series Rapalas are trolled inside the rivermouths for snook. During the calba run 1/2 to 3/4 ounce black/red bucktail jigs are the most productive. For casting in the lagoons, 7M model floating Mirrolures or similar lures are the best bet. Chartreuse or black/silver are productive colors.

A selection of "small" bass plugs and spinners including surface poppers and medium runners are effective for guapote, mojarra, machaca, drum and other light tackle gamester. Rooster tails, Rebel Teeny Crawfish and small floater/diver Rapalas are the favored lures. Hooks for all types of fishing should be very sharp, so take a file to the barbs ahead of time.

All these lures are available at our tackle shop but due to import duties they may be slightly higher than you can find them in your local tackle store or through one of the many mail order tackle companies.


We provide you with the comfort of 23 ft. fiberglass boats with unsinkable flotation, powered byNEW 90 HP, 4 stroke motors. Each boat has a center console, and two very comfortable fighting chairs with rod holders and U.S.C.G. approved safety equipment. Our entire fleet has fish finders, compasses and radios for maintaining contact with the Lodge and the other boats. Unquestionably, we have the finest, safest fleet of the best equipped boats on the Caribbean coast. Your boat will be stocked with a cooler and cold beverages included in the delux package, and you will be charged for the beverages consumed at a reasonable price.

Our English speaking guides were born and raised in the area of the Lodge and are expert fishermen. They know every hole and riffle in the area. As you spend time with your guide, you'll believe he "thinks like a fish."


Fly fishing for tarpon at Rio Colorado Lodge has very little resemblance to the Florida Keys or Belize.

Tackle: Recommend 12/13 weight rods and reels that hold at least 300 yards of 30lb. test backing. Bring a number of lead core shooting heads ranging from 450 grain to a deep water express (700 grain). Suggest one piece fly line called deep sea density compensated. In the rivers and lagoons where you'll be fishing in 6-10 feet of water, the 450 grain lead core head should be adequate. However, in the ocean with tarpon running at depths of 20 feet or more, the 700-850 grain heads are essential. Also, pack 18 to 20 shock leaders, 20 test class tippets allow you to land and release more lively, less damaged tarpon.

Flies: Come well equipped with flies that are traditionally used in deep and murky water. Tie a variety of "whistler" patterns in various combinations of colors. You might want to use the largest weighted eyes you can find.

In the River: Try a version of a black and red whistler. Tie a strip of black rabbit fur in place of the black wing feathers. The rabbit fur seems to give the fly a real "lively" look. You may use the traditional black & red whistler. Whistler patterns also work well tied in purple and red patterns. You might try using purple rabbit fur on those.

In the Lagoons and Ocean: In the lagoons try a large (5/0 hooks) deceiver pattern, tied in white and green and white and blue dressed with a little iridescent mylar. In the ocean try a moderate size (6 inches) sailfish fly. Also try a single rather than tandem hook tied with a number of blue and white and red and white patterns.

For more general information and to make reservations call 1 800 243-9777. We're anxious to assist you in a great fishing experience!

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