I took this photo one of the first times I ever went sport fishing, when I was 26. The boat captain convinced me it would be a “great idea” to jump in the ocean with my waterproof camera as the first mate held this sail fish still for a photo. PROBABLY a bad idea considering I could have been impaled. Luckily I wasn’t, and I got a cool photo out of it! Totally worth it.

“Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all weekend.” — Popular Internet Proverb

Congratulations. If you’re in Costa Rica to catch a bill fish, then you’ve come to the right place.

The ocean stretching from Tamarindo down to Manuel Antonio, Quepos and on to the Osa Peninsula is undeniably home to some of the greatest sport fishing opportunities in the world. Thanks to this area’s close proximity to the continental shelf, boat captains don’t have to go very far offshore for deep sea catches.

Here is a list of the biggest and baddest major fish species here, along with some tips on when to catch them and how to say their names in Spanish.


Blue, black and striped marlin can be reeled in year-round, but you’re most likely to catch them January through March. Blue marlin can grow to be up to 14-feet long and weigh up to 2,000 lbs. You shouldn’t eat them because their populations are dwindling, and they are protected by Costa Rican law. Read this article about how to properly catch and release a fish! Marlin is “marlin” or “marlin azul” in Spanish.


Expect to find these beauties year round, with maximum numbers between January and July. These super fast fish can swim at speeds up to 68 miles per hour, and they love to jump high out of the water when they’re caught on the line. Sailfish is “pez vela” in Spanish.

Yellowfin Tuna

Yum. Tuna. Is. Delicious. You can eat it raw, sushi-style, right there on the boat with soy sauce for dipping. In Costa Rica one yellowfin tuna can weigh up to 300 pounds, so be prepared to share with your friends. Tuna is “atun” in Spanish (pronounced “ah-TOON”).

Mahi Mahi

Also known as dolphinfish, this weird-looking fish is one of the tastiest in the sea. They can be caught year-round in Tamarindo, and typically weigh around 40 pounds. Unfortunately, according to the ocean conservation group Sea Food Watch, most of the mahi mahi caught in Costa Rica is caught irresponsibly – with destructive long-line fishing methods. Thankfully, if you catch one sportfishing you have nothing to feel guilty about!

Mahi mahi is called “dorado” in Spanish (pronounced “door-AH-doe”).


Wahoo look a lot like barracuda, with their razor-sharp teeth and long bodies. These solo-traveling fish make for good eatin’, but are typically rare in the Tamarindo waters – so don’t get your hopes up too high. The word for wahoo is pretty much the same in Spanish, except it’s pronounced a bit more like “gwah-hoo.”


Roosterfish earn their name because of their unique, rooster-like appearance. These delicious specimens, called “gallos” in Spanish, are mainly fished inshore – close to rocky outcroppings and river mouths. (Gallo is pronounced “Guy-YO”).




4Snappers are prolific in Tamarindo – and another finger-licking fish to bring home for dinner. There are several different species of snapper in this area, but the cubera snapper is one of the most sought-after. Snapper is “pargo” in Spanish.


Snook is primarily a Caribbean fish, so you’re not as likely to find one here on the west coast. However, they do inhabit the brackish estuary waters and mangroves along Costa Rica’s Pacific. Snook is “robalo” in Spanish (pronounced “ROW-ball-oh”).

By: Genna Marie

Photo Credits:Genna Marie of Tamarindo Family Photos