San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

After rainy season, look for sailfish, mahimahi

Tropical Storm Tomás dumped heavy rain on Costa Rica for a week, causing flooding, damage and loss of life. Not many anglers were out in the bad weather, but once it let up, the fishing was good despite the less than ideal conditions offshore.

Petra Schoep of Tamarindo Sportfishing, on the northern Pacific coast, reported that the guys on the Talking Fish took out Dean Coxen and friends from Calgary, Alberta, and they released two big roosterfish, two big cubera snapper and two amberjack.


In Memoriam: Jerry “Bubba” Hallstrom, Tico Times fishing columnist since June 2008, died of a heart attack on Wednesday at his home in Esterillos on the Pacific Coast. He was 45 years old.

Mr. “Bubba” Hallstrom advised fishermen for years about lively hotspots and good fishing weather. This was the last column he wrote. 

On the central Pacific coast, Capt. James Smith and crew of the Dragin Fly out of Los Sueños went out after the rains and went six for nine on striped marlin, and added a couple of big mahimahi for the dinner table.

Capt. Alex Holdin on the La Manta in Quepos had a good day for mahimahi, catching 10 between 20 and 30 pounds.

Candyce Weir in Quepos reported that the No Limit went out two days and caught a marlin, three sailfish and 11 yellowfin tuna. The Blue Water III went offshore and did well on sailfish and mahimahi.

Down south, Capt. Bob Baker with Golfito Sportfishing said a group of clients visiting from the U.S. state of Texas were rewarded with calm seas, sunshine and a great day. They caught a black marlin, two mahimahi and a nice yellowfin tuna.

Over on the Caribbean coast, the folks at Río Colorado Lodge (see separate story on Page W5) had some anglers go for tarpon recently, and they averaged seven or eight hookups per day with a couple of releases. They also caught some jack and fat snook. The fat snook run should be good for the next couple of months.

Fishing out of Tortuga Lodge, Capt. Eddie Brown took an angler from Brazil out for a couple of days of tarpon fishing. They released four tarpon each day.

Set Sights on Sails, Mahi

Rainy season is almost over, and our best weather and best fishing is just around the corner. From now until the end of April, the main targets will be sailfish and mahimahi. The marlin are always around if you are lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, while the yellowfin tuna come and go in packs and can show up at any time.

Sailfish (pez vela)

The sailfish bite is above average year-round in Costa Rica, and almost all the fish are over 100 pounds. When the fishing is good, boats can raise 10 to 40 sailfish a day. When the fishing is slow, boats may raise three to 10 per day. The best months are normally December through April, but sailfish are caught in good numbers year-round.

Sailfish are generally caught 10 to 30 miles out while trolling ballyhoo with circle hooks. The “bait and switch” with a teaser and pitch bait is the most popular method, and the most fun when the fishing is hot. Sailfish can also be caught on live bait and on the fly. Always use circle hooks for sailfish, and please catch and release quickly.

Mahimahi (dorado)

Mahimahi fishing also is above average year-round in Costa Rica. The rainy season, June through October, is the best time to


Let the Sport Begin: Mahimahi and sailfish are the main targets for anglers on the Pacific coast during the high season. Courtesy of Jerry “Bubba” Hallstrom.

catch the five- to 15-pounders that congregate on the weed and trash lines closer inshore and in the gulf. The rest of the year, the bigger mahimahi are generally farther offshore in the “blue water” with the bait and the sailfish. Twenty- to 50-pound mahimahi are very common when fishing for sailfish, and 60- to 70-pound mahimahi are caught every month. We all believe there is a world record out there; a 70-pound mahimahi is only a month or two away from being a 90-pounder.

These fish are generally caught three to 30 miles out while trolling lures and ballyhoo with circle hooks. During the rainy season, troll the trash and current lines with lures and ballyhoo and cast light tackle jigs and small lures under logs, nets and larger items floating in the trash and current lines. During the sunny season, lots of big mahimahi are caught while fishing for sailfish, usually with a ballyhoo and a circle hook. Live bait and fly also will work for mahimahi.

Good luck to all the captains, crews and anglers in the upcoming high season.

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