San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Good news, bad news for Costa Rica anglers

This week’s fishing news can be divided into the good, the bad and the ugly.

The Good

The University of Costa Rica’s Ocean Sciences and Limnology Research Center (CIMAR) has launched a website that could be a handy tool for anglers and surfers alike. 

The Oceanographic Information Module site, at, puts in one place tools used by many fishermen to plan their trips. A few quick clicks gets you valuable information on tides, surface temperatures and currents, as well as a weekly forecast for wave activity along both Pacific and Caribbean coasts. The only suggestion I would make is for CIMAR to add moon phases, because certain species react differently according to the moon. The site is in Spanish, but a click will get it translated for you. 

Enrique Ramírez, executive director of the Costa Rican Tourist Fishing Federation (FECOPT), has proposed a study on more sustainable fishing methods involving participation from various groups.

Many times, different nongovernmental and environmental groups are working on similar projects, but have no communication among themselves to share information. Ramírez believes that by working together, groups can work toward common goals more efficiently and at lower costs.

Groups like FECOPT and conservation organizations MarViva and Pretoma have expressed interest in working with the Costa Rican commercial longline fleet to test the effectiveness of “green sticks” as an alternative and more sustainable method of fishing. Green sticks enable vessels to fish more selectively and have worked well for fishermen in North Carolina and along the Atlantic coast of the U.S. 

Ramírez has tentatively scheduled a workshop for Nov. 29 at the Club Amateur de Pesca in western San José’s La Sabana neighborhood. Groups interested in participating or fishermen with prior experience with green sticks are invited to contact Ramírez by writing him at

The Bad

The cost of fishing is going up in Costa Rica for the sportfishing sector. According to the Costa Rican Fisheries Institute (Incopesca), the price hikes are related to the cost of administrating the fishing license system, and will go into effect Jan. 1 as follows. 

Nonresidents will now pay $30 for an annual fishing license. The lower-cost monthly license will be eliminated, forcing tourists to buy the more expensive annual license. Fees for nationally registered boats will also increase; boats under 10 meters long will pay a yearly fee of $360, boats 10-15 meters will pay $580, boats 15-20 meters $850, and boats over 20 meters $1,100. Foreign-registered boats that come to Costa Rica to sport-fish will pay a fee of $330 regardless of size for a three-month license.

Also in the news is a proposal to start using the tourist dock in the Pacific port of Puntarenas to ease the load of the nearby Caldera port, which is not able to handle the amount of cargo traffic it is receiving. The Puntarenas pier is used by cruise ships six months of the year, and many Costa Rican families use it as a place to relax and do a little fishing. Opponents to the proposal claim the dock is already in poor condition and the excess traffic will further damage the structure, and prohibit the public from having access to a popular facility.

The Ugly

There doesn’t seem to be any quick fix for the shark-finning controversy here. Meetings between conservation groups and both President Laura Chinchilla and Environment Minister René Castro have resulted in only the formation of commissions to look into the problem. Meanwhile, shark populations are down 90 percent worldwide, according to the international Shark Research Institute, and the incidental bycatch of shark-finning boats can be 20-30 percent billfish.

Fishing Report, Nov. 24

It couldn’t last forever, could it? After endless reports of fabulous tarpon fishing on the Caribbean coast, the ocean kicked up, keeping anglers inside the river mouth, and dirty water from the rains brought tarpon fishing to a screeching halt. According to Capt. Eddie Brown, some calba (fat snook) are being taken inside. The sun returned Wednesday, and fishing should return to normal soon.

If you want to fish on the Pacific, just throw a dart at the map to pick your spot. There is action all along the coast. Richard Chellemi on the Gamefisher II reports there are still a number of sails and marlin up in the Guanacaste region. Mike Ryals out of Florida went five for eight on sailfish and added a couple of dorado and yellowfin tuna to the catch.

Los Sueños, Quepos, Drake Bay and Puerto Jiménez all report the sail and marlin action has improved, as well as the dorado bite. A trash line just north of Drake Bay produced lots of dorado, and marlin are coming into the spread daily farther south.

Todd Staley is the fishing manager at Crocodile Bay Resort in Puerto Jiménez, on southwestern Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula. Skippers, operators and anglers are invited to email fishing reports by Wednesday of each week to To post reports and photos on The Tico Times’ online fishing forum, go to

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