The target and prize of most serious in-shore fisherman, the roosterfish is one of Costa Rica’s most sought after species. Once hooked, this brazen and macho fish will try, and actually might be able, to out muscle you. Commonly found around rocky outcrops and islands, they are also caught hunting right behind the surf. Roosters can be hooked with poppers and spinners, though they go crazy for live bait. While the average is about 30-40 lbs, roosters over 50 lbs are common and over 80 lbs are a treat.
DESCRIPTION: The roosterfish is as popular for its fighting ability as it is photogenic. The trademark comb-like dorsal fin is it’s most unique trait, while the two dark blue bands along its sides add to its style points. Part of the drum family, it has a sloping forehead and a very strong, bone-like jaw. Almost strictly catch and release, the rooster makes for a much better picture than a meal.
FEEDING HABITS: The roosterfish is most definitely a predatory species, feeding on smaller reef fish and juvenile fish. Most commonly caught using live bait like lookdowns, rainbow runners, or mullet fish, they have also been known to hit surface poppers and even flies. They are typically found hunting near rocky islands and behind the surf line.
SIZE: Most roosterfish in Costa Rica are in the 20-40 lb range, but roosterfish over 50 lbs are very common and are caught every month. A few monsters over 80 lbs are typically landed every year as well. The world record is 114 lbs, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that gets broken in Costa Rica waters sometime soon.
WHERE FOUND IN COSTA RICA: Roosterfish are only found in the Pacific Ocean from Southern California to the coast of Ecuador. They are an in-shore species, so they are rarely found at a depth greater than 200 ft. Most commonly they are found near the rocky islands, reefs, and pinnacles off the coast, but they can also be taken surf casting.
BEST MONTHS: Roosterfish are caught all year round in Costa Rica, they don’t really have a season. They are caught from southern to northern Costa Rica throughout the entire year, so as long as you have live bait you are off to a good start. Typically the slowest months are September and October, and that is comparing it to the peak season (Jan-April) when you might catch 7 roosterfish in just a half day of work!