Sailfish Fishing in Costa Rica
With extreme acrobatics and speed, the sailfish is an incredible fish. Known as the fastest fish in the ocean, sailfish can reach speeds of 50mph!
Once hooked, a sailfish will spend half the fight out of the water. Twisting and turning as you try to maintain tension on the line, the battle is both beautiful and hard.
The average weight of Pacific sailfish is between 75 and 100 pounds, and tough sails of over 100 pounds are quite common in Costa Rica. In fact, sailfish from Costa Rica’s Pacific coast have the world record at 221 pounds.
This trophy fish is on the wish list of almost every angler.
Luckily, sailfish are so abundant in Costa Rica that double digit release days are common on fishing trips. They often live in groups of two or three, so multiple hookups at the same time often occur.
The most outstanding feature about the sailfish is the sail-shaped dorsal fin. This tall dorsal fin helps coral bait fish and then their sword-like upper jaw is used to stun the bait once balled up.
The species is generally cobalt or navy-blue in color, but some sailfish have spots and show stripes when hunting.
This predator is a member of the billfish group, and its upper jaw extends two to three times the length of its bottom jaw to form a spear used to stun fish when hunting.
How to Catch Sailfish
While there are many different ways to target sailfish, the most common practice is trolling rigged ballyhoo.
Here in Costa Rica, this is by far the most common and productive way to catch sailfish. You can also use live bait for them. Fly fishing for sailfish has become very popular in Costa Rica, and is the ultimate challenge for anglers.
With healthy numbers of fish found during peak season, getting multiple shots per day by fly is not uncommon.
Where to go for Sailfish?
Costa Rica’s Pacific coast is by far the best destination for sailfish.
These migratory fish are found year-round in Costa Rica, but certain times of the year are better in different parts of the country. Sailfish prefer warm, tropical waters, which is why Costa Rica has so many of them.
Though they do inhabit shallow waters at times, sailfish are most often found in deep water past the continental shelf. This is why deep sea fishing and targeting FADs are the best ways to target them.
When is the Best Time to Catch Sailfish in Costa Rica?
Sailfish are caught every month of the year here in Costa Rica.
The best months for sails in the southern and Central Pacific regions of Costa Rica are late November to May. This includes the areas of Jaco, Manuel Antonio, and the Osa Peninsula.
This is the time of year when they are so abundant that having double digit releases is a common feat.
In Guanacaste on the northern Pacific coast, the best months for sailfish are from May to November.
Sailfish are one the most beautiful and challenging species an angler can target in Costa Rica. If you want more advice or want to ask any questions, contact us and we’ll gladly help!