Costa Rica Sailfish—Why Central America is Their Special Place

The Mysteries of the Oceans

Costa Rica sailfish are among the most beautiful fish in the ocean. 

Costa Rica sailfish feeding Luxurious Fishing Vacations 855-711-7773

Sailfish species are found throughout the world.  I have been very fortunate to travel to many incredible places and see many wondrous things.  I like to learn as much as I can about the oceans and their inhabitants.  Just one of many mysteries is how fish and whales disappear for months. They traverse thousands of miles of open oceans from spawning grounds to feeding grounds.  The humpback whales you see in Costa Rica swim about 14,000 miles a year from polar regions to the equator and back arriving in the same bays and straits each season.  There are some mysteries about Costa Rica sailfish, as there are with all fish and sea creatures, and science is helping us to understand and protect them.

Why Is Costa Rica Fishing Special?

The Costa Rica sailfish and marlin of course!  Search for “where most billfish are caught” and Costa Rica will always be at or near the top of the destinations.  More good news is Costa Rica is a safe country with a stable government and very protective of their marine and land eco systems.

Costa Rica Sailfish Jumping

I caught my first sailfish in Los Suenos and my second marlin on our recent hosted trip to Crocodile Bay.  Two new friends each caught their first sailfish on our boat and boy were they excited!   There is nothing quite like catching a billfish.  You troll through blue waters watching the teasers and lines for the sail.  The crew have spent their lives watching and almost always see the fish first.   The sailfish comes up behind the teaser and a bait is thrown just in front of it for the fish to strike.  Hopefully you “get the bite” and the fish begins to run and then after a few seconds you can start to reel.  There will be no doubt in your mind if you have “FISH ON! 

A nickname for the Costa Rica sailfish is The Ballerina of the Sea and you quickly see why as sailfish jumps and pirouettes on the water.   After a lot of work, in Costa Rica sailfish are brought along side the boat but not taken out of the water.  You get a great photo of a beautiful fish which is released and swims back to the deep.

Costa Rica Sailfish by boat

The Wind and Water

Our good friend Todd Staley, the director of fishing at Crocodile Bay, wrote an excellent article about Costa Rica sailfish in July 2015.  To paraphrase, the eastern Pacific Ocean overall has a low level of oxygen in the water.  Two of the great water currents in the Western Hemisphere make the water much healthier for sailfish near Costa Rica.  The Humboldt Current flows from Antarctica up the South America west coast.  This current is responsible for many marine ecosystems including those in the Galapagos Islands.    The California current of warm water flows from the United States down the western coast of Mexico.   The two currents bring oxygen rich water and meet off the coast of Costa Rica creating a relatively small area where sailfish concentrate.  

The strong winds that blow from the Gulf of Mexico and other parts of the Caribbean Sea across Central America also impact the sailfish.   The winds push the surface water offshore which brings oxygen depleted water to the surface.  The sailfish are forced into small areas of healthy water created by the currents in windless parts of the Central America coast including Costa Rica.   Different countries and regions of Central America have different peak fishing seasons due to these winds.   El Nino and La Nina weather events impact these winds and can change fishing conditions. 

Conserving Costa Rica Sailfish

Costa Rica was one of the first countries to focus on marine conservation.  There are many groups that continue to work tirelessly to protect billfish.  The Billfish Foundation was founded in 1986 to conserve billfish worldwide.  The Central America Billfish Association  conducts scientific research to contribute to billfish policy development for conservation in the eastern Pacific tropical ocean.   The Federacion Costarricense de Pesca (FECOP)  is the sport fishing lobby group in Costa Rica.  Formed in 2008, FECOP successfully stopped the international export of sailfish from Costa Rica.  The 2012 Billfish Conservation Act which prohibits the import of foreign-caught billfish for sale into the US was signed into law but has not been implemented as Congress attempts to clarify language in the bill.  Countries and the world realize the importance of these animals both in terms of the ecosystem and the local economies.  All billfish are catch and release where we fish.


Costa Rica Sailfish caught by Lisa Montgomery

Our Costa Rica Hosted Trips

We just came back from our hosted trip at Crocodile Bay—read all about it in this article

WLisa Costa Rica Sailfishe are going again in 2018 and would love to have you join us.  We are finalizing the dates now.  We will be posting more info, more photos, videos and stories from the trip in the coming weeks as well.  If you are ready for information about jumping aboard our hosted trip or would like a private trip for your group, give Lisa a shout at 855-711-7773.  We can’t wait to see you in Costa Rica next year!




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