Snook Fishing Costa Rica: How To Catch Them & Where To Go

Snook are considered to be one the best-tasting fish and hardest fighting inshore fish…and one of the best places to catch them in the entire world is in Costa Rica.

In this guide, I’m going to tell you everything you need to know about snook fishing Costa Rica.

Not sure if you should DIY or book through a reputable snook charter?

Should you focus on the Caribbean side or the Pacific side?

What tackle should you pack for your trip?

What is the best time of year to go?

Don’t worry, I’m going to answer all of that and more!

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Table of Contents

Best Snook Fishing Locations in Costa Rica

Great snook fishing can be found all around Costa Rica and this is why so many anglers head here every year in search of these fish. There are, however, a few locations that tend to produce larger numbers and bigger fish than others.

Caribbean Side

On the Caribean side of Costa Rica, anglers will find large numbers of snook on the southern beaches of the country near Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge. Here you will find perfect beaches, shallows, and the Sixaola River that empties into the ocean. 

Moving further north, another great area on the Caribean side is in and around the Banano River and where it meets the sea. Remember, snook love brackish areas and the mouths of rivers like this are prime areas to find good numbers of fish.

Caribbean Side Costa Rica

Lastly, one of the major hotspots for snook is on the northern end of the Caribean side of the country in an area called Tortuguero. This is a national park and is located next to a wildlife refuge, meaning there are plenty of great areas to find snook. 

Pacific Side

On the Pacific side of the country, the best snook fishing can be found at the Terraba Sierpe National Wetlands in the Drake Bay area.

As the name implies, there are thousands of acres of wetlands that provide ample habitat and brackish waters for snook to hunt. 

Pacific Side Costa Rica

Another great snook location on the Pacific side is in an area called Samara. While the quiet little town looks more like a tourist location, there are two nearby rivers that empty into the ocean and the beaches are some of the best in the country.

This means plenty of snook to catch! 

Best Times of Year to Snook Fish in Costa Rica

On the Caribean coast, snook will be focused around river mouths and brackish wetlands within a similar timeframe of November to March. Their spawn, however, is a little later and will usually run in September and October. Any of these months can produce some excellent snook fishing. 

Snook can be fished for and caught all year round in Costa Rica, especially when fishing inland rivers and lakes in their freshwater homes. Optimal times to fish for snook will vary, however, on either side of the country.

On the Pacific coast, snook will group around the mouths of rivers and brackish wetlands from November to February. This, along with their spawning season in July and August, makes for some of the best times of year to go snook fishing. 

Snook Fishing Costa Rica: How To Catch Them & Where To Go

One of the best ways to be sure you are in the right spot at the right time is with a fishing charter or reputable guide.

This will give you access to an expert that will not only help you plan your trip but get you fishing right away in prime locations where the best fishing is found.

Local guides will almost always know where the fish are located.

How to Catch Snook in Costa Rica

Snook can be best caught on changing tides, particularly around a falling high tide near the mouths of large rivers and coastal shores.

These fish can live in both fresh and saltwater and are excellent predators where they are found. 

Popular methods of catching snook include using bright and flashy lures, trolling, and live bait like small fish, shrimp, and crabs. Using these methods, you can fish around bridges, piers, in the surf, or from a boat around the shores and rivers in Costa Rica. 

Using live mullet or pinfish to target big river snook is very popular with the locals…so don’t be afraid to ask them!

For example, during periods of low water (dry season) fish may be far upriver…

But during monsoon season and periods of high rain, fish may be stacked just off the beaches at the mouth of rivers and creeks.

Tackle & Gear

If your booking is through a fishing charter, they will provide fishing tackle, including rods, reels, and bait.

However, if you like me and want to use your own personal fishing rod here is what I recommend for snook fishing in costa rica:

  • 7 to 8 foot medium-heavy/heavy rod.
  • 5000 series spinning reel (or larger).
  • 50 lb test braid mainline.
  • 5/0-8/0 circle hooks for live bait.
  • Diving plugs, large bucktails, and topwater poppers for lures.

Note: The tackle I mentioned above should also be able to handle Tarpon or Roosterfish and Jack Crevalle, all of which you’re likely to encounter when targeting snook!

Snook Fishing Costa Rica: How To Catch Them & Where To Go

How Much Does it Cost to Go Fishing in Costa Rica?

Snook fishing in Costa Rica can be done as cheaply as buying a plane ticket, hotel, and a $15 fishing license. If you book a fishing charter or guide (which is recommended), it will cost you a little more. 

A full day of inshore fishing is done on smaller and lighter boats that will cost you around $500 to $700 a day, or sometimes even less. Don’t forget to bring a little extra cash to tip your fishing guides and cooks for their work after a long day of fishing. 

The actual price of your fishing vacation to Costa Rica will largely depend on how luxurious you want it to be. In general, a full day of offshore fishing will run for $1000 to $1500 or even more on the luxury yachts.

But because snook tend to stay inshore, they can be pursued for much less money.

You can also choose to stay in budget-friendly hotels and hostels instead of the giant resorts that are found across the country in order to save more money.

A fishing trip to Costa Rica can cost as much as you want, but it can also be done on tight budgets! 

Frequently Asked Questions

Do You Need a Fishing License in Costa Rica?

Yes, you will need a fishing license in Costa Rica regardless if you are a local or foreign angler.

License types include weekly, monthly, or yearly fishing licenses depending on your needs. These licenses can be bought through the Costa Rican Institute of Fishing and Aquaculture (Incopesca) or any of their offices once you arrive. 

Costs range from $17 for a weekly license to $56 for a yearly license, making your Costa Rican fishing license extremely affordable regardless of the duration of your fishing trip. 

What Other Kind of Fish Can You Catch in Costa Rica?

While Costa Rica is famous for its snook fishing, there are many other kinds of game fish that you can pursue.

Other popular fish species include dorado, yellowfin tuna, wahoo, roosterfish, snapper, tarpon, and grouper.

Popular freshwater species include guapote (rainbow bass), mojarra, and machaca (also known as mini tarpon). 

Is Snook Fishing Better on the Pacific or Caribean Side of Costa Rica?

Snook can be caught on both the Pacific and Caribean sides of Costa Rica, but larger numbers and better fishing reside on the Caribean side of the country.

Most anglers will focus their efforts on the Caribean side due to the larger population of fish and opportunity that exists. 

Snook fishing the beaches on the Pacific side of Costa Rica has been growing in popularity thanks to rising numbers of snook and less fishing pressure. While not as numerous, the snook on this side tend to be able to grow to some great sizes. 

Can You Keep Snook in Costa Rica?

Yes, you can keep any of the snook that you catch in Costa Rica. Snook are considered one of the tastiest fish in the ocean, and bag limits are very liberal.

You cannot, however, buy or sell any snook and must catch them yourself to eat. 

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