Caribbean Tarpon and Snook Fishing

Tarpon can be taken in any month of the year. The king of game fish journeys from saltwater into freshwater at will. They roam the warm inshore waters of the Caribbean Sea along the entire Eastern seaboard of Costa Rica as well as venture up the many rivers that flow to the coast. Tarpon commonly travel up the Rio Colorado into the Rio San Juan all the way to Lake Nicaragua. Fishing is more apt to change day to day rather than season to season. The fish are always present and current local weather conditions will play the major factor in what its feeding habits will be on any given day.

Tarpon are always present in the Caribbean and in the river and lagoon systems. The fish travel in huge schools on the ocean and in small pods or singles once they enter the fresh water, although in February, March, and April they occasionally school up in the lagoons. Large groups of tarpon begin entering the rivers in December and travel upstream for several months until they return to the ocean in May. There are also a few resident fish that for some reason choose to stay inside year round in the rivers and lagoons. Fishing is done on the main river in the holes behind the sandbars formed by the current changes near the river bends. Boats anchor in front of the dropoffs and work floating Rapalas or flies back in the holes.

Where to find Tarpon: Barra del Colorado Barra has the largest watershed on the Eastern seaboard. There are endless miles of creeks and lagoons and three river mouths within a twenty minute run in a boat. Also the Rio Colorado has the bulk of the water running out of Lake Nicaragua and is a highway for tarpon moving inside. The last pueblo before the Nicaraguan border, it has also less traffic than the areas near the canal that runs inside from Limon to the Barra. Parismina When the ocean is calm and fishing is done outside, Parismina is equally as good as Barra del Colorado or probably anywhere in the world to fish tarpon. On the days the breakers in the rivermouth don't allow a safe passage outside, the fishing can be tough. The smaller area to fish and the boat traffic headed to the nature lodges in Tortugero play into the fish count taken inside the river mouth. Tortuguero Although primarily visited by nature groups and known as a prime nesting sight for the green turtle, Tortuguero does have lodge operators that offer fishing. Most boats fishing tarpon out of Tortuguero generally head north towards Barra del Colorado looking for tarpon. The rocky bottom outside the Tortuguero river mouth makes it a good area for snook and cubera snapper as well as for holding king mackerel during the bi-annual migration.

Snook is a prized game fish in Costa Rica for a couple of reasons. One, they are an intelligent fish and there is a knack to fooling them into taking a bait. Two, when they hit the frying pan, they are a real treat to the taste buds. Snook move freely in and out of salt and fresh waters, making the angling possibilities for them almost endless. They are abundant at the rivermouths that run into the ocean and also can be found far up the rivers and creeks, miles from the ocean. Their habits are similar to the striped bass and are easily identified by their distinct black lateral line. Costa Rica has 8 different varieties of snook, 4 on the Pacific side and 4 on the Caribbean side.

Caribbean snook: The common snook is the largest and most sought after of the Carribean snook. Nearly all fishing on the Caribbean side is done with artificial baits with bucktail and plastic tail jigs are the most popular. Some of the biggest snook have been taken by accident while fishing for tarpon.
Fat snook: These feisty critters begin showing up in November and are taken through February. In December and January they are in schools of thousands. They are common from 2 to 8 lbs and average around 4 lbs. They are only found in bodies of water that eventually lead to Lake Nicaragua. Fat snook are taken by jigging, trolling and casting crankbaits.
Tarpon snook: They resemble the tarpon with their huge eye and anal fin. A smaller snook, usually 2 to 3 lbs., they make for great fun on ultralight tackle, easily caught within fresh hatches of shrimps because they often clear the water completely in their excitement to fill their bellies. Tarpon snook can be found in the main river channel as well as in the back lagoons and creeks. Small bucktail jigs or flies will fool them and they also make for great table fare. The locals refer to them as "cara seca" which means dry face. 
Swordspine snook: The smallest of the Caribbean snooks rarely going more than a pound and a half, the swordspine is readily identified by its huge first spine of the anal fin. The anal spine on a one pound swordspine is larger than the spine on a forty pound common snook.
They are usually caught by accident while fishing for other backwater exotics like guapote, mojarra and machaca. Small topwater plugs, jigs, and flies will aggravate them into striking.

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Call the Tico Travel sportfishing desk toll free 1-800-493-8426

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