Fishing Northern Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast

Anglers fish for hard-hitting roosterfish and colorful dorado in the nearshore waters off the coastal village of Samara.
Fishing Northern Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast Dave Lewis /

The coastal village of Samara lies within the Guanacaste Province, Costa Rica.

samara costa rica
Guanacaste Province, Sámara, Costa Rica Courtesy Google Earth

A long, horseshoe-shaped beach rims the Pacific ocean. Large, aggressive roosterfish patrol just outside the surf break, while schools of dorado (mahimahi) cruise nearshore weed lines scavenging for their next meal. The village of Samara is home to a productive nearshore fishery allowing for a variety of sport fish to be targeted. In this galley, SF contributor Dave Lewis shares via photos an idea of what fishing can be like here with Samara Fishing charters, guided by local captain Adrien Martinez.

Strong, beautiful, and tasty. Mahi mahi may be the perfect game fish.

close up dorado mahi
Dorado Dave Lewis /

Launching the boat to start the day.

launching boat in surf costa rica
Samara beach Dave Lewis /

Mahi often school to feed on the small baits that take shelter under floating debris. A cast worked past this tree will smoke out any takers.

casting at floating debri for mahi dorado
A perfect cast. Dave Lewis /

At times, dozens of mahi surrounded the boat.

hooked mahi dorado
Mahi on a topwater lure Dave Lewis /

Classic roosterfish fishing — casting lures into the back of heavy Pacific swells as they roll onto the beach.

casting for roosterfish
Casting plugs Dave Lewis /

Want to see more topwater action? Check out 17 great tips in 17 images to help you catch more fish on poppers by Dave Lewis

Roosterfish clearly preferred pink poppers and lures over all the others.

Roosterfish eats pink plug
Roosterfish Dave Lewis /

The average-sized roosterfish was 10 to 20 pounds, but anglers caught fish up to 40 pounds and had follows from much larger fish.

nice roosterfish costa rica samara
Mid-sized roosterfish Dave Lewis /

A large whale shark that “hung around us for ages so I stripped off and dived in for a swim with him. He was totally unbothered by my presence: priceless!” says the photographer.

large whale shark
Whale shark Dave Lewis /

One of several small but deadly sea snakes we spotted swimming among the trash and debris of a weed line.

dangerous sea snake
Sea snake Dave Lewis /

It’s recommended that anglers fit even small casting jigs with decent assist hooks – as the saying goes; elephants eat peanuts.

small jig large assist hook
Large hooks and small jigs. Dave Lewis /

Many anglers consider Pacific bonito great for sushi.

look at those teeth
Look at those teeth! Dave Lewis /

Hang on tight when a fish with a mouthful of teeth gets out of hand, in this case a Sierra.

fish flipping in hands
Sierra juggling Dave Lewis /

After coming across a longline, the guide makes a point to remove it from the water since, in the photographer’s words, “The only good longline, is a dead one.”

Longline Dave Lewis /

“Why?” wonders the photographer. “Wherever I travel in the world always I find trash. Why do people find it so difficult to dispose of their trash responsibly?”

Hard to get away from human trashing of the planet Dave Lewis /

A breathtaking leap from a lit-up mahi.

jumping mahi
Jumping mahi Dave Lewis /

A turkey vulture basks in the sun on the Samara beach.

A turkey vulture Dave Lewis /