As Costa Rica moves into the Green Season that runs until November, we see the annual influx of larger yellowfin tunas and big dorados just waiting for fishing charters out of Los Suenos Marina. The upcoming months will also offer exceptional opportunities for snappers and roosters inshore.
True, it does rain more in Costa Rica from May to November, tapering off in mid-December. And, yes, some do call those seven-plus months the “Rainy Season.” But we’re not talking about more than half a year of constant downpours. On the contrary, on many days it doesn’t rain at all. And on the days that it does rain, especially along the Pacific coast, things usually start out with sunny mornings and then we see showers in the late afternoons for about an hour or two. So fishing charters usually aren’t all that affected. And on land, you’ll likely appreciate the intense green bloom brought on by the cooling rains, hence the more appropriate term “Green Season.”
As the Green Season kicks off, so too do our chances of hooking some outstanding dorado in the Central Pacific waters. Given to soaring leaps and sudden spurts of speed, these quick and colorful fish rarely fail to disappoint anglers looking for some serious action on the line. The excitement of the catch is only bested by how they fare on the table, with light flakey white meat that’s firm enough to hold up under grilling, and mild enough to match just about any seasoning.
While dorado are around all year long, from May to December is usually the best time to go after these migratory fish, often found in the 40 to 50-pound range and even bigger. The Green Season is particularly good as during this time they’re often found hanging out under the floating debris that gets swept out to sea by the seasonal rains.
Another year-round catch that picks up in density with the Green Season, yellowfin tuna is just now heading into its prime time that runs from May to October. Outside this period you´ll still come across yellowfins in our waters, though more often in the 30 to 60-pound range, with some up to 100 pounds here and there. But during the Green Season, you are more likely to come across them topping 100 pounds and even all the way up to 300 pounds.
As tunas are strong fighters, anglers particularly love going after them, especially the bigger ones we usually hook using live bait. The schools of tunas we see, often traveling with spinner dolphins, can be massive, with hundreds and even thousands of them navigating the ocean currents together. And as for taste, well from sushi to the grill, it doesn’t get much better than fresh-of-the-boat yellowfin.
There are lots of snappers in these parts, some more prevalent than others, from Spotted Rosy, Mullet, and Dog, to Yellow and Rock Snappers. But mostly when we’re after snappers it’s all about Cuberas and Red Snappers. While, yes, targeting the shallows and rocky reefs where the snappers reside isn’t big game fishing and doesn’t have the heart-pounding thrill of going after catches like marlin, there’s a lot to be said about hooking snappers. They’re tough fighters and show tremendous strength for their weight as they run for the bottom, with red snappers getting up to 80 pounds and some cuberas topping out at 100 pounds.
Snapper also makes for a wonderful meal, particularly red snapper with its subtly sweet and nutty flavor that lends itself well to both bold and mild seasoning without ever tasting “fishy.” With a firm but moist texture, it’s great for grilling and particularly loved pan-seared.
Now, sure, roosters can’t compare to snappers in the taste department. Roosterfish is an acquired taste that isn’t for all, with tougher meat and a stronger distinct flavor. But those who do put in on the dinner table usually go big when cooking, with generous portions of lime juice, salt, and cayenne pepper as they pan cook.
But going after roosters usually isn’t about the meal to come (many people release them) but the thrill of having them on the line. Once hooked, they initially make fierce runs with massive shows of strength that delight fishermen of all ability levels. With their distinct spines, roosterfish also make for some awesome photos once landed.