Sailfish: Catching and Understanding Sailfish Fishing in Costa Rica 2023

The Sailfish is considered the fastest apex predator you can catch in Costa Rica, reaching speeds of up to 70 mph. This incredibly quick and elusive fish is prize catch for anglers in Costa Rica.

If you are looking to catch Sailfish in Costa Rica, but don’t want to worry about choosing the perfect location or getting the right equipment, book a Sailfish fish charter trip with Capullo Sportfishing Charter, located in Guanacaste Province, Costa Rica

For more information call: +1 506-8569-3516

 From US or Canada you have to dial +11 506 8569 3516

Table of Contents

What is a Sailfish fish?

The Sailfish is a member of the billfish family, characterized by its long, slender body and a distinctive sail-like dorsal fin. Found in the warmer waters of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans, it’s commonly referred to as “Pez Vela” in Spanish. It’s crucial to distinguish the Sailfish from the Atlantic Sailfish, which is a different species.


What does a Sailfish fish look like?

The Sailfish possesses a sleek, streamlined body with large, round eyes that provide excellent vision. Its scales are small and embedded, giving it a smooth appearance. It is dark blue above, brownish laterally, and silvery below, with about twenty bars on the sides made up of bright blue spots when excited. The sail-like dorsal fin, stretching almost the entire length of its back, is its most prominent feature.


What is the size of a Sailfish?

Sailfish are among the ocean’s giants. They typically range between 5.7 to 11 feet in length and weigh from 120 to 220 pounds. Off Costa Rica, they usually weigh between 50-100 lbs. The largest Sailfish ever recorded tipped the scales at over 220 pounds.


Where can Sailfish fish be caught?

Sailfish thrive in the tropical and temperate waters of the Pacific and Indian oceans. In Costa Rica, most Sailfish are caught in the 90-200 foot depth range. They often approach continental coasts, islands, and reefs, exhibiting both epipelagic and oceanic tendencies.

What are the best places to catch Sailfish in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica’s Pacific coast, especially regions like Quepos, Guanacaste, and the Osa Peninsula, are prime Sailfish territories. They are predominantly found in deep-sea areas, often 10-20 miles offshore.


Do you need a boat to catch Sailfish fish in Costa Rica?

Absolutely. Due to their offshore habitat, a boat is essential for Sailfish fishing. In Costa Rica, even a small 20-foot center console can suffice. Charter services are available for those without their own vessel, and for the adventurous, kayak fishing is an option.


What is the best time to catch Sailfish in Costa Rica?

The prime season for Sailfish in Costa Rica spans from December to April. Early mornings and late afternoons are optimal, with overcast conditions being particularly favorable.


How to catch a Sailfish?

Various techniques, including fly fishing, jigging, long-range fishing, and others, can be employed. In Costa Rica, drifting with flat lines is a popular method. The chosen method often hinges on the angler’s preference and prevailing local conditions.


What bait to use to catch a Sailfish?

Sardines, anchovies, and mackerels are among the Sailfish’s preferred meals. In Costa Rica, live baits like goggle eyes and blue runners are most popular. Both live bait and artificial lures have proven effective.

What gear do you need to catch a Sailfish?

Essentials include a medium-heavy rod, reel with a quality drag, robust line, bait, tackle, hooks, and potentially a fighting chair and harness. In Costa Rica, a 20-30 lb line is recommended. While the equipment can be pricey, chartering a boat equipped with all the necessities can be a more economical choice.

Do Sailfish have a strong pull when you hook them?

Indeed, Sailfish are renowned for their strength and agility, often putting up a vigorous fight, marked by repeated leaps and dives. They are incredibly fast, reaching speeds up to 70 mph.

What are the chances of catching a Sailfish fish in Costa Rica?

Given the right conditions and expertise, the chances are favorable, as Costa Rica is globally recognized for its Sailfish.

Does Costa Rica allow you to keep Sailfish fish once caught?

There is a catch & release policy in Costa Rica. Sailfish are not allowed to be kept & eaten

How to release Sailfish fish back into the water safely?

Minimize handling and employ tools like dehookers for safe hook removal. In Costa Rica, it’s recommended to wear gloves when handling the fish due to the sharp bill. If the fish seems fatigued, it should be revived in the water before release.

Capullo boats in Tamarindo.


How fast does a Sailfish swim? 

They can reach speeds up to 70 mph.

How long do Sailfish live for? 

Their average lifespan in the wild is about 4 years.

What do Sailfish eat? 

They primarily feed on schooling fishes and cephalopods.

Where do Sailfish breed? 

They breed in warmer, offshore waters of both the Pacific and Indian oceans.

Do Sailfish sleep? 

They have rest periods, but don’t sleep like humans.

Is Sailfish fish edible? 

Yes, but they’re more sought after as game fish.

Are Sailfish endangered?

They are fairly abundant and considered stable.

Is there a Sailfish fishing tournament in Costa Rica? 

Yes, several tournaments are held annually.

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