Fishing Playa Potrero

fishing costa rica

Playa Potrero, a quaint coastal town in Costa Rica’s northern Guanacaste region, has a long heritage of local fishing. It’s not surprising then, that fishing is one of Playa Potrero’s key attractions today. Avid sportfishermen from all around the globe come to the waters around Playa Potrero and its neighboring beach town, Playa Flamingo, to experience the thrill of the world class sportfishing here.

The fishing in Playa Potrero is seasonal where different species become the prominent catch, however the area is plentiful with resident fish all year round. So no matter when visitors drop their line they are sure to catch something that will exhilarate them. Whether it’s off-shore or deep sea, catching and releasing a photo-worthy billfish or reeling in a delicious tuna for dinner, fishing in Playa Potrero will not disappoint. Here is an overview of the fish species caught off the shores of Playa Potrero and the best time of year for fishing them.


Playa Potrero is most renowned for sailfish fishing. Visitors will see the iconic sailfish on the signage of many sportfishing tour companies here. This stunning billfish is not as big as its cousin, the marlin, but it does have the largest dorsal fin, one which looks like a sail. The highly desired sailfish is a catch-and-release species with tremendous fighting ability, weighing an average of 90-120 pounds. Sport fishermen should expect acrobatics from this fish both in the water and in the air. With local waters rich in live bait, the sailfish thrives year-round but migration patterns begin to increase their numbers here in December, leading to peak months from May to August. Although it is possible to reel in a sailfish in any month, charters in Playa Potrero report fewer catches in October and November.


Marlin is the largest billfish species, which makes it one of the world’s most thrilling catches. To experience the relentless strength of this enormous fish as it soars out of the ocean is surely unforgettable for any sportfishing enthusiast. The waters off Playa Potrero are home to all three subspecies of marlin: black, striped and blue marlin. Blue marlin are the most common to encounter. They are smaller and slower than black marlin, which can be found as long as 15 feet and weighing up to 1500 pounds, reaching speeds of up to 80 mph. This catch-and-release species can be found year round with a peak season from mid-November to the end of March. 

Yellowfin Ahi Tuna

A few different varieties of tuna populate the waters of Playa Potrero including bigeye and skipjack, but the most popular and tasty tuna to fish for here is yellowfin. Yellowfin can be caught all year round and are most abundant in numbers during peak months, between August and October. They can range anywhere from 30 pounds up to a whopping 300 pounds. Keen to take colorful, trolling bait at the surface, yellowfin are a fun catch, but they will fight hard by deep-diving. They are also a good nearshore catch around the Catalina Islands. Head to spots where dolphins and seabirds converge, that’s where schools of tuna (and the evening’s fresh catch supper) await.

Dorado Mahi Mahi

The vigorous dorado, also known as dophinfish or mahi-mahi (Hawaiian for “strong”), is extremely plentiful in the Playa Potrero waters year round. A local favorite, dorado are especially easy to catch nearshore during the rainy season, between late May and the beginning of October. During this time the flooding rivers carry out debris that float into the estuaries and around the coastline. Dorado tend to seek safety under bobbing logs or weed lines, even ocean trash, so trolling along debris inshore is sure to get you a bite. Outside the rainy season, large dorado of up to 70 pounds, can commonly be found further offshore.


A beautiful catch-and-release trophy fish, known for its distinct elongated dorsal fin spines, the roosterfish is one of the area’s most sought after inshore fish. Roosterfish do not migrate so they can be caught all year round. One of the best  times of year for fishing roosterfish is from May and October, because of the murkier water conditions from increased rainfall. The windy season between December and February also sees cloudier waters and is a good bet too. Roosterfish are usually somewhere between 20 and 50 pounds but have been seen to reach 100 pounds. To catch a large one takes patience and the right bait. Roosterfish like to bite on live bait, and catching bait to entice them, like bonitos, skipjacks or small yellowfin, is key. This fish fights hard and will make screaming, short runs to take the line back until they tire.


Also known as ono, wahoo is a desirable and elusive trophy catch with charters in the Playa Potrero area. Sometimes mistaken for barracuda, long and slender wahoo congregate around rocky cliffs, points and islands. Places like Las Catalinas Islands and Bat Islands are best for finding this fish, especially during peak season, between the end of May through to September. August and September are particularly good wahoo months along the coast and occasionally offshore. This gamefish is known for its long runs at up to 45 mph. Typically around 5 to 6 feet long, it has been found up to 8 feet long and up to 86 pounds.


An abundance of snapper is found all year long, both in the local waters and on local menus. A delicious white meat fish, whole snapper (pargo) is one of the most famous Costa Rican dishes, so it has surely earned its place in Costa Rican culture! Many different kinds of snapper populate the waters of Playa Potrero, including cubera, Pacific red, rock and yellow. Cubera Snapper, also called the Pacific dog snapper, is the most commonly found and can reach from 50 to 80 pounds in weight. The best season for fishing snapper is from June to October, during the rainy season. They particularly like to linger near the shore, around rocks and reefs for shelter.

The above fish species are the greatest draw for sportfishermen coming to Playa Potrero, but there are many other delicious and amazing fish species to be found close to the shores of Playa Potrero, like grouper, crevalle jack, corvina, triggerfish, parrotfish, needlefish and seabass. Many of these are enjoyed in the most popular local restaurants and sodas nearby.

Even for those who are not sportfishermen, there is truly is a fishing experience available for everybody in Playa Potrero, whether it be spearfishing in the reefs, shore fishing off the beaches, trolling from a kayak or Seadoo Fish Pro, entering a local fishing tournament or taking a charter off-shore to the deep sea.