Most of the species of fish swimming the waters of Costa Rica are the same found in other North American waters. Anglers visiting the country will find a wealth of opportunities when fishing for gamefish both large, small and billed. Water depth and time of year will determine what species of fish you are most likely to catch. Whether you're fishing for that trophy to hang on the wall or enjoy on your plate, Costa Rica offers enough species of fish to satisfy your fishing dreams.
Costa Rican waters offer several species of grouper, and most make fine table fare. Black groupers weigh an average of 40 pounds but can reach more than 100 pounds. They have olive- or gray-colored bodies with blotches in black and spots that are brassy. As they grow, the females transform into males. Larger ones are found in deeper water and feed on squid and other fish. The gag grouper is often mistaken for the black grouper; the basic difference is the gag grouper does not have the brassy spots. Gag groupers average 25 pounds and also change from female to male as they age. Yellowfin groupers have basic grouper markings but are greenish-olive or red with dark blotches running in longitudinal rows. These fish are poisonous in certain areas of the world, so take caution if you're considering eating them. As other members of its family, they also undergo a sex change from female to male as they age.
Red snappers are named so because their coloring is pinkish-red. The red snapper's snout is long and triangular, and it has no dark lateral spot. These fish can live to be over 20 years old and can grow up to 35 pounds or larger. Young fish live on the sand or muddy bottoms. Red snappers feed on other fish as well as crustaceans. Mutton snappers are either olive-green or black, with their fins having a reddish tinge. They also have a bright-blue line just below the eye. They are smaller snappers with an average weight of 15 pounds and feed on crustaceans, fish and snails. Yellowtail snappers are olive or blue and have yellow spots. They have a prominent yellow stripe that runs from the mouth to the tail. These fish weigh an average of 3 pounds and eat fish and invertebrates.
Permits are sometimes mistaken for pompanos but are much larger. The permits' skin is gray, and their top is darker or an iridescent blue. They look silver in the water. Permits average around 25 pounds but have been known to reach up to 40 pounds. They eat crabs, clams, fish and shrimp. Pompanos are greenish-gray with silver sides. In darker waters, gold will show on the throat, pelvic areas and anal fins. They usually weigh 3 pounds or less and feed on crustaceans, sand fleas, shrimp and mollusks. Jack Crevalles are blue-green to green-gold on their backs with a silver or yellow belly. They have a black spot on their gills that is quite prominent. Their size ranges from 3 to 5 pounds, and they feed mainly on smaller fish.