The Roosterfish is found in the East Pacific Ocean. This game fish has a dorsal fin resembling a rooster comb of seven long spines with two dark blue bands along its sides, a sloping forehead and strong, bone-like jaw. The fish looks great in souvenir photos because of its striking appearance which makes it very popular for sportfishing Costa Rica is famous for.
The fish travels in large schools chasing baitfish like mullet and sardines. They can easily grow to over five feet in length and weigh over 100 pounds. They are also popular for sportfishing because they average around thirty to forty pounds. Fishers in Costa Rica typically catch them at about fifty pounds. The world record catch was in La Paz, Baja, California. It weighed 114 pounds. Because the fish are normally caught and released, it is believed that the world record will be soon be broken as the fish continue to grow.
Surf fishing is one of the most effective methods of catching Roosterfish because of their tendency to remain close to the surface and in more shallow areas.
What Is Surf Fishing?
Surf fishing is the method of catching fish by wading in the surf or standing on the shoreline. This method can be easily confused with pier fishing but they are two different methods of fishing. Surf fishing can be done from large inshore rocks or boulders and tidal pools. Unlike pier fishing, surf fishing requires that you get close to or in the water. This can be dangerous if you do not have the right equipment. You should also make sure someone is aware of where you will be if you go out alone. Accidents happen every day, so take every precaution to ensure safety over trying to snag the big catch.
Buying the Best Rig
The most effective setup is the fish finder rig. This is the simplest rig available. It consists of a leader with a hook and a barrel swivel tied to the main line behind a fish finder weight slide. The rig is ideal for holding large pieces of bait. Typically, Roosterfish are lured by small fish around three to four pounds. With this rig, an angler can give the Roosterfish time to ingest the bait before attempting to reel it in.
Another option is a rod with a graphite composite medium to medium-heavy action rod. The rod should have a length of between ten and thirteen feet with a high-capacity spinning reel. The spinning reel should be spooled with braided line measuring 300 yards. It will prove to be durable for reeling one of the larger Roosterfish.
Finding the Ideal Location
The ideal location for Rooster fishing is close to the shore. Some Roosterfish have even come close to beaching themselves. They are normally found near rocky outcrops and islands. As an in-shore species, they do not typically go into the rocks and tend to chase baitfish near the surface, around 200 feet. These factors make them ideal for surf fishing. Finding the right shore line can prove to produce a very lucrative day at sea.
Although you may not have the benefit of traveling to your location by boat, many surf fishing anglers use four-wheel ATV’s to carry tackle and fishing equipment. In some areas, you may be permitted to travel down remote stretches of beach and terrain looking for signs of activity such as birds scouting schools of baitfish or fish feeding on the surface. The ATV can also serve as seating area and anchor for your rod. Make sure you fill up with gas so that you don’t get stranded in a remote area.
Peak Timing in Costa Rica
Rooster fishing can be done all year round from the southern to northern areas of Costa Rica; however, Roosterfish are most easily caught between January and April. The slower months are September and October. The best time of day for surf fishing is during high tide because this is when the fish come to feed.
Luring with Live Bait
Roosterfish are not attracted to dead bait. They are more easily caught with live bait. They prefer the skipjack, mullet and rainbow runner fish. Using fish that are approximately three to five pounds have proven to be the most effective. Some anglers have had success with poppers and spinners but most prefer the live bait because the Roosterfish like to play with the bait before engulfing. Using the wrong bait can cost you a great catch. Don’t be too quick to reel in the prey, give them time to catch firmly onto the bait.
Overcoming the Resistance
Make sure you have sturdy equipment because of the size of the Roosterfish. Many will put up a fight and you want to be careful not to get pulled in since you will not have the benefit of a boat to keep you from going into the water. Avoid using buckets or coolers as rod holders causing your fishing rod to be dragged into the surf. When Roosterfish are hooked, they raise their dorsal fin and leap repeatedly. This can go on for about thirty to forty minutes causing what may seem like a fight with the potential captor.
Surf fishing for Roosterfish in Costa Rica can be a very enjoyable and economical activity. Unlike many of the popular sportfishing species, Roosterfish are found close to the shore which reduces the need for expensive charter services. With the right equipment and an ATV, you can easily set out for a day excursion along the shore and perch atop a boulder to scout out these beautiful fish. Although they are not tasty enough to catch and cook, they are striking in photographs.