A Costa Rica Trout & Jungle Panfish Sampler

Fly fishing the cloudforest for trout.

We’ve just returned from a 6-day trip with client Chris, of California. Chris, a fly-fishing guide himself, had contacted us

A beautiful mojarra, one of Costa Rica's most under-appreciated fly rod gamefish.

A beautiful mojarra, one of Costa Rica’s most under-appreciated fly rod gamefish.

to help arrange a custom trip and to guide him to some of Costa Rica’s more unusual, and more remote, fisheries. He wanted to catch trout in the cloud forests, then try for snook and tropical panfish in the lowland rainforests.

Our trip began high in the mountains above San Jose, near 9,000 feet, where we fished our favorite cloudforest river for trout. The fish were abundant, and hungry — and our two days fishing there were highlighted with great looks at one of the rarest, and most beautiful, of Costa Rican bird species, the resplendant quetzal. These birds — rarely seen even by the most avid of birdwatchers, are  often easily spotted on our fly fishing adventures.

After getting our fill of trout fishing, we changed gears — and lightened our clothing — and spent the remainder of the trip fishing in a roadless, remote jungle area along the northwestern Caribbean slope. Temperatures here average 30-40 degrees warmer than in the mountains where the trout live, and the species diversity reflects the much hotter, more humid maritime climate. We fished uninhabitated lagoons and

rivers under the playful gaze of monkeys and toucans, watched dolphins swim and caught many different species of fish, including snook, while throwing poppers into pinpoint pockets of rainforest lianas and trees draped in bromeliads and orchids. Chris’ outstanding casting and fishing skills greatly improved his success.


Finding New Rivers to Fish Machaca

A trophy machaca taken on a conventional fly rod popper.

At Fly Fish in Costa Rica, we love nothing more than to explore a new river, catch a new species, or discover a new technique. This year, we added multiple new machaca rivers to our offerings. These rivers are scattered throughout the country, which means we can usually accomodate the fly angler who, for example, is spending a week on the beach with his or her family in Guanacaste, or the business traveler with a day or a weekend off in San Jose.


Our cork ‘poppers’ are exact imitations of riverside fruit. They plop on the water and the machaca hit them with reckless abandon.

Anyone who has fished with us knows that the machaca (Brycon guatemalensis) is one of our favorite species: A cross between the better known North American shad and South America’s pirahna, these fish feast on poppers, fight hard and jump – a lot. We believe them to be the most under-rated gamefish in the Americas.

Fortunately, Costa Rica’s clean-running rivers, which drain the fertile flanks of the country’s highest volcanoes, provide ideal habitat for machaca. Most of Costa Rica’s rivers run through cloud and rainforests, rife with wildlife and stunning scenery, no matter what the time of year. Overhanging trees provide the machaca, an omnivore that feeds on fruit, flowers, frogs and fish, with abundant forage. We now design our poppers to mimic these riverside fruits — and they are deadly. It’s fast fishing, fun and absolutely unique to Costa Rica. Come learn something new with us!


Father and son with a pair of nice fly-caught machaca.


A Banner Year for Costa Rica’s Freshwater Tarpon

Fly Fish in Costa Rica Guide Charlie Chavarria and client Jan Orr, of Holland, show off a beautiful 200 lb. plus tarpon caught on a fly in a secret lagoon in Costa Rica.



Another 2016 tarpon from a freshwater lagoon in north-central Costa Rica.

When the rains subsided in early January this year, the giant tarpon began to show in our favorite rivers, chasing baitfish as they drained out of inland lagoons. These are ocean-going fish that make a many hundred kilometer voyage from the Caribbean to feast — a rare phenomenan found only in Costa Rica. We have fished for tarpon all over Central America, the Caribbean and the Florida Keys — and we guarantee you won’t find anything like this anywhere else. We fish in a full rainforest environment, with toucans, macaws and exotic hummingbirds as regular spectators, and monkeys cheering from branches in the trees above us. One of our most memorable trips this year was with Jan Orr, of Holland, who fished with us for five days. On his first day of fishing, a cold front was moving through our preferred fishing area; not uncommon and a normal part of fishing here. We jumped a small 25 lb. tarpon; but the fishing was slower than hoped. The next day Jan persevered — saw some very large tarpon and jumped a few — but struggled to bring one to the boat. This is a challenging fishing environment. The jungle encroaches on the river. Snags are numerous. The current can be strong. The odds are always against you when you fight giant tarpon on a fly rod here. But the big reward came near the end of Jan’s trip, when he landed this 200 lb. + tarpon on a 10 weight and our secret tarpon fly.

Guide Charlie with a good tarpon

Guide Charlie with a nice tarpon taken on a fly this season.

We saw many tarpon of this size over the course of the week, and jumped at least 20 – but bringing one to the boat is the moment of truth. Jan was very grateful for the experience — and we grateful for his company.  Please give us a call or email if you’re interested in trying this unique fishery. We can be reached at info@flyfishincostarica.com.