Other than sail and marlin fishing in the Gulf of Papagayo in the Province of Guanacaste in Costa Rica, rooster fishing is the target best appreciated by sports-fishermen who come to this region looking for a Guanacaste fishing adventure. With an average weight between 50 and 80 pounds, rooster fish is a great opponent for any professional or amateur fisherman. An 80 lb rooster fish is a better fighter than a 80 lb sailfish.
Rooster fish is not a migratory species, it is rather a territorial one and it is present year round. However, a higher number of fishes are caught when water conditions are especially good, no matter what time of the year it is. One of the main reasons for the abundance of this species is the fishing technique that is used to catch it (circle hook to catch this variety of fish) plus the catch and release technique shared by all of the Gulf of Papagayo fishermen.. Another reason for the abundance of this fish is that there is a large area of good fertile grounds where the rooster fish live in Papagayo (Bat Islands) and this area has been incorporated into a protected area called the Santa Rosa National Park.
We can catch rooster fish close to the shore near beaches such as Coco Beach, Playa Panama, Playa Potrero, Playa Tamarindo and several others in the Gulf of Papagayo. However, there are several well known areas known only to local fishermen where this species is abundant such as the Catalina Islands located on the south side of the gulf and near Bat Islands and Playa Blanca on the north side. Rooster fish in the Gulf of Papagayo can be found in waters no deeper than 100 to 200 feet and as shallow as 10 to 15 feet close to the shore. Their habitat in the tropics is not too cool nor too warm waters thus making fishing conditions especially favorable when the water is a bit cloudy where they can see the bait and bite instead of very clear or dirty water. You can catch many rooster fish when conditions in the day are favorable.
Catching rooster fish in the Gulf of Papagayo using lures is difficult so you need to use bait, especially live bait such as bonito, Lady Fish or rainbow runner. If live bait is not available then you can use a special technique of the area that consists of cutting the bonito fish beginning from its tail to the side of the head trying to remove all the bone. The odor of tuna fish and the way it moves make this bait very attractive for rooster; it is used with a downrigger.
All Gulf of Papagayo and Tamarindo local and sports-fishermen practice the catch and release technique in order to preserve the species. We ask our clients not to keep any roosterfish but you can take as many photos as possible but return them to the sea so we can keep the species for the future and for our children.
Genaro Mendez owns a fishing charter business: Papagayo SportFishing on Playa del Coco, Guanacaste, Costa Rica. He provides fishing charters in gulf of Papagayo and Tamarindo fishing region.
Check his site at: http://www.costa-rica-fishingtrips.com