Between Lake Arenal and Lake Coter, there are a couple of great options for fishing in Nuevo Arenal. Each lake is home to several sub species of Guapote as well as Machaca. You can also catch Tilapia in Lake Arenal.
Guapote are often referred to as “rainbow bass”. This is due to their size, eating habits and bass-like fighting when hooked, but they are not actually in the bass family. Guapote are actually in the cichlid family. They can grow to over 10 pounds, but similar to largemouth bass, a five pounder is considered a trophy catch.
Machaca are considered by many locals to be a “trash fish”, but they actually are a lot of fun to catch. They have likely gained their reputation due to their large teeth and oily meat. Machaca can grow up to around 6 pounds, but the average fish will be around two pounds.
Tilapia are a tasty freshwater panfish. They can grow up to a few pounds, but most only reach a pound or so.
Click here for a nice collection of Nuevo Arenal fishing photos.
Shoreline fishing in Nuevo Arenal is possible at the Lake Arenal park. While there are plenty of spots, the best in my opinion is at the end of the point and mouth of the small inlet. Shoreline fishing is not possible (for most) at Lake Coter as the lake is surrounded by private property.
There is a boat launch at the Lake Arenal park. You can run east or west to points, inlets, feeder creeks, or islands. When fishing for Guapote, you should also seek cover and structure.
Like so many other species, Guapote fishing is much better at dusk and dawn. The bite can also quickly turn on when the sun shines brightly and warms the water temperature. Even a half degree increase can trigger a feeding frenzy.
When fishing at dusk or dawn at Lake Arenal, think top water. Lures such as buzzbaits or 3 inch Zara Spooks or similar plugs to “walk the dog” along shore, over structure, or by weeds work well. Spinner baits run through the weeds produce as well, though this method requires heavy duty 20+ pound line and a stout rod. When the top water action cools down, move off shore a little and run crankbaits just above the bottom. I personally like 2 1/2 – 3 inch broken back Rapalas in shiner or crayfish patterns.
Lake Coter is a little different in the sense that top water lures do not work as well. Casting crankbaits to the shoreline and working them over structure works better in the morning. Trolling crankbaits about 50 meters off shore works best during the day. I use the same crankbaits on Lake Coter, but also use a chartreuse colored fat shad in low light conditions. Trolling deep divers further off shore can make for a long day, but if you have patience you’ll always have a chance of hooking into a lunker.
Machaca fishing is a bit more opportunistic. You can usually find them near Guayaba trees (they eat the fruits that fall in to the water) or chasing shiners at the surface. They’ll hit anything that resembles a wounded baitfish. You can also fly fish for them in rivers that feed into the lake.
Of course, you can catch any of these fish on shiners. Locals often fish with dead shiners just above the bottom. I personally believe this is simply due to many years of without equipment such as bait buckets, but who knows?
One thing I do know is that there is some pretty good freshwater fishing in Nuevo Arenal. If you meet locals and gain access to Lake Coter, you’ll have a nice variety of options. If not, there are plenty of spots on the 32 mile square Lake Arenal.
Feel free to drop your comments or questions below about fishing in Arenal.