Guatemala is known for a number of amazing landscapes, volcanoes and of course the famous Mayan ruins, which many people travel around the world to see. However the Pacific coast of Guatemala is world famous for the incredible billfish fishery located off the coast of this iconic country. Blue Marlin and sometimes striped marlin patrol these waters. However the most prolific and iconic in this region is the sailfish. Angler’s travel from all around the world to catch sailfish here, due to the incredible consistency of the fishery as well as the huge average size of sailfish caught here.
The lodge is located in the port city of San Jose (approximately 2 hours from Guatemala city) within close proximity to the dock allowing quick transportation to the boats. Typically the day starts with a wake up at 6 with a coffee followed with breakfast before heading to the boats. The ride out can range from 30 minutes to 2 hours depending on where the fish are located according to the weather conditions and current. The staff is exceptional from the lodge staff to the captain and crew all dedicated to making a truly special experience. The lodge life consists of great food, luxury rooms, swimming pool and of course amazing fishing. The evenings are usually wrapped up with quality food and drink followed by endless fishing stories.
The boats are some of the best state of the art fishing boats consisting of a captain and two crew. The boats utilize the best GPS equipment as well as the incredible range of fishing tackle, but more importantly the best flyfishing equipment needed to tackle these monster sailfish of Guatemala. The captains and crew of the lodge are first class; with every situation, fish and place scaled down to a fine science. With the captain and crews years of experience they make an experience memorable. Days of 40 fish raised are common with consistent days of 100 raised fish and over 60 fish landed.
Typically the way fly fishing for sailfish works consists of using one outrigger with 4 teaser baits. The teasers comprise of no hooks to allow the crew to attract the fish close to the boat. This leaves one side completely clear to allow for casting with the fly rod. Typically 16wt fly rods are used and the line is prepared and left on the boat ready to cast to a chasing fish. The flies used are large poppers to create a lot of disturbance when cast into the water, due to the turbulence caused by the boats prop. The head of the fly line is a heavy 600-grain sinking line to allow the fly line and fly to remain in the water, due to the speed in which the boat is moving. The teasers are trawled around a little faster than conventional tackle in order to provoke the more active fish that are willing to chase a teaser bait close to the back of the boat. This is typically around 8-9 knots compared to conventional slower pace. The captains look for a variety of signs including spinner dolphins, birds, large dead bury, depth and of coarse furiously jumping and swimming sailfish.
The moment when sailfish starts following the teaser is an utter pandemonium. The excitement and adrenaline that builds is astounding. The hunt usually starts with the captain shouting to the teaser that the fish are following. This is followed with the crew furiously winding in the teasers, bringing the fish closer and closer to the stern of the boat. Timing is important here, the angler must have his fly in the water as quickly as possible in order to see the fish and anticipate the cast. The teaser will be brought as close as possible to the angler before making the cast. As the teaser and fish pass the fly the cast is made. This is where it gets really exciting. As the teaser disappears the fish furiously circles back round to find the fly. This allows the fish to attack it from the side to allow a better hook set. The hook is immediately set using the rod and keeping it low, striking in the opposite direction to get a more aggressive and better angle hook set. This pinnacle moment when the fish eats the fly causes everything to go into like slow motion. It is the most phenomenal experience to see so close, 10ft behind the boat. Everything is so visual, which makes it that much more remarkable. The whole atmosphere created in this sequence is unparalleled. However sometimes the fish misses the fly or doesn’t get hooked properly. Therefore more teaser baits are thrown at the fish with spinner rods to attract the fish back in to make the cast again, sometimes coming back 5-6 times.
Once these fish are hooked all hell breaks lose. These fish take long fast runs followed by jump after jump of the most elegant and beautiful ariel displays. These fish furiously thrash their long bill to dislodge the hook, doing everything in its power to break free. The way in which the body of this fish contorts in the air is incredible to see. These moments are so special to see up close creating so much respect and wonder for this creature. Sometimes the fight can be extremely strenuous as they hold deep in the water and will not move. This is usually tackled by changing the angle of the boat to the fish to force it up. It is a very tiring but rewarding experience to challenge a creature like this. This is overall an amazing location and one that must be ticked off the bucket list, although is not for the faint hearted.