Guatemala Fishing at Sailfish Bay Lodge

Sedge & Mayfly - Italian Fly Fishing Publication


NOTE - The Original article was written in Italian and we translated it Online.

Sailfish in Guatemala
by Paolo Pacchiarini

Come each year, my friends and I visit and in advance discuss our inevitable winter trip to narrow the gap with the resumption of the season in Italy giving us a tasty appetizer of warm and beautiful fish. This year my heart leads me to the magnificent sailfish and to capture the emotions that they offer. Arranging a fishing trip for me is not just a simple hobby, but also a large responsibility. Friends who usually accompany me know that with meticulous care every particular thing is considered,, the choice of prey, the right location, the time, the moon and also the security of the organization must ensure us safe transfers, decent housing, food and to keep costs to a minimum of every other lodge.

In short, improvisation, preference and painful care to every detail even a year earlier, and after careful research, I found that in Guatemala the destination was made for us. This state has banned commercial fishing of the sailfish and also for the amateur, and requires a strict catch and release policy so that the stretch of ocean that lies in front of its coast has become the global hot spot for fishing for bill fish, super for those dedicated to catching them with fly gear. My organizational fervor extends to the entire field and provides the check and the integration of equipment, essential in comparison with prey and especially with the new giants of the sea, but also the wider framework of lures. With this precise objective months prior to departure, each of us spent many hours drawing information from the internet about American specialist publications and websites. Despite our preparation, the eve of departure, we felt ready for the new adventure but at the same time, had loads of questions that only direct confrontation could resolve.

After a catastrophe, a nightmare for any trip, including delays and lost luggage, we arrived in Guatemala City, capital of the state with the same name, and met with the organization entitled the "Sailfish Bay Lodge”. A staff member of the lodge arrives at the airport on time and takes us for a one hour and thirty minute bus ride, lastly brought on board a boat to cross the lagoon separating the mainland from a small island, marking the conclusion of our long journey. Just arriving, we realize that the cool climate of the capital has given way to a warm and humid, but a comfortable and well appointed lodge, and rooms with air conditioning allow the recovery of fatigue in the few hours of sleep that separate us from the first day of fishing. The adrenaline sometimes miracles hours of time, travel and general fatigue are not entirely physical and already perceived by the early morning, well ahead of the alarm, we are all ready for breakfast and the departure time at the marina.

A quick ride in the van through the streets of the small town that is waking up slowly, with men and women who start their day at work and children who come from poor homes in the direction of schools. Decent and industrious people, but in a context of poverty, the cause due to a serious problem of corruption, where economic hardship for families are certainly real everyday, which is not easy to live in.

We arrived in the port area, open our eyes to a world quite different. The area was guarded by armed police, since the docks are moored with a large number of boats, including luxury boats equipped for fishing on the high seas. We follow the main jetty and on the last step our gaze rests on the bridge of boats and on the preparation of materials and captains, waiting for customers. Notes on Latin American motifs, shiny reels and trolling rods of every make and every model, alternate equipment to fly fish with colorful streamers and generous in size. Spurred by the atmosphere, our eyes almost irreparable, we do not want anything but to participate in this great game quickly. We identify our two boats, and after a firm handshake with the captain, the seal of the relationship that can bind us for the next five days, our stare runs faster to the stern of the boat where the mate is already at work preparing the teaser with the ballyhoo and other bait attractors. Then our four eyes meet, as well as our fingers behind his back as a sign superstition, and with a nod we separate into two groups. To reach the best fishing areas and the right depth range, which this season breads from 700 meters deep for a distance ranging from 20 to 50 miles from the coast, the trip will last from forty minutes to an hour and a quarter, a time dedicated to assembly of the rods and to observe the sea, it was always very calm. Almost every day we happened to pass in areas completely invaded by huge schools of dolphins intent to hunt bonito and sardines.

A show for unimaginable vastness and the exuberance of those engaged in animal evolution personally. Not only that, the eye has repeatedly crossed the gull resting on the back of a tortoise, an animal really popular in this beautiful corner of the planet.

After the first day, we understood the potential of this place as an excellent choice: with a constant presence of fish that gives everyone a chance to capture some beautiful sailfish!

If all goes well, however, the satisfaction is immense and the game takes on a greater symbolic value to the sincere joy of the whole group. Personally, this trip gave me the opportunity to compare well the sailfish and the blue marlin with other resorts. At the end of each fishing session, returning to the marina and lodge, we shall exchange views and comments of the day, the stories and details of the catch, opinions and hopes for the next day always with a cold beer and tasty snacks, sitting in front of the pool at the lodge.

I noticed that in two days when we found the sea more calm, the fish followed the teaser to a lesser extent, were little aggressive and catches were limited to one or two sails a day. Conversely, on days when the sea was slightly choppy, we also saw more than 20 sailfish on teaser and we caught at least 5 a day. The action of the sailfish in general was a mixture of trolling and fly fishing. The search for fish held in the same way of trolling: there is no other way to catch a marlin or sailfish, if not pulling with the teaser at high speed and covering a large quantities of water. Invoked by the bait surface, the fish soon reached and repeatedly attacked. At this point, all the other rods (three or four) are promptly removed by the mate. Leaving the same rod on which the fish had concentrated, it bears the closest possible shot at the fly cast. Put the engine in neutral and withdraw suddenly the last teaser, now the angler has the opportunity to cast on the fish at the height of aggression, the fly remained the only bait available in water. It is certainly a fishing team, where everyone plays a specific task and the final result depends on this interaction. And is also why, if you're wrong on the final cast or the strike of the fish it is best not to face your angling partners for at least a few minutes! If all goes well, the satisfaction is immense and the game takes on a greater symbolic value to the sincere joy of the whole group. Personally, this trip gave me the opportunity to compare the sailfish with another great the blue marlin.

The last day of fishing was slow, a couple of hours is not very fruitful, a strong blow on the big teaser outside awakens the attention of the Captain Bomba which, with a scream that I'll never forget, made us jump "Marlin!" A moment later the fish seems to have disappeared, the crew, who already was preparing a frenzy to remove other teasers, remains suspended in time. Then with the speed with which it had arrived and then disappeared, reappeared in the wake of the ship to cleave the water a few inches from the innermost teaser. At this point, Milton (mate), with skill and speed trolling the big fish in little more than a dozen meters astern.

I think I still relive that moment in slow motion: Bomba putting it in neutral, the teaser that flies out from the water and my fly that flies to replace it. The streamers waving briefly before being recovered, but the second stripped marlin decided to attack, quickly moving the barrel to forty-five degrees in the opposite direction, and immediately we understand that the next hours will be challenging.

The rod ready and properly angled, strengthens the grip of the two hooks on the fish, with a violent and determined flight punctuated by jumps in all directions, leading high on the rhythm of my heartbeat. I must admit that the combat was absolutely the most frightening moment for me and the sun and emotion certainly played with my senses, but the fish was something completely different from any previous experience. Marlin seem never to stop, the captain redirects him for long stretches, constantly changing the angle of the boat, stopping to never let him away even more than 400 meters in an attempt to persuade him to emerge. Then, joking to soothe tensions, he asked if I had my passport with me, because it was conceivable that we may intrude into Salvador. After more than three hours of hard combat and now with the forces slim, the marlin begins to yield up to being worn out under water.

The fish was estimated by our captain, at more than 200 lbs., raised smiling to the boat and continued to move vigorously bill to tail, trying to regain its freedom. At this point there is a problem that I had never seen in my proceeding experiences: the fish is too big and too dangerous to board. After threading the terminal barrel and formalized the capture, the two mates made the final cut and released the fish quickly, to avoid any unnecessary further stress or irreparable damage.

Sincerely tried by fatigue and emotion, but full of satisfaction that flows spontaneously to the entire crew. Our return to the marina does not go unnoticed, with the marlin flag waving from the top of the out rigger.

In retrospect I find myself thinking that I fortunately met with a marlin as well, and that it was the adventure of the holiday! Within two days, in fact, I was accompanied by a soreness in the muscles of the arm and a slight numbness of the fingers. Keep this in mind: in this type of fishing both the technical and the physical components are also put to the test.


The blue water fishing and certainly one that leads to the limit of the stress equipment, that must necessarily be powerful and reliable. Rods from 8 to 9 feet for tall # 12 or # 14 to ensure reliability and fishing fun. Personally, I was fine with the 8-foot tall # 14, because lets force too easily when the fish goes under the boat, which is not punitive, given the small casting distance useful. The absolute tool is the reel it is subjected to work harder, make quick escapes and long: the body clutch must be practical and easy to adjust. The models are better suited to large-reel capable of holding at least 400 yards of 50 lb Spectra backing type. The tail and middle most used, but some anglers use floating line. The tail is used only melded with particularly rough sea conditions. I do prefer models are those with a core 50/60 lb.

The terminal, to resist the abrasion of the rod during combat, has a variable length from 2 to 3 feet, with a diameter between 30 and 40 pounds and a 100-pound shock tippet. The moss that we have successfully used the famous Cam Sigler were white and pink with or without double popper. To my great satisfaction have proved very capturing the "Ballyhoo wiggle tail that had assembled before leaving and wanted to try. With this fly in various designs and colors, we all caught a few sailfish, especially blue marlin, which makes me even more proud. The flies were mounted tube with the octopus hooks 6 / 0 or 7 / 0. The wiggle tail was tied directly onto the tail.

The season to go to Sailfish Bay Lodge from November to April, with January and February as peak season.

Contact Information:
Scott Ruprecht or 1-800-638-7405

Sailfish Bay Lodge
955 Pavilion St. | Cincinnati, OH 45202
Tel: 513-984-8611 or 800-638-7405 | Fax: 513-984-0831
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