Oceans Alive with Fish
Sailfishing off Guatemala is phenomenal! But so is the dorado or dolphin fishing, yellowfin tuna, wahoo and marlin. Catching 15 out of 25 odd sailfish plus scores of dorado and tuna is routine. And when the waters are teaming with bait, as is usually the case, the catch rate can climb to three or more times that number. Guatemala holds the single day record of 124 sails released on conventional tackle and 57 on fly. No other fishing destination approaches the billfish numbers found off Guatemala. The reason for Guatemala’s productivity has to do with its mountainous offshore bottom structure and the currents that interact with it, sending oxygenated water or upwellings to the surface. Currents moving east from Mexico and west from Panama collide off Guatemala, creating enormous nutrient-rich eddies that attract and hold baitfish, which in turn attracts gamefish. Everywhere you look there is marine life. Not just sailfish, but whales, spinner dolphin, sea turtles and diving marine birds. Best of all, about 75 percent of the time this marine show happens in flat seas. Calm conditions that make Guatemala the ideal spot for first time fly fishermen wanting to catch billfish or new-to-offshore fishing families seeking an introduction to the sport. In short, anyone who doesn’t like rough sea conditions will find the ocean off the Port of San Jose a pleasure.
Sailfish, blue and black and striped marlin, wahoo, tunas and dorado are caught year round. However the peak billfish season is October through June. The summer months are tops for dorado and inshore species such as roosterfish, Cubera snapper and grouper on light tackle.
A Word about Conservation
Guatemala is a leader in billfish conservation, which has played a big part in making this area a favorite destination for offshore fishing enthusiasts the world over. Guatemala was the first country to embrace and enact laws requiring the mandatory use of baited circle hooks in its offshore fishery. It also has a strict no kill billfish policy. Because of these policies, it has been able to sustain its reputation for the most sailfish releases in the Pacific every year since records have been kept. Capt. Sheeder proudly contributes to conservation research by keeping accurate records and data on his average yearly 1,500 to 2,000 billfish releases.