The Great Sailfishing Company, Guatemala

Nowhere offers the numbers of sailfish that Guatemala does

On the pacific coast of Central America, Guatemala is one of the most prolific billfish fisheries on the planet.

Prolific fishing for sailfish and marlin 

The Great Sailfishing Company, has been at the forefront of those looking after intrepid fishermen looking to tackle these incredible fish. They are also specialists in fly fishing for billfish, and their experienced captains and crews excel in this area.

The average catch is about 15 sailfish a day. These high rates are attributed to the shape of the seafloor and ocean currents creating a favourable environment for baitfish that billfish feed on, and because all bill fishing is catch and release under Guatemalan law.

The adrenaline rush when fighting a sailfish is similar to catching a 70 to 140lb tarpon and it goes off the chart if a marlin or giant tuna is hooked. Be ready for a fight! On the way to the fishing area, the boat hands and guides will help assemble your saltwater fly fishing equipment, attaching flies to shock tippets and leaders. 

Anglers will notice that the crew sets up the boat differently for fly fishing than for conventional fishing. Depending on the ambidexterity of the angler, only one side of the boat drags teasers and lures so there is plenty of room to cast. A single outrigger usually drags plastic squid shapes while two rods drag Ballyhoo, sans circle hooks. All non-necessary rods and miscellaneous equipment is stored.

The sport fishing boat moves slowly through the water, trolling, waiting for a billfish to rise. It doesn’t usually take long to get a sailfish to rise, and during the peak fishing season an angler might have several sailfish interested in the teasers and lures at the same time. Once a sailfish has been raised the captain slows down the boat and reels in the squid shapes on the outrigger while the two mates reel in the Ballyhoo, as quickly as possible.

As soon as the billfish (sailfish or marlin) is close to the boat (20 to 60 feet, depending on the angler’s preference) the captain puts the throttles in neutral, the mate reels in his Ballyhoo and the angler casts his fly. The idea is to use the “bait and switch” technique on the billfish so the fly has to be cast in front or slightly to the side of the billfish. If the billfish does not take the fly the captain repositions the boat, the mate with the spinning reel casts again, the angler gets ready and the whole process starts over. It is a team effort to catch a billfish with a fly.

Sailfish sometimes go absolutely berserk when they are hooked, they jump, dive, swim side-to-side, skip on the surface, try to jump into the boat and then do it all over again…you imagine a manoeuvre and some sailfish is bound to attempt it. Now if a marlin shows up…better have a rod for 15 or 16 weight line with matching reel and hope it’s not a 600lb or larger monster. Marlin can take off like a rocket, jump, and dive while the angler is reeling in line figuring out where the fish went, what looks like another marlin jumping off in the distance is actually your fish! 

“I had heard tales of raising 20 fish on the day which I thought was unrealistic.. until I saw it with my own eyes. At one point I caught one sailfish on the fly, and while they revived it I caught another from the same school still hammering the teasers…amazing. The accommodation and service were excellent.” A.M. – Mauritius

Private lodge close to the dock 

The Great Sailfishing Company lodge is just a few miles from the Marina Pez Fela and accommodates up to 14 anglers in eight en-suite bedrooms.  There is a large swimming pool and meals are served ‘as you like it’.  Breakfast is served at the lodge each day and anglers are then transferred to the dock for a 7am boat departure.  The boats usually returns to the dock between 4 and 5pm.  



Easy lodge access

Puerto San Jose is on the southwest Pacific side of Guatemala and is a 90 minute drive from the international airport.  From Puerto San Jose it is about a 10 minute drive to the lodge.  

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