Sailfish Capital of the World
Sailfish Capital of the World
There are many places in the world that call themselves the “Sailfish Capital of the World” among them Martin County and Islamorada in Florida, USA; Mazatlan and Manzanillo in Mexico; Broome in Australia, Puerto Quetzal in Guatemala and Quepos in Costa Rica. To aspire to such a lofty title means there are probably more sailfish in that particular area than anywhere else in the world, during the year. All of these tourist destinations certainly do have sailfish but lets see if we can convince you that the Pacific Coast of Guatemala is really THE place to catch and release Pacific Sailfish.
Year after year Guatemala has consistent numbers of rises, bites and releases, all recorded and reported, backed up with testimonials from satisfied anglers that agree we are the Sailfish Capital of the World. Of course we are biased since our company is based in Guatemala and while true that statistics about anything in Guatemala tend to be suspect, any brief search over the Internet, in fishing magazines, cable or TV fishing shows and newspaper columns will provide figures that say pretty much the same thing: catches of over 25 sailfish per day are common, double and triple hookups are common, on average between 15 and 22 sailfish are caught and released per boat, per day; fishing is good year round, etc. Local boat captains with conservative estimates affirm that between 1000 and 1400 sailfish are caught and released, per boat, per year, using conventional tackle and bait. Boat captains that go out more place that number around 2000. On the Pacific Ocean, Guatemala has a small sports fishing boat fleet…few boats are catching plenty fish. Our boats only go out of the Marina Pez Vela assuring a safe passage to the Pacific Ocean WITHOUT passing through the old dangerous inlet.
Guatemala is not known for big sailfish tournaments or beach side resorts and is a relatively new destination in the sailfishing circuit, so lets talk about our forte: numbers. Just this last January a group of 20 fishermen, on 5 boats, in a 3-day period caught 369 fish out of which 343 were Pacific Sailfish. Other anglers have caught and released close to 100 sails in two days. Last year another group of 33 anglers on 11 boats, in a 4-day period caught and released 782 sailfish. Of course those are the high numbers, the ones that provoke ooohhhs, aaahhhs and everyone brags about but what are the day-to-day numbers? Try the following figures, per boat, per day (placed in ascending order, not by consecutive fishing days): January: 5, 8, 13, 18, 28; February: 4, 27, 30, 42, 47; March: 12, 17, 20, 30, 45; April: 2, 7, 10, 14, 17; May: 9; June: 5, 6; July: 7, 10, 17; August: 8, 10, 12, 13; September: 3, 4; October: 2, 6, 11; November: 2, 7; December: 3, 8, 10, 15. That’s an aver!
age of 13.76 sailfish caught and released per boat, per day. Are we making our case?
What is so special about Guatemala to attract so many sailfish? The shape of the sea bottom, the flow of ocean currents, water temperature, sea life, etc., all contribute to create a habitat in which Pacific Sailfish thrive. In fact some say Guatemala has the world’s most fertile Pacific Sailfish breeding grounds. The Guatemalan Government and local fishermen have also played their part by adopting a catch and release policy for billfish and the use of circle hooks.
The 2002 - 2003 high season has been an especially good one for sailfishing in Guatemala. Using conventional fishing equipment anglers in one boat released a hard to believe season best 83 sails in one day and another single angler, using fly fishing equipment, set a new world record by releasing 23 sails in one day and set another world record by releasing a total of 51 sails in three days, all with fly fishing equipment. In February and March groups of friends went “fishing” with huge coolers filled with goodies expecting to take it easy and catch the average 15 or so sailfish…they came back worn out, with not quite empty coolers, cramped fingers, sore shoulders and barely coherent stories of 30, 40 and 50 sailfish releases per day! Exaggerations? Tall tales? Hardly. Everyone else that went fishing those days made the same comment…if they had not run out of bait they would still be fishing! Of course its not an every year, much less an every day occurrence (if it was it would be called WORK not fishing!) but, what other destination can boast that after adding up some (only 28’ plus sportfishing boats) of the sailfish caught and released in one day the total comes out to almost 375?
Now, this article is to promote Guatemala as the Sailfish Capital of the World so as a parting shot we will only mention that the same boat captains with conservative estimates also stated catching between 800 to 900 Dorado (mahi-mahi) and around 20 to 25 marlins per year, per boat, besides sailfish. Just this last weekend: one boat, in two days, caught and released two 350 to 400lb marlins, 18 sailfish and caught 60 yellow fin tuna; another angler caught a 300lb marlin off a 25’ panga (modified shark boat similar to a Mexican Skiff); and the disbelief felt by another angler who had been battling a 300lb marlin for quite a while just to have the line break near the boat. Besides the marlins those boats, and others, were catching and releasing an average of 8 sailfish per boat, per day.
The Great Sailfishing Company