In Search of the Big Pez Vela
Guatemala holds many secret treasures that aren’t apparent at first sight, and it is always a treat as gem after gem is unveiled with the more time you spend here. One special discovery is the large underwater canyon called “The Pocket,” located just off the Pacific Coast. With strong ever-changing currents and a healthy supply of nutrients, predator fish, such as the pez vela (sailfish) come in to hunt these rich waters. Thus, with waters as prime as these, you just might have one of the best days of fishing in your life.
To get started you’ll need to find a reliable outfitter who knows the waters and the ins and outs of sport fishing. Three great options include Team Parlama Charter Services, Pacific Fins Guatemala Resort & Marina and Casa Vieja Lodge, located in the Puerto San José area of Guatemala. The prime season for sailfish is October-June; the marlin season is September-December. However, with the unpredictable currents and the unique canyon “Pocket” just off the coast, fishing for sailfish, dorado (mahi-mahi), yellow-fin tuna and marlin is always pretty good.
Guatemala has been able to retain this rich pocket of fish by being the first country to pass a law, in 1997, prohibiting the commercial fishing of sailfish. The outfitters do their part with sustainability by only practicing catch-and-release fishing and using circular hooks so as not to harm the fish. This way the sport fishing industry can be kept alive here and many more will be able to experience the thrill of catching and releasing a big 100-pound sailfish.
There are two techniques for catching that big fish—one being the conventional way with artificial “teasers” and natural bait, and the other is fly fishing to really test your angling skills. Either way, once you experience the adrenaline rush of that big fish on the end of your line, you’ll be smiling from ear to ear, hoping for the chance to do it again and again.
A day out on the water sport fishing can be a fun and exhilarating change of pace for experienced fishermen and women and novices alike. That salty ocean breeze, a fresh ceviche lunch and great photo opportunities make a trip down to the coast a worthwhile experience for anyone who comes to Guatemala.
With sustainability being a prime concern for Guatemala, the outfitters and visitors alike, one can hope that Guatemala continues to maintain its rich and varied fish population off its coast and promise many more successful days of fishing for years to come.
Tara Tiedemann is the owner/operator of Viva Adventures located in La Antigua Guatemala.