Guatamala: Tough Break


Guatemala offers some of the very best sailfishing in the world.

I’d planned my Guatemala  tripwith the idea of taking big fish on all tackle types, and I’d been obsessing about the details for 2 months.  As I packed, I reviewed my tackle, and imagined how I’d soon be catching big sails: in went my Yo-zuri”s, my Hogy’s, and the full spectrum of fly gear.  I planned on taking fish on fly, spin, and conventional tackle, and I had it in my mind to take a few on 8 lb. test.  I’d known for a long time that if I stood any chance of success, then Guatemala was the place to get things done, and the boats at Casa Vieja Lodge were the boats to get things done with.


Travel Tips

  • Travel : Moderate
  • Lodging : Casa Vieja Lodge
  • Food : Excellent food at lodge
  • Charters :


When the bite is happening, Casa Vieja boats can offer competent anglers over 50 shots a day at big sailfish.

The Casa Vieja fishing program is a well-oiled machine, with a lineup of captains and mates that have literally tallied thousands of fish. When the bite is happening, Casa Vieja boats can offer competent anglers over 50 shots a day at big sailfish.  These are Pacific sailfish, which are bigger than their Atlantic cousins.  They tease readily for a bait-and-switch, and boat positioning, communication, and choreography are just as important as the abilities of the guy in the fighting belt.

My good friend Sam Clapp works with Casa Vieja, and he had kept me in the loop concerning fishing reports and catch numbers that Capt. Chris Scheeder and Capt. Jason Bryce had been putting up.  Sam had lined me up with Chris and Jason, and Sam doesn’t steer a friend wrong.  He knew how excited I was, and how important it was to me that the Obsession Crew pin down some exceptional sailfish footage.  What Sam didn’t know was that I couldn’t even sleep just thinking about the upcoming trip.

guatamala 089When I arrived in Guatemala,

I found out that Tim and the camera crew had missed their connections and would be arriving the next day.  We met up instead with the Powers, an angling couple that had fished extensively in Panama with me, but who like me had come to Guatemala for the big sails.  They’d been fishing a few days, and on the day I arrived they had released 46 Sailfish, though they had to run a good distance for blue water.  Their reports had me even more excited, but I needed to wait for my camera crew, and put my fishing on ice for another day.  I spent the second day of my trip visiting a World Heritage site, and reviewing the remains of one of the oldest cities in the Americas.  I returned to the Lodge that night to find that while I was doing the tourist thing, the Powers had fished a full day but with poor results, landing only 2 sails.  The fish had apparently disappeared.  I was a little worried.  I had to keep reminding myself that this was Guatemala, and though slow days are possible, they remain few and far between.

Our first day of fishing was with Capt. Chris Scheeder on Rum Line, alongside global angler David Salazar, the owner of the Casa Vieja lodge.  Over a lifetime of angling, Chris has released 20,000 billfish; I was just hoping for 20 or 30.  There was a system moving through and right off the bat things were a bit rough.  We fished all morning with only one or two bites, but the expectations on Rum Line remained high.  We all knew from experience that it only takes one good pod of fish to turn a day around.

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In this area, you can catch a lot of fish in a couple hours, but we ended the day with only a few Dorado and one sailfish.  These were not the numbers I’d expected, but we still had 3 more days of fishing.   To make matters more challenging, a current pushed in after the first fishing day that moved all the Blue Water further offshore.  As we looked at the satellite images that evening, we started to realize that things would be getting a good deal tougher before they got better.

The second day with Chris, we fought the conditions, and actually managed a couple of sailfish.  Though the fishing was off, we had a great lunch and made the most of it, while praying for better fishing on day 3.

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It is always frustrating when expectations are really high, and realities just can’t meet them.  As much as I hate the expression, “that’s fishing”.  We anglers try to control that we can in order to guarantee success, but there are always a few variables that we can’t control.  As an angler, you have to learn to accept that.  So after 2 days of fishing with David, Chris and one of the best Crews in Guatemala, we totaled 3 sailfish and a few Dorado.  Though I still had 2 more fishing days on the books, Chris had been requested by another client, so I found myself with Sam and Capt. Jason Bryce on another classic boat.


The next morning at the docks Sam, Jason and I made a plan.  What we came up with was kind of simple: run until we found blue water.  We fired up and got rolling, but we didn’t find blue water until 62 miles out.  That was the farthest that Jason had ever run in all his years in Guatemala, but it didn’t help.  We did get a couple of fish, missed 1 or 2 others, but the hope of an epic bite by day’s end was nothing more than wishful thinking.  At least I spent the day among good friends, nice boats, and spectacular accommodations, because this sailfishing was getting kind of frustrating.

On the final day we caught 1-2 sailfish, but the highlight was coming across a pod of Spinner dolphin.  Where there are Spinners, there are usually tuna, and that’s exactly what we found.  I quickly rigged up some poppers on light rods.  We could see the tuna were 10-20 pounders.  We had some great topwater action with the Yo-zuri and Hogy poppers, and Sam even managed to pick up another sailfish in the midst of all this mayhem.

This trip for Guatemala Sails was not all that I had hoped for, but we had a great time no less, and made the most of what we found.  I saw some beautiful water, and was really impressed with the program and lodging at Casa Vieja.  Now I’m just looking forward to fishing with all these guys again, in hopes of seeing what Guatemala sailfishing can be.