Guatemala's Pacific Coast offers sport fishing as well as surfing but remains relatively undiscovered by visitors. The majority of the country's 1.8 million annual arrivals come to see the Maya ruins, colonial cities and spectacular volcanic interior.
Guatemala – Been There

Getting hooked on sport fishing – or not

Photo by Ton Koene

Guatemala – Been There Getting hooked on sport fishing – or not

We’ve all read Hemingway, so I expected my biggest problem when sport fishing would be battling a giant fish to exhaustion. The reality brought a completely different set of problems.

Kieran Meeke
Kieran Meeke Travel Writer

On Guatemala's Pacific Coast, my boat heads out into a heavy sea that soon has it pitching and rolling. The high superstructure makes it top heavy, exaggerating the motion. The crew expertly bait lines and start trailing them over the side, while I sit up top. That’s partly to stay out of the way of the experts, but also because the strong smell of diesel at the rear is overwhelming.

Sport fishing took off in Guatemala in the 1990s and these charter boats have grown in number since. Since fish are not landed and weighed, records are set by the number of releases in a day for one boat – which now stands at 124 sailfish. Catches of more than 25 per day are common, while an average of 15-22 sailfish are caught and released per boat, per day.

Eventually, I’m called down to handle a rod on which a fish is already struggling. Rather than hours of fighting, it is a matter of a few minutes before it’s landed. Once unhooked, the giant sailfish is quickly returned to the water where it lashes its tale in disdain and disappears beneath the waves. While it is back in its element, my stomach is starting to tell me I am not in mine. The lure of the land is calling.

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