Guatemala Fishing Vacations
Whether you are a seasoned pro or still in search of your first billfish, there may be no better place in the entire world to catch sailfish than Guatemala. Known as the ‘Sailfish Capital of World’, its a nickname that is well deserved and rarely contested with the numbers seen here year after year. Our Guatemala fishing packages feature a fleet of boats averages 15 sailfish raises a day, all year round and we also see the other pelagic species like marlin, yellow-fin tuna, and dorado (mahi mahi) as well. Enjoy luxury all inclusive fishing lodges, private fishing charters, and some of the best billfishing you’ll find anywhere in the world. Once you inquire with us we’ll work with you personally to customize your ideal Guatemala fishing vacation. Trust our decades of local expertise and see why nearly 40% of our anglers are repeat & referral guests!
All Inclusive Fishing
Best of Guatemala
Highlights of Guatemala
Guatemala Fly Fishing
Guatemala Fishing Weekend
Bonefish to Billfish
Guatemala Fishing Info
Over the past two decades, Guatemala has earned itself the lofty title of ‘the Sailfish Capital of the World.‘ While Costa Rica is called ‘the Billfish Capital of the World‘ due to the combo of sailfish and marlin they enjoy and the state of Florida widely recognized at the overall ‘Fishing Capital of the World‘, few places on Earth can even challenge the sailfish numbers that Guatemala produces year after year. An incredible statistic to wrap your head around is that our top fishing lodge averages 15 sailfish raises per day, per boat throughout the entire year. That means that overall, almost any time you book a Guatemala Fishing Vacation you may see double digit sailfish.
Guatemala can have slow days and slow weeks like any other fishery in the world, but when you book one of our Guatemala fishing packages during the peak sailfish season months (November through April) you are going to have plenty of action. The standard technique when fishing for sailfish and marlin in Guatemala is trolling a combination of plastic teasers and ballyhoo. Most boats will troll a daisy chain, controlled by the captain in the tower, and one plastic teaser on each side of the boat. These are combined with a long line, baited with a ballyhoo and run through the outrigger, and a flat line with another ballyhoo. Most conventional tackle used for sailfish is in the 20 lb – 30 lb class, but they will have a 50 lb reel rigged with a mackerel or bonito in case a marlin comes into the spread. Sailfish can also be caught on spinning gear since they range in the 80-120 lb range in the Pacific. All billfish are strictly catch and release.
The sailfishing has made Guatemala a house hold name, but it wouldn’t be accurate to call it a ‘one-trick pony’ either. In Guatemala you can catch all three types of marlin found in the tropical Eastern Pacific (blue, black, and striped) as well as the other main pelagic species like yellow-fin tuna, dorado, and wahoo. The best fishing for the edible pelagics is often in our green season months of May to October, so almost any month you visit you should have action no matter when you plan your fishing vacation to Guatemala. While the sailfish and marlin in Guatemela are strictly catch and release, any tuna, dorado, or wahoo can be brought back to the lodge and served as dinner – if you don’t eat it all as sashimi on the boat that is!
Fly Fishing in Guatemala
The sailfish numbers are so incredible in Guatemala that it has become one of the top places in the world to fly fish for billfish. Hook ups and releases are lower when using fly tackle versus conventional, but when you see double digit fish most days you’ll still have plenty of chances. When fly fishing for sailfish in Guatemala, a 12 wt – 14 wt is ideal as the rod is used more as a fighting tool than for casting. Most casts are no more than 20-30 ft as the mate will tease the fish right to the back of the boat for you. When the captain gives the signal and the teaser is ripped away from the fish, present your fly to the side and slightly behind the fish so eats it swimming away from you. The fly can then be set by holding the rod at a 45 degree angle away from the fish or with a hard set. A standard fly leader is built with 80-100 lb shock tippet and a 20 lb tippet. The most popular sailfish flies are pink squid patterns with a foam popper head.
Inshore Fishing in Guatemala
While not generally it’s forte, Guatemala does offer some inshore fishing as well. While the vast majority of captains specialize in offshore trolling, a few select captains are very skilled at – and enjoy – a day of inshore fishing. The main targets here are roosterfish, jacks, mackerel, and the occasional snook or snapper. Inshore fishing in Guatemala perhaps shouldn’t be the main focus of your fishing trip, but it can be fun to switch it up for a day if the offshore bite is slow or to simply target new species.
Where is the Best Fishing in Guatemala?
Guatemala has become one of the world’s most popular destinations for sailfish, but all those gaudy catch counts occur in one specific region of the country. Every angler who books a Guatemala fishing vacation heads to the southwest corner of the country where the Marina Pez Vela in Puerto San Jose is home to all the best fishing boats in the country. Located just 1.5 hrs from the Guatemalan International Airport (GUA), this port town is more industrial than touristy, but it puts you at the doorstep to some of the best sailfishing in the world.
Like the rest of Central America’s Pacific Coast, Guatemala is blessed to be at the confluence of two major ocean currents that bring in a constant supply of nutrient and oxygen rich water which starts the food chian. Thanks to 37 volcanoes that help block the strong seasonal winds coming from the Gulf of Mexico, that rich water stays close to shore and isn’t blown away offshore by the 20-30 mph winds that blow through El Salvador, Nicaragua, and northern Costa Rica from December through April. Last but not least, the reason the best fishing in Guatemala is concentrated in one spot is due to a unique geographical feature they call “The Trench” or “The Pocket”. A natural canyon runs from the continental shelf 55 miles offshore to within 12 miles of the Marina Pez Vela, creating the perfect pocket for the nutrient rich water to come close to shore and concentrate baitfish and billfish alike. This canyon is 40 miles wide and as deep as 3,000-4,000 ft in spots so marlin, sailfish, yellow-fin tuna, and dorado are all found here throughout the year.
When is the Best Fishing in Guatemala?
Guatemala’s Pacific Coast shares very similar weather and fishing seasons to it’s regional counterparts, Costa Rica and Panama. Their dry season, or summer, runs from December through April and then the green season is from May to November. The peak sailfish season in Guatemala tends to mimic those seasons, with the bite picking up in October and not tapering off until the summer months. The most popular months to target billfish in Guatemala are January through April. If you want more variety than just sailfish and/or want to catch something to eat, the green season months of May-June-July-August tend to offer the best yellow-fin tuna and dorado action. The inshore fishing is best from February through July. Your Guatemala fishing vacation will be catered to your target species and ideal travel dates.
Available Species in Guatemala
Guatemala is the undisputed ‘sailfish capital of the world‘ thanks to the gaudy sailfish numbers they put up year after year, but don’t call it a one-trick-pony. Offshore fishing in Guatemala also produces some fantastic marlin action with blues being the most common but black marlin and striped marlin are also caught with regularity. In the green season months when the sailfish numbers dip the meatfish like yellow-fin tuna, dorado, and wahoo show up in great numbers. While not known as an inshore fishing powerhouse like Costa Rica and Panama, inshore fishing in Guatemala can be a nice change of pace from the offshore trolling and produce quality catches like roosterfish and snapper.
Inshore & Bottom Fishing
Guatemala Fishing Lodges & Accommodations
Guatemala has been attracting offshore anglers for decades so there are several high end fishing lodges to enjoy. Most fishing lodges in Guatemala are all inclusive so all your meals and drinks will be included. In places like Antigua and Lake Atitlan, you can find exclusive, internationally recognized boutique hotels to enjoy. When you book your Guatemala fishing vacation with us we will provide you with private transfers, private fishing charters and only the nicest 4 and 5-star properties that meet our expectations for quality, reliability, and service. Being local experts, we have personally visited every single property we represent so we’ll use our personal experience to hand pick the perfect fit for your group.
Guatemala Day Tours & Excursions
Your Guatemala Fishing Vacation does not need to be all fishing, all the time. Being the largest country in Central America, both geographically with its size and with its population of 17 million people, Guatemala has a lot more to offer than just billfishing. Two coastlines, 37 volcanoes, Mayan ruins, Spanish colonial history, national parks & rainforest, wildlife, and much more. History buffs can visit over 1,500 archaeological sites, including of course the famous Mayan capital of Tikal. The beautiful Spanish-colonial town of Antigua is a living, breathing UNESCO World Heritage site as it’s cobblestone streets and 500 yr old buildings transport you back in time. Dive deep into local culture at artisan markets or push yourself on adventure tours like volcano hikes, rafting, mountain biking and zip-lines. Finally nature lovers can bask in the beauty of places like the ever-popular Lake Atitlan, the natural pools at Semuc Champey, and the incredible rainforest and wildlife near Peten. Whether it’s an off day from fishing, extra nights before or after your fishing days, or for the non-anglers in your group, there are several great tours available. We can also customize your Guatemala fishing vacation so you spend a few nights in different locations throughout the country so you can see how diverse it is. The list includes:
- Spend time in the beautiful colonial town of Antigua
- Explore Antigua’s museums, churches, and amazing culinary scene.
- Canopy zip-line tour
- White Water Rafting
- Mountain Biking
- Coffee plantation tour
- Hike the active Pacaya Volcano
- Visit the Mayan ruins of Tikal
- Enjoy incredible rainforest and wildlife in Peten.
- Spend a few nights relaxing at Lake Atitlan
Guatemala Fishing FAQs
Do I need a fishing license to fish in Guatemala?
YES. Technically all anglers need a fishing license to fish in Guatemala. We will take care of this for you pre-arrival however once we provide your lodge with all the names from your group. Fishing licenses are included in our Guatemala fishing packages.
How many people will be on my fishing boat?
All fishing vacations to Guatemala booked by Central America Fishing are private, so the boat is 100% yours. We do not set up any shared charters and you will not be paired with any other groups.
What is the standard tip for a fishing charter in Guatemala?
A standard tip for a charter fishing crew in Guatemala is 10%-20% of the cost of the charter. Because nearly all fishing vacations in Guatemala take place at all inclusive fishing lodges you are often given a package price for accommodations and fishing so you may not know how much the boat costs. We recommend a $300 tip for boats in the 36′-45′ range and a $200 tip for boats in the 28′-35′ range. Tips in US dollars are just fine.
Can I bring my own fishing gear?
OF COURSE! Our Guatemala fishing lodges will provide all the fishing tackle and bait you’ll need and they are extremely dialed into their fishery, but you are always welcome to bring your own gear if you want to catch fish using your own tackle. Even fly fishing tackle is included, but again feel free to bring your personal rod or flies you’ve tied yourself.
Which fish in Guatemala are catch and release and which ones can I keep to eat?
By law, all billfish in Guatemala are strictly catch and release. Other species like tuna, dorado (mahi), wahoo, snappers, groupers, corvina, snook can be kept and enjoyed for a fresh seafood dinner. We also release all roosterfish.
Is Guatemala safe?
YES. Guatemala is Central America’s largest country, and like anywhere else in the world there is crime and poverty. Most of this is in the capital of Guatemala City, but our anglers have no reason to spend any time here. The luxury fishing lodges 1.5 hrs away and are all extremely secure with gated walls, armed guards, and video cameras. The other popular destinations like Antigua (one of our favorite spots in all of Central America!), Lake Atitlan, and the Mayan ruins of Tikal are major international tourist attractions so the government and local communities keep these very safe for visitors.
What if there is bad weather on our fishing day?
It is extremely rare to have bad weather and rough sea conditions along Guatemala’s Pacific Coast. If there is bad weather the first option is to try and reschedule you, and if that isn’t possible you will receive a full credit for that fishing day on a return visit.
All Guatemala Fishing Packages booked with Central America Fishing include the following:
- Free Vacation Planning (no fees + direct rates)
- Airport Meet & Greet upon arrival into GUA International Airport
- Private, air-conditioned transfers with English speaking driver.
- Luxury all inclusive fishing lodges.
- Private fishing charters
- Extra nights in Antigua and/or Lake Atitlan
- All Guatemalan taxes
- Free quotes on travel insurance
- Pre-arrival assistance with dinner reservations, tee times, pre-stocking your condo or villa, hiring a private chef, and special requests.
- 24/7 support once you are here in country