Guatemala Fishing Report August 23rd 2010- Rain Rain…….Go away

Guatemala City

There is a reason why they call it the rainy season in Guatemala. Once it starts to rain it can continue, at least in the highlands, for much of the summer. This year the rain started in earnest just as the peak fishing season in Guatemala ended at the end of May – and there has been little respite ever since.

The rainy season commenced properly at the beginning of June when tropical Storm Agatha swept across Central America, bringing torrential rain that killed more than 100 people and opened a deep sinkhole in Guatemala City which reportedly swallowed up a three-storey building. The first named storm of the 2010 Pacific season dumped more than three feet of rain in parts of Guatemala, before also sweeping around to hit El Salvador and Honduras.

The huge sinkhole opened up in a northern district of Guatemala City was estimated to be approximately 100ft wide. This has become something of a recurring problem in the city, with a similar event only a few of years ago. Fingers are pointing towards a substandard drainage system.

The rain at the coast has been more intermittent, although we have seen rain most days as is normal in subtropical areas at this time of year. The benefit to fishing in Guatemala is that the flooding river washes out with it huge amounts of debris – effectively flushing out the system to sea. As the larger pieces of wood (and in some cases trees !) float offshore, they become natural holding areas for small fish and so the start of the food chain. When we are fishing for sailfish in Guatemala, we use exclusively circle hooks – and while the benefits in terms of fish mortality are well known and appreciated, one downside is that baits rigged this way are difficult to achieve hook ups with more predatory fish such as dorado and wahoo.
The sailfish and marlin are stalkers and hunters – often gathering in large packs around pods or balls of bait – and then collectively slashing into them as a team. Their instinct when pursuing baits is to follow and attack from behind using their bill to first stun the bait (or quarry) and then come back to devour it. This attack technique plays well into circle hooks, as it allows the fish time to swallow the complete bait and so for the circle hook to be effective.
Contrast this however to the instinctive attacks of mahi-mahi (dorado) that are more opportunistic – tending to be attracted to activity or commotion in the water, and then attacking the baits with a single aggressive bite from the side. This “orthogonal” attack means that the bite becomes very quick and a onetime (in most cases) event. There is no following of the bait, no circling back and no conscious swallowing of the bait – just the attack and departure. This profile frequently means a missed hookup on circle hooks.
This time of year however, we are able to target dorado around debris fields and specifically fish for them – which means we can switch over to beak or even J-type hooks that catch immediately on first bit……and so are much more effective for big dorado than the circles.
All of this combined has made the fishing in recent weeks quite spectacular despite the weather. We have been targeting and catching some big dorado on both conventional and fly – but further offshore have also been raising good numbers of sailfish.
Typically in the summertime, the bait becomes less concentrated and so the billfish are more spread out – but this summer we have observed much stronger concentrations of sailfish, and many trips have resulted in great numbers of double digit raises as well as coolers full of “meatfish” for the table.
Once we have run six or so miles offshore, the weather has cleared most days – and although you can see the dark clouds gathering over the volcanoes in the highlands, the sky offshore has remained relatively clear and the air has been dry for the majority of the fishing day.
So if you are considering a fishing trip to Guatemala, do not write-off the summer months – but if you really want predictable and consistent sailfish and marlin fishing start thinking about November – May. We are booking strongly now into the coming season, so give us a call anytime and we will be happy to make arrangements for you in the Sailfish Capital of the World.

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