Want to catch and release HUGE numbers of sailfish? Go to Guatemala!! My 19 year old daughter and I just went on an epic daddy-daughter vacation and she caught 11 sailfish and 10 giant dorado (aka mahi-mahi) in only two days. By the end of the trip her arms were almost falling off, and she's a strong woman. What a blast!
Guatemala isn't just a world-class fishing destination; for sailfish (the ones with the radically massive dorsal fin and pointy bill on the front of their face), it's the very best place in the world to fish. On a good day, anglers can catch over 20 a day (actually over 30, but you probably wouldn't believe me).
That's about ten times more than some other great fishing spots. It's just too good there so I actually don't tell all of my friends because then I have to prove it by googling the info on the spot so they don't think I'm exaggerating.
My daughter and I stayed at Pacific Fins Resort and Marina which is about 90 min from Guatemala City Airport. The place is super deluxe so all you have to do is arrive at the spiffy airport in Guatemala, where one of there chauffeurs whisks you off to their lodge by the water.
Once you get to the lodge, it's all about them catering to your every need. They greet you with cocktails as soon as they help you with your luggage. What time would you like breakfast, sir? Will you be having shrimp, steak, or dorado for dinner? Can we bring you some cocktails at the pool, sir? Can we bring you into town to shop or sightsee? Would you like to go for a boat ride in the canal? My daughter was in heaven; I think it's the first time she's ever been treated like royalty.
Anyway, the fishing was amazing, spectacular, once in a lifetime. I let her catch them all and I took pics for family fun, and also because I was hoping to get some cover shots of her holding some dorado. The problem was that the dorado were too damn big to hold up!! Even the mates had a hard time lifting them up for photos. I'm sure they got tired of holding them up next to my daughter for "just one more shot" but they were too polite to let on.
This trip was cool, too, because it was one of the first I've taken where I was able to let someone else catch the fish. This time, my daughter did all the fishing. I used to fish for marlin and other exotics from kayaks on channels like Nat Geo TV. Eventually I gave up kayak fishing and started taking cover shots and writing articles about big game fishing and from boats for mags like Marlin, Sportfishing Magazine, Bluewater Boats and Sportfishing, and Saltwater Sportsman.
This trip was different from most of my other trips to exotic locations in another way. Usually, I try to get jumping billfish shots for the magazines for which I write and take cover shots, and when I was young and foolhardy, I'd get in the water and get underwater shots of big fish like tuna, marlin, and sharks. GoPros now make all of that risky stuff I did swimming around with huge fish unnecessary, plus I'm a bit wiser, so I stay in the boat now.
We had a great time when our chauffeur took us into the town of San Jose. It's not a tourist town, it's the real deal. Everyone gets around on scooters-I saw a whole family loaded up on one!-and there are really cool markets and fruit stands. My daughter fell in love with a cute little girl downtown and her parents let my daughter hold her. My wife is from Mexico and my daughter and I speak a bunch of Spanish so making conversation with the super friendly Guatemalans we met was a no brainer.
Next time we go to Guatemala, we will visit some of the awesome sites that make the country a popular travel destination for people who don't fish. Antigua (pictured below) and the super cool and pointy conical volcanos are next on our list.
I ain't getting paid to write this blog so I am going to stop here, and leave you with some cool pics. Plus, I already promised my daughter I would make a music video of our trip, and I haven't even waded through all of the footage. No matter though, we had the trip of a lifetime.