The Pacific coast of Guatemala is well known for the fantastic fishing found in what is commonly called the Iztapa region.
Billfish, particularly Pacific sailfish, blue and striped marlin are easily accessible to anglers within a short distance from shore.
Recently, I visited this area with two friends from Wyoming.
We left in a snow storm and were really looking forward to trading winter clothes for those designed for tropical climates.
Besides looking forward to hooking plenty of billfish with a fly, we were also looking forward to basking in temperatures that were almost 100 degrees warmer than what we had been experiencing in the Cowboy state.
We flew to Guatemala City, where we quickly went through customs, grabbed our luggage and took a shuttle to Porto San Jose, where we would be base-camped for six days and fishing out of Marina Pez Vellato on a 38 foot Billy Knowles custom express with a captain and two mates while pursuing billfish using fly fishing tackle.
Fly fishing for trout is fun and the reason Cody is home.
Bill fishing with a fly, however, is an exponential step up in every regard.
Fly rods are 12-16 weights and designed to land fish that can weigh as little as 60 pounds, or exceed the weight of an NFL lineman.
Reels have super heavy duty drags and carry a minimum of 500 yards of 50 pound backing, plus fly line.
Fly lines have 70 pound monofilament cores and weigh four times as much as a typical floating 5-weight trout fly line.
Leaders are not tapered, but designed using a series of knots called "Biminis," with 15-18 inches of 16-22 pound test IGFA class tippet knotted to 100-pound mono that is called a bite tippet.
Far different than a typical tapered trout leader, but necessary to take the abuse a billfish can dole out during the fight back to the boat.
Flies are six inches long, or longer, and are designed to imitate squid, sardines or dorado, a billfish's preferred diet.
Due to the La Nina (little girl in Spanish) cycle impacting the Pacific Ocean, we didn't have to travel far to find fish.
Almost as soon as our hook less teaser baits were dropped into the water each morning, sailfish (no marlin this trip) would be in the teaser rigs slashing at them with their bills.
Our boat's crew would pull the teasers away from the sailfish, increasing their desire to eat the escaping meal as they teased the fish ever closer to our boat.
When the sailfish came within 40 feet in back of the boat, the teasers would come out of the water.
Immediately, the captain would put the boat into neutral and the angler would cast his fly as a replacement for the missing bait.
Within seconds after the fly hit the water, the sailfish would attack the fly as if it were the only edible thing in the Pacific.
Words cannot describe the adrenaline rush when the fish turns and literally attacks the fly.
Nor can words describe the battle that takes place after the hook is set.
Bill fish can swim almost 60 mph. They are also acrobatic and can perform incredible leaps and greyhounding runs that can burn 300 yards of backing in an amazingly short time.
Can you imagine having your fly firmly hooked into something that fast?
Fortunately for us, this wasn't our first billfish rodeo, so we had our drags cranked down to within the breaking point of our leaders and often had our fish to the boat within 12 minutes, or less, after setting the hook.
The three of us landed a plenty of sailfish last week.
We also had just as many throw our flies, cut our leaders during the fight or ignore our flies when presented, but that is fishing, whether in Park County or Iztapa.
While the temperatures are in the single digits in Wyoming, I highly recommend a billfish trip to Guatemala to chase away the winter doldrums and soak up some much welcomed warmth and sunshine.