It is hard to believe that 2008 is behind us, but good to know that means another year of great angling ahead for all. 2008 proved another exceptional year for us at Guatemalan Billfishing Adventures, with great fishing, a beautifully slick running lodge, a repowered boat, growing recognition as one of the finest billfishing operations around and a calendar full of delighted anglers. With the billfish showing up in exceptional numbers by mid-December we saw the year out in true Guatemalan style with huge numbers of sailfish releases, blue marlin, flat blue seas and overjoyed fishermen.
Big news for the upcoming year is that we are proud to announce our partnership with the newly opened Antigua Golf Resort. This magnificent Perry Dye designed 5 star Golf and Country Club is a one of a kind exclusive development in Guatemala, set in amongst volcanoes and coastal views, located only 40 minutes from the Marina and minutes from Antigua. We have signed an exclusive booking deal with the Resort to handle all their sportfishing needs as well as book and promote their wonderful facilities amongst the sportfishing operations in Guatemala. Anglers can now add in a night or two at the exclusive Golf Suites, along with a round of golf and tours of the surrounding Antigua area to make for an even more eventful Guatemalan billfishing adventure.
We are also adding the famous 43' Willis 'Capt. Hook' to our fleet. The boat has fished these fish-filled waters for over 12 years and is possibly the most recognizable boat in Guatemala. Capt. Eddie Bairez has been working on the boat for the past 11 years and started running the boat in 2004. Eddie knows this boat and these waters like no other and is widely acclaimed for his friendly angler pleasing style and fish-catching ability. His comprehensive list of anglers is going to be delighted at the lodging opportunity that this partnership is going to open for them. Our clients are going to enjoy the option of putting together larger groups and taking advantage of being able to fish on this exceptional boat now on our calendar.
December started with Scott Segal and friend Brad Nannen made the trip down from Chicago to fish the 3rd through the 5th with us on the 'Decisive'. Brad started off in great form, releasing a 300# blue on 20# tackle on day one, his first ever along with a sail or two. We missed another blue the following day releasing 4 sails and on the final day Scott choose to give Brad the opportunity to try his hand at the fly. With good technique he went on to release 2 from 4 on the long wand and the duo left happy campers having succeeded in cover all angles.
The 12th saw long-time Dominican Republic anglers Miguel Ricart, his wife Maria Gisela and their friends Eduardo and Sarah Read, making their annual trip to the rich Guatemalan waters. Our west coast friend and photographer, Bill Boyce, joined us to take photos for the group and indulge in everything we have to offer. Their first day saw the foursome releasing 15 sailfish from 17 bites with some fine angling, hooking almost everything that came their way. The following day things slowed a little releasing 3 from 5, but on day three the marlin showed, with one particular sighting of a 400# fish feeding on a group of jacks right next to the boat that will stay in everyone's mind for years to come. We saw 3 marlin that day, 2 of them very nice fish, but only managed a bite from one of them which we missed, but did release 6 sails and the every present large dorado we have been seeing all season kept it a busy day.
Dr. Scott Lund arrived to fish the 15th, along with Bill's girlfriend Vivian, and what a day it proved to be. Running out wide we found the sailfish on the edge and had a bumper day with 39 raises while Scott did his thing on the fly with Vivian backing him up on the spin rod to catch those fish that would not eat the fly. We ended the day with 9 releases on fly and 8 on spin to make for a joyous evening to follow. We concentrated on getting Bill in the water for his patent underwater photography the next day while trying to tease in the sails and also dropping him in on some bait laden logs while Scott cast his fly on the side, releasing 3 sails and another 2 on bait.
It probably seems like we call everyone our friend down here, but this fishing world is so small and with so many repeat clients, everyone really does become a friend. Nigel Kreft is no exception and on his umpteenth trip, the laid back New Zealander has not only become a great mate but a fish magnet of note. With his father Jake making the trip from NZ and friends Jim Stevens and Chris White of Dallas, the boys released 23 sailfish on their first day to get the ball rolling on what was going to be a long and intense bite. Day two saw the guys release 43 from 70 bites and another 33 on day 3 to end with 99 releases for their three days and some very happy chaps heading home for Christmas.
With new engines, the increased speed and fishability of our 40' Gamefishermen, 'Decisive', was really proving it's worth as we continued to raise way more sailfish than the fleet average, but the new wheels still had us wondering if we were seeing the marlin numbers we should be. With a day off the water, Kennedy removed the props and we filed down the back end of the shiny props to get rid of the slight whistle we had in certain seas at trolling speeds.
The next day we were back on the water with our longtime South African friends, Michael Viljeon and Kevin Hodgson, and with lines only in the water a matter of minutes there she was, our first fish of the day, a 550# blue which Michael converted in true pitch-bait perfection and after an exciting 45 minute battle we had our tails up and where running with the wind at our backs. The rest of the day followed suit with the sails biting well and the boys getting in the groove releasing 32 sailfish from 47 bites. The next day saw 25 releases and another blue that came in so hot we missed the very difficult bite. The 23rd saw the best bite of the season so far with 47 releases and a big blue that did not bite, with 9 releases on Christmas Eve prior to taking a day’s break. Back on the water on the 26th we found the bite once more and early in the morning Kevin got the shot he was looking for and released a 250# blue on the pitch to put the preverbal cherry on his trip, along with another 34 sailfish releases for the day. The 27th saw us rounding off our final day of the year, going 27 from 39 to see out an exceptional trip for the South Africans and another wonderful year for us at Guatemalan Billfishing Adventures.
With the current pushing in the deep blue warm water and all the bait and sailfish around it is looking like we are in for a very good couple of months ahead of us. Boats that have been fishing have been seeing as many as 90 fish a day as of the 6th of January. We have just had a last minute cancellation, opening up the dates of January 20th, 21st, 22nd and 23rd. We are offering a 15% discount to anyone who books these dates so take advantage of this unique offer to get down to Guatemala for the billfishing trip of a lifetime. Please email Cindy at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested to take advantage of this opportunity or any other dates we have open latter in the season.
Until our end of January report, may it be a healthy and happy 2009 for all, jammed full of many bites and great releases.
Capt. Brad Philipps