After a long New Year break spent on the beautiful Rio Dulce on the Caribbean side of Guatemala, we have been back on the water since the 10th of January and the fishing has been exceptional, starting off red-hot just like we had left it in 2008. The month of January saw multiple 30 plus sailfish release days, with many marlin and large dorado around to make things even more exciting for our anglers.
Miguel and Rafa Medina and friends of Guatemala City started it off with a banner day releasing 58 sailfish from 84 bites with several dorado for the dinning table and all the action at only 12 miles. What a way to start the year!!!
Our neighbor Dr. Scott Lund timed his trip perfectly and together with Scott Armand saw some wild fishing on the 11th through 13th. The duo released 24 on bait and 9 on fly their first day, 7 on fly and 19 on bait the next and topped it off with 4 on fly and 10 on bait their final day, after which we had sundowners and snacks at the magnificent new Antigua Golf and Country Club (http://www.lareunion.com.gt/) while on our way up to Antigua for a celebratory treat to round off a wonderful trip for the laid-back Floridian's.
January 12th saw Todd Timmernan adding 21 releases to his trip aboard the Circle Hook/Capt. Hook with Capt. Eddie Bariez. On the 17th Aaron Fraizer and his lovely fiancée Terra, spent their first day on Guatemalan waters, with 20 sails and a 200lb blue marlin aboard the Circle Hook/Capt. Hook to make for a most memorable trip!!
Holts Crew and his son Holts Jr, of Louisiana, had planned their trip two years prior and couldn't have dreamed of better. Jr had always wanted to catch billfish and dad's treat turned out to be nothing short of unbelievable for the young man. The 16th saw them starting at full throttle with 36 sailfish releases. The 17th saw it just as good with 37 releases and a blue that would not eat as well as several dorado up to 40lb's. By day three 11 year old Holtz Jr just couldn't get enough of it and with all the practice he was getting had got rid of his butterflies and was baiting, hooking and fighting almost every fish by himself. We also found a log loaded with huge dorado and bait of all sorts so it was a busy busy day that none of us will ever forget, with 34 sails released and over 10 dorado. Seeing a young man enjoy himself and learning so much along with his proud father at his side makes for a very special trip and just the sort of thing that makes a captains job the rewarding occupation it is. Thanku guys!!!!
The 20th saw Robert Davis and friends from Texas aboard the Circle Hook/Capt. Hook ending up their first day with 13 sailfish releases, out of 19 bites, from 24 raises, with 14 sailfish releases on their second day.
On the 22nd we entertained visiting American businessmen on a trip put together by Aviu Polanco of "Jardines Mil Flores", with anglers Don Snow, Dean Bemis, Henry Olsen, Scott David Newton, Gary David Portnoy, Francisco Barrientos, Estuardo Almazán, Alvaro Fernández and Danny Lorenzana, fishing on two boats and releasing 11 sailfish and some big dorado with a marlin that blasted the bait but would not chew aboard the 'Decisive'.
Our long-time supporter Denny Doyle of Jacksonville Florida took advantage of an opening and came on down with his good mates Bob White and Chester Stokes. We turned the 'Decisive' out wide to look for action but had a slow first day releasing 4 from 5. Things are never slow for long in Guatemala and with lines in the water only minutes on the 24th we had a huge blue all over the spread, but with all the bait about she just couldn't make up her mind and left some rather excited anglers hearts racing. With 10 releases from 22 bites and countless dorado our anglers were kept very busy for the rest of the day and got some great drop-back and hookup practise. Leaving the best till last in true 'Decisive' fashion we found them snapping on the following day and released 33 from 47 bites with as many 25 to 40lb dorado as one has seen here in many seasons to make for some arm-tiring, fish jumping action. Once back at the dock it looked like Denny did not want to get off the boat and paid us the kindest of compliments, saying that he has been hounded by all the operators in Guatemala for his business but after fishing with our crew and staying at the luxurious Billfish Inn with Cindy and her staff, he knows why he and his friends always comes back to us at Guatemalan Billfishing Adventures......"it just doesn't get any better!!!", he said. Well, we are very pleased he does, thanku Denny, Bob and Chester. Another unbelievable trip.
The 26th though the 29th saw our very regular fly anglers Joe O'Brien and Don Butler with us. The duo started off in expert fashion going 7 from 8 with a fine display of fly angling by them both. Day two saw us live baiting a life-filled log for a marlin but to no avail, as well as raising 12 sailfish of which only 4 would bite the fly for 2 releases. We raised a blue on day 3 that would not play and the sailfish inshore were still lazy with only a single release. Knowing only one cure, we ran out deep towards the west on their final day and found the fish in aggressive numbers to seal the trip for the guys going 9 from 12 with a blue that showed himself but would not tease in for the fly. Sending Joe and Don off in high spirits.
Dave Ribler and Marvin Jacob's of New York, joined us while fishing with Capt. Eddie on the Circle Hook/Capt. Hook. Dave is a longtime client of Eddie and has had the pleasure of staying at all of Guatemala's lodges but enjoyed his trip with us so much he extended his stay by and extra day and finished their four days with some impressive numbers, releasing 17 and a blue on day one, 24 sails on day two, 26 on day three and 16 on day four, for an unbeatable experience for Marvin's first visit.
The 30th saw us start the Hill Dishman 'No Sancocho' Shootout, fishing against 11 of the finest crews in these waters all competing for $47,000 in cash and prizes. The tournament has a unique format in that a sailfish on the baits is worth 10 points, and sailfish on the fly is worth 25 points. Fly fishing becomes an option on Day 2 at 12:00 noon. Each “sancocho” costs a team $20 and all this money is donated to the local school in Puerto Quetzal. $20 for a missed bite in Guatemala can add up fast, and this year $5,240 was raised for the school. Day one saw us making the bold move to run back out wide but to no avail as we could not find the previous days action and where somewhat down the leaderboard by it's end. The following day a bite was discovered to the east and Team Decisive, with boat owner Steve Cothron, Scott Lund and Harvey Steinhagen started ctahing them and quietly began climbing the leader board. By mid-day we went to the fly and it started paying off. When the lines out of the water call came at 3:30, Team Decisive had 16 releases on the baits and 5 on the fly for a daily total of 285 points. This was good enough for day money, easily topping the next best team. Back at the dock, the numbers were tabulated and when the dust settled, Team Decisive had taken the top spot on the leader board with 375 total points. Day Three saw most boats heading back to the east. Everyone was fishing close together and keeping a watchful eye on the leaders. Those that watched saw the Decisive backing down early and often. With Scott throwing the fly to aggressive fish that would tease in, while Steve and Harvey picked away at the shyer fish with the ballyhoo on our 20lb Alutecnos outfits, the strategy paid off as the mid-day report had us opening up a 100 point lead. The afternoon stayed strong for the 'Decisive' and we continued to raise sailfish after sailfish on our right short Hydra lure by Roddy Hayes's Legend and coasted to a very convincing victory of more than a 20 fish margin. In these fish rich waters with such great crews and anglers fishing the tournamant it just goes to show how well Team Decisive really was fishing. With a second win in as many tournaments fished, the fish-raising ability of this boat and crew after the new engine installation is really paying dividends, taking the daily pot on day two and three, as well as the first marlin pot and the big payout of the overall Calcutta.
Seeing the month out in such style with a fine victory and lots of fish, blue water and bait, Brad and Cindy look forward to a great February and having all our anglers enjoy themselves with us in true Guatemalan style aboard the 'Decisive' and 'Circle Hook/Capt. Hook'.
Until next report, tight lines, circle hooks and healthy releases.
Capt. Brad Philipps