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Winter Fishing Trips
2009-12-17    

GUATEMALA
Pez Vela is Spanish for sailfish, but for fisherman, Guatemala means the same thing. An average of over a dozen sails per boat are released there every day of the year. That figure doesnt only apply during the peak season of December into May. Thats ALL YEAR. Imagine how good it is when things are hot. Ill tell you how good. You can expect to raise a minimum of twenty sails per day. How many you convert is up to you, but typically these fish are voracious, with very few window shoppers. There have been numerous instances when boats have released 40 and more fish in a single outing.
It has become THE place to go to for light tackle billfishing. In fact fly fishing for sails has become so common, that you often see more boats fishing unbalanced, with only one outrigger down, than with the customary two. Missing or losing a fish on light gear is less of a concern when you have an expectation of raising another one in a couple of minutes.
Unlike other destinations where you have to plan on being in the right place at the right time, in Guatemala there is only one place, and as for the time to be there, whatever is good for you is most likely good for the fish as well. The boats are all fast well equipped sportfishermen manned by experienced crews consisting of a captain and two mates (two are needed to keep up with the action).
If youre itching for some red hot sailfish action, Guatemala is the place for you.
COSTA RICA
Its hard to imagine a better location for anglers interested in escaping the winter for a couple of days of great shirtsleeve fishing than Costa Rica.
It is by far the most popular fishing destination in Central America. On the west coast the main attraction is the bill fishing which is excellent all year, possibly with the exception of October and November, when weather conditions can be a bit iffy. December through April is the PRIME SEASON in the southern half of the country, including Quepos, adjacent to the Manuel Antonio National Park, Drakes Bay, Los Sueños and Golfito/Puerto Jiminez. During this time of the year the northern part of the country, experiences strong northerly winds, which often doesn't allow offshore fishing, a problem that doesn't exist in the south. Boats from all over the country flock to the Quepos area to take advantage of the exceptional sailfishing that takes place there yearly. In addition there are marlin, tuna, and dorado as well as inshore species such as roosterfish, snapper, mackerel, jacks and amberjack available.
Fishing further south, in the Golfito/Puerto Jiminez area, also has excellent billfishing, however more emphasis is placed on the inshore species like roosterfish, snapper, jacks and grouper. This is the only part of the country on the Pacific coast with true "fishing lodges", although you can also stay in a hotel and fish on a local charterboat.
As the year progresses the main body of sailfish moves north, with the peak fishing during April and May being between Cabo Blanco and Cabo Vela Garza area. Later, from June into September, the better fishing takes place further north around Tamarindo and Flamingo
Fishing on the east coast is for tarpon and snook, and is concentrated in the jungle rivers and just outside their mouths in the Caribbean Sea. There are three main river systems, the Parismina, Tortuguero and the Colorado, which is the largest river system. Tarpon are available all year, with the best time of year from January into October, and the best time to catch snook from October into January. Accessed only by air or boat, accommodations are in modern fishing lodges offering all the amenities that the visiting angler could think of.
Panama
Panama's Pacific coast is very similar to Costa Rica, except that there are much fewer angling opportunities. In fact your choices are limited to two different areas, one to the southeast of the canal and one to the northwest.
Tropic Star Lodge, one of the world's premier fishing lodges is located over one hundred miles southeast of Panama City. During our winter months the black marlin fishing there is nothing short of phenomenal. In addition there are all of the other species associated with the tropical Pacific, only in greater numbers than anywhere else. The lodge is luxurious, and fishing is done aboard 31' Bertrams. During the height of the season (December through April) only full week bookings are accepted, running from Saturday to Saturday. However, if you want to go during that time of year, youll usually have to plan a year or more in advance, although recently there have been occasional cancellations. From May through September shorter stays are available, and the lodge is less likely to be fully booked so far in advance.
In the northwestern part of the country, the action is centered around Coiba Island and the nearby Hannibal Bank. There are two liveaboard options there and three land based. The liveaboards only accept full week bookings and tend to fill up early, while the land based lodges will accept bookings of as little as three days, with no fixed arrival and departures.
BELIZE
Except for fishermen, and in particular, light tackle anglers and fly fishermen as well as divers, Belize, once known as British Honduras, is the forgotten part of Central America. It is located just south of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, to the east of Guatemala and is the only English speaking country in the region..
It's chief claim to fame is that it has the longest barrier reef in the western hemisphere, and second in the world only to Australia's Great Barrier Reef. This, along with the fact that over ninety percent of its islands are uninhabitable makes it a light tackle anglers idea of heaven. From the super clear waters along the reef, through its myriad clusters of mangrove islands into its jungle rivers, it has something for everybody.
Want variety? You can expect to catch two dozen different species of fish in a weeks time, from bonefish, permit and tarpon to wahoo, sailfish, grouper and snapper. Want to specialize? Get out your ten weight fly rod and try for the elusive permit, or stalk massive schools of bonefish. How about tarpon? Where do you prefer to pursue them? In slow moving jungle rivers with the howler monkeys screaming at you or on wide open flats with your guide slowly bringing you within casting range? Belize has it all.
Winter is just around the corner, and if you feel the need to spend some time catching fish without thinking about how many layers of clothing you need, Belize is just the place for you.

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