Sailfishing in Guatemala WITH THE IDAHO ANGLER, FEB. 10-17, 2019

Guatemala Sailfish on Fly

Trip Hosted by Don and Joy Knickrehm

Casa Vieja Lodge, Guatemala SPRING 2019

It wasn’t too many years ago that the thought of hooking, playing and releasing a sailfish on a fly was only in the minds of a few adventurous anglers out to test their skills and equipment. Now, it is not only possible for the average angler to entertain thoughts of fly fishing for sails, but catching and releasing these marvelous gamefish is a realistic expectation at the right destination. And the right destination is at Casa Vieja Lodge in the coastal city of Puerto San Jose, Guatemala. This area is said to hold one of highest concentrations of sailfish anywhere, and it is easily accessible.

With numbers like 124 releases on conventional gear and 57 releases with a fly rod from one boat in ONE DAY, one can see why chances are greater of hooking billfish here on a fly than any other place on earth.

The first step to successful sailfishing is having that many fish in the water, but to be as consistently successful as the Casa Vieja team is takes more than just a lot of fish: it takes skilled boat captains and talented two to three-man crews to find the fish, tease them to within casting distance, and help an angler bring it boatside for release. These guys are fantastic, and really a part of what makes a trip to Casa Vieja so memorable! Casa Vieja uses the best sailfish captains and crews in Guatemala. They understand how to work with fly fishers, and appreciate the added challenge it takes to catch and release sailfish on a fly rod.


The adrenaline rush of sailfishing on a fly is indescribable, and addicting. One moment you’re relaxing with your friends and the crew, and the next instant a sailfish is spotted and the game is on! The crew hauls in all of the teasers and quickly throws out a hookless bait on a spinning rod, which they use to tease the fish in very close to the boat. You see the fish’s bill cutting through the water’s surface as it slashes behind the teaser. The moment the fish is within casting range, you have time to make one quick cast, aiming to accurately land the giant topwater fly as close to the teaser as possible. Once the fly is in the water, the teaser is pulled away from the fish and the hope is that the fish then turns and takes the fly (which they usually do). When they eat the fly, you set the hook, then hold on! The first-time billfish fly fisher is never prepared for the heart stopping jumps and rocket speed (sailfish have been clocked at over 50 mph) as it dissolves line and backing off your reel.

All of the flies, rods, and tackle are included with fly fishing packages at Casa Vieja Lodge.


Not to be outdone by the fishing, the Casa Vieja Lodge is every bit of a 4-star luxury hotel just a five minute drive from the marina. The main entrance to the lodge opens onto a courtyard beautifully landscaped by palm trees, flowers, bougainvillea and other vines, and a small sailfish-shaped fountain that doubles as a home for a pair of small turtles. To the right of the fountain is the restaurant area where breakfast is served, along with the small gift shop containing Casa Vieja shirts, hats, and other souvenirs from the lodge. To the left of the main courtyard is one wing of guest rooms. Directly ahead and opposite the main gate is the “churatta”, the large open air room roofed in thatch and home to the evening dining area, bar, and a pool table. Behind the churatta is a small pool for more turtles, and several large bird cages that are home to a parrot, a toucan, and several beautiful scarlet macaws. Perpendicular to the churatta is the pool area, flanked on one side by the other wing of guest rooms. The pool feels great at the end of a fishing day and is the center of the after-fishing social hour each evening.

In all, there are 20 rooms for a maximum occupancy of 38 guests. There are a total of 18 double rooms featuring two queen beds and en suite bathrooms, plus two single rooms with a king bed. Every room has air conditioning, 110 volt electricity (North American standard plugs so no adapters needed), and free WiFi.

The food at Casa Vieja is outstanding, starting from fresh Guatemalan coffee delivered to your room each morning and finishing with tasty dessert each evening. The day begins each morning at 5:45 am with coffee served to your room. Breakfasts are served in the indoor dining area, which resembles a small café with several tables. Lunches are served on the boat each day. The crew will prepare something while trolling the teasers, taking breaks periodically to tease in a sailfish or two. They’ll typically offer a selection of grilled chicken or hamburgers, cooked fresh in the ship’s galley. It’s not uncommon to catch a tuna or dorado in the morning and have that grilled up for a super-fresh fish lunch.

The resort is full of amenities and great food!

After fishing, guests congregate in and around the pool, and the staff brings cocktails and appetizers poolside for everyone. Dinners are served in the churatta, where they serve a three course meal, plus dessert, each evening, starting with a homemade soup, fresh salad, then a main course (often seafood, shrimp or fish, etc), followed by dessert. Often people bring back tuna or dorado which the lodge will serve up either grilled or as fresh sashimi.


While the fishing is certainly the focus at Casa Vieja, the lodge also specializes in coordinating some wonderful non-angling side trips. These excursions are perfect add-ons to a sailfishing holiday, and a rare opportunity to experience some of the incredible culture and history of Guatemala. Non-angling activities include:


Upon arrival in Antigua you will be taken to the Indian village of San Antonio Aguas Calientes, surrounded by an impressive volcanic landscape and famous for its textiles and handcrafts. Afterwards you will continue on to visit the Cultural Centre “La Azotea”, where you will enjoy a guided visit to an organic coffee plantation and also the Traditional Maya Museum “K’ojom”. After tasting the best cup of Antigua coffee, you will visit the Historic Center of Antigua. You will begin in the Main Plaza and visit the city’s many monuments.

Pacaya Volcano Hiking Tour

Located only 52Km from Guatemala City, the Pacaya Volcano is an impressive active volcano, Strombolian type. You start climbing from the San Vicente de Pacaya village, and can be ascended in approximately 2 hours. This Unique experience should not be missed!

Helicopter Sight seeing Tour of the Volcanoes

Few countries in the world have as many volcanoes as Guatemala does. Their volcanic mountain range runs from west to east parallel to the Pacific Coast. From the 37 Volcanoes that forms the mountain range, 3 are of them are active. Admire the impressive views from the air and take the most breathtaking and unique pictures of Guatemala City, Antigua, volcanoes like the Pacaya, Acatenango, Fuego or Agua, lake Amatitlan and the Pacific Coast.


Early morning transfer from Guatemala City to the airport to board your flight to Flores, Peten. Upon arrival, you will be transferred to Tikal National Park. Declared “Cultural Heritage of Humankind” by UNESCO. This majestic Mayan city is considered the largest and most monumental of all of the sites discovered in the Mayan World. Enjoy guided walking to the most important plazas, complexes and temples, enjoying as well the tropical forest, nesting place and hundreds of exotic birds and habitats of a wide variety of wildlife. After lunch, visit the museums. On your way out of the park if you choose, you may take a canopy tour where you will glide through the trees with the moneys before transferring back to the airport for you flight to Guatemala City.

The Boats

We have 4 boats reserved: the “Release”, the “Intensity”, the “Spindrift”, and the “Affinity”. These boats are 37’ to 39’ boats, each with enclosed cabin (including galley and restrooms), and all are designed for saltwater big game fishing. These are very comfortable boats.

Casa Vieja Lodge Fishing Packages Include: Airport reception and roundtrip airport transfers between Guatemala City and the Lodge; deluxe double occupancy accommodations with breakfast and dinner daily at Casa Vieja Lodge; non-alcoholic beverages; daily lodge-marina transfers; fishing on a choice of game boats with captain and crew; lunches, bottled water and soft drinks on the boat; all trolling, spin and fly tackle; bait, lures and flies.

Not Included: Cost of obtaining and maintaining a valid passport, Intl. airfare to Guatemala City, airport security tax of $3 ea; meals, drinks and touring outside the lodge; room tax of $28 per night (must be collected in Guatemala); beer and alcohol, laundry, gratuities to lodge staff, captain and boat crews and drivers and items of a personal nature.


A 10% deposit is required to book your spot. The all-inclusive rates for this trip are outlined in the cover letter.

Contact Don Knickrehm: cell phone: 208-867-5131 or email dek1245@hotmail.com

1682 S. Vista Ave., Boise, ID 83705 • 208-389-9957


Created with images by Yiorgos Theo - "Beach with blue water" • ottogarcia - "antigua guatemala sunrise guatemala" • Katie Hawrysh - "Above the clouds" • jdlasica - "Tikal ruins"

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