3 Days In Sailfish Heaven: A South Pacific Light-Tackle Adventure

by Mark Melotik

HuntStand Pro Contributor MORE FROM Mark

A few light travel rods. Some equally light fluoro line. A few dozen super-charged sailfish. When all come together in Guatemala, Team ScoutLook is there to chronicle the fun.

Sailfish1 (9) 900In late March of this year, I was lucky enough to return to the famed Casa Vieja Fishing Lodge in Guatemala with a weighty goal: Chasing big powerful pacific sailfish. Even better, with firsthand knowledge of the great local fishing to be had, it didn’t take too much pre-trip convincing to recruit three good friends to join me, especially when I balanced the incredible fishery with the area’s solid reputation for traveler safety.

St. Croix Bass X Series: Premium Rods, Killer Value

Always looking to push the limits of a good thing, I’d decided to bring light tackle that included both spinning and fly gear, with the hope of putting both to the test on powerful, 100-plus-pound fish capable of swimming 50 mph. It would not take long for the field-testing (read fun) to begin. Remarkably, during three full days of fishing we managed a total of 41 sailfish releases; a good time was had by all. Here are a few images that chronicled our amazing adventure. Sailfish (1) 900Good feelings about this trip started early. My St. Croix Rod Tidemaster travel rod (Model TIS70MHF3) packed perfectly on our flights both ways; we had no problems with baggage. The 7-foot rod was rated for 10- to 20-pound line so it was fairly light for a saltwater stick. The sturdy, included case proved airline friendly and the easy access flip-clip top, smartly designed.

Sailfish (2) 900I paired the St. Croix Tidemaster with a Shimano Saragosa SW 6000 spinning reel loaded with 15-pound-test Seaguar fluorocarbon line. The deadly little combo is shown here as we trolled—with the line clipped off the stern and ready for action.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere my good friend Jim hooks the first sail on the light spinning rod. Fighting these powerful fish requires a skillful “pump and wind” technique, and you must always be ready to “bow” to the fish as they make their wild, high leaps to reduce stress on the light line.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADuring a typical fight we were required to “bow” many times to these beautiful, super-charged battlers. Even still, the Seaguar fluoro was amazingly strong and easily (and impressively) handled the workload.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs with many species of big game fish, the action gets even more exciting (and tense) near the boat.  Many heart-stopping leaps and violent head shakes took place just a few yards (even feet!) from the stern. This makes it a challenge for the captain to simultaneously manage the engines, and tricky for the mate to pick the right time to grab the leader!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy buddy John got lucky as well using the St. Croix spinning rig. John’s a lefty so having the handle on the “wrong” side of the reel made things a bit wild at times, but John’s a gamer and was up to the challenge. As you can see he prevailed with his very first sailfish, and a very fine specimen at that—his toothy grin tells it all.DCIM100GOPRONot to be outdone, I also had fun battling several big sails on the spinning rig. The Tidemaster rod was balanced and had plenty of backbone, but still felt light and nimble as we fought fish all the way to the boat. Note how calm the Pacific Ocean was here—and we were a full 25 miles out!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere’s another fine Guatemalan sailfish taken on spinning gear, just before release. Fighting these electric battlers just never gets old! Sailfish1 (9) 900The colors on these incredible fish are nothing short of stunning, and photos can hardly do them justice.  Here’s one of my favorite fish, and favorite pics, from our incredible trip. You can probably guess that a trip to Casa Vieja comes highly recommended, and it goes without saying that this adventure should be on every serious angler’s bucket list. One final tip? Be sure to bring some light tackle. When you’re using rods and line more or less rated for your local largemouths and pike, and you’re using them to subdue 100-plus-pound, high-flying speedsters, well, those are battles you’ll remember for a lifetime. Just ask my three buddies.



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