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The country of Guatemala, famed for its sailfishing, has attracted a low-cost fishing outfitter, Eric Goetz of Big Buoy Fishing (www.bigbuoyfishing.com). We are indebted to subscriber Shawn Taylor for word of this development, and we are putting him on our subscriber Honor Roll for taking the time to file this useful report. He writes:
“My wife and I were in Guatemala this past October on a Habitat for Humanity trip, and we decided to tack on a few days of fishing in Puerto San José. Because we only had a few days, I went in search of an outfitter whose schedule was flexible – that is, one who did not book only weeklong trips, for example. I also wanted to find an outfitter who provided good value for our money. My search led to Eric Goetz, who has fished the area for years but only started to operate commercially two years ago. Of the two independent outfitters I talked to, Goetz was the most ‘customizable,’ and I am very happy we decided to try him out.
“We went into this trip fully aware that October was not peak season for sailfish. That said, my wife and I were very impressed with the three days of fishing we had. Yes, because of the time of year, we had to run farther out than usual to find sailfish, but when we did find them, they were very eager to approach the teasers. Almost every sailfish I cast to ate my fly. They were all between 70 and 90 pounds. A bonus on this trip was the presence of dorado. In fact, it was prime time for them. Whenever we found a rip line or debris, we were able to troll up a few dorado. On our first day of fishing, my wife and I took three dorado between us on conventional tackle, plus one sailfish. On our second day, we caught three dorado on conventional gear, one of them a 40 pounder that was the biggest Goetz caught all season. This catch, by my wife, was a highlight of the trip. On the third day, she took two sailfish, and I caught three on the fly. The mate, Pedro, knew just how to tease them into fly-casting range. I had a problem with my fly line coiling, and that caused me to lose a few fish, including the one dorado that I hooked on the fly. Otherwise, the fly-fishing opportunities were excellent. Goetz’s 31-foot Bertram was an excellent boat for fly fishing and very comfortable to boot.
“Eric Goetz is a very personable guide who knows the water well and is well equipped. Besides the Bertram, he also has a 26-foot catamaran with twin outboard motors. His mate was helpful and knowledgeable. Overall, Eric went way above and beyond normal service, not just by fitting us into his schedule, but by putting in long, ten-plus-hour days on the water. Also, one day I left one of my fly rods at the lodgings where my wife and I were staying, nearly two hours away, and he drove me back there to get it. Most important, I have watched carefully to see how well fishing guides interact with women, my wife in particular, and Goetz was absolutely excellent in this regard and very patient.
“I should mention that there was one surprise on the trip. Normally, Goetz puts clients up at a mid-sized villa with a pool, along with a cook who provides meals. The villa was undergoing renovation, so we found out on arrival that we were going to stay in Goetz’s house instead. This worked out fine. The spare bedroom was very clean, if a little sparse, and Eric and his fiancée prepared very good meals. There is no hot water in the area, by the way, due to the high cost of electricity. All considered, if you or a spouse are looking for fancy surroundings, Puerto San José is probably not the right place to go. There is little for a nonfishing partner to do in the area. Our trip was a tremendous value to us, however. It cost about half what other lodges in the area would have charged us. I have no reservations about recommending this trip to fellow subscribers. I have already rebooked to return in March with a few friends.”
Postscript: Shawn Taylor gives the cost of his trip as $4,100 for three days of fishing and four nights accommodation for both him and his wife, meals and alcohol included.