Marco Zablah is like your favorite uncle. Behind a bushy mustache, the gregarious El Salvadoran is quick to smile, and he laughs with a rolling, full-bellied chuckle. A natural hotelier, Zablah is the proprietor of Bahia del Sol, a resort he built 24 years ago in the Costa del Sol region of the Central American nation. He also loves to fish.
Unfortunately, when we met at the resort, Zablah was trussed up tighter than a Thanksgiving turkey, laced into a back brace and walking with a cane. A fall on a slick floor a week earlier left him with several badly injured vertebrae, and he wasn’t sure if he could fish in the upcoming tournament, which was hosted by his resort and produced by our mutual friend, Paco Saca. He asked me to join him and his son, Marco, who had returned home to El Salvador from his college studies in Spain. We were fishing on Capt. Hook, the famed Guatemalan charter boat skippered by another good friend of mine, Capt. Eddie Bairez. I hesitated about two milliseconds before agreeing.
Our recap of the El Salvador International Billfish Tournament is here
Return to an Old Favorite
My first visit to El Salvador was in 2008, fishing in the country’s International Billfish Tournament. I knew the action had potential to be red-hot — as good as anywhere in Central America. During that trip, we caught more than 40 sails and won the sailfish division. It was good to be back nine years later, to see how much had changed and what remained the same. The litmus test of time, if you will.
The rainy season runs from May through October, so my visit in November 2017 was perfectly timed. The weather was hot but seasonably clear, with light winds. There was a big swell rolling through, but with the seas so widely spaced, the Pacific appeared slick-calm at a distance. Best of all, the reports leading up to the event all pointed toward some great fishing conditions.