Unusual Sailfish Catch in Guatemala

A once in a lifetime experience for a pair of international anglers

guatemalan albino sailfish
An unusual catch anywhere in the world: a leucistic sailfish, estimated to weigh between 90 and 100 pounds, caught aboard Sails Pitch in Guatemala.Courtesy DFM Brand Builders

Guatemala is well-known for its vast number of Pacific sailfish; anglers from across the globe venture to these fertile waters in search of fast action. However, sometimes the unexpected happens, even with the most experienced crews. And while we do not advocate removing billfish from the water, this is admittedly a very interesting catch from a professional captain.

On February 5, Capt. Luis “Wicho” Ramirez and deckhands Emerson Torres and Danilo Fajardo had two novice bluewater fly anglers aboard for the day: Lutz Minich and Michel Jeannelle. The pair of German fishermen had caught a bunch of other species on fly and were keen to try their hand at billfish, so they booked a few days with us. They were avid fly-fishermen for sure, just no offshore experience for either one.

They were fishing on Sails Pitch, our 28-foot Carolina Classic we operate as part of the Blue Bayou Lodge fleet. The bite had been good prior to their arrival; we were seeing up to 50 sails a day in the spread, but things slowed down a little once they started fishing. Since these guys were still learning the bait-and-switch and were getting limited shots at sails, the mates decided to leave a rigger bait in the fly-fishing pattern to catch a mahi for lunch, or maybe a lazy sail that wasn't playing the fly game on the teasers. A nice sailfish left a hole under the rigger bait, and right away the crew noticed something different: It was nearly all white. The only color on the fish was in the sail. We later learned that this was a leucistic sailfish, since it did have some color, rather than a true albino, which has no color at all (even the eyes are pink in true albinos).

While we never take our sailfish out of the water, we didn't have our selfie stick on board, so the crew pulled the big sail up for a very quick photo. They estimated the weight around 90 to 100 pounds, and it was out of the water for just a few seconds. It was a truly incredible encounter, and for the local Guatemalans who love this fishery more than anyone, it was a great accomplishment to release a white unicorn of the sea. —As told to Sam White by Capt. Chris Starrs, of Blue Bayou Lodge