Marlin University is now Marlin Expeditions! We travel to the best big-game destinations on Earth, at peak times of the year, and teach the most cutting-edge techniques to catch billfish. Check out our 2023 expeditions.
Hooking billfish is very much like a sweet golf swing. It takes practice and a fair amount of repetition to be able to hit that little white ball straight down the fairway, and it’s the same with fishing: You need to get the shots if you hope to improve your bite-to-hookup ratio.
Few places on the planet are better suited for this than the Pacific coast of Guatemala. For decades, this region has been attracting anglers thanks to incredible numbers of billfish, especially sailfish. No matter if you’re an experienced angler looking to put a fine edge on your skills or a relative newcomer to the sport interested in learning more, this is without a doubt the place to be.
Based on Guatemala’s incredible popularity as a sport-fishing destination, Marlin Expeditions has two excursions slated for these billfish-rich waters. The first is a ladies-only trip April 22-27, and the second, open to all, is May 30-June 4. Both are hosted by Casa Vieja Lodge, undeniably the finest fishing lodge in the country. Owned by the husband-and-wife duo of Capt. David and Kristen Salazar, Casa Vieja has it all—from an impressive fleet of classic gameboats to five-star accommodations and dining, all with an impeccable track record of outstanding service.
Participants arrive at the international airport in Guatemala City, where they are met by Marlin Expeditions coordinators and then transported in comfortable vans to the coast, a scenic drive of about 90 minutes past towering volcanoes and lush green fields of sugar cane. Once at the lodge, it’s as if you’re transported to offshore fishing nirvana. The fleet averages 12 to 15 billfish raises day in and day out throughout the season; expert Marlin Expedition instructors are at your side to guide you through the process. And this isn’t just for beginners—any angler can pick up a few pointers and become even better with this kind of hands-on instruction. It’s a great way for tournament fishermen to put a sharp point on their abilities before the East Coast summer season of competition gets underway.
Of special interest is the ladies-only expedition. Now in its third year, this has become a special event for its participants. The all-female team of instructors are seasoned professionals who truly enjoy sharing their expertise with others, and the camaraderie is unbeatable. Susan Foster, a participating angler in the 2022 ladies-only expedition, says: “My trip to Guatemala set the stage for an adventure to meet a group of ladies from all ages and walks of life who’ve embraced the opportunity to learn the art of the catch, as well as the satisfaction of a release. I knew that the trip would be fun, but I had no idea that it would be as inspiring and life-changing as it was.
“Our days were filled with successful hookups, along with the inevitable but necessary birds’ nests and burned thumbs. The enthusiastic and expert instructors kept their eyes on us, coaching us through each hookup and encouraging the correct angling techniques, harmonizing the intricate deck dance with the captains and crews to ensure that we came to a successful release. You could tell that each one of the instructors was not only competent, but also have a genuine love for fishing, and are friends and fishing companions themselves. They do an exceptional job: meeting each angler at her own comfort level, understanding the ladies’ personal goals for the trip, then helping to build on those specific skillsets. It really is the experience of a lifetime.”