Jul 11, 2016

Discover Guanaja Fly Fishing

Stood off and on during the night, determining not to come to anchor till morning, fearing to meet with shoals; continued our course in the morning; and as the island was found to be six or seven leagues distant, and the tide was against us, it was noon when we arrived there.
Christopher Columbus 

This past April, I had the opportunity to travel with some wonderful friends to Honduras , more specifically the island of Guanaja to fly fish the surrounding saltwater flats. Guanaja a beautiful lush mountainous island off the coast of Honduras in the Caribbean sea. Unbeknownst to me, on Columbus' fourth trip to the Americas, he discovered Guanaja or Isla de Pinos though more likely he brought disease and not an eight weight. Guanaja as a tourist destination is more frequented by divers than by fly fishermen. Only one lodge caters to fly fishing, Fly Fish Guanaja which lies on a small cay, a 30 minute boat ride from the island airport and is owned by a US citizen. In my opinion, the biggest drawback to fishing Honduras is the travel especially from the Pacific Northwest. From Portland, all connections involved an 8-16 hour layover both ways either in Dallas or Houston. From Houston, it's only about 2 hours to Roatan, another island off the coast of Honduras, then a very short 1/2 hour flight from Roatan to Guanaja.

There are several cays located just off Guanaja and the beautiful lodge of Fly Fish Guanaja has it's own small cay that is shared by no one else. It's perfectly situated on it's own flat with easy short access to a number of other flats holding bonefish, permit, tarpon and triggerfish. Just off the cay is a large reef system that keeps these flats protected. Though a large commercial fishing fleet bases on Guanaja, the local waters are protected from their influence. The lodge is very comfortable with several detached bungalows made from local mahogany. The main lodge contains a comfortable living area, kitchen and dining room. But the epicenter is a large beautiful deck built over a large flat where if you still have the energy you can wade and fish. The closest thing I've seen to having a grandstand where you can heckle your buddies as they "farm" the local quarry. If you have any non-fishing guests, this flat can be used to paddleboard, kayak, or snorkel. Meals are delicious having a combination of island and Hispanic influences. The lodge does have a spotty internet connection and use of the bar and beer are included in the package price.

Beginning of the morning can vary depending on the tides and unlike many programs can be rather flexible. Guides were excellent and speak perfect English with a hint of island accents. In fact, the government of Honduras has had a program to improve Spanish. These guides were clearly expertly trained and experienced and some of the warmest, funniest guides that I've had the pleasure to share a boat. Primarily we chased permit with multiple shots each day. Not sure if it was merely our luck but the hook up ratio was rather low even for permit. But the combination of wading and poling made the "hunt" more than compelling. Lunches were at a number of locations including one elevated gazebo where we could see the beach where Columbus landed. Yearly the locals have a festival to commemorate this occasion. We also ate lunch at a couple of waterside restaurants to get a better sampling of local fare though we didn't get a chance to sample the regional specialty, Iguana. 

Returning to the lodge in the afternoon was a luxury to itself with time to relax in a hammock with a gin and tonic while waiting for dinner. Evenings were glorious out on the back deck watching the sunset and eventually see all the stars of the Milky Way while listening to music. I'm not sure whether I enjoyed the time on that deck more or the day of fishing.

Overall, not sure why Columbus ever elected to leave Guanaja, a rather idyllic location to either chase your favorite saltwater species or nap on a hammock being rocked by a steady Caribbean breeze.


  • Beautiful location on a private cay 
  • Only fishing lodge in Guanaja 
  • Comfortable accommodations in a perfect setting 
  • Other non-fishing activities 
  • Guides 
  • Inconvenient travel with long layovers 
  • Possibly pressured fishery 
  • No see ums. 
  • A few flats lie along civilization 

Charlie Chambers
Gorge Fly Shop Contributor 

"Fly Fish the World with Us"

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