Simple Guide to the Best Sport Fishing in Colombia

Sport fishing in Colombia is an activity that is gaining more popularity among locals and tourists. Also known as recreational fishing, it consists of fishing for pleasure or competition.  

The best season in Colombia for fishing in saltwater is from September to November, when you can catch Billfish, Dorado, and Tuna. Meanwhile, the star fish of freshwater is the Peacock Bass, which abounds from January to March. There are other game fish species in the rivers and oceans of Colombia that attract anglers from all over the world. 

In Colombia it is necessary to obtain authorization for competitions, areas, species, boats, seasons, systems, quantities and other aspects related to the entertainment activity or sport fishing competition. This authorization is granted by the AUNAP (National Authority for Aquaculture and Fishing) and has a cost depending on the type of user and the scope of the activity to be performed, and is valid for up to 6 months for foreigners not domiciled in the country. 

In general, a fishing tour includes lodging in a specialized hotel, full meals with breakfast and dinner on land and lunch on the boat, with snacks, soft drinks and fruit, hydration throughout the fishing day, complete crew on the boat with captain, sailor and accompanying guide, and fishing permits issued by the AUNAP. 

Fishing Seasons in Colombia

Fishing Seasons in Colombia in the Pacific Ocean- Picture by Santiago Isaza – FishIn Colombia

River fishing:

  • December, January, February, March in the Vichada,
  • September, October, and November in the Amazon 

Sea fishing: All year round. 

Best sport fishing destinations in Colombia 

Here are the best fishing destinations in Colombia. 

Orinoquia Region 

Vichada 

The Department of Vichada has the Orinoco, Meta, Bita, Vichada and El Tomo rivers as well as the Juriepe and Terecay streams making it one of the most appreciated destinations for sport fishing lovers. The Bita River in Puerto Carreño is one of the main sceneries hosting endemic species of the region, which is why it is expected to be the first protected river in the world, in a study under development, led by the Von Humboldt Institute and the Government of Vichada. The Pavón, the Payara, the Sardinata, the Cachama and the different species of Bagres, are some of the specimens you can find. 

Puerto Carreño

This is an off the beaten track fishing destination that has its productive season from January to March. Here you can fish giant Peacock Bass, Payara, Catfish, Matrinxa, Tambaqui, Bicuda, among others.   

The Vichada River surprises with its colors at sunset and with all the virgin nature that surrounds it. Photos: Filiberto Pinzón / EL TIEMPO

Tucunare LodgeFish the Butterfly Peacock Bass, that reaches up to 26 pounds, in the Vichada River! These are unexplored waters perfect for sport fishing, since it has a variety of large sized fish. Tucunare Lodge offers an amazing experience in this place. Their cabins are strategically located on the river banks for your comfort, so you can fish all day long. For this activity to be sustainable, the lodge made an agreement with the Sikuani indigenous community and has special permits to operate in the river and 16 lagoons. Actually, the guides belong to the Sikuani community and they know the jungle and the animals like the back of their hands. Only groups of maximum 8 anglers are allowed per week. The Raudales del muerto zone in the Orinoco River is nearby and here you can fish Payaras, Amazon pellona, Catfish and other species. 

Anakay Natural Reserve.  In this private natural reserve located in the Orinoquia, you will have a comfortable sport fishing experience. Like Tucunare, Anakay is in the department of Vichada, this time in the upper Bita River. The main target here is the Peacok Bass, but you can find other species such as Payara, Pacu, Arowanas, Piranhas and different Catfish too. It is a reserve with 6,000 acres with little public access so you can always catch fish, besides having the lodge just 15 minutes from the fishing spots, which allows 12-hour fishing days. The high season for fishing is from January to April. You stay at wooden cabins with basic amenities and the motorized boats have a capacity of 2 anglers plus the guide, which is always from the region and has experience in fishing and tourism. In addition, the host is an English speaking experienced angler. 

Vichada River – Season 2016 – www.tucunarelodge.com
Bita River

The Bita River is the first river in Colombia to be protected with civil rights. Apart from that, you will have an unforgettable encounter with nature, now that the Orinoco region boasts diverse wildlife including capybaras, peccaries, tapirs, ocelots, monkeys, deer, jaguars, exotic birds and reptiles! 

RECOMMENDED EQUIPMENT: Fishing equipment (Fly, Spinning or Casting and lures artificial), light clothing (fishing shirt and trousers), hat or cap, sunscreen, glasses, pants, all terrain shoes or sandals and ecological insecticide.

Pacific region  

Large predatory fish inhabit the Pacific Ocean of Colombia. The Colombian Pacific is particularly flexible to allow year-round fishing. The main ecosystem is mangrove and tropical rainforest, with an average temperature of 25°C. The Pacific Region is in the Biogeographic Choco, a world biodiversity hotspot with unspoiled landscapes, so all of this makes it a great fishing destination.  

Picture by Sportfishing Colombia

Bahía Solano.

The municipality of Bahia Solano boasts pristine jungles and beautiful beaches bathed in rich waters that host the best saltwater fish for sport fishing. During your sportfishing trip to Bahía Solano you will be able to observe the attack of yellowfin and blackfin tuna, the Mahi Mahi of good size and eccentric color, the jumps of a sailfish, the shape of a rooster, among other fish.  

The fish offer depends on the technique used. The most common species are Amberjack, Tuna, Cubera, Sea bass, Tarpon, Roosterfish, Blue and Black Marlins, Sailfish, Dolphin and Wahoo. You can try techniques such as spinning or casting, jigging, trawling, fishing with live bait and flyfishing.  

The boat offer is varied and guides are experienced captains and skilled anglers, specialized in all types of fishing. The lodges where you can stay also offers the possibility to do diving, bird watching and humpback whale watching! 

Picture by Santiago Isaza – FishIn Colombia

Among other fishing techniques, in Bahia Solano, you can practice mainly the following: 

  • Trolling: Large catches are fished by dragging lures or baits around large spaces so predatory fish are tempted to bite them. 
  • Jigging: Named after the lure called ‘jig’, which is made of lead and has the shape of a fish. Anglers use jigs to recreate the vertical movement of a fish heading to the surface, this is why this technique is also known as ‘vertical fishing’. 
  • Popper: The popper fly on the surface attracts predatory fish who mistake it for prey fish. This is a dynamic and physically demanding fishing technique. 

Depending on the season, you can catch Tuna, Amberjack, Dolphin, Bluefin trevally, Jack, Marlin, Cubera Snapper, Rooster fish, Sailfish, Tarpon, Spanish mackerel or Wahoo. The opportunity to go on offshore or inshore fishing trips also depends on the season. You can choose to go fishing inshore or 35 miles offshore and catch Blue and Black Marlin, Swordfish, Mahi Mahi, and more. The best season for offshore fishing is at the end of the year, in December, due to the sea currents.  

RECOMMENDED EQUIPMENT: Light clothing (fishing shirt and trousers), cap or hat, coral friendly sunblock, sunglasses, trousers, off-road shoes or sandals and ecological insecticide.

Colombia x
Colombia

Punta Brava

Another destination in the Pacific region is Punta Brava, in Nuquí. There you can fish all year round, but the month of May is recommended. Here you can fish for Tuna, Sailfish, Roosterfish, Dorado, Snapper, Bravo and Horse Mackerel. 

Picture by Santiago Isaza – FishIn Colombia

RECOMMENDED EQUIPMENT: Fishing equipment (Fly, Spinning or Casting and artificial lures), light clothing (fishing shirt and trousers), cap or hat, sunscreen, glasses, trousers, off-road shoes or sandals and ecological insecticide.

Caribbean Region 

Marine sport fishing as an alternative for tourism development in the Colombian Caribbean is a proposal to promote the economic development of local communities and a conservation strategy. In a study carried out by the Tropical Fisheries Science and Technology Research Group (CITEPT), from the Magdalena University, it was found that there is a great deal of seasonality in the catches of pelagic fish that are important for sport fishing, confirming their migratory behaviour, with the highest catches being made between the months of March – April and August – October. This study concluded that the recommended seasons for sport fishing tournaments and tours coincide with the decrease of trade winds and better navigability, and would be one between March and April and another between August and October each year.

Cartagena de Indias

Islas del Rosario – Cartagena, Colombia

In the waters of Cartagenathis gorgeous Caribbean city, you can go fishing inshore or offshore What can you get close to the shore? Barracuda, Snapper, Grouper, Jack Crevalle, and King Mackerel. Also, Permit, Tarpon and Bonefish, although its numbers have decreased due to overfishing. These trips are apt for beginners and families, since they will be safe within 10 miles of shore.  However, if you go beyond 10 miles, you can fish Blue and White Marlin, Sailfish, Yellowfin Tuna, Mahi Mahi and Wahoo, especially from March to May. Offshore fishing is preferred by experienced anglers. 

Among the services you can find in a fishing tour there are offshore trolling trips to catch migratory fish such as Mackerel, Crevalle Jacks, Tuna and Marlin. These can last from 4 hours to a complete day or multiple days, when it is required to go to deep seas. If you go wreck bottom fishing, you may catch game fish species such as Mangrove Snapper, Yellowtail Snapper, Mutton Snapper, Gag Grouper, Black Grouper, Cobia, Permit, and Jewfish. Deep drop and jigging trips allow you to catch predatory fish that roam deep down beyond 1000 feet! Huge Snappers and Groupers are the trophy. 

With bots with a capacity for up to 10 anglers, as s Yate Fortuna,  you can leave the bay of Cartagena to sail into the deep waters of the Caribbean.  In a trip, you will be able to catch Marlin, Tuna, Mahi Mahi, Wahoo, Amberjack and even sharks. 

Santa Marta

Sportfishing at Taganga picture by Thui Tours

Offshore fishing is also great in Santa Marta, Magdalena. The best fishing spots are found 40 miles from the shore and offer Marlin, Sailfish, Wahoo, Mahi Mahi, Tuna, Amberjack and Sharks. 

RECOMMENDED EQUIPMENT: Light clothing (fishing shirt and trousers), cap or hat, coral friendly sunblock, sunglasses, trousers, off-road shoes or sandals and ecological insecticide.

Andean Region 

There are many places in the Andean region where you can practice sport fishing. These places are not very well known internationally, but they are well known in the country. Here we will tell you about the most recognized ones.

Antioquia 

El Peñol reservoir in Guatapé, Antioquia is the world’s paradise for fishing “largemouth bass”, a natural predator, only carnivorous and very enjoyable to fish. Its first bite is exciting and you have to pick it up in jumps, as if giving the fight. Tilapia and mojarra are also fished in the reservoir.

El Peñol, Guatapé, Antioquia

From October to December, you can target Roosterfish and Tarpon.  Water bodies such as Guatape, San Rafael or Nare River are perfect to go on an angling expedition. Local guides will help you catch Golden Dorado, Peacock Bass, Payara, Tilapia, Crappie, Largemouth Bass, among other species, using jigging, floating baits, fly fishing, trolling, deep fishing or popping techniques. In boats arranged for up to 3 anglers. 

RECOMMENDED EQUIPMENT: Fishing equipment (Fly, Spinning or Casting and lures artificial), light clothing (fishing shirt and trousers), hat or cap, sunscreen, glasses, pants, all terrain shoes or sandals and ecological insecticide.

Cundinamarca

Siecha lagoons

Cundinamarca has several places for sport fishing without affecting the environment. The first obligatory stop is in Lagos del Siecha (Siecha lagoons), located in Guasca, Cundinamarca. The Siecha lagoons are a group of three lagoons located in the jurisdiction of the Colombian municipality of Guasca, in the department of Cundinamarca. Currently the three lagoons are called: Fausto, America, and Siecha (the largest of the three). In the ancient language of the Muiscas, Siecha means “Man of Water”.

National Natural Park Chingaza 
Chingaza National Park

In the 40’s the brown trout (Salmo trutta) was introduced and in the 70’s the rainbow trout (S. gairdneri) was introduced in the Tota lagoon. Today the two species cohabit in the Chingaza lagoon, in the Chuza reservoir and in the upper part of the Guatiquía and Blanco rivers, where fishing seasons with minimum catch size have been determined. The fishing plan includes fishing in Laguna Seca and Chuza Lagoon in Monterredondo, with the option of camping near the fishing site. 

RECOMMENDED EQUIPMENT: cold weather clothing, hat or cap, sunscreen, glasses, all-terrain shoes or waterproof boots.

Amazon Region  

The Colombian Amazon is an incredible destination for fishermen since this region is crossed by majestic rivers that facilitate trade, travel to places in the middle of the jungle, remote populations, resguardos, parks and nature reserves. The Amazon is a habitat with high biodiversity like no other ecosystem in the world and also has the vast cultural diversity of its indigenous peoples, and the life that originates and is nourished by the multiple banks of the Amazon River, the largest, widest and deepest river in the world. The fishing season in the amazon is between September and November. There you can fish Pavón, Bagre, Mojarra, Pirarucu, Arawana, Piraña, Payara, Moncholo and Chachama. 

Sunset at the Amazon River

In Leticia you can visit the Heliconia reserve, sailing for approximately three and a half hours on the majestic Amazon River and then on one of its largest and most important tributaries in the area “The Javari River”, natural border between Brazil and Peru. In the Heliconia Reserve you can do sport fishing in one of the many spectacular lakes and channels that are part of the Amazon rainforest of Brazil and Peru: Lake San Antonio Ox-Bow, Canal Furo Zacanbuzinho, Lake Cristina Ox-Bow, Lake Caoti, Lake Socó Ox-Bow, Lake Socózinho, Canal Mata Mata, Lake Pombao Ox-Bow, Tartaruga Channel and Beaches of the Javari River. 

RECOMMENDED EQUIPMENT: Fishing equipment (Fly, Spinning or Casting and artificial lures), light clothing (fishing shirt and trousers), cap or hat, sunscreen, glasses, trousers, off-road shoes or sandals and ecological insecticide.

At this point, you may have noticed why sport fishing in Colombia is something you have to try if you like adventure in nature! Hopefully this post was useful for you to know which fishing destinations to visit in your next trip to Colombia.


About the authors.

Sara Colmenares

Current director of Sula. Doctor in Biological Sciences. Her main interests are to explore and understand the organism – environment interactions, taking advantage of emerging knowledge for the management and conservation of species and ecosystem services. She is currently working as a consultant in functional ecology, ecosystem services and conservation projects in Colombia related to ecotourism and birdwatching.

Ana María Parra

Current content writer for Sula. Modern Languages professional with emphasis on business translation. Interested in cultural adaptation of written and audiovisual content.  Passionate about knowing new cultures and languages, tourism and sustainable living.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]