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Ecuador Fishing
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Ecuador Fishing

Ecuador fishing opportunities are excellent and varied. There is great trout fishing in the Andes and record breaking fishing in Ecuador’s Pacific.

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First, let’s look at Ecuador fishing in the sea. For fun (and dinner) one can catch a day trip with a local fisherman.

Boats like this one just outside the hotel where we live are dotted along the coast.


The fishermen handle the boats through the surf.


Then they head out to sea!

Merri and I meet the fishermen when they return with shrimp and fish. The shrimp are large enough that two provided a meal!

Ecuador-shrimp 4

We immediately take them to the chef at the hotel where we have an apartment and enjoy dining with this view.


Beyond small boats on the beach dedicated anglers can find sports fishing at its best.

The Humboldt Current creates one of the world’s most productive nutrient-rich waters that rise along the coast. This is a perfect condition for abundant plankton which leads to an eco region that teems with huge schools of small fish like anchovies and sardines.

Sportsmen of course are thinking bigger than sardines but the little Ecuador fish are the basis for the big Ecuador fish.

The cool waters of the Humboldt Current provide a constant supply of food for big fish such as Dorado (coryphaena hippurus – also called dolphinfish), barracuda (sphyraena indiastes), blue and black marlin, yellow-finned and long-finned tuna (thunnus albacares, thunnus alalunga), snook and many other species.

Here I am with a Dorado from north of Manta.


How Big?

There are big fish in the Ecuador coastal waters. Four world-record Pacific bigeye tuna (similar to yellow fin tuna) catches come from Ecuador ranging in size 236-pounds taken on 30-pound line – 375-pounders on 80-pound, 304-pounds on 50-pound line and 240-pounds on 50- pound line.

Here is a picture from the internet of a record Bigeye tuna caught near Manta.


Five IGFA world records for Pacific sailfish come from Ecuador including a 221 pounder. Sailfish are not as common as striped marlin and blues, but the ones in Ecuador often border on the 200-pound mark. Though most of Ecuador’s Blue Marlins average 300 to 400 pounds, some can be huge such as the 1,014 pound Blue Marlin caught out of Manta that held the world record for 17 years.

Ecuador’s coastal fishing however runs hot and cold. The fishing depends on the Humboldt Current coming up from Antarctica, as a flow of chilled nutrient-rich water. This current collides with the warmer equatorial El NiÒo. These currents change continually sometimes pushing the perfect 75-degree fishing waters further offshore. When the Humboldt Current is dominant the fishing shuts down. The warmer water brings fishing that can be excellent.

There are two main areas from which to fish Ecuador’s coast, Salinas and Manta.

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Salinas is a Miami beach type beach resort with a full infrastructure to fill an angler’s needs. Salinas was a pioneer sport fishing destination. Several World Records have come from this area for Stripped Marlin, Tuna, Grouper and a Wahoo caught from Salinas holds records.

Manta has also always been an important angling destination. The waters around Isla de la Plata (Silver Island), about 25 miles offshore have delivered many world fishing records, including several bill fishes, groupers and mackerel. The Manta area tends to provide the best fishing around the end of the year. The beginning of the year is generally better in Salinas. Manta is a steadier area and almost every month of the year there is a period of good fishing.

When the fishing lights up off Ecuador, few places can match the opportunity to catch so many different species. Striped marlin, blacks, blues and gigantic sailfish commonly pounce on the huge horse ballyhoo the local boats use. For example, the 2001 Salinas Yacht Club tournament saw 29 boats raise 367 bill fish, catching and releasing 158 in three days.

Professionals recommend fishing at least five days in Ecuador. If you get two days of bad current, you are also likely to have hit a couple of incredible days.

There are experienced outfitters that practice tag & release with all billfish providing exclusive Hatteras and Bertram vessels, first class hotels and accommodations at affordable prices and very experienced crews.

Top equipment is used, Penn International, and Finn Noors reels.

Ecuador Fishing Conservation .

Billfish are caught on a catch and release basis. A huge part of the fishing area is a marine reserve which does not allow industrial fishing. Ecuador’s fishing fleet help watch for illegal vessels fishing.

Galapagos Fishing

Galapagos is a true billfish destination promising good shots at blue, black and striped marlin. Complete vacation packages are available for all budgets and all group sizes.

The small town of Puerto Ayora, home to all our anglers is the economic center of the archipelago, with the highest population and greatest number of tourist facilities.

Best seasons in Galapagos: Striped marlin: January, February, March, April, May, June, October, November Blue marlin: January, February, March, April, May, June, September, October, November, December

Tuna & wahoo: January, February, March, April, May, June, September, October, November, December

Trout Fishing

Trout fishing in the rivers and lakes of the Andes is a popular sport though prohibited in national parks and national reserves. Well-known fishing spots are Laguna La Mica, Laguna San Marcos, Laguna Mojanda, Micacocha (Laguna La Mica), Rio Chalupas, Rio Chambo, Cosanga and Papallacta, the lakes and rivers around our hotel in Cotacachi.

There are no fresh water fishing laws regarding fishing. Because of this, streams and lakes near civilization do not contain big fish. They are removed (by any means, including dynamite) for food.

Here, for example, is a lake.


The only way to get there is on horseback.


Some lakes are not good because the locals in this lake fish with a net.

Here are some shots of boys catching trout for food.


The key to get good trout fishing is to fish in remote or patrolled lakes.

Trout grow well in the Andean Highlands above 7,000 feet, with average water and air temperature virtually constant year-round. The trout feed on scuds, leeches, small fish and various bugs. There are a number of ways to reach such lakes.

One fishing tour begins with a train ride from Ibarra (near our hotel). The train goes from Ibarra to Primer Paso dropping from the Andean highlands towards the coast, as the vegetation and climate change gradually. The train goes by the amazing Blanco and Mira rivers, and between them it passes through 18 tunnels. Then it continues through the tropical forests and banana and palmate plantations. This is an 18 mile ride dropping from 7,216 feet above sea level to 4,920 feet in only about 2 hours.

The tour operator picks you up and you spend a night in the historic Hacienda San Francisco where you can enjoy their thermal spring. Next day you ride high into the mountains where you camp and fish. Most of the productive lakes are over 13,000 feet in elevation so this is not always easy fishing. Temperature and winds can be severe with rain. Despite the possible inclement weather, these lakes provide some excellent still water fishing.

One avid fisherman reported fishing a 6,500-acre property that is also a working cattle ranch with 19 different trout streams and one lake. He reported casting small spinners and spoons and landed more than 30 rainbow trout weighing between a half pound and one pound. He reports four days of riding horses each morning for two hours to get to fishing destinations where he averaged catching 75 trout per day and probably losing three times that many on spoons, spinners and assorted wet flies. He reported being a little disappointed in the size of the rainbows, which he was told was due to the lack of food. Reportedly, though, the trout in some of the more remote streams and lake are much larger.

However these lakes may require four to eight hours on a horse, camping in cold, rainy, below-freezing weather and strenuous uphill hikes.

Amazon Fishing

Piranha fishing in the Lagoons of Ecuador’s Amazon Rainforest is an attraction offered with many of the jungle and rainforest adventure tours. Customized fishing tours in the Ecuadorian Amazon from 10 to 21 days are also offered. The tour operators specialize in Arapaima, or paiche a South American tropical freshwater fish. This is one of the larger freshwater fish in the world, reaching nine feet in length and weighing 400 pounds.

Here is a photo of an Arapaima from the internet.


Peacock bass and catfish fishing and fish in rivers and lake systems as far as the Peruvian border are offered from accommodations in comfortable camps, rustic huts and lodges. Peacock Bass are the most abundant game fish in the rivers of central Amazon. Even though there are other game fish species in these rivers, the peacock bass is the focus of nearly all anglers coming to this area. They are not nearly remotely related to the largemouth bass of North America, instead they are cichlids, a huge family of fish species common in Latin America and Africa.

Speckled Peacock Bass are the largest of all peacock bass species, reaching sizes of nearly 30 pounds. On good, remote locations they average 10 to 18 pounds. They are very aggressive and territorial and are said to strike top water flies with a vengeance. Most people who have fished for them agree that they show the most spectacular and ferocious top water strike of all fish. Everyone who enjoys casting top water flies among varied structure for big fish must go peacock bass fishing in the Amazon at least once in a lifetime. Their fight is brutal and they always seek structures to cut or wrap the line.

Merri and I enjoy fishing for piranha years ago deep in the Amazon. Not only was it a lot of fun, the fish were delicious also…a first for both of us! Ecuador offers a wide variety of fishing for anglers of every type. From a short trip to catch dinner to serious sports angling, you can enjoy Ecuador.

We are happy to introduce Ecuador Living subscribers to contacts for Ecuador fishing.

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