fly fishing the pan american highway
The Road

Fly Fishing the Pan American Highway – Planning Phase

If you could fish anywhere between Montana and Antarctica, where would you go?

Um, yeah. That’s about where I’m at on the planning phase of this trip and I’m expecting to depart Jan/Feb 2019.

Should I jet through Mexico (with a stop on the Yucatan Peninsula), grab a few weeks in Belize then push hard to Costa Rica? I’m semi planning on a month in Costa Rica to focus on work.

I’m doing this in a 1994 GMC Safari Van with a dog and am lacking the traditional trust fund required for this kind of thing. So I’m planning on a rough month on, month off rotation pending the ability to pick up projects from clients with some flexibility.

Fish hard and travel for a month. Stop and work for a month and fish the local area hard. Push again for a month and so on. With the overarching goal of hitting Patagonia by late October for the fishing season.

Here’s my destination shortlist by the country:

Fly Fishing in Mexico

So many options here. I’m considering cutting through here quickly. Mexico has a ton of options but will also be the easiest destination to revisit in the future. I’m looking at two specific approaches.

  1. Spend some time chasing roosterfish and such in Baja then work down the west coast at a moderate pace, stopping to fish a few more times.
  2. Drive the toll roads and cut through most of the country. Stop for a week on the Yucatan Peninsula.

Fly Fishing Belize

If I go the Yucatan route, Belize will be directly south. I’d have no problem spending a few weeks working down the coast here. If I can swing boat access for a portion of this time, it’s a no-brainer. Seems like renting for a month here wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

If I do enter Belize, I really want to explore the southern coast and do some inland exploring. Going this route also means I’ll likely hustle through Guatemala, El Salvador (even skip this one), Honduras and Nicaragua to make Costa Rica for a month of work and play.

The alternative to is to hit this on the return route. Or trade the van for a sailboat and run around the Caribbean for a while.

Guatemala Fly Fishing

I don’t know a damn thing about sailfish on the fly. So I should probably try to make on coastal trip here. I’m sure there are plenty of other species to chase but from everything I’ve found so far, sailfish are the major attraction.


The northern coast looks enticing. If there’s time, I’ll stop but again, this could wait for the return trip. I’m not sure about access either. Looks like several of the lodges are island based. El Salvador is not a likely fishing stop either. Seems like Guatemala has better options unless I find out different along the way.

Nicaragua Fly Fishing

At the moment, I know people have had difficulty crossing the country. It’s a political shit show with major protests and towns actually shutting down their roads in protest. Hopefully half a year will be enough time to settle things down because it’s a fairly large country with some places that seem ideal for exploring. Both coastlines are appealing it sounds like the country has great tarpon fishing. Hopefully my timing is decent.

Costa Rica Fly Fishing

Ideally, I’ll have a solid month to play here. Rafting the jungle rivers sounds like an great move. Although they have a ton of big game species, I really want to catch a few trout while I’m fly fishing here. Outside of that little mission, pretty much everything is fair game. Tarpon, snook, rainbow bass. I’ll have my rods rigged and ready to roll.


I doubt I’ll be fly fishing in Panama. It seems like an off-shore billfish game with a hefty price tag. I’ll also be busy and likely stressed arranging to ship my van around the Darien Gap. I’m planning to sail the San Blas islands with the dog for 5 days and will keep a rod handy just in case something swims by the boat.

Fly Fishing in Colombia

It’s a big country with more jungle than I can imagine. I have no idea how this one will go. It largely depends on my timeline at this point. Patagonia is priority #1 and I can work through here on the return. I would like to spend some time in Medellin and Bogota. I should also be getting here around April and the beginning of the rainy season. That could put a damper on the fishing and drive me south.

Venezuela – Nope

Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana – No Idea if these will happen. If I have a windfall of cash and can charter planes into remote places…

Ecuador and Peru Fly Fishing Plans

I’d love to visit the highlands and poke around here for trout. I think it’ll happen as I migrate south and camp along the way. Tons of lakes dotting the landscape and some ideal float tube territory. I’ll be working through here in their dry season, making it an ideal time to put around and fish. Potential to spend another month working if I find a place to stay with decent Wifi.

Brazil – Haven’t even touched this one yet

Bolivia – Same here but it looks like a good idea if I have time before the Patagonia fishing season kicks off. Golden Dorado are high on my list.


I spent 2 seasons guiding fly fishing trips in Chile and can’t wait to get back here. I have every intention of getting south of Puerto Montt and fishing my a** off on a number of river systems. The Futaleufu, Yelcho, Corcovado, Palena, etc. If I can get down south for some sea run browns, that’ll be incredible as well.

Argentina Fly Fishing

Chile will eat up a few months of the early season. I have friends to visit and won’t have an issue burning 3 months there. That leaves anywhere from 1-3 months to chase trout around the Argentina-Chile border. After that, I’m thinking a trip to the Parana River for Dorado is worth the long haul.

Uruguay and Paraguay

At this point, I’ll be over a year into the travel log. I’m sure I’ll have some ideas and be willing to explore both countries with stops through most of the latter countries again with a better idea about where to go and hopefully enough language skills to seek out insider advice.

If anyone out there has advice or tips on places to explore, I’m all ears. Contact me anytime.