Fishing has been important for cultures past and present in Ecuador, especially along the coastline. There are numerous opportunities for both saltwater and freshwater fishing in the country.
1. Mainland coast
Fishermen work along the entire length of the Ecuadorian coastline. However the main centres for deep-sea fishing are the cities of Salinas and Manta on the southern coast. You can also organise trips from Playas, Puerto López and Bahía de Caráquez.
The reason that the waters are so rich in fish along this part of the Pacific coast is that it marks the point where the cold Humboldt current (which travels north carrying nutrients, plankton and krill) meets the warmer El Niño current flowing south. Small fish multiply rapidly and larger fish move in to feed.
Visitors will have to share the waters with large and small scale commercial fishing vessels. Ecuador is a major producer and exporter of tuna (and shrimp). Domestic demands also contribute to the overfishing which has affected stocks along the coastline. Commercial fishing is largely unregulated and longlining is widely practiced. Fishing provides an income for many families and the benefits of putting any of a ctach back in the water are only being realised very slowly.
Anglers are attracted by the billfish to be found. There are blue, black and striped marlin as well as swordfish and sailfish. Hooks of over 500 pounds are common, during most months of the year. Wahoo, dorado, dolphinfish, barracuda, grouper, amberjacks, albacore, bass and several types of tuna can also be found.
The overfishing means you’ll now need to travel 30-40 miles from a port, so it may be worth bearing in mind that the waters are calmer from December to May.
There are a number of companies which offer fishing charters in different sized boats. Tours generally include transfers, local hotels and provide fishing gear, food and drinks. It is getting more common to find that they are prepared to return billfish to the ocean but you should check this is an established policy before setting off. A sample price is $1250 for five anglers on a Hatteras 35.
The following companies provide deep-sea fishing tours:
In the Galápagos you can find a great number of fish but sport fishing is clearly forbidden in the national park.
“La pesca deportiva en la Reserve Marina de Galapagos esta prohibida mediante Decreto Ejecutivo No 014 publicado en el Registro Oficial No 564”.
An activity called artesanal vivencial fishing is permitted. The website for the national park defines this as
“ la pesca artesanal vivencial, que es una modalidad demostrativa de la actividad pesquera con un enfoque turístico. En ella, los turistas acompañan al pescador para apreciar, de primera mano, el arte tradicional de la pesca en Galápagos.”
Some companies have interpreted this as allowing sport fishing but accompanied by local fishermen. To me it suggests going out with a local fisherman in his boat to see how he practices his “craft”. For that reason I’m not providing information on Galápagos fishing tours on this website.
Fresh water fishing
You can fish in many lakes and rivers on the mainland. There are popular spots north and south of Quito and also around Cuenca such as in Cajas National Park.
A lot of jungle tours offer you the chance to fish for piranha, which turned out to be fairly easy on the one occasion when I tried it.