Fly Fishing in Colombia - Neusa Dam, Punta Faro, San Andres and Tayrona National Park - 2007


When you think of Colombia, fly fishing, or any kind of fishing for that matter, does not spring to mind. But there are many opportunities if you find yourself in the country. Colombia has a coastline on both the pacific and caribbean oceans, a stretch of the Amazon and numerous river courses and waterways. I went to Leticia many times which is Colombia's port city on the Amazon. Commercial fishing dominates and the local fish market is full of unusual (to us) species such as the massive Pirarucu.

 

Travel to Lecticia from Bogota is easy by commercial airliner. The flight is almost as enjoyable as the destination. Make sure you get a window seat so that you can watch the seemingly endless jungle go past. Once you are there you will find a range of reasonable quality hotels and guides to arrange trips and activities.  The innovative sports fisherman will find lots to do. Between the wet and dry seasons the level of the Amazon changes impressively. When the water is up it is heavily coloured which would make fly fishing harder, but in the drier months the water is clearer and you will have more luck.

If you are in Bogota you will also be in easy reach of Neusa Dam, which is about an hour’s drive north of the city. I fished it many times by boat and from the bank. People fish for a local trout, which from the looks of it was a close relation of the Europe's wild brown trout. Colombia brings steamy, tropical jungles to mind and in a lot of the country this is exactly what you would find. But Bogota sits at about 8000 feet above sea level in the Andes mountain range and it can get pretty cold. Neusa is even higher. I tried almost everything - from lures like the Wooly Bugger and Ace of Spades to Buzzers and Nymphs - but I found the most successful technique in Neusa to be a heavy wet line and traditional patterns. March Hair and Greenwell’s Glory seemed to be the best. The fish were not the biggest, but given the spectacular setting and the rarity (for me anyway) of catching them, it was an exciting sport.

 

In the north of Colombia on its Caribbean coast is the city of Cartagena. It is said that it has some of the best examples of Colonial architecture anywhere in the world. I am not in a position to judge, but it certainly is a beautiful city. An hour by speedboat from here are a range of islands with hotels which are geared up for the tourist. I used to go to Punta Faro which has all the amenities you would expect but, more importantly, much of the island was uninhabited and offered decent saltwater fly fishing. Baitfish patterns were the best. I’m sure there were other species about, but I only ever seemed to catch Snook. Try the EP Baitfish:

Sizes: 2/0-8

Thread: 3/0, red or white

Gills: Red EP fibers

Top: Dark EP fibers

Bottom: Light EP fibers

Flash: EP flash or equivalent

Eyes: plastic 3D

    

  

 

Further to the North still off the coast of Nicaragua you will find the Island of San Andres. A Colombian province, San Andres has a lot going for it. It’s beautiful, rugged, exotic and it lacks tourists. Accommodation is cheap and clean and there are a number of restaurants in the town. You can reach it by plane from Bogota.

   

 

   

 

Relatively undiscovered, it offers a range of challenging fishing. Although it has a number of beaches a lot of the island is ringed with volcanic rock, ready to shred the feet of even the toughest fly-fisherman. Forget your flip-flops, you’re going to need something more substantial here. The waters around San Andres are crystal clear and cover most of the sub-sea terrain you would expect to find in the Caribbean. Even fishing off the volcanic outcrops can be productive. Try the usual patterns. I had luck with the Cypert's Minnow:

Size: 4 - 8

Thread: red

Eyes: Bead chain pair

Body: Chenille wrapped over the hook and around the eyes,

Tail and overbody: Mylar piping tied in at the head, folded over the top and bottom and extended as a tail

 

The final and perhaps most adventurous place you could fly-fish in Colombia is Tayrona National Park. Inaccessible by road, you will have to take a speedboat for a couple of hours from Santa Marta, which is further up the Caribbean coast from Cartagena. You can fly there directly from Bogota or take the bus from Santa Marta. If you can get yourself as far as Santa Marta just ask at your hotel about taking a trip to Tayrona. They will be able to arrange everything for you. Once you are there you will find yourself in an untouched, beautiful, rugged fishing Mecca. Accommodation is basic - no running water and mostly thatched roofs. Take your fly rod of course, but I would also recommend having your spinning rod handy too. You can fish off the beach, rocks or the boatmen who shuttle people up and down the coast will take you out for a small fee.

    

Other things to do in the area include hiking to the Lost City (La Ciudad Perdida). Those that have been say it’s more of an experience then Machu Picchu. And if you have time and the constitution checkout La Puerta nightclub on your way home. It's as exciting a night out as you can have. Just one warning - it has no roof. When it starts to rain you, and the electrics powering the sound system, will know all about it.

   


7 comments


  • VLADIMIR MORENO SOSA

    Thanks Sir. Very useful information. Surfing the web, I have found information about FF in San Andrés, in most cases published by Chileans, Argentinians or in this case you, than by We Colombians. Thanks for the advise. Just for your information Just in case you want to come back to Bogotá. Neusa dam is hosting récord fish up to 12 pounds. Tota Lake ( 170 km North in Aquitania, Boyacá) is the home of the “Colombian Steelheads”. Check In Facebook for Stefano Tantimonaco’s pictures. Cheers.


  • Alan

    Hello Elric,

    I have had so many over the years it is difficut to remember, but I think at that point I was using a Hardy Zane.


  • ELRIC MARTINEZ

    What kind of fly road/reel combo did you use?


  • Forbes Fly Tying

    Hello Jake,

    You might better going to Providencia and trying for Snook and Bonefish. The geography of San Andres makes for challenging, though not impossible, fly fishing. You’re right, there is little information about fishing in Colombia and less so for Providencia and San Andres. But that’s not the way things seem to work. Once you arrive on the island just ask about. The locals are friendly and will be keen to help. You will soon find someone who can take you out. It will be trial and error, but you will get there in the end.

    Good luck.


  • Forbes Fly Tying

    Thank you for getting in touch.

    In the 80s and 90s the waters around Cartagena were full of fish but, unfortunately, that isn’t the case now. Luckily it is easy to get to the islands which are nearby and things are better out there. Check with your hotel. Most can organise boat trips, but usually people want to fish for tuna, dorado, barracuda, etc., so if you want to go fly fishing you will have to explain the type of water you want to access.

    If you have time I would suggest you go north to Santa Marta. From here you will be able to organise a trip into Parque Tayrona which has many rivers and lagoons. It’s rugged and it’s off-piste. There are lots of boats which leave from Taganga to take backpackers camping but they are available for hire and will take you fishing. Again, you will have to explain what you want, but if you persevere you will find what you are looking for. If you hit on somewhere great and you’re feeling adventurous you could get him to drop you off and spend a few nights camping.

    Have fun.


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