The Machaca: A Hidden Gem of Central America


When most people think of fishing in Central America, billfish and the incredible variety of other saltwater game fish are generally the first things to come to mind, and rightfully so. Over the past several decades Central America, and Costa Rica in particular, has become a mecca for saltwater anglers. However, over the past several years anglers adventuring to the interior of the country have found yet another angling opportunity far from the blue water and surf. Deep in the mountainous rainforests of Costa Rica, there exists an incredible game fish that few are even aware exists – the machaca.

When most people think of fishing in Central America, they imagine billfish and a variety of saltwater game fish, which has made the region, especially Costa Rica, a popular destination for saltwater anglers. However, in recent years, anglers exploring the country's interior have discovered another angling opportunity far from the ocean - the machaca, a prized freshwater game fish found in the high elevation rivers across Central America, known for its aggressive takes and exotic characteristics. Photo by IGFA Representative Federico Hampl.

Scientifically known as Brycon guatemalensis, the machaca is a prized freshwater game fish found in the high elevation rivers across Central America, ranging from southern Mexico to Panama. Younger machacas primarily feed on aquatic insects, transitioning to an herbivorous diet as adults, consuming plants, fruits, and seeds. Often dubbed as the "South American trout," machacas are highly sought after by fly anglers in the region.

Although the IGFA recently opened up the Brycon spp. for record consideration, we have received only a few applications, leaving many vacant record opportunities available.

In April 2022, the IGFA opened the genus Brycon under the "spp." (species) designation for Line/Tippet Class records. The “spp.” designation is applied to record categories that encompass several species of fish. The Brycon genus includes 43 species across Central and South America, for which the IGFA currently holds All-Tackle Records for 12 individual species. Since the announcement of this new record category, the IGFA has received 25 applications from anglers fishing in Costa Rica and Colombia.

The film Machaca – A Botanical Tale, tells the story of the machaca and its relationship with the diverse forest where it lives. The feeding behavior and fishing techniques can be easily identified by trout anglers worldwide, but the machaca's aggressive takes and exotic characteristics make them an adversary all their own. This film introduces the mysterious machaca to the global fly fishing community in a light, fun, and adventurous fashion.