Panama Fishing Report: Propiedad de Paradise Panama Fishing Lodge hosted a group of anglers, for five days of fishing, and fished two day charters from our private island lodge in August 2014. We haven’t had as much rain as usual so far this rainy part of the fishing season. The “el nino” effect here in Panama seems to have kept the rain at a minimum. The general daily cycle we are seeing is rain storms developing in the afternoon, over the mainland, and then moving west and over the ocean in the late afternoon and into the evening. The seas were very nice in the mornings as we went out searching for Yellowfin Tuna. But it seems that the “el nino” also affected the cycle here in the Gulf of Chiriquí with some warmer water and conditions that have moved the majority of the YFTs out earlier this year. So with the tunas not easily found we focused on targeting some other species, especially the inshore stuff, and had some really great action!
The first day we fished in August was a day charter with Roland and Connie Ramirez out of Boca Chica. This super nice couple from Texas are experienced traveling fishermen and first timers here to Panama fishing and checking out the area. Roland wanted to see if we could find the Tunas so we headed out toward Isla Montuosa where the action had been the week prior. We came across some Porpoises and birds that were working about 10 miles north of the island. It was a flat calm morning and it was easy to see in the super clear blue water that the pod was herding a bait ball of tiny small red bait fish. We could see the occasional Tunas busting all around us so we knew they were there feeding with the Porpoises. We positioned the boat and put our bridled live Blue Runners in the path of the feed a number of times with no takers. We also threw the poppers at them a few times….and nothing. After over an hour of running with these feeding fish, and not getting a bite, it was getting frustrating! Trying to find something that works….I put on small pink colored Shimano Waxwing to one of the Shimano Saragossa 20000 spinning outfits. Sure enough on the first cast it gets hammered! ZZZZZZZing! I pass the rod to Ronald and the fish keeps peeling off the 80# braided line from the reel. It’s a nice Tuna! But as soon as I realize that…he’s gone. Spit the hook. Must have had him hooked in the fleshy part of the face of foul hooked because with all that pressure the hook came out. Damn! After that disappointment we try to hook another Tuna casting the waxwings but even with them busting all around us they aren’t interested.
We try trolling the plastics for a while around for a while to see if there is a Marlin or Dorado around but more nothing. So we head to the high spot near Isla Montuosa…..we still have a livewell full of Blue Runners! It’s pretty dead as we try 4 or 5 drifts over various high spots and get only a Rock Snapper and a Jack Crevalle. But just as it’s starting to get desperate….we can hear a commotion of splashing on the water behind us and we can see just 15 yard from the boat is a massive boil of Mullet Snapper that has come to the surface feeding in a frenzy! Johnny and I quickly reel up on our baits and cast into the white and red boil. Johnny hooks up immediately and passes the rod to Roland. He’s tight! My bait on the big Saragosa spinning setup get eaten and I’m on! Less than 30 seconds goes by and Roland’s fish is gone…so I pass the rod to Roland to let him fight. Just after I pass the rod over the fish realizes he’s hooked and the 7’8″ Shimano Terez rod is doubled over peeling drag fast! We are getting ready to drift over the 70′ high spot so Johnny has Roland tighten way down on the drag to keep the fish from breaking us off in the rocks. It’s a big Cubera Snapper for sure as they are notorious for heading strait to the bottom when hooked. Ronald does a great job holding on and reeling down on the fish, even with all the pressure, and 15 minutes later we got a monster 70# Cubera Snapper onboard the TOP Cat! Awesome fish! She must have been feeding with the school of Mullet Snappers. This fish is definitely one of the biggest I can remember ever seeing here in Panama fishing the Gulf of Chiriqui. We snap a few photos and release the big mama to fight another day!
Josecely, Franky, Egas, Doc, Juaquin, and Antonio our new friends from Brazil chartered both boats for the week from our private island lodge…so we had Capt. Bartolo fishing the “Scandalous” and myself captaining the “TOP Cat.” Blue Runners were plentiful right around the island and in front of the lodge here on Isla Paridas. Each morning we had no problem filling the livewells with 20 or 30 baits in eah boat. The guys were looking to find the tunas but they were hard to find. We did find some small Yellowfin Tunas out at Hannibal Bank, one day out of five fishing there, and had a good run one morning where we caught a bunch of small 10# to 15#s on poppers and little jigs. Good fun! Other than that morning….the YFTs were no where to be found. There was a great mark of bait and life on the high spots at Hannibal Bank pretty much each day. The best action we had was drifting our live baits over the high spots. We caught some nice big Cubera Snappers, Almaco Jacks, Rock Snappers, a bunch of Mullet Snappers, and some big Rainbow Runners mixed in at Hannibal Bank. Frankie jumped a small Marlin at Hannibal the second morning that ate a drifting Blue Runner. It scared the shit out of us as it came about 2 feet from jumping in the boat before it spit the hook!
We ventured between Isla Montuosa, Isla Ladrones, and Isla Coiba each day in search of the action switching up between live baiting and casting small Rapalas and poppers around the islands. These guys really enjoyed casting the brand new Shimano Saragosa 5000 & 6000 spinning reels we recently bought for our boats. Spooled with 30# Momoi Diamond braid line, and matched with Shimano Terez rods, they are perfect setups for casting around the rocky shorelines while we slow troll live baits. These guys had some great luck casting the new OTI poppers we have started using (www.oceantackle.net) and were rewarded for their work with Blue Trevalles, Jack Crevalle, Horse Eye Jack, Pompano, Spanish Mackerel, and a couple of nice Roosterfish! Matter of fact….Juaquin and Antonio both caught and released a couple of big Cuberas over 30 pounds each on these setups both caught on the OTI Mini-Wombat popper!
A bit of good karma came back our way on the last day. While running offshore we noticed a Turtle tangled up in a Costa Rican abandoned fishing net. These nets sometimes drift over into Panama fishing areas and are recognizable as Costa Rican because they use cooking oil jugs from Costa Rica as floats. We were able to cut him free and went on our way out to Montuosa. While we were fishing the high spot at Isla Montuosa, later that day, I noticed a swarm of birds working out in deeper water and saw a Marlin jump a couple of times. I asked the guys if they wanted to troll the plastics for a while to see if we could raise a Marlin. They wanted to give it a try and sure enough only after 15 minutes of dragging what we call “Las Mentiras” or translated into English…”the lies”… in the general location of the bird activity….Bam!!! We hook a Marlin on the 80!!!! After a couple of blistering runs, some amazing jumps, and a bunch of excited Brazilians crazily screaming in Poruguese….Egas starts to wind down on the fish as we back down on him to get back as much line as possible. Egas does a great job staying tight and winding down with the quickness as the fish makes a couple of runs at the boat. He gets him boatside and it’s a Blue Marlin about 250 or 300 pounds! We get the tag in him, get a couple of pics, and a good release while the fish is still lit up. A bunch of high fives and hugs then Egas gets thrown into the water by his friends to signify his first Marlin release! Another exciting ending for everybody and real good time with the crew from Brazil!
The last day we fished in August was another day charter out of Boca Chica fishing with our friend, and repeat client, Fernando Anguizola and his friends Juan, Luis, Everardo, and Steve. We had no problem getting bait as there was plenty of Blue Runners to be found right around the lodge on Isla Paridas. We had plans to head out to Isla Montuosa but the seas were pretty big that day and we decided to stick around Isla Ladrones. There are quite few good underwater seamounts around the outskirts of Ladrones that hold fish pretty regularly….but our day was slow. It started off great with a couple of nice African Pompanos and an Almaco Jack but the rest of the day was pretty slow. The weather cleared up very nice as the day progressed but the fishing unfortunately did not. We did have a pretty exciting moment when Steve was fighting a Jack Crevalle and right next to the boat, in plain sight, a big Bull Shark came up and ate Steve’s fish! Pretty cool! We don’t have a lot of sharks around here and it is very unusual for us to lose a fish to one. Other than that we got a couple more Jack Crevalles and Mullet Snappers to end the day. Not real great fishing but it was a fun time with the boys from Panama City. Thanks again for the business Fernando!