Panama Fishing Report: Yellowfin Tuna Mania
We hosted six groups of repeat clients, and a couple of new ones, April & May 2014 here out of Propiedad de Paradise Lodge on Isla Paridas, Panama and the fishing action was nothing short of epic! The annual Yellowfin Tuna migration up into the Gulf of Chiriquí has really kicked into high gear as huge pods of Porpoises…with lots of Tunas…are slowly making their way north, down from Isla Jicarita/Coiba area, and concentrating more up around Hannibal Bank/Isla Montuosa. The bite started off slow the beginning of April, as the Tunas were really focused on squid, but turned on strong as the month progressed as they slowly started to move their attentions to spawning bait fish such as Green Jacks, Goggle Eyes, Bonito, and Triggerfish that tend to congregate around floating logs, debris, and the high spots around the banks at Hannibal and Isla Montuosa.
The local commercial fishermen have been capitalizing on the opportunity of finding these floating logs loaded with bait. They are tying them to their boats, slowly towing them into the areas with Porpoises and Tuna, chumming the area with dead sardines, and hoping to initiate a feed behind their boat as they hook the frenzied fish by hand and set out their long line. The large concentration of live bait and chum in the water gets the Porpoises attention, which in turn gets the opportunistic Tunas to follow, and usually results in a feeding frenzy that will stay behind the commercial fisherman’s boat for a extended period of time as they hook Tuna after Tuna and set their longline in the process. It is an amazing site to see and also a great opportunity for us to swoop in and hook fish in the middle of the mayhem!
Returning clients Lou Rossitto and Mark Coyle started off in April with us for a couple of days but the bite was hard to get from the thousands of Yellowfin Tunas that were busting all around us! We did get a couple of opportunities but couldn’t really capitalize. Lighter leader, smaller hooks, and switching up the type of bait seemed to get hits but we struck out! We didn’t do too well fish wise, only a couple of small 20 pound tunas, a couple of small Pargos and Trevalles, but we had a great time and the weather was beautiful! Too bad the fish just didn’t want to cooperate.
We had a single day charter on the Scandalous with a great couple Dan and Laura Warnier who were staying out at Isla Palenque. We went out again to try our hand at the Tunas but again came up short. Again fish all around us but they weren’t interested in our offerings. The seas were a bumpy that day which made the going a little rough. We moved inshore to try to find a Roosterfish and wound up with a couple of Jack Crevelles and beautiful Blue Trevalles.
The action really started to turn for the better with the Paul and Patti day charter out of Boca Chica as they joined us again for the second year in a row of Tuna hunting on the T.O.P Cat. It took a while…but we finally, early in the afternoon, found the fish! We ran all around…searching for signs and eventually on the radar I marked some birds! On the horizon we could faintly see the white splashes and Porpoises jumping! We came into a huge area of Porpoises and Tunas that had the baitfish corralled and up into bait balls! Bird were diving, Porpoises herding bait, and big Tunas busting! We immediately hooked up into a nice fish on a live bridled Goggle Eye that Paul fought for a good 45 minutes…a 200# monster! We got six more nice tunas all in the midst of Tuna boils and behind a commercial guy that was setting his line into frenzied fish. Another good trip with Paul and Patti!
3rd time returning clients Rob and Jackie Ralston brought their friends Tony and Anne Loew this time for a few days of fishing and adventure here on Isla Paridas. These guys really seemed to enjoy the whole experience here at our private island lodge…as it’s more than just the fishing…and wanted to share it with their friends. Yet again…they choose a great time to come as the fishing was really great! We had lots of action with frenzied Tunas and caught lots of fish over 100#s. We came across lots of commercial fishermen into feeding frenzys and had an exciting time pitiching baits, and robbing fish, behind their boats. Anne and Jackie did surprisingly well battling the big Tunas with the stand-up gear and gave the guys a run for their money! Tony caught and released an impressive 60 pound Cubera Snapper inshore one morning as we waited for the weather to clear. Unfortunately…the 200# plus Yellowfin that Rob had his sights on this trip escaped us…the largest went about 140#s. We’ll get him next time Rob! Thanks for the great photos Jackie and your guys continued support!!
A couple days later the Arvan/York crew from North Carolina returned for the second year of YFT madness! This time Dads Pete and Sean brought their sons who missed out last year to experience the action first hand and we got into them really well. Captain Macaron was on the Scandalous with the Yorks and I fished with the Arvans on the TOP Cat. The York kids tag-teamed a Black Marlin on the first day at Isla Ladrones (only 13 miles from the lodge) with Capt. Macaron. 11 year old Colin York was pitching liveys behind the commercial boat and hooking up into big Tunas like a pro! We got some good video of him at work battling YFTs on spinning outfit that I promise to post soon. Everybody got in on the action as we had both boats operating for 3 days of continuous YFT mayhem! The guys brought back some nice YFT steaks to North Carolina and I think had a great time. Thank you so much Pete and Sean for sharing this with your families and your repeat business!
Don Hunt came back again to slay some Tunas with us and this time he brought a few of his buddies….Keith, Phil, Ron, and Johnny was here in Panama for the first time and they got a dose of some awesome Yellowfin Tuna action for sure! The bite was still wide open and we had non-stop action in more feeding frenzies for three days. The second day it took a while to find the fish but we finally wound up at Hannibal Bank and the boys tag-teamed a couple of fish over 150#s we got on live Bonitos! On the last day, and the coupe de grace of the trip, we hooked a big YFT on a Shimano spinning outfit. All of us battled this fish for a couple of hours before the fish got wound up in a commercial fisherman’s longline! We were able to get the fish unwrapped from the line and finally gaffed an impressive 150# plus Tuna! Way to end it huh Don?!?! Thank you sir!!
Next up was Ronnie Wills and company. Ronnie fished with me for a day back in April 2013 and this year he brought down with him his fishing buddies from Texas Kevin, Kyle, and David. These guys are some seasoned fisherman that fish the oil rigs in Texas. So they are used to the runs out to the fishing grounds and are familiar with Tuna fishing…but not like the action they experienced while they were here in Panama!! The first two days we caught fish and had some good action but the last two days we were neck deep in some awesome feeding frenzies with commercial guys that would make your head spin. It was awesome! We had chance after chance of running up along side the commercial guys and pitching baits to feeding Tunas. Sheer mayhem!! We did get broke off quite a few times due to the sheer number of Tunas and Porpoises in these frenzies…unfortunately when the line gets tight on a fish and another fish or Porpoise hits the line it’ll break you off…especially if you are using braided line. (I like to use heavier monofilament, that will stretch unlike braid, when pitching baits into a Tuna boil…but you still stand the chance of getting cut off with that much life in the water) We did get quite a few real nice fish though including a nice bull Dorado Kyle got on a popper on the way out to the Tuna mayhem one morning. The guys got to take home three coolers full of Yellowfin Tuna steaks! Thanks for coming back Ronnie and bringing the Texas crew….I hope to see all you guys next year for some more!
Last group in May, but certainly not least, were the boys from San Diego, California. Denny, John, Mike, and Matt were all in here for their first time fishing in Panama…and boy did they get a christening! On the first morning we ran directly to Isla Montuosa and came across a massive boil of 200# plus Tunas decimating a school of Blue Runners. The first two fish we come tight on get broke off immediately from other fish touching the line. Bummer! We sure made up for it later. John got a nice Yellowfin that went 100#s, wound up with a couple other smaller ones in more tuna boils, got a couple of man sized Mullet Snappers, gaffer sized Dorados, and capped off the day with a 200# plus YFT Mike Baird put in the boat after a 45 minute battle! The next day the action wasn’t furious like the days prior but the activity on the high spot looked good at Hannibal Bank. We ran across a lone school of Bonitios on the way to the bank and picked up a couple to put in the tubes. Not five minutes into the slow troll over the high spot with the live baits we pick up two 40 pound Bull Dorados! A little bit later the short Bonito gets hammered! Denny’s up and does battle with a monster on the 5/0 Shimano Tiagra….spooled with Momoi 80# test monofilament…until we see color and he cant take anymore! The heat of the sun and strain from the fight make Danny tap out and pass the rod to Matt Baird. Matt straps into the Braid harness and relieves the exhausted Denny. He quickly realizes why the rod was passed to him! We see the huge fish with it’s lengthy sickles doing the “death circle” down below us in the clear blue water only 20 feet away. Matt is really struggling but does a great job of maintaining and reeling down inch by inch and smoothly pilling up on the fish for over 30 minutes! We finally get him to the gaff and it take three of us to lift him over the gunnels and into the boat! What a fish! Easily 275#s! Awesome!!! Best Tuna I have put on the deck of the TOP Cat yet. The last day we didn’t see any bruisers, like the two days prior, but we got to see some more good action with smaller Tunas behind commercial guys setting their longlines as we pitched baits into a few boils of frenzied Tunas! Thanks for the biz guys!!
Capt. Shane Jarvis
Panama Cellular Phone: 011-507-6675-7191