Panama Fishing Report: The annual Yellowfin Tuna migration into the Gulf of Chiriquí, Panama continued into June 2014 as we hosted an awesome group of guys here at our private island lodge and had a few days of charters out of Boca Chica as well. Big concentrations of spawning Blue Runners out in open water had the attention of the huge pods of Porpoises that also had lots of smaller Tunas in tow. The bigger fish we found were out around the high spot at Hannibal Bank…and we found some bruisers!
The crew from New Zealand of Roger, Kim, Peter, Callum, and Mike got a great introduction to the fishery here in Panama as the fish were here in numbers. We ran both boats each of the 5 days…the “TOP Cat” captained by myself and the “Scandalous” captained by Bartolo Gonzalez. The Kiwis switched up crews between boats each day as we went out in search of the Tunas. We were able to locate the fish every day either with the Porpoises, with the commercial guys who were chumming them up, or at the high spot at Hannibal Bank. Although we were able to locate the fish….that didn’t mean that we were instantly hooked up. The fish seemed to be a bit picky the first day but the last few days of the trip it was pretty much all out action with the Tunas and we also had some luck with the Dorados as well!
On the third day we found the Tunas in open water that were running with Porpoises. The intelligent Porpoises were working together feeding on some big schools of Blue Runners and had them balled up in a tight area as they picked away at the school. Every now and then you’d see a Tuna bust the surface as they were also right there feeding on the bait ball. If we pulled to close to balled up Bluerunners they would rush underneath the boat and use the hull and shadow for protection. We had thousands of baits right under the boat so thick…that we were scooping them up with the dip-net! The only problem was that the Tunas were boat shy and would not feed or eat our live baits while the bait was directly under the boat. We eventually figured out that if we pulled away from the bait very quickly, so they weren’t directly below the boat, that the Tunas would rise up again and attack the bait ball. We did this a few times and got some hook ups!
At Hannibal Bank we had a couple of days of drifting the high spot with live baits and chucks of dead sardines. Great water clarity, excellent sea conditions, and we could literally see down over 100 feet. As we drifted our baits over the high spots we could see 200# plus Tunas cruising in our chum line and saw a couple as they grabbed the baits before hookup! One day we had both boats at Hannibal Bank and Capt. Bartolo and I both had big Tunas on at the same time! We put the hook in a monster YFT that Mike fought for over an hour and a half before the hook pulled….but Peter, who hooked up on the Scandalous, got his Tuna that was over 150#s! We got another chance the next day on the same spot. It was Roger’s turn to battle with a monster Tuna and this time we got him to the gaff! This fish went an easy 230#s! A true monster and great test for our brand new Shimano Tiagra 50w reel, Shimano heavy duty Terez rod, spooled with Momoi Diamond 80# monofilament line.
The last day of the Kiwis trip they participated in the 2nd Annual Panama Marine Resource Foundation’s tournament….Great Panama Fishing Challenge. We didn’t see the great action with big tunas the last day as we had seen the day’s prior but we still did okay. We tagged a few small tunas and finished 2nd place in the tournament with a 50# and 51# Tunas. Thanks so much to all the sponsors in the tourney…Aftco, King Sailfish Mounts, Braid Products, Rapala, Alta Pesca Panana, and Panama Red Rum. We are looking forward to next year’s tournament that is to be held on June 5 & 6, 2015.
We fished next with repeat clients from the Cayman Islands….Pierre Lesieur, his dad Jean-Marc, and friend Matthew. Too bad the big tunas didn’t show up for these guys this year but we did do okay. We had a double header of a couple of big Dorados and got into some action with small Yellowfin Tunas and Rainbow Runners out at Hannibal Bank. Hopefully you guys will get here again next year Pierre and we can try and get you that big Tuna?
Last up, but certainly not least, in June was Jim Dickinson’s crew of buddies that we took out from the Seagullcove Lodge In Boca Chica. We get quite a few day charters each year from Jim’s boutique lodge there on the mainland. It is always a pleasure to fish with him as he is a great sport and always brings quality cigars with him! We went out once again in search of the Tunas for these guys but it seems that in the second half of June they just disappeared! Anyway, it was still a good day as the weather and seas were perfect. We started out at Hannibal Bank, ran over to Isla Montuosa, and finally ran all the way over to Isla Ladrones before we finally found some action. We ended up the day with a couple of small sandwich sized Dorados, a Rock Snapper, and a couple of decent Cubera Snappers that we released. Thanks again for the business Jim!