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Almost year round blue water fishing in this tropical heaven. Fully guided fishing for groups of 2 to 4 fishing per boat offshore for marlin sailfish and tuna. Great inshore fishing for Rooster fish, Jacks, trevally and Cubera . The occasional pacific GT is caught too. We enjoyed 14 species in just 4 days fishing. Lots of big fish.
Rainy season is generally April to September. Dry season December to March. July being the wettest month. Multiu method location, surface popping, casting sub surface lures, bait fishing and trolling. Some salt water fly fishing.
Ensure your passport is valid for your trip. Most destinations insist that your passport must have an expiry date at least 6 months after your return flight. It is important that you check both your issue date and expiry date on your passport. If you have renewed your passport early in the past, the passport office could have added these extra months to your expiry date. Some countries, particularly in the EU, do not recognise these extra months. You should assume that your passport validity is 10 years from the date of issue.
Tales of a trip, Martin Wicks (Feb 2019)
After an overnight stay in Panama City we had an early start for the internal flight next morning, usual Latin American airport, but a very well organised on time flight.
First tip of the trip – much easier to go by road.
Met by very nice chap at the airport and visited supermarket for provisions on route.
Second tip of trip – not necessary. Paradise Lodge has everything you need.
Once clear of the airport roads are very quick, no real traffic and dual carriageway all the way – takes about 1½ hour from David and 5 hours from Panama Airport including breaks (we were told). Bus was clean and tidy and well-maintained so no issues. Arrived at lodge to be met by their team who took our bags to our rooms. Rooms all clean and tidy with good air-con. Rooms have no locks, but we experienced no issues.
Personally (nothing against David) I don’t like sharing a room, so enquire about a single room cost if sharing bothers you. The lodge will do your washing every day – so no need to take too much gear with you.
Time for lunch – which set the scene for the food for the week. Wow, they obviously think you are hungry! Excellent quality and far too much, all food and drink is included on this trip. The staff are very efficient and just want to help.
Third tip of the trip – The Lodge will provide all the tackle you need.
Personally, I thought their Popping rods and reels are a little dated and you may wish to bring your own. I took one Diawa Saltiga popping rod and Saltiga 6500 Reel with 80lb Braid – perfect. (If I went again I would probably double up as I did smash a rod on the trip). I also took a selection of Poppers. You don’t need a great deal to be honest. They like light poppers, when I changed up to 120g I had more success than their suggested gear. Their heavy tackle was perfect and you don’t need to take any unless you feel the need. Their light gear for bait fishing and rooster fishing was not great and well used. I took Ocean Master travel rod which was perfect and a smaller Saltgia 4500 with a selection of spools with Braid from 20lb. I also took some small jigs. They have pads and harnesses on the Boat. They liked to use my split ring pliers, so if you have a pair worth taking. They also used my leader as they did not have a great deal. So, tackle. You don’t need a great deal, but if you have it then take it. I left my gear on the boat overnight and had no trouble; there is a Panama navy vessel on the next jetty, so it felt relatively safe.
Right, down to fishing. The boats are clean, tidy and well maintained with 2 x 175 on the back, so plenty of power for the trip. The crew cannot do enough for you. Language was a challenge with one crew, but with hand signals and broken Spanish, we made it work.
First fish – Pacific Sailfish about 120lb, Great fight and beautiful fish. After a bit of relaxation, the skipper decided that the line I had put on my Tiagra Multiplier was not on tight enough, he decided to let out the entire 300 yards behind the boat, and yes at the end, just on the backing a 350lb Black Marlin nailed it. My fishing partner David had the first go and got a good bit of line back on the reel. I took over and after a long battle got the fish to the boat (on the leader twice). On trying for a third time, my Shinamo 20/30 class rod gave up and snapped in two. (As Dave would say – it’s only good for growing runner beans at that point!) With a bit of sharp work by the crew and Dave they managed to retie the line to another rod (whilst holding onto the fish) I then managed to get the fish to the boat.
Tip number four – after fighting a fish for over an hour in extreme conditions it is not good to gulp down iced water – Trust me!
At this stage we decided to slow things down and headed inland and had a few stops and caught a good variety of mutton snappers etc. on dead bait on the bottom – nice dinner!
Day two, we decided to stay inshore and had a good day with a wide variety of fish including three Dorado (dinner again). As we got back earlier in the day we hit the pool for a dip and a cold beer.
Day three, we swapped crew and the new guys English was very limited. We originally planned to stay inshore, but after a bit of hand waving we ended up going offshore and what a good choice it was. The sea was flat calm and we motored out at a good pace, once we got near the target area it was clear that we would see action. I have never seen Dolphins in that number and birds hitting the water. We circled on the bait and I cast my popper with a degree of fear. My first half dozen casts resulted in jacks on every cast. David at the back was being supported by the crew with small dead bait out the back and he was having more luck with a couple of nice small yellowfins. We chased the bait for some time and had great fun, every boat was seeing action and you could see people hitting big fish. We circled back round and the skipper put us right onto a massive bait ball, I cast out my trusty Popper and whack – the fun started…
After about 15mins I managed to convince the crew that I was actually attached to something rather large, they did not seem overly fussed. I was doing a crazy dance on the front of the boat as the fish circled the boat at depth. I had a Saltiga Reel and rod double with 80lb Braid, so was relatively confident that I could hold on. After about 30mins I was exhausted and just moving the fish at the depth it had settled at. The crew spelled me a couple of times and they could only manage 5mins each – lightweights! The fish was coming up, but it decided to keep changing direction and the crew did a good job in manoeuvring the boat as it kept going back and forth under the boat. After 45mins, it was finally beaten and the crew gaffed it and brought it in. Great fish about 200lb, Yellowfin Tuna.
Day Four, we decided to stay inshore. Well it turned out to be a rather interesting day. Straight up David got a nice Serra mackerel. I think I then upset him slightly by hooking it up to the biggest rod and reel on the boat and chucking it over the back as bait! My intended target – a fish I have tried to catch for years and never seen – Goliath Grouper. Despite the language issues the skipper appeared rather humoured by the fact that I wanted to try and catch one. He appeared rather smug as he stopped at his favoured spot, we launched the bait over the back and 5mins later we had contact. Well, not what I expected in that depth, by the tone of the crew it was clear that we had something rather special on from the chatter on the radio he was obviously telling his mates that we had one on. After tail roping the fish three guys got it off the boat. Our American friend at the lodge got some great pictures to show the scale of the fish. The length was 65 inch but the girth was another matter, I could estimate the fish, but honestly I’m unsure. The lodge manager said 150/180kg so who knows. I got told later that evening that it was the only time the crew had ever come in during the day and it was the record for inshore fishing in the region.
After that I popped for the rest of the day, it was hard but when is popping not hard. Had a few nice fish with the best of the day being a very respectable Cubera Snapper. What beautiful scenery and all rather relaxing after the action in the morning.
Day Five, decided to go offshore again. Flat and calm. We headed to the same spot as earlier in the week, but it was clear the Tuna had moved on. A few odds and sods during the day, but to be honest a bit slow. We headed in early and had some sport on the way in.
Three of us departed the next morning for the long trip home and said our goodbyes at Panama City airport.
Tip number five – put fishing reels in hold luggage.
So, a great trip. Made new friends, met old friends and ticked off every fish on the list.
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