Fishing in Panama

Fishing in Panama

By Gilbert Lampens

For the third consecutive year I was fishing at the TROPIC STAR LODGE in PINAS BAY / Panama and the catches were great !

Two years ago I caught my first black marlin , several sail-fish , a new Belgian record pacific sierra, a 100 lbs. tuna , and lost a 250+ lbs. tuna on 30 lbs. line after a 2hr. 15 min. battle !!

Last year my Dutch friend , Jaap MIJDERWIJK , and myself got unapropiate weather-conditions but caught nevertheless a 110 lbs tuna , several sail-fish and very beautyfull Amberjack’s and Cubera snappers in the 30/40 lbs range! ( new Belgian record Cubera ! )

This year my fishing friend was Dr. Joel HOLUBAR , a retired surgeon from New York state and a fervent “ bluefin “ fisherman !

Sunday January 28 was our first fishing day. The weather was warm , quite windy and the sea was bumpy with whitecaps all over. We started fishing bonito’s on the reef , which was rather difficult , because we spent more than an hour to catch 6 live bonito’s. Slow trolling started at O8:45 hrs. We fish with 50 lbs. equipment , TIAGRA reels , and TAG § RELEASE is OBLIGATORY !! At 12:45 hrs : strike !! We hook a 600 lbs. BLACK MARLIN . After a series of spectacular jump’s , wild rushes along the surface , and several deep dives the marlin is tagged ,re-oxygenated and released after 30 minutes !! A good start of our week !

( Photo 1 600lbs black marlin jumping )

On the second day we hook a BLUE MARLIN , estimated weight 450 lbs , tagged and released ! Drilling time from 12:15 hrs to 12:45 hrs. Again a spectacular fight with tremendous high jumps which we could very luckily put on picture !

Third day : still the same weather conditions : heavy wind , tough waves , sunny and hot ! Our luck continues : we hook a 400 lbs BLACK MARLIN at 10:45 hrs.! Same spectacle : jumps and salto’s , wild rushes , deep dives !!

( Photo 2 400lbs black marlin jumping )

Day No. 4 : still more or less the same weather! And unbelievable : a double strike at 08:20 hrs. !! One line breaks , and at the second line the fish spits out the bait ; but comes back in a turn catching the bait which we are retrieving just a few feet behind the boat ! And we hook our 4th marlin : a superb 500 lbs . BLACK !! After more than an hour the fish goes deep and stays deep , till his resistance breaks suddenly due to shark attack !!! All that we retrieve is the head and the bill ! What a day !!

( Photo 3 : remains of 6OO lbs black marlin after shark attack !! )

Thursday February the 1st is full moon and the catches are weak on all boats .But also the weather conditions are different :flat sea , less wind and full sun ! Where is the correlation ??? Comments are welcome !

On our sixth day several marlin are caught again on the other boats , none on ours , but with four marlin caught and two others lost we have certainly no reason to complain! To be complete : we also caught a lot of dorado ( mahi-mahi ) ; 3 sail-fish ; some small Yellowfin and two superb rainbow-runners which we used as bait.

Total catches on all 12 boats were : 19 black marlin , 7 blue marlin , 56 sail-fish and only one 200 lbs. Yellowfin tuna . Impressive ,not ??

( Photo 4 : black marlin tagged and reoxygenating )

The organisation at Tropical Star is perfect : beginning with the pick-up at the airport , the transfers to the hotels , the flight to Pinas Bay with the amazing TWIN OTTER’s , the stay at the lodge , the food , and above all the “ ambiance “ and cordiality !

The lodge itself is spectacular : the wild forest starts a few yards from your cabin as there is no road , or village in 200 miles. The situation on the coast of the Pacific Ocean is nearby the famous ZANE GREY reef , which explains the abundance of marine life! By the way ,in the local Indian language Panama means “ abundance of fish “

( Photo 5 the Crew and their fishermen )

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To be continued ….

Greetings and tight lines

Gilbert Lampens