THE YOUNG VETERANS IN PANAMA 2008

THE YOUNG VETERANS IN PANAMA 2008   by Andre Huys

The Young Veterans team consists of my self Andre Huys and my good fishingmate
Gilbert Lampens. This year our team is together 140 years young. We celebrate this
anniversary with a 6 days fishing in Tropic Star Panama. Our spouses come also with us.

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The Tropic Star lodge is situated in Panama, on the pacific coast, in the jungle, near
the border with Columbia. The lodge is one of the most famous and most expensive
lodges in the world. There is no radio; no TV; no newspapers; no telephone. The lodge
can only be reached by boat or by small plane. The end off the world, but very good
marlin-fishing can be expected.

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Here the story:

16 January: Start for the trip to Panama city. This trip up was a hell and took 30 hours.
3 hours in Brussels airport, plus 11 hours flight to Atlanta, plus 4 hours waiting in Atlanta
airport, plus 8 hours waiting IN THE PLANE to remove the ice from the wings before the
take off, plus 4 hours flight to Panama city.

17 January: We arrive in Miramar Intercontinental in Panama at 06H00. We rest the whole day.

18 January: We visit the entrance of the Panama Canal and in the afternoon we do some shopping.

19 January: Transfer to the regional airport. Flight 45 minutes with small plane and landing in the jungle. Transfer with a tractor to the river. Transfer with a panga to the lodge.

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The lodge is fantastic and has a capacity for 32 guests. There are 15 cabins with bedroom, bathroom, dressing and terrace. The lodge has a restaurant, a terrace, a swimming-pool, a BBQ and 2 bars. A staff of 90 persons takes care for your comfort and is to your service.
15 Bertrams 31 feet in good condition are waiting. we will fish on “ Miss Costa Rica” with
captain Libardo and mate Vincente.

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Gilbert planned our trip 11 months ago. On that moment of reservation he did not pay attention to the moon- phase… and now we knew that our week is the week with the full moon.
I prefer the new moon, hopely has the full moon not to much influence….

In the morning we start at 06H20. At 07H00 we fish for bonitos and around 07H30 we start trolling. From 07H30 to noon we fish with 3 live bonitos on 50Lbs exclusively for marlin. Later we put out the teasers plus a belly stripe on a 30 Lbs and troll faster for marlin, sails
and dorado.

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Here the results:

20 January: 2 sails released and 5 dorados landed.
21 January: 2 sails released and 2 dorados landed.
1 sail by Gilbert was estimated at 60Kg – Belgian record egalized!

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22 January: 1 sail released and 2 dorados landed.
1 strike black marlin +/- 350 Lbs. Hooked – jumps en pirouette – leader around
the bill. The knot of the hook to the leader was perhaps not perfect and the hook
lost after 2 seconds from the leader….The deckhand said: “I am sorry Sir, look
what happened…” Result: adieu Blacky!!!

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23 January: 1 sail released and 3 dorados landed.

24 January: 4 sails released and 5 dorados landed.

25 January: 4 dorados landed and 1 Blue marlin +/- 300LBS released after 20 min fight.

Total result: 1 blue marlin
10 sails
21 dorados

Conclusion: It was a fantastic week in the lodge. Perfect service, good food, very nice landscape, good boats etc…One negative point: the marlins were not on the rendez-vous
as expected. Moon-phase????
Lodge: expensive but one of the best in the world.
Boats: small, only 31 feet, in good condition, no bimini.
Crews: only 1 deckhand. Crew fish on a passive way and do not have the hunting instinct
or flair to find the fish.
Fish: good possibility for big size marlin. Normally 2 a 3 shots a day. Other fish not to much.

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The trip to return home was not a hell but a super hell and took 34 hours!!!

28 January: 05H30 start from the hotel without breakfast.
08H30 boarding
10H30 plane not OK – every one out of the plane
12H00 still waiting for news
12H30 flight delayed to tomorrow.
14H30 still waiting outside in the heat near a stinking bus.
15H30 arrival in a hotel.

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29 January: 02H00 wake up and transfer to the airport without breakfast.
05H20 boarding
4 hours flight to Atlanta
6 ½ hours waiting in Atlanta airport
17H00 boarding
8 hours flight to Brussels

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30 January: 08H30 arriving in Brussels.
The total travel time was 30 plus 10 plus 24 = 64 hours……
2 jetlags and 3 nights not sleeping…
That all for 6 X 9 = 54 hours fishing.

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One day, perhaps, we will go back.
But then with a better moon-phase ( the new moon!) and certainly with an other airway company.

Andre Huys.