Fishing Report - 5/13/16
We hosted a diverse group of well-traveled international anglers including several family groups which made for a delightful week aboard our mothership Hannibal. Partner Eben Huston brought his wife Diane and daughter Alicia and friend Chris down to Panama for their annual week of fishing. Canadians John de Vries, a native of Holland, and his son David are both now living in Panama City and met us at airport. David Anthony returned to Pesca Panama this year with his daughter Heidi to celebrate her recent graduation from college. We also hosted three Australian gents Barry Hill, Victor Matafonov and Shayne Nelson who have been living and working in Abu Dabi and have traveled the world in pursuit of elusive gamefish. Absent from our group was Dr Mike Pell, a long time Pesca Panama supporter who was with me in Panama over the weekend preparing for a week at sea but had to leave for a family emergency. Our prayers are with you.
As usual, we met up in Panama City over the weekend and converged on Allbrook airport for the short flight to David, Panama, and boarded our fishing boats at Marina Pedregal, a few miles from the airport. We ran down the river to our mothership the Hannibal, had a nice lunch, stowed bags, prepared gear and headed off to Islas Paridas to catch bait and wet a lie for a few hours. Shayne caught a cubera snapper on a popper, but the afternoon was otherwise occupied with gathering bait and becoming acquainted with our new fishing compatriots.
On Monday morning we awoke in Paridas to calm seas and slightly overcast skies. After an early breakfast, we were all eager to go out to Hannibal Bank in search of tuna. And our hopes of a tuna bounty were about to come true. It was a spectacular day on the bank and everyone caught their fill of big tuna. Several of the boats came in early, worn out by the big game battles they encountered. John and Dave were the first to return having landed fifteen tuna, most weighing over 100 pounds and their largest fish were estimated to be 200 and close to 300 pounds, and all but one released. I was next in line having just fought back to back tuna of 160 and 180 pounds.
David and his daughter Heidi flew in to David this morning and on their way out to Hannibal Bank they encountered a debris field loaded with mahi mahi. They fought seven fish and landed five beautiful dorado before resuming their trek to the bank and getting in on the tuna action. Eben, Diane, Chris and Alicia also got into the action and caught ten fish with several in the 180- 200 pound range.
In the middle of the tuna rampage, we spotted a large wooden plank floating in the water with an unusual red discoloration of the surrounding water. On closer inspection we could see that it was a marauding gang of large mullet snapper that were chasing the baitfish seeking shelter beneath it. We immeddiately hooked up a double header on 30 pound mullet snapper the moment our offerings hit the water, one hit my popper and the other ate a live bait.
Tuesday morning it was a bit humid and warm, but a very nice morning nonetheless. Half of the boats went back to the bank and two of us went to fish inshore at the south end of the island. The Aussies had a good morning throwing poppers and stickbaits and caught numerous schoolie tuna in the 20 pound range and some cubera, and various jacks. Shayne caught a forty pound cubera and Barry caught the largest rock snapper I have ever seen a photo of. We trolled most of the morning for wahoo and I brought one large ‚Äòhoo to the gaff, but he shook his head and cut the line with razor sharp teeth, and he was free. We caught a few cubera, had lunch and ran to the bank to catch up with the other boats. The Huston group were hardly a few miles away and caught five nice wahoo and after lunch they went out to Hannibal and caught three more big tuna.
Heidi caught her first yellowfin tuna today, one that was estimated at 140 pounds, and despite the man-size stand up harness that kept sliding off, she managed just fine. John and Dave were also on the tuna grounds and continued to add to their impressive catch of big tuna. By now, their arms must feel like they are about to fall off!
We met up with the mothership at Playa Hermosa, just a short distance from Hannibal bank, happy that we didn‚Äôt have to travel any further north where a thunderstorm was lurking in the distance and provided a nice dinner time light show.
On Thursday, the boats split up and ran off in different directions. We headed south and spent the entire day at the southern extreme of Central America, on and off the continental shelf. We caught cubera, jack crevalle, blue jack, yellow snapper and a rainbow runner. We spent a good part of the afternoon chasing vast schools of bait and pecking away at the gamefish that were doing the same.
John and David continued to chase big tuna and added a couple more bruisers to their tally. In addition to the tuna they caught a large wahoo. Eben and his crew caught some more tuna and spent the afternoon inshore playing with the resident fish species and Alicia caught a 50 pound cubera. The gents from Australia continued to pound the water with poppers and amassed a variety of species including several large tuna. Alicia and Chris took the kayaks to the beach next to the former Club Pacifico lodge for a swim while Dave and Heidi explored the island.
Thursday morning the sun rose over calm seas, and the group ran back to the tuna while the Hannibal made its‚Äô way back toward the river to set anchor among the islands Paridas. The hot sunny calm day was not good for the tuna fishing and we struggled to find active fish. Several fish over 100 pounds were hooked and two were caught. Otherwise, we watched in awe as thousands of spinner dolphin followed the vast schools of bonito and tuna in the depths below. A nice African pompano was caught by the gents as well as a large albacore.
We started the final day of our trip back at Paridas where a few of us opted to relax on the Hannibal and considered a swim as we gazed at the beautiful white sand beach that lay before us known locally as Gamez. There were a few roosterfish encountered in the area along with some smaller snapper. By noon we were all back on the Hannibal making way up the Chiriqui river, packing clothes and gear to make way for the airport and to the various parts of the world we all call home.
Buen Viajes, Ted Merletti
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