Joined: 06 May 2009
Location: Pearland, TX
|Posted: Fri Sep 04, 2009 6:58 am Post subject: Epic Report Log from Panama
|It looks like another crazy trip!
We headed from Isla Montuosa towards Isla Ladronas looking for the birds and dolphins that had been productive three of the last four days about 50 miles offshore in the middle of the Gulf of Chiriqui. John Delacruz of Panama Sportfishing Lodge had identified 2 currents of different temperature running in opposite directions via satellite imaging in the area and it had been concentrating bait along the break. After running for about 45 minutes from Montuosa we found them big time and it was game on:
At first we had found them a bit scattered as small pods of dolphins chased bait with Yellowfin underneath in quick moving run and gun fishing. We got a quick coupla fun fish in the 40-60 lb class:
But off to the southeast at the edge of the Dolphins we came across this and it was holding BIG TIME. Its hard to appreciate strictly from the pictures but the Log was holding a small cloud of scared looking Triggers, Dorado in the 15-50+ pound class randomly milling around looking to kill shit and underneath it all, if you peered down deep just barely at color, a huge school of Yellow Fin of mixed sizes from 50-175+ lbs would cruise by to let everyone know the big boys were watching for anything little to step out of line:
We threw poppers and swim baits like these from River to Sea and this Smith Baby Runboh that is so easy to fish in a surface bite it's ridiculous. The big poppers take a fair amount of work to move well and produce enough commotion to get attention but the Baby Runboh you just reel and give an occasional twitch and it just gets destroyed. Rods were 8' 6" OTI Tuna Snipers with Stella 1800SW that were provided by PanamaSportsfishing Lodge and were in fine condition.
It was so WFO and we were so well equipped that we were trying to only target the big Bull Dorado of 5' plus that were mixed in as even though the jig bite for small 5-10 lb. Dorado had been steady all week while trolling the shelves from Hannibal to Montuosa or from Montuosa to Ladronas (Thieves) we were ready for some larger models. Note the untended fish hanging in the starboard rod holder.
John tossed the last of the live bait at them and got into a nice grade with the biggest sadly lost at the boat . We also threw cut bait at them and hung a big chunk on a rod that would occasionally go off with a hooked Dorado that we just let swim around to keep his buddies fired up until he threw the hook. Rinse and repeat. Basically anything in the tackle box was working, goofy broken back plugs, butterfly style jigs, live/cut bait, poppers or stick baits.
Then I tossed the Baby Runboh about 10 feet short of the log and was greeted with a nice big boil after one twitch. This thing was mean and it turned out one of the bigger model YFT had risen from deep beating out all the Dorado and smaller models to inhale the lure. The Pain was about to begin.
I was into the fish for about 30+ minutes and it was seriously putting the hurt on me. In general the 8'6" Tuna Snipers were a joy but the extra length was now working against me. John thought I was just a Choucha but this was the sort of fish that required two people just to get the rod properly seated in the rod belt when under load. Try hanging 25 lbs off the end of your favorite 8'6" rod and holding it for 30 minutes without a harness and you'll get an idea of what it's like.
The Fish settled straight below the boat and to be honest, I just couldn't raise it. When I needed rest, the fish got rest too and we were dead locked. Reluctantly we decided to tag team the fish and John took a turn.
He went from thinking I was a @#$%& to "HOLY &*@$ THIS FISH IS STRONG" over the next 15 minutes basically making no progress whatsoever raising the fish from straight below the boat with a rod that was too long for us versus this fish. Finally, we actually hand lined it in from just below color to see just what the hell we had gotten into. It was that or cut it off as otherwise we couldn't land it.
It went 120lbs at the dock so I guess we are %!#$@& :rofl:. Try the same set up against the same grade of fish and get back to me. And when judging the size of things by these photos bear in mind I am 6'3" and about 240 lbs when laying on your momma
A nice selection of the catch from this one bite with my and everyone else's favorite photo model Capitan Macho.
John got a nasty reminder that gloves are a good thing. Note to self: Do not palm a Stella without gloves on with a nasty YFT on the other end.
Some more scenic photos to follow. It was a fantastic week with a mixed bag of fish. Small wahoo and dorado to keep you awake while trolling the shelf, huge Cubera that would rock you and leave you shaking your head as what might have been to plenty of shots at YFT near 200 lbs that a better angler would have gotten in (or not farmed the hookset).
I cannot say enough about the operation that John Delacruz is operating there at Panama Sportfishing Lodge. Freshly washed clothes daily, all you can eat or drink, a super nice staff that is always at your service and top notch crews, boats and gear.
Photo below is Ladronas on the way in. Known for an epic offshore bite Marlin/Wahoo/YFT/Dorado and so many reefs filled with Cubera as to be uncountable. Probably the best deep jigging left north of the Equator.
Hooked up on the best fish of the trip caught on a previous day plus a crappy photo of it. We came back in Victory at Sea conditions of 25-30 knots of wind and driving rain reducing visibility to 50 yards that day. The fish taped to 62" by 48" or ~175 lbs:
These are the most unspoiled waters I have ever fished. When I say it reminds you of Jurassic Park it really has to be seen to be believed.