Visiting Panama can offer an unforgettable trip to one of the richest big game fisheries in the world. There, you can confront the many aquatic beasts who call this slice of paradise home. Here's a look at the impressive big game fishing in Panama along with some tips if you decide to take a trip there yourself.
Isla Paridas in the center of the Gulf of Chiriqui National Marine Park is remote, tropical, serene, and perfect. And the best part? It's surrounded by the most fertile and unspoiled fishing grounds in the Pacific.
While there's an abundance of jungle to explore and marine life to admire around Isla Paridas, what draws anglers from far away is its proximity to legendary fishing spots for the most sought after big game fishing in Panama. Places like Hannibal Bank, Isla Coiba, and Isla Montuosa are only a quick boat ride away.
An immense variety of the world's iconic sport fish species can be caught within the Gulf of Chiriqui and the surrounding areas. At the top of the hit list are three classic big game species: yellowfin tuna, mahi mahi and roosterfish.
Every year beginning in February, hoards of yellowfin tuna move north into the Gulf of Chiriqui. As they travel, they hold over in key spots like Hannibal Bank to crush bait and generally make a ruckus. Fishing for these powerful, speed-crazed torpedoes is typically done by locating "Tuna Frenzies" marked by swarms of seabirds and the chaotic boiling of the water's surface as tuna and other predators slash baitfish.
Once a frenzy is spotted, many different tactics can be used to hook a tuna. One of the most effective methods is to simply lob in a live bait and hold on tight. A healthy tuna will rip a rod clean out of your hand! Poppers can also be used to inspire huge topwater strikes, and sometimes heavy jigs are worked through frenzies.
Mid-sized to large conventional reels on stout offshore rods are common tackle used for yellowfin tuna, but heavy duty spinning rods can be used as well, especially when fishing poppers. Heavy monofilament is the line of choice and crimping your terminal tackle is the way to go. Whatever your strategy, buckle up. Yellowfin tuna fishing in Panama is an out of this world experience, full of adrenaline and excitement.
When it comes to big game fishing in Panama, mahi mahi are right up there with yellowfin tuna. In fact, they are frequently caught during tuna frenzies using similar tackle and bait. As one of the most table-worthy game fish in the sea, tying into a mahi mahi when you're expecting a tuna is always a welcome surprise!
But mahi mahi aren't just tuna bycatch. When targeting mahi mahi specifically, structure and floating debris are sought out. Practically anything bobbing on the ocean's surface—think buoys, stray pallets and logs—will attract mahi mahi and almost guarantee action followed by the reward of sweet, succulent fillets.
Although offshore fishing in Panama within the Gulf of Chiriqui gets the most attention, there's phenomenal inshore fishing to be had as well. While there are many inshore species to be caught—cubera snapper, jacks, bluefin trevally—it's roosterfish that often becomes the primary target.
Roosterfish look crazy. With a series of extremely long spines coming off their dorsal fin and distinct stripes reminiscent of tribal war paint, roosterfish look more like members of an '80's arena rock band than members of the Nematistiidae family. Trolling live baits along island coastlines is a great way to target this big game fishing species, but poppers and other lures can be used as well. Whatever you do, if you're going down to Panama, make a point to catch one. It's well worth the photo.
When planning a trip for big game fishing in Panama, you’ll want to plan on long, full days on the water to take advantage of every fishing opportunity. Make sure you're prepared with the right gear, and place a heavy emphasis on sun-protection. Well-equipped, you’ll be ready for day after day of fish after fish. Gear up with high performance fishing apparel from Huk, and start making plans for a trip of your own!