We fished 7 days and hosted 3 awesome groups, 2 of which were retuning clients, June 8-15, 2016 here at Sport Fish Panama Island Lodge. The Yellowfin Tuna fishing continues to be very good which is normal for this time of year here in the Gulf of Chiriquí, Panama. Cool water temps and lots of spawning bait that tend to accumulate here at the beginning of the wet season are in full effect with big areas of feeding Porpoises and Tunas in tow. Although there are lots of big Tunas around they still can be a bit finicky at times. The bite isn’t always automatic but if you are prepared, and have a few different types of baits always at your disposal, chances are this time of year that one of them will work!
Tom Sandstrom returned this time with his crew from Hooker Electric Reels…Trista, Mike, and Jack to match there skills against some Tunas. And although the trip started off on a bad note as one of there bags was “lost” by the airlines and then the bite the first couple of days was a bit slow…we still got into some nice Tunas. We got a few nice Tunas to 100#s on the first day and the bite was a bit off the second day. So we tried inshore fishing and it was a bit slow as well probably due to the big tides and lots of current we were having a few days after the new moon. The last day of the trip we pulled up to the high spot at Hannibal Bank and immediately hooked into a monster on a spinning outfit! The crazy Tuna raced back and forth on the surface peeling off a hundred yards at a time once it realized it was hooked. It caught Tom off guard…I couldn’t get the boat spun around quick enough and it wrapped the line around the lower unit of the port motor!! Tom put the reel into free spool and I tilted up the motor as my mate Juan jumped in the water to unwrap the line from the prop! Sure as shit…he got the line free from the prop and 6 1/2 hours later we put the gaff into a 69” by 43″ fatty Cow Yellowfin that must have gone 250# plus!!! How’s that for some luck! Tom fought the fish for an hour, then Mike Schmitt fought for an hour, then they switched again taking multiple turns and passing the rod till exhaustion then my super athlete mate Juan fought it for the last 2 hours!! Matter of fact…we were putting some serious pressure on this fish as we broke 2 Aftco spin straps that connect the rod to the Aftco shoulder harness!! This fish put the Temple Reef Black Devil 250 rod (courtesy of JM Tackle) and Shimano Stella 20000 reel spooled with Momoi Diamond Braid 65# braid and 130# fluorocarbon leader with a 9/0 Mustad Demon Perfect circle hook to the ultimate test!! Congrats to the Hooker Electric Reel crew on a victorious ending to an epic battle with a fish of a lifetime that they will never forget!!!
Check out the short video that Mike made from their trip…
The next lucky group cool of guys we hosted from Pittsburgh, PA were first timers with us here at Sport Fish Panama Island Lodge but were no strangers to Panama. Fred, Jack, and Tom are old college buddies and had visited Panama a few years back. This time they contacted me…were looking to catch some Tunas and Roosterfish and scheduled a trip. Little did they realize that their beloved Pittsburgh Penguins would be in the final Stanley Cup Playoff game the first night here at our remote island lodge! We tried to figure out how watch the game on the internet we have out here but couldn’t figure it out but thank God they were able to listen to the broadcast and the Penguins won! That started these guy’s trip off on a good note and the trip just kept getting better! We got into a Tuna frenzy right off the bat on the first day with little tunas busting bait as Humpback Whales were also rolling on bait balls near the boat. The second day we stopped at my secret Roosterfish spot, right at our lodge’s doorstep, only a mile from the lodge and caught & released 3 nice Roosterfish back to back to back!!! We had some great weather as well and caught a few real nice YFTs out at Hannibal Bank.
Our other boat the “Scandalous” Captained by Javier “Tatin” Troya was fishing with our friend Jay Warner at Hannibal the last day…who was back for his fourth time fishing with us. This time Jay brought is 10 year old son Max and wife Dayan. Jay has been wanting to get his shot at a big YFT and ran down here at the last minute after seeing the recent reports of the fish we were catching. I am so glad that he and his son Max got into them and got a couple of really nice Tunas the biggest one went about 170#s! Young Max, like a champ, got one that went well over 120#s… about 50 lbs. heavier than him!!! I got some great pics as these guys were hauling in their fish right next to us at Hannibal.
Thanks so much to Fred, Jack, and Tom for the business it truly was a pleasure fishing and hanging out with you guys! And thanks again Jay for your continued support!!
Captain Shane Jarvis