Undoubtedly one of the most legendary fishing spots known, Hannibal Bank is recognized by sport fishermen around the world as one of the best places to catch Marlin and Tuna on earth. An abundance of big game fish, and the amazing stories of the epic fish caught there, are what have made Hannibal Bank famous! But these are not just some fishermen’s ‘stories’ they are all true!


Where is Hannibal Bank?

Hannibal Bank is a large seamount that rises up at the southern edge of the Gulf of Chiriqui just 40 miles from our island lodge. Named in 1914 from the U.S. Navy survey ship ‘USS Hannibal’ that discovered it when performing depth surveys in preparation for the opening of the Panama Canal. Hannibal Bank is actually part of the 100 fathom line that makes up the continental shelf that runs off of Panama’s Pacific Coast. The bank is about five miles wide (east to west) and about 2 miles deep (north to south). The ocean floor rises from several thousand feet on the southern side up to just over 200 feet deep. Then it levels out to create a mesa shaped mountain with numerous peaks spread about the seamount that come to within just 120 feet of the surface.

What makes fishing at Hannibal Bank so incredible?

Hannibal Bank attracts so many fish because it’s fed by the nutrient rich waters of the Humboldt Current. Similar to the Atlantic’s Gulf Stream this strong underwater current flows north along the west side of South America, directly up into the Gulf of Chiriqui. This upwelling of cooler, nutrient rich water pushes up from the ocean floor and is abundant with microscopic life. This microscopic ‘super food’ supports the food chain of ever-larger bait fish that congregate around the peaks of Hannibal Bank. With this major food source present large pelagics like Marlin, Sailfish, Yellowfin Tuna, Dorado, and Wahoo are drawn to Hannibal Bank to hunt. It is common for us to come across huge schools of boiling Yellowfin Tuna in “Tuna Frenzies” or to see Black Marlin exploding on the surface while feeding at Hannibal Bank.

A typical day

Tuna Boil

Most mornings, we start our day by making the 40 mile run out to Hannibal Bank from our lodge on Isla Paridas. On the way out, we keep our eyes open, and our open array radar on, in our super smooth-riding big 33′ World Cat fishing machines to see what action we may find.

We look for floating logs that may have Dorado or Sailfish nearby. Also, pods of feeding Porpoises with diving birds and Yellowfin Tunas are all common occurrences on our way out. These are great opportunities to pitch a live bait, cast a popper, drop down a jig, and get some action on the way to Hannibal Bank. 

The Big Game we Catch at Hannibal Bank

Once we arrive at the bank, we like to catch some Black Skipjacks, or ‘Bonitas,’. Then we put them in our tuna tubes to stay alive until we use them for bait. We bridle the Bonitos to large circle hooks and use them as live bait….slow trolling them around the congregations of live bait or in areas we know that Marlin, Tuna, Dorado, Sailfish, and other pelagics are bound to be hunting.

Chances are if there is bait around that there will be a predator in tow. We keep our eyes open while fishing these live baits that are swimming just below the surface behind the boat, the water around us for tailing or feeding fish, and on our depth sounder as we may mark a fish below the boat that we can drop a bait down to. There are lots of possibilities when fishing at a target-rich environment like Hannibal Bank!

That’s all folks…

Angler laying on deck with large tuna

If you’re interested in fishing Hannibal Bank with us here from our upscale island lodge and looking for more info or want to discuss directly with Captain Shane, please email shane@fishpanamatoday.com or call Toll Free 1-866-245-1492.