I’m awake now after a night of going over in my mind what transpired yesterday in my 22 ‘ Boston Whaler off the pacific coast of Northern Panama. Working as a guide and professional fisherman for the last twenty years from Alaska to here in Panama I thought I had experienced most of the wonderful things that can happen on the open ocean. Yesterday was a new page in my yet to be written book. Some of you, and hopefully most have read Hemmingway’s “The old man and the Sea”. It’s the story of an epic battle, man against a monster marlin. I’m now 65 and had my own “test” yesterday.
When I awoke at 3:00am, due to wind and thunder showers in the area, I thought , well it’s my day off and I’d really like to just go out and fish for the day rather than trying to entertain my gal friend, she by the way doesn’t fish.
There had been several nice pargo and Dorado landed the day before at the lodge that I work through. With no charted today and the weather looking pretty dismal I thought what the heck, I’m going. My 22 Boston Whaler is super in rough weather and was full of fuel and ready to go. I loaded 4- 30 weight Shimano TLD’s, a TLD 50 and two 15/30 TLD’s for catching bait. When the sun rose over the Volcano to our east the weather seemed to be clearing,. The wind had subsided and things were looking up. Our pangaro, Carlos drove me to my boat which sits in front of the small hotel. I chose to go solo; there is just something about being on the water with just your thoughts and not having any pressure to get fish. Puenta Barica, the furthest point north on the pacific side of Panama, is home to roosters, giant Pargo, Jacks , Blue Travelle and super close to deep blue water. I mean less than two miles off shore.
No fish yet?
I dropped in at “the point” and began a dead slow troll fishing just two rods baited with small Bonito. The baits weight about the same as a trophy rainbow trout, three to five pounds and are inhaled by the aggressive pargo and roosters. An hour or so later, who care about time fishing, I decided to head for the blue water. The sea was almost flat by now, but what to fish for? The Whaler has outriggers and down diggers as well as tuna tubes that were loaded with fresh live Bonita. Getting all the gear in when fishing solo isn’t easy. I have no feed back steering and set a course due south. Looking at the sea temperature, I saw the following numbers, wow, 86.7 degrees. Too hot, so better so further out west and adjusted my steering accordingly.
Now the action starts
When I fish an “open spread”, that’s six rod’s, I use two Williamson, Diamond Coyote’s. No they aren’t a sponsor; they just work on the outside of the outriggers. Best color on a bright day is a bright lure so used two bleeding Dorado’s, out side and two “Halloween’s” on the aft inside wake rods. The shotgun was hooked up with a five pound laced Boneless bonito. (The backbone is removed with a coring tube so the fish is limp.)_You can make one from a 1/2 inch piece of copper tubing. Bang, Hello Mr. Dorado! It’s amazing how powerful a 25 to 30# Dorado really is. Unbelievable jumps followed by sprints of 50 to eighty yards all of this done while , holding the fishing rod in one hand and trying to get the five other rods secured in the boat.
Ok, all that happened while the boat was still chugging forward at idle and no major problem in getting the fish in the box.
Yea, baby fresh Dorado with butter and Garlic on the old BBQ tonight. Getting all the gear back in the water and cleaning up a bit of blood on the decks wasn’t even a big problem. I did think at the time that a good deck hand would have been really handy.
“Sh#t the Bed”!
Looking back now, after a night to go over it all in my limited cranial space, that’s the only way I can describe what it felt like to see a big black Marlin dart into my spread taking the outside lure off the port side outrigger.
It sounded like the outrigger had burst. I’ve been hooked up with many marlins over the years but always had someone, a friend, deck hand or clients to help with the “total mayhem” that these magnificent fish can cause. Gray hounding, tail walking and about every other move she could make to shake the lure stuck in the end of her snout was being preformed as she sprinted to sea. What the heck after sticking the hook as best I could I returned the pole to the rod holder, cleared the five other rods and prepared as best I could for the coming battle. Where the hell is my fighting belt? Oh yea, in the center console of course. What else will I need, Gloves, and pliers for her release. Ok baby let’s get it on!
Flat sea’s , blue sky and a 400# Marlin solo. It is an unbelievable experience. I know now what “the old Man” must have been thinking. Will anyone believe me?
Two hours into the tussle and a dozen or so trips around the boat she was close to the boat. Back into the rod holder with the pole, loosened the drag and put on the gloves. She was hook right in the old beak and still had good color, after leadering her and getting the hook out, I may add, this part was the most strenuous as you have 400# by the nose with one arm! I’m 6’2”and 225# so about ½ her size. The boat was in gear and holding her next to it saw she was over 13 feet in length. She was also very active so knew she would live to kick someone else’s butt another day.
No Pictures, just a once in a lifetime experience
Well thanks’ for reading this note, this I think, was the best fishing adventure in my lifetime of fishing. I wonder if there are many others that have had the same. Thanks to all my friends that made my life what it is, John