Panama Fishing Report - Tournament Week with Team Shimano! - May 15-18, 2013
The Panama Marine Resource Foundation had 32 boats, 121 anglers, and organized six local fishing lodges to host their "The Great Panama Fishing Challenge" Tuna/Marlin/Dorado Tournament on May 17 and 18, 2013. No small feat in it's first attempt as they were also able to attract big name sponsors such as...Shimano, Oakley, Suzuki, Rapala, Braid Products. Local sponsors Alta Pesca, The Fishing Store, Panama Red Rum, Pride of Panama Cigars, and Daisy also donated to the 1st annual event to benefit the sustainability of Panama's fishery for future generations.
We were fortunate to host the event's main sponsor Shimano Latin America here at Propiedad de Paradise Lodge on Isla Paridas. Representing Team Shimano were Elmer Alfafara, Bruno Egawa, and Thierry Kiou that were here to test out some new Shimano products including the brand new model Stella spinning reels and the new Orca top water lures.
Also here for tournament, and the days preceding, were South California's own Al Brandenburg, Leon Bundy, and Andy Rafkin. The couple of days before the tourney these guys were able to get some practice in and experience some awesome Panama Tuna frenzy action! Right out of the gate, on the first day, I found a large area of activity with birds and Porpoises just north of Isla Montuosa. We eventually came across a massive baitball with wildly feeding Tunas! Multiple hook ups on 100# plus fish and complete Panama Yellowfin Tuna mayhem was the welcoming committee for these guys!
Check out the video of the bait ball and exploding Tunas here.....
The guys were a bit sore from pulling on all the Tunas and wanted to switch it up and try some inshore action in the next day. We made the 18 mile run from Isla Paridas to Islas Secas and we missed our chances at a couple of decent fish but ended up releasing a couple small Cuberas. In the afternoon we headed back toward Isla Paridas and wound up with a pair of nice Roosterfish right in front of the lodge!
The next two days we had a full house at the lodge for the tournament. Team Shimano fished on the "Scandalous" with Captain Bartolo and the boys from SoCal fished with me on the "TOP Cat". They couldn't have chosen better dates because, as usual this time of year, both days were full on Yellowfin Tuna madness!
First day day of the derby we ran to Isla Montuosa to see if the action was still in the same area. En route we caught a 20# Dorado we found near a floating log. Which incidentally, was one of only two Dorados weighed in the whole tournament. As we eventually arrived at Isla Montuosa we got pummelled by a massive thunderstorm. There was no way getting around it so we decided to head toward Hannibal Bank and blast strait through it. It took a few miles to get to the blue skies on the other side of it and then we came across a big mark on the radar! We came across a big school of busting/feeding bonito. We pick up a few for the tuna tubes and slow troll a bridled Blue Runner & and Bonito around the school to see if there are any predators sniffing around. Sure enough the short Blue Runner gets eaten, the 5/0 Shimano Tiagra starts to scream, and were tight on a big fish! After about 10 minutes it's strange because the fish isn't fighting like a YFT...it's staying up on top and not diving strait down like a Tuna normally does. I'm thinking we're hooked up on a shark like happens sometimes when fishing around large schools of bait. As soon a I open my mouth to say "shark" a 350# Black Marlin sky rockets out of the water, jumps three times, and spits the hook!! Missed shot at a 100 point Marlin release! We continue on to Hannibal Bank and it's dead. A bunch of long liners anchored up on the high spot as usual this time of year and no fish. We search around some more and south of Isla Montuosa but find nada. Eventually I get a call from another Panamanian Captain friend of mine and he tells me that he's on a big school of Porpoises with Tuna at Isla Ladrones. It's 28 miles away but he says that it "vale la pena" or it's worth it! We make the run and sure enough it's another large area of YFT mahem. The center of activity was a lost floating bait pen (used by commercial long liners to attract and keep Tunas in one area) that had broke loose and was now keeping the fish around us. Bartolo came over with Team Shimano and we all had about an hour and a half of contant action around this school. I was able to get this footage on my GoPro Hero3.....
One after the other our Blue Runners were getting eaten and the guys took turns until we had our two Tuna per angler limit to weight in back at the lodge. Our biggest YFT for the day was only a 110# caught by Theirry Kiou. But the impressive part was that he caught it on a Shimano Tranx 500 baitcaster matched with a Terez rod!
The second day of the tournament was alot like the first but we got all the action near the lodge around Isla Ladrones. Both boats limited out again with YFT and we got back to the lodge a little earlier to enjoy some sushi and cocktails! Out of all the contestants we wound up with 3rd place, the Shimano crew was able to put the screws to a bunch a big Yellowfin Tunas and thoroughly test it's gear, and we all had a great time! We are looking forward to next year's tournament to further enhance the awareness of the Panama Marine Resource Foundation and it's worthy cause. Enjoy the pictures....