Pah Nah Mah

I’M NOT EXACTLY SURE HOW, but in my 30-plus years of photography and fishing travel I have somehow missed out on one the world’s more fertile angling playgrounds. I’ve lurked around the perimeter of Panama, but until last week the stars have never properly aligned for entry. Thanks to Mike Fitzgerald and Joe Codd at Frontiers for lining up a great photo assignment, and to Mike Augat at Pesca Panama for running a really cool fishing operation.

Our week started with a departure downriver from the town of David (Dah-veed in local parlance.) When the fleet of sportfishers caught up with our floating accommodations we dropped bags, ate lunch, rigged tackle and set out on a six-day odyssey that would cover over 100 miles of open ocean, jagged shorelines, and submerged seamounts. By day we fished while the lodge/barge “Hannibal” relocated to pre-arranged mooring spots. Each evening we gathered on Hannibal’s fantail for happy hour, fresh catch-of-the-day, and plenty of chin-wagging.

Panama is widely-known for it’s billfish opportunities, but it’s also a phenomenal fishery for the inshore angler. We spent the majority of our week fishing around Coiba Island which offers the opportunity to fish both bluewater and inshore in a single day. On a couple of mornings we started with a trolling session at Hannibal Bank for billfish, then motored inshore after lunch for light-tackle brawls with jacks, roosters, snappers, et al. The marlin bite was off during our trip, but we did find decent numbers of sailfish, tuna and dorado. The captains were well-versed in all techniques and the fly casters in our group appreciated their tireless enthusiasm for chunking hookless teasers over rockpiles and current rips. That technique turned up lots of fights, mainly with floating lines and streamers.

By week’s end we tallied over 30 different species of fish and our evening confab sessions turned toward Advil bartering and finger taping. Big thanks to Mary, our bartender; the captains and deckhands; and to Mike Reilly and Chris Deelsnyder who tag-teamed in the octagon with 150 pounds of tuna steak and sashimi.

Frontiers will be hosting a couple of weeks again next year with Pesca Panama. If you’d like to jump aboard, call them at 800 245-1950.

To see the rest of this shoot, please click here.

The floating lodge “Hannibal”. Yes, that’s the bar on the starboard bow

Pre-dawn boat prep

Chi Chi and Chris tailing a jack

The tuna arrived like this…

And departed as such

Comb-over

See any color yet? Si, señor…dark blue…

Mike with a bluefin trevally

A cubera snapper depth-charging for the rocks

Inshore ordinance

Slinging streamers over rockpiles

The Spaniard

End of the day

Safety in numbers at Hannibal Bank

Captain Hebert

Bridled blue runners are like chicken nuggets for pelagic predators

Stewart and Dick working a Coiba shoreline

Thomas with a reef donkey

Evenings on the fantail

3 Responses to “Pah Nah Mah”

  1. Brent says:

    Amazing shots. Especially the tuna.

  2. All your underwater shots are, WOW.

  3. Leo Dunn says:

    Tosh. Sounds like a great trip. Spectacular shots. Leo

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