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Been a while since I did not post a report on 360, so here is one. All reports can be found here:

http://panafishing.com/reports--news.html

Over my 5 years in Panama running the Panafishing lodge, not once did I manage to go fishing for 3 days in a row. Until now as I had the perfect excuse before the wife and kids that I must go to polish the training of our new Captain Wiljem. Here is the full, honest story about those 3 days of fishing in early June. Let's say it how it is : we killed it !

Day 1 :

Plan was to go about 15 milles offshore and look for tuna as we had some intel about where they should be. Since we were passing over a jigging mark on the way, we stopped for a couple of drifts which produced a decent Almaco jack and a pacific bonito.



We then lost about 2.5 hours looking for tuna without success. Only notable event was casting to a sailfish that was spotted cruising lazily on the surface with it's fully deployed sail sticking out of the water. Sail was not interested but we were followed by a couple of dorado, which did not seem in the mood either.
We ended up jigging the deeper marks, which is often the backup plan when we don't find the tunas. Speed and slow-jigging in 75 meters of water produced a very nice amberjack, some silk snappers and a few pacific bonitos.







Every now and then, dorados could be seen jumping in a distance and when a few showed up right under the boat, we quickly reached out for the light popping rods and caught a male/female pair with the medium size poppers we had initially rigged for tunas.





Back to jigging the action was steady on the snappers but the 2 best fish besides the amberjack, which I'm pretty confident were decent size groupers, were lost on the early stage of the fight.











It was early afternoon when we decided we've had enough action with the snappers and wanted to head back to the coast and try our luck on the inshore species. However, we couldn't resist a detour as we spotted a small log of wood on the surface. The log wasn't that impressive really but we've all the dorados we had spotted around while jigging, we thought our chances were pretty good. What followed was 2 hours of non-stop action casting poppers and stickbait to mostly large bull dorados. Windless conditions were perfect : it was not even necessary to replace the boat between 2 catch, as the boat was drifting along with the wood and the dorados stayed nearby. Being 2 on the boat and both fishing, it was quite a mess as the fish took both of us around the boat at the same time. We chose to gaff all fish that were caught on double hookups as trying to unhook your own dorado isn't exactly a good idea if you care about your rod or your health. We lost track of how many we got but I'd say probably 10 in the boat and another 7 or 8 either lost during the fight or at the boat. Needless to say, the biggest one got away as it threw the stickbait back at me during a jump. A fish noticeably bigger than all the others we hooked and that was probably not so short of 50 pounds... Damn !







Time was running short after that madness but we still got time to make a couple of drifts on a cubera spot, which produced absolutely nothing.

A great day despite a very slow start !
 

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Day 2 :

Plan for the day was to go offshore 30 milles, to our most reliable area for big tunas. After last day's slow start, this one was quite the opposite as we found a huge pod of dolphins after only 10 minutes boat ride, just a mille offshore of Isla Iguana. First casts produced a double hookup of modest yellowfins, and we managed to catch another 2 after that, but the fish and dolphins were moving really fast and kind of hard to chase, and the objective of the day was to see if the big tunas are already around as the season just started.





So we headed to the 30 milles marks and once there, it only took about 25 minutes to locate a first school of dolphins, first signaled by a flock of bird. A sure sign that tunas are with them. We caught a couple and lost a couple, but the fish were hardly bigger than what we had caught inshore, and we decided to move in the direction of another flock of bird spotted on the horizon. There, tunas were jumping and busting all over the place, and I thought "now we're in serious business", but the first few casts proved very deceptive as both poppers and stickbaits were navigating amidst bursting tunas to no avail. Those fish wanted absolutely nothing to do with lures and despite insisting a little and even managing to get a strike that unfortunately did not stick, we took the hard decision to leave the frenzy and try to find some more cooperative fish.



30 minutes later I was starting to think we'd make a big mistake when we finally spotted another small school of dophins/birds/tunas. Here we boated the biggest yellowfin of the day, not a monster by any mean at maybe 35 pounds, but it was nice to see a tuna over the "inshore sized fish", which was what we came here for. We were also pretty unlucky, or pretty bad, as 3 or 4 more tunas came off the hooks, and one broke the leader at the boat, taking off with a brand new FCL labo stickbait... And you will never guess what ? We believe we lost the nicest fish of the day as the line broke after an impressive first run. I am well aware of "the one that got away" syndrom, but given the length and strength of that first run, the saying might as well be true for this time.



Pretty soon the action died as the fish probably sounded, but luckily enough the chasing had brought us to a small areas of debris including a decent log holding a 10 meters long piece of very thick, cargo mooring line. Like a revival of previous day's madness, dorados were thick in this area, only this time, only big bulls around and not a single small one or female in sight ! Again, we could catch one after another without even having to move the boat. We started with the heavy popping rods as it was what we had in hand after chasing the tunas, then switching to the lighter tackle and smaller lures as they were getting wiser and more difficult to foul on bigger lures. Came a point where it was kind of hard to get one to bite instead of just follow, so we decided it was time to try something else. What a blast ! I've just caught more big dorados in 2 days than during my entire life ! We released the ones we could but some had to be kept.





A big school of baby almaco was hanging under the log. This brave one charged my popper. I quickly released this winner so he can bully us in a few years.







We search for another school of tunas for another 30 minutes with no success before it was time to head back home if we wanted to have time to drop a few jigs on the way. We kept an eye out for more tunas on the way but the only thing we saw was a very large tresher shark jumping surprisingly close to the boat. What a sight !

A short jigging session in 90 meters of water on the way back produced a variety of a couple of silk snappers, half a dozen peruana amberjacks, one YFT, one Almaco jack and a few pacific bonito. Pretty much a fish on every drop, hard to ask for more...











We arrived close to the anchorage with some spare 20 minutes which we spent casting small stickbaits right next to the beach on the closest spot to the anchorage, which sometimes, well, more accurately rarely, hold some roosters, including some monsters, but that produced nothing but a 5 pound sierra mackerel which made a perfect carpaccio.
Wiljem has been very unlucky today, he probably experienced all the possible way to lose a dorado... But that was about to change !

A great day despite the original plan only half working !
 

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Day 3 :

After 2 days spent almost entirely offshore, I was eager to fish the coast again. The plan for the day was to try for the most sought-after inshore species : roosterfish and cubera.
And so we started popping around the island that sits 10 minutes away from the anchorage. After 2 hours of intensive popping we had not catch anything but that tiny sierra mackerel...



If you destine yourself to catch a big roosterfish or cubera on lure, you better know that these fish don't come on the first cast. They are widely accepted by the jigging and popping crowd as 2 of the most valued trophy fish for a reason : hard work and persistence are going to be required ! Anyway, after 2 hours of hard work a reddish shape finally appeared behind my popper and went for it, but the big cubera missed it and out of the blue a medium sized mullet snapper beats the beast to my lure. During the whole fight the cubera was trying to steal the popper out of the mouth of the mullet snapper, and I was kind of wishing the hook would pull so he could have a go at it, but of course fish only pull the hook when you don't want them to.



I was only bitterly happy with my catch as although a good one, I held it responsible for not catching the large cubera snapper... But what happened on the next cast was about to put a big smile on my face again, as 6 or 7 behemoth roosters annihilated my large FCL Labo popper. Amazing how fishing can go from slow to hectic in a matters of minutes... Fight was epic as you would expect with any big rooster, and 15 minutes later the fish was posing for a quick picture before the release. My day was made by then, but Wiljem still had to make up for yesterday's bad luck...





Another 40 minutes of popping did not produce anything so we decided to make our way to a shallow jigging mark. First drop and Wiljem got a massive take by a fish that immediately reefed him. By moving the boat we somehow managed to pull the fish out of the rocks, terminate the fight with a backed off drag as we knew the leader had to be severly chaffed, and boat the magnificient cubera snapper. A very lucky outcome on pe3 slow-jigging gear in 25 meters of water, and a tremendous catch on that kind of gear !



More slow-jigging in shallow waters resulted in a few jack crevalle and a variety of small fish.













but the action was not great so we moved further offshore and started speed jigging in 55 meters depths. It did not take long to catch one of those hard fighting Almaco jack, which was great as it was the fish we missed to complete the inshore grand slam of Panama : cubera, rooster and amberjack.



But our grand slam only became a grand slam of epic proportion a couple of drifts later when Wiljem boated a very large Almaco after a dirty fight. There we had it : trophy sized rooster, cubera and amberjack and we could call it a great day !

 

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Day 2 :

Plan for the day was to go offshore 30 milles, to our most reliable area for big tunas. After last day's slow start, this one was quite the opposite as we found a huge pod of dolphins after only 10 minutes boat ride, just a mille offshore of Isla Iguana. First casts produced a double hookup of modest yellowfins, and we managed to catch another 2 after that, but the fish and dolphins were moving really fast and kind of hard to chase, and the objective of the day was to see if the big tunas are already around as the season just started.





So we headed to the 30 milles marks and once there, it only took about 25 minutes to locate a first school of dolphins, first signaled by a flock of bird. A sure sign that tunas are with them. We caught a couple and lost a couple, but the fish were hardly bigger than what we had caught inshore, and we decided to move in the direction of another flock of bird spotted on the horizon. There, tunas were jumping and busting all over the place, and I thought "now we're in serious business", but the first few casts proved very deceptive as both poppers and stickbaits were navigating amidst bursting tunas to no avail. Those fish wanted absolutely nothing to do with lures and despite insisting a little and even managing to get a strike that unfortunately did not stick, we took the hard decision to leave the frenzy and try to find some more cooperative fish.



30 minutes later I was starting to think we'd make a big mistake when we finally spotted another small school of dophins/birds/tunas. Here we boated the biggest yellowfin of the day, not a monster by any mean at maybe 35 pounds, but it was nice to see a tuna over the "inshore sized fish", which was what we came here for. We were also pretty unlucky, or pretty bad, as 3 or 4 more tunas came off the hooks, and one broke the leader at the boat, taking off with a brand new FCL labo stickbait... And you will never guess what ? We believe we lost the nicest fish of the day as the line broke after an impressive first run. I am well aware of "the one that got away" syndrom, but given the length and strength of that first run, the saying might as well be true for this time.



Pretty soon the action died as the fish probably sounded, but luckily enough the chasing had brought us to a small areas of debris including a decent log holding a 10 meters long piece of very thick, cargo mooring line. Like a revival of previous day's madness, dorados were thick in this area, only this time, only big bulls around and not a single small one or female in sight ! Again, we could catch one after another without even having to move the boat. We started with the heavy popping rods as it was what we had in hand after chasing the tunas, then switching to the lighter tackle and smaller lures as they were getting wiser and more difficult to foul on bigger lures. Came a point where it was kind of hard to get one to bite instead of just follow, so we decided it was time to try something else. What a blast ! I've just caught more big dorados in 2 days than during my entire life ! We released the ones we could but some had to be kept.





A big school of baby almaco was hanging under the log. This brave one charged my popper. I quickly released this winner so he can bully us in a few years.







We search for another school of tunas for another 30 minutes with no success before it was time to head back home if we wanted to have time to drop a few jigs on the way. We kept an eye out for more tunas on the way but the only thing we saw was a very large tresher shark jumping surprisingly close to the boat. What a sight !

A short jigging session in 90 meters of water on the way back produced a variety of a couple of silk snappers, half a dozen peruana amberjacks, one YFT, one Almaco jack and a few pacific bonito. Pretty much a fish on every drop, hard to ask for more...











We arrived close to the anchorage with some spare 20 minutes which we spent casting small stickbaits right next to the beach on the closest spot to the anchorage, which sometimes, well, more accurately rarely, hold some roosters, including some monsters, but that produced nothing but a 5 pound sierra mackerel which made a perfect carpaccio.
Wiljem has been very unlucky today, he probably experienced all the possible way to lose a dorado... But that was about to change !

A great day despite the original plan only half working !
Great report , fantastic pictures , but the best was those polka dots shorts.
You're a fashionista!
 
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