It all started with a quick ride to the airport. I had felt my daughter move for the first time the previous evening, which made the departure bittersweet. “I felt her move,” exclaimed Patty as we shared near slumber. “Quick, put your hand here!” I did and my little girl kicked through my Love´s uterus bidding me a tiny heart’s farewell and luck for my adventure to Panama! Porting rods and jigs from OTI as well as an assortment of lures from Kilsong´s Jigging World, I lumbered through DFW International to the check in counter. “What is in this bag?” asked a less than gracious American Airlines clerk. “Lead!” I replied. She looked at me with a strange expression as if I were lying. “I am fishing in Panama and need mucho tackle,” I explained. “That will be an additional $115 for the 76.5lbs of weight,” she explained as she loaded the bag on the conveyor belt with everything she could muster. Two hours later I was in the air and headed to paradise. Once I dodged the hurdles at Tocumen International I was greeted by Niko, John De la Cruz´s trusted amigo. “Brandon!” he shouted as I must have been the only gringo in the aeropùerto lumbering around with massive loads of tackle. A quick exchange, rental car sorted out and I was off to explore the extinct volcano of El Valle de Anton before making my way to Boca Chica and Panama Sportfishing Lodge. A quick note before heading into the fishing adventure…A journey to Panama is not complete without making a jaunt into the mountains and El Valle is truly amazing. Americans and Europeans abound, but not in numbers needed to sway the ambience of the majestic hillsides teeming with wildlife and cool temperatures. At 2,000m the atmosphere in brisk and the food is excellent. I will write more of El Valle in another report and provide a link to a thread within another forum. View from top of mountain looking back to El Valle View of creek in jungle Jungle chicken I left El Valle the next evening and traveled to Boca Chica after being stopped by the local tax man in Santiago. The local police ushered me to an abrupt stop and solicited $60. “Es mucho dinero,” I explained. “Okay respecto, $20,” the officer stated with a 40 year old holstered Smith and Wesson 38. “Es bein. A gift,” I responded. “Si, a gift.” He replied and I was off once more, although at a slower pace. The remainder of the drive I was amazed by Indians walking the Panamerican Highway toting heaving loads as parrots, eagles and toucans danced among the mountain treetops. Soon I neared the turn off to Boca Chica and I began to change the Ipod to the Smashing Pumpkins in order to deliver the necessary mood needed for battling some of the strongest denizens of the Pacific! As soon as I arrived, John and I discussed the best use of our time and after consulting the altimetry it was decided the first day’s battleground would be a bottom fishing venture inshore. Captain Macho and Sergio seemed to care less; they were just “itching” to go. “Pargo, es okay,” Macho agreed. Sergio seemed to consider the news for a moment and take an internal inventory what was available in the boat. He had already seen the boxes of “goodies” Kilsong and TJ had me mule to Panama. As if he had completed the inventory, he made a beeline for the piles of jigs, sub surface plugs and poppers in the corner of the lodge’s living area. I followed and together we began rigging everything for the next morning. The morning was slow to come. I slept murmuring to the cubera snapper I knew was waiting for me. The approaching dawn was signaled by the cocks of Boca Chica. Their call was followed by the howls of howler monkeys and my feet hit the icy floor with anticipation. Two minutes later and I was at the bar with a delicious cup of Panamanian coffee in hand. Breakfast was being prepared as soon as the kitchen staff noticed I was waking myself at the bar with my brew. Seconds later and I was sending eggs, fried yucca, bacon and Panamanian style biscuits to join the coffee. Soon John, Macho and Sergio walked into lodge and grabbed breakfast on the fly. Samuel, John’s longtime friend, also pulled up after being invited the night before and entered the room. A quick introduction from John and Samuel and I were instantly friends. “This will be something special,” declared Samuel. “Vamos!” cried Macho. “Enough!” We followed captain’s orders and piled in the boat, threw the lines loose and separated ourselves as if cutting our umbilical cord to land. We were leaving civility and entering the primal recesses of our minds. You have to think like a fish to catch the most clever devils and large predatory fish don’t get that way by making poor decisions. They certainly aren’t civil either. Disengaged, we were now plugged into something more instinctual and fulfilling. Macho plugged Montrousa into the GPS as we rounded the last marker in the river’s mouth and the open Pacific greeted us with smooth seas. Life teemed inside and outside of the rocks protecting Boca Chica from the open sea. Needlefish and fliers skated across the waves clearing our path to Montrousa’s rocks. Once there, huge marks reflected on the sounder assuring us we were not the only thing fishing this morning. We quickly made bait and Sergio bridled two fresh bonito. However, trolling was not what would produce this day. 20 minutes and one severely wahoo mutilated bonito later, we broke out the jigs. I went bendo first, then Sam! The OTI 3G jigging rod maxed out and Trinidad struggled under the force of the resident boss. Head shakes and dogged runs to the bottom indicated an AJ was responsible and finally Sam and I won the duels. Two fat 60lb AJs hit the decks. The remainder of the day was not wasted. We jigged grouper, jacks, snappers of all sorts and even a few hoos hit the deck. The fishing was so good we decided to forego offshore brutes the following day as well and break out the poppers for even more inshore action, which followed in earnest. The second day Macho wanted us to make some bait. “If they don’t want poppers, the cuberas will not eat jigs,” he declared. Man, did John prove him wrong at the second stop of the day. For whatever reason, the fish did not want to bite despite good marks and then I went bendo like the previous day. Apparently, a school of jack crevalle was holding above the main mark suppressing the bite. I dropped to the appropriate depth and burned a jig through them. When I got hit the flash of the struggling jack must have ignited the predatory response of the remaining mark. John’s rig doubled and his reel burned with a blistering speed straight down. He laid into the fish with enough pressure I was sure his rod, line or fish’s jaw would give way. However, he regained line and a fat cubera eventually rolled onto the surface in defeat. “Won’t chew jigs, huh?” sarcastically exclaimed John. “No,” Macho complained as he lipped gaffed the maw of the gnarling snapper. A quick photo of the fish and he was released to reclaim his rock kingdom. We decided to troll a few nearby rocks and islands for hoos and we began to get a few when I caught the most surprising fish of the trip. Way inshore and just feet from the beach of a picturesque island, my reel began screaming by something slamming a marauder. A 5lb yellowfin was lost and decided to attack a lure half its size! “Sashimi is on the menu boys,” I explained as I ripped it gills free from its body. Tiring of hoos, we finally pulled out the poppers. ****ing explosions followed with dynamite loaded cuberas creaming the OTI wombats! The rest of the day we got pargo, mullet snapper and the strongest cuberas I had ever experienced. Sergio even managed two hook two snapper on one lure as the fish competed with one another for our offering. Everyone kept one of the smaller fish for dinner and with sore arms we pointed the bow home to plan the next day, which you will soon see was stellar in the monsoonal rains of Panama’s Pacific!