That the name Panama means “an abundance of fish” in an ancient indigenous dialect is a time-honored Panamanian cliché. Trust those Indians. They knew what they were talking about. Panama offers fishing for all ages and experience levels. For those interested in open water fishing for species like Marlin, Dorado and Yellow Fin Tuna as well as bottom fishing for Grouper, Snapper and the like, there are several options along the Pacific Coast.
TROPIC STAR LODGE located in the Darién Jungle about 150 miles south east of
Panama City is Panama’s oldest established fishing lodge. It can only be reached by boat or light aircraft. The nearby Zane Grey Reef is famous for having more than 200 world IGFA records.
PEARL ISLANDS. Hacienda Del Mar on Isla San José, the outermost island of the archipelago of Las Perlas offers inshore and offshore fishing.
Fishing expeditions can also be arranged out of Contadora Island through any of the island’s hotels.
PANAMA CITY. City yacht clubs have fishing boats for charters.
CHIRIQUI / COIBA. Up in Chiriquí, the Coiba Marine Park with its celebrated Hannibal Bank is best reached out of Santa Catalina. Hooked on Panama Resort near Puerto Armuelles, Gone Fishing Panama Resort and Seagull Cove in Boca Chica offer both inshore and offshore fishing. Boats can also be chartered at the port of Pedregal which serves the city of David.
PEDASÍ. Superb fishing grounds can be found on the Azuero Peninsula where pangas are the vessel of choice for local fishermen whose livelihood depends on their catch. They are open fiberglass boats with an outboard engine, so don’t forget your lucky fishing hat and sunscreen. Fishing here with a local guide almost guarantees sore arms the next day. It is not hard to find schools of tuna and they can be hard work. You will discover why Pedasi is called the Tuna Coast. It is no coincidence that the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission’s Achotines Laboratory is located at Pedasi. The laboratory features massive tanks where Yellowfin tuna are studied in captivity from the larval stage onwards.
SANTA CATALINA. Further west and reached by the Pan American Highway to Santiago, turning off to Sona and then to the coast, is Santa Catalina. Santa Catalina Boat Tours will guarantee you a good day’s fishing.
GATÚN LAKE. For fresh water fishermen, Gatún Lake is one of the world’s greatest Peacock Bass lakes. There are small boats for hire with a guide from Arenosa, a small village 40 minutes by road from Panama City.
PANAMA AGGRESSIVE IN SPORT FISH PRESERVATION
Panama has been very aggressive in its preservation of sport fishing. A law protects all billfish from being caught commercially. Sport fishermen are encouraged to release all billfish. Many anglers use “circle hooks”, reducing the problem of deep-hooked fish and their survivability after release.
THE CARIBBEAN COAST
Generally speaking, the Caribbean coast is not so well endowed with facilities but the fishing is superb. Most companies organize charters for such fish as Tarpon, Kingfish, Spanish Mackerel, Snapper, Grouper, Shark, Great Barracuda, African Pompano, Amberjack and Snook.
During the dry season ( December to March) the seas are choppy but the rest of the year the seas are calm and the water clear, making conditions perfect.