Panama Marlin Fishing

Panama Marlin Fishing
Panama offers some of the best marlin fishing in the entire world. Every year between December and March big game anglers flock to fish world famous hot spots like the Hannibal Bank in the west or Piñas Bay in the east. Panama marlin fishing offers both quantity and quality as anglers can catch multiple blue marlin in a day or get lucky and tangle with a 500+ lb black marlin. The packages below will give you an idea of the kinds of fishing trips we organize, but please contact us to customize your dream Panama marlin fishing vacation. Once you speak to us we’ll help you sort through the various options and you’ll see why nearly 40% of our anglers are repeat or referral guests!

Fishing the Hannibal Bank

Panama Fishing Paradise

Best of Panama

Fishing Highlights of Panama

Affordable Panama Fishing

Popper Addicts

Tuna Junkies

Panama Mothership

Panama Private Island Lodge

Where is the Best Marlin Fishing in Panama?

Two of the most famous marlin fishing destinations in the world are found in Panama: the Hannibal Bank and the Zane Grey Reef. The Hannibal Bank is located roughly 50 miles off the coast in the Gulf of Chiriqui in western Panama. This natural underwater formation was found in 1914 by the USS Hannibal when doing survey work for the Panama Canal. Part of the continental shelf of Panama’s Pacific Coast, at the Hannibal Bank the ocean floor rises from several thousand feet to just over a hundred feet deep. In some spots the peaks of reach within just 150 ft of the surface. When combined with the ever present Equatorial Currents, the bank creates an upwelling of cooler, nutrient rich water which in turn kicks off the start of the food chain. In addition to serving as a cleaning station for large predatory fish, the currents and peaks at the Hannibal Bank attracts baitfish which in turn bring in large pelagics like marlin, tuna, and dorado month after month.

The Zane Grey Reef, or Piñas Reef, is found about 150 miles southeast of Panama City in the heart of the great Darrien Jungle. This underwater pinnacle was documented by the legendary Guy Harvey decades ago and is one of the best places in the world to target black marlin. Located just a few miles from the docks of the famous Tropic Star Lodge, this reef can reach just 120 ft deep in parts and with constant currents and bait it is a place that black marlin love to hang around. Just twenty miles out you’ll reach the continental shelf where incredible numbers of blue marlin and Pacific sailfish can be found.

Panama Marlin Fishing Map



Marlin Fishing at the Hannibal Bank

The Hannibal Bank is located in Western Panama at the southern end of the Gulf of Chiriqui. In order to fish the Hannibal Bank, you will fly into Panama City (PTY) where most people spend the first night (which is what we recommend in case there are any travel delays or hiccups). The next day you will take a 50-minute domestic flight from Panama City to the second biggest city in Panama, David. Depending where you fishing lodge or beach hotel is located, it is about a 1-1.5 hour drive south to the coast.

Black Marlin at the Hannibal Bank, Panama

A closer look at the satellite image from Google Earth shows that the Hannibal Bank is part of the continental shelf that parallels Panama’s Pacific Coast. It is about 55 miles from the coastal town of Boca Chica, where many of the top Panama fishing lodges and fishing charters are based out of.  Isla Coiba is 15 miles to the east while Isla Montuosa is 11 miles to the west, both major fishing hot spots in their own right. A typical run time to reach the Hannibal Bank from Boca Chica is about 1.5 hrs. Run times can be shorter if you stay on our island fishing lodge or our mothership. There are weeks when the marlin line up in the strong ocean currents above the Hannibal Bank like trout facing upstream and there can be multiple marlin bites each day. It’s not just quantity either, the smaller marlin at the Hannibal Bank are in the 250-300 lb range while 500-600 lb fish are quite common. While not an every day occurrence, almost all the top captains in the area have stories of hooking up to 800+ lb black marlin.

Hannibal Bank

Marlin Fishing at the Tropic Star Lodge

The marlin fishing at the Hannibal Bank has long been considered some of the very best in the world. There are weeks when the marlin line up in the strong ocean currents above the Hannibal Bank like trout facing upstream and there can be multiple marlin bites each day. It’s not just quantity either, the smaller marlin at the Hannibal Bank are in the 250-300 lb range while 500-600 lb fish are quite common. While not an every day occurrence, almost all the top captains in the area have stories of seeing 800+ lb black marlin taking to the air.

Marlin fishing at Tropic Star Lodge Panama



How to Catch Marlin in Panama

Panama marlin fishing is usually approached one of two ways: slow trolling live bait or speed trolling plastics. The most effective way to catch a marlin in Panama is with live bait. Most days, on your run out to the fishing grounds you’ll stop and fill your boat’s tuna tubes with live bonito or even small yellowfin tuna. This can be done by jigging sabiki rigs or speed trolling with planers. Once you reach the marlin grounds your mate will bridle the live bait with a circle hook and you’ll slowly troll over the peaks until your reel screams.

You can also troll plastic squid lures if you can’t find live bait or if it hasn’t proved effective. Trolling plastics allows you to cover more area and change colors to find the right combo that the marlin are looking for that day. 

Usiing bonito as live bait for marlin



When is the Best Marlin Fishing in Panama?

Sport fishing at the Hannibal Bank is productive year round, but there are certainly better months than others depending on what you are targeting. In this part of Panama, the dry season (summer) runs from December to April and the green season runs from May to November.

If you want to go marlin fishing at the Hannibal Bank, traditionally the months of December, January, and February offer the best action. It should be noted that we absolutely catch them 12 months a year, but when anglers ask for “peak marlin season” we advise them to aim for those months.  There is also a very good “second season” in the moths of June through August due to the incredible amount of tuna around. Black marlin in particular seem to be in more abundance during the months of July, August, and September.


Hannibal Bank Fishing Calendar

Piñas Bay Fishing Calendar


Available Species Fishing at the Hannibal Bank, Panama

Offshore Fishing



Panama Fishing Lodges & Accommodations

Hardcore offshore anglers have been fishing Panama for decades so fortunately there are plenty of options for accommodations to fit almost any travel style and budget. Our Hannibal Bank Fishing packages can have you stay at an affordable boutique hotel or luxury beach resort and fish local day charters or you can stay at an all inclusive fishing lodge. Our Panama fishing lodges can have you stay on the mainland, an island, or even a 70′ mothership that spends all week offshore just a few miles from the Hannibal Bank itself. As a luxury vacation outfitter, we only work with the nicest 3, 4, and 5-star operations that meet our expectations for quality, reliability, and service. Being local experts, we have personally visited every single property we represent so we’ll use our personal experience to hand pick the perfect fit for your group.

Panama Fishing Lodge


Hannibal Bank Panama Day Tours & Non-Fishing Activities

Our Hannibal Bank fishing packages don’t need to be all big game fishing, all the time. We can certainly mix in a few light tackle inshore days to target roosterfish and cubera snapper. Before you head over to fish the Hannibal Bank we can also set up a few nights in Panama City to experience the culture and history in the capital city. Whether it’s an off day from fishing or for the non-anglers in your group, there are several great eco, adventure, and cultural tours available in Panama. The list includes:

  • Canopy zip-line tour
  • White Water Rafting
  • ATVs
  • Horseback Riding
  • Surfing
  • Golf
  • Guided tours of national parks
  • Waterfalls
  • Island Hopping Tour
  • Snorkeling
  • Kayaking
  • Coffee plantation tour
  • Bird Watching
  • Cultural & Historical Tour of Panama City
  • Panama Canal Tours
  • Panama Canal Fishing for Peacock Bass & Snook



All Hannibal Bank Fishing Packages booked with Central America Fishing include the following:

  • Free Vacation Planning (no fees + direct rates)
  • VIP Airport Meet & Greet upon arrival into PTY
  • Private, air-conditioned transfers with English speaking driver.
  • Domestic flights between Panama City and David
  • Luxury accomodations at beach hotel or all inclusive fishing lodge
  • Private fishing charters
  • All Panama taxes
  • Free quotes on travel insurance
  • Pre-arrival assistance with dinner reservations, tee times, pre-stocking your condo or villa, hiring a private chef, and special requests.
  • 24/7 support once you are here in country


Plan With Local Experts

Please fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch within 24 hours. If you wish to speak to us sooner please call us anytime at 1-855-414-FISH. Your 100% customized vacation starts here!

    Why Fish With CAF?

    We have been fishing, living, and traveling around Central America since 2003. Plan your trip with local experts to make sure you are in the right place, at the right time, and on the right boat. We’ll help you fish for what you want, the way you want.

    • Free vacation planning + the best direct rates. No booking fees!
    • Personalized service from pre-arrival to 24/7 in-country support.
    • Hand-picked accommodations, fishing captains, expert guides for the best vacation experience.
    • Nearly 40% of our anglers are repeat & referral guests. CAF puts you on the fish!