Most experienced salt water anglers know that it’s pretty rare when fishing seasons strictly follow the Gregorian calendars that you see posted on many websites and printed on brochures. When anglers say that the fishing calendars were way off or the bite was out of season, more often than not that implies slow fishing and conjures up images of green water, bad weather, and hours wasted on the water without any action. That wasn’t the case in Panama last month as the big game fishing was simply red hot almost from start to finish as anglers enjoyed a terrific later-than-usual marlin bite and the early arrival of some truly monstrous yellow-fin tuna. Below is your Panama Fishing Report – March 2018.
Marlin are caught every month of the year in Panama, but typically the best months are December, January, and February and then they give way to a brief sailfish season in March and April which in turn gives up the spotlight to the peak yellow-fin tuna season in April, May and June. The first week of March started off hot despite the full moon on March 1st, with our 70′ mothership releasing 3 black marlin and 12 yellow-fin tuna. That same week they also boated 17 roosterfish, 26 cubera snapper, and over 150 jacks while inshore fishing along Coiba Island. They even managed to snag a few decent sized snooks and huge mangrove snapper that live in the rivers on Coiba Island. Over at Isla Paridas, Captains Shane & Juan boated a few 100-150 lb yellow-fin tunas offshore and released a few trophy 50-60 lb cuberas inshore.
The second week of the month the fishing bite slowed down quite a bit, and while the inshore species were still around the marlin and tuna bite saw a significant slowdown. As is often the case, there seems to be one week every March where the fishing takes a bit of a breather, then it ratchets back up for a raucous April & May as it’s peak yellow-fin tuna season.
Towards mid-March the bite started to heat up again, and it didn’t step off the gas the rest of the way. Good friend Mike, the owner & operator of our 70′ mothership, said that the commercial fishing boats had swarms of bonito and 70-150 lb yellow-fin tuna following them all week so the offshore fishing was fantastic with so much bait around. Some days he said you could see marlin bills slashing through the water and they scarfed down unfortunate bonito. That week his anglers released six marlin and had chances on at least that many that they didn’t hook up. That same week Captain Juan on the Sea Toy landed three blue marlin along with a host of 50-100 lb tunas, then he topped off the day with big roosters and cuberas inshore! Captain Chico had an epic day as he released a 500 lb and an 800 lb monster black marlin one afternoon. Last but not least, CAF anglers on a mother/son fishing trip landed a nice 200 lb black marlin fishing from the Seagull Cove Lodge in Boca Chica.
That was a great week, but it was only a crescendo for the last week of the month as the marlin were still here and the first 200+lb cow tunas were landed. Long time repeat guests Frank & Ron spent four days fishing with Captain Shane and he absolutely pummeled them every day. The first day they caught several 100 lb tunas, the second day they landed a 500 lb black marlin and more tuna, the third day a 250 lb blue marlin and several nice tuna, and the last day they boated a 200+ lb cow. Meanwhile Shane’s right hand man, Juan, spent the week fishing with a group from Massachusetts and put them on yellow-fin tuna every day as well as cuberas, roosters, and alamo jack. The mothership did well with plenty of tuna all week, but the catch of the week was a 270 lb behemoth yellow-fin. Our local Boca Chica charter boats also did well the last week with a black marlin release, several 100-150 lb tuna, and one beautiful 240 lb cow.