Panama Fishing Vacations
We’ve made planning your dream Panama fishing vacation even easier with a selection of packages sorted by interest, species, and our top destinations. Panama is a land of sport fishing lore: huge blue and black marlin, acres-wide boils of feeding yellow-fin tuna, and roosterfish and cubera snapper that strike so hard they give you goosebumps. Even the name ‘Panama’ means ‘an abundance of fish’ in a local indigenous language. All of our Panama fishing packages are customized and private, so once you inquire with us we will work with you personally to create the perfect fishing vacation for you based on your group, your budget, and the fishing experience you desire. Trust our decades of local expertise and see why nearly 40% of our anglers are repeat & referral guests!
Panama Sport Fishing
Panama Tuna Fishing
Panama Inshore Fishing
Fishing the Hannibal Bank
Panama Tarpon Fishing
Panama Peacock Bass Fishing
Panama Fishing Info
Panama is the tiny isthmus that forms the ‘Bridge of the Americas‘ connecting North America to South America. It’s “bottleneck” geography between the two continents has blessed Panama with a rich culture, amazing wildlife, and of course world class sport fishing. Panama is home to two 1,000 mile long coastlines on two different oceans, hundreds of islands, giant mangrove and estuary systems, and world famous offshore hot spots like the Hannibal Bank, Zane Grey Reef, Isla Montuosa, and the Tuna Coast. Whether you are a seasoned angler or a novice, we will gladly custom design the perfect Panama fishing package for you. From big game offshore fishing to jigging & popping for 30+ inshore species to freshwater fishing on the Panama Canal, Panama truly is an anglers dream.
It starts with incredible sport fishing on the Pacific, which is what has made Panama a top fishing destination for anglers around the world. The Tropic Star Lodge put Panama on the map decades ago by breaking 300 world records from their dock in Piñas Bay, and since then Panama has become synonymous with big marlin. Today there are several luxury fishing lodges in Panama spread throughout the Azuero Peninsula and the Gulf of Chiriqui. While it may have been the Zane Grey Reef in Piñas Bay that made Panama a known quantity, today hot spots in Western Panama like the Hannibal Bank, Isla Montuosa, and Coiba Island are just as well known. Tuna fishing in Panama is always in high demand as it’s one of the best yellow-fin tuna bites in the world. Few places consistently offer you the opportunity to cruise up to an acres-wide boil of tuna and chuck topwater lures into the fray like Panama. In addition to the huge black & blue marlin and tuna frenzies, offshore fishing in Panama also offers large Pacific sailfish, big mature adult dorado (mahi), and wahoo.
Big marlin and tuna may have made Panama a household name decades ago, but today the inshore fishing in Panama is just as popular. On our Pacific Coast we can catch over 30 species of fish including three kinds of jacks, mackerel, grouper, several species of snapper, sea bass, snook, African pompano, sharks, and of course everyone’s favorite – roosterfish and cubera snapper. The inshore fishing is so consistently productive, we offer several inshore-only fishing packages and there are even lodges that 100% dedicate themselves to ‘lures only’ fishing and don’t even offer offshore trolling. If you love doing battle with big fish but have no interest in long runs to the offshore fishing grounds to troll all day, then inshore fishing in Panama may be the right trip for you. Whether it’s slow trolling live bait, casting poppers and stick baits towards the rocks, or jigging you are sure to spend much of your trip with a bent rod.
Over on Panama’s Caribbean Coast we also offer tarpon and snook fishing. While not as abundant or consistent as Costa Rica to the north, the river mouths and mangroves near the popular archipelago of Bocas del Toro can offer up some quality fishing in season. In addition to tarpon and snook, you can also find jacks, mackerel, and barracuda inside the reef. The Caribbean is where you expect to find tarpon, but Panama is one of the few countries where we can actually catch them on the Pacific as well. What started as a rumor several decades ago is now proven fact, tarpon have made their way through the Panama Canal and have established themselves on the Pacific Ocean. We have one river 1.5 hr east of Panama City where we routinely fish for tarpon on the changing of the tides. Although rare, we do catch tarpon on the Panama Cnala itself so in Panama you can actually catch tarpon on the Caribbean, the Pacific, and the freshwater Panama Canal.
Last but not least, can enjoy freshwater fishing on one of the most exotic and well-known waterways in the world – the Panama Canal itself. A century ago, the Chagres River was dammed and formed Lake Gatun, which is a crucial part of the 50-mile long Panama Canal. The main target species here is peacock bass, which is not native to these waters but was introduced in the 50’s or 60’s and has since flourished. In Panama, the peacock bass don’t reach the size of their South American relatives but 5 lb – 8 lb fish can still get caught with regularity. The Panama Canal is a fascinating place to fish because sometimes you truly never know what is on the other end of your line. Each boat that transits the canal requires roughly 52 million gallons of water, so along with that comes coastal species that were never meant to be found in freshwater lakes and rivers. We catch snook on a regular basis, and although much rarer it is a known fact that there are tarpon in the Panama Canal as well. A few years ago we started seeing more jack crevalle, so in addition to light tackle freshwater species you can also run into some hard charging inshore species.
When is the Best Fishing in Panama?
Knowing when to plan your Panama fishing vacation is as important as where you stay and who you fish with. In addition to seasonal patterns of the game fish, Panama has two main weather seasons and multiple different microclimates. Panama runs from east to west and is nearly 1,000 miles long, so the weather patterns and fishing seasons in the Gulf of Chiriqui in the far west varies greatly from Piñas Bay in the far east. In addition to that, the Caribbean Coast follows completely different weather seasons than the Pacific Coast. Below is a Panama fishing calendar to give you a better idea of locations and seasons, but keep in mind this is not exact science but rather a general overview of historical patterns. We custom design 100% of our Panama Fishing Packages so we’ll be sure to put you in the right spot, at teh right time for the fishing you want to do.
Available Species in Panama
Panama sport fishing is famous for it’s giant blue and black marlin and incredible yellow-fin tuna fishing, but it offers so much more than just the offshore trophies. Perhaps our favorite aspect of fishing in Panama is the sheer variety of game fish species we encounter. On any given week, we can catch up to 30 species fishing inshore and offshore on the Pacific Ocean alone. Once you factor several more species on the Caribbean, including the beloved tarpon, and then peacock bass on the Panama Canal itself you’ll begin to understand why the word Panama means “an abundance of fish.” Your Panama fishing vacation will be custom designed to focus on specific target species or put you in a spot to see how many different species you can catch in a week.
Inshore & Bottom Fishing
Panama Fishing Lodges & Accommodations
For a long time, tourism in Panama consisted of business hotels in the city and gigantic, big-chain all inclusive resorts in the Bay of Panama an hour away. Such was life for a country that’s main focus was the Panama Canal and the shipping, logistics, and banking industries it required. Fortunately, over the past two decades international tourism in Panama has become more of a focus and that has brought a diverse and exciting selection of new hotels to choose from. For you Panama fishing vacation you’ll have the choice between exclusive boutique hotels, luxury beach resorts, exotic eco-lodges, and of course some of Central America’s best all inclusive fishing lodges. As a luxury vacation outfitter, we only work with the nicest 3, 4, and 5-star properties 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 Day Tours & Excursions
Your Panama fishing vacation doesn’t need to be all fishing, all the time. In addition to world class sport fishing, Panama offers two gorgeous coastlines with hundreds of islands, rain forest, cloud forest, ancient volcanoes, amazing wildlife, and fantastic history including of course the Panama Canal. Whether it’s an off day from fishing or for the non-anglers in your group, there are several great cultural, eco, and adventure tours available. We can also customize your Panama fishing vacation so you spend a few nights in different locations throughout the country so you can see how diverse it is. The list includes:
- Panama Canal Tour
- Partial Panama Canal Transit
- Canopy zip-line tour
- White Water Rafting
- Waterfall rappelling
- Horseback Riding
- Guided tours of national parks
- Island Hopping Tour in the Gulf of Chiriqui
- SCUBA Diving
- Coffee plantation tour
- Visit local Embera or Kuna Indigenous Villages
How Much Does it Cost to Fish in Panama?
Many Panama fishing vacations involve staying at an all inclusive fishing lodge, but in some areas day charters are available as well if you are staying at a resort or condo. A full day fishing charter will cost $1,000-$1,700 on a quality 28′-34′ center console boat. The all inclusive fishing lodges in Panama typically provide a per person rate, which is usually between $2,500 to $5,500 per angler.
The final total cost of a Panama fishing vacation, with all transfers/hotels/tours included, depends on numerous factors, such as:
- How many nights you stay
- Which hotel/resort/lodge you stay at
- The number of people per room
- The number of people fishing per boat
- How many days you fish
- The size of the boat you fish on
- The time of year you visit
Panama Fishing FAQs
Do I need a fishing license to fish in Panama?
Surprisingly, the answer is no. Despite being one of the world’s premier sport fishing destinations for a couple decades now, Panama does not require a fishing license.
How many people will be on my fishing boat?
All fishing charters booked by Central America Fishing are private, so the boat is 100% yours. We do not set up any shared charters.
What is the standard tip for a fishing charter in Panama?
A standard tip for a charter fishing crew in Panama is 10%-20% of the cost of the charter. If you stay at an all inclusive fishing lodge in Panama you may not know how much the boats cost per day as you probably were given a package price, but in general $150 per day would be the lower end while $200-$300 per day would be towards the higher end.
Can I bring my own fishing gear?
OF COURSE! Even though our private charters and fishing lodges provide all the fishing tackle, lures, leaders and bait you’ll need, you are always welcome to bring your own if you want to catch fish using your own tackle. Perhaps more than any other destination in Central America, in Panama avid anglers want to put their own popping and jigging outfits to the test against yellow-fin tuna and our prized inshore species. Fly anglers are should plan on bringing their own fly gear as that will not be provided.
Which fish in Panama are catch and release and which ones can I keep to eat?
By law, all billfish in Panama are strictly catch and release. While not a law, we also strongly encourage releasing all roosterfish, tarpon, and cubera snapper as they are such prized inshore species. Other species like tuna, dorado (mahi), wahoo, snappers, groupers, corvina, snook can be kept and enjoyed for a fresh seafood dinner.
Can I bring fish back home with me to my own country?
The short answer to this is yes, there is no law in Panama against bringing fish that you caught back home with you. If you are fishing in Panama on a local day charter it is understood that you are the paying client and any edible fish you catch is yours, but of course it is always appreciated when you share the meat with your hard working crew. When you stay at an all inclusive fishing lodge however the mindset changes a bit as the fish you catch goes to feed the lodge staff and other guests, it should not be assumed that you’ll get to take home every fillet you brought in. We understand you may love the idea enjoying a seafood dinner in your own home upon returning from Panama, and that may very well be possible if there is enough to go around, but the lodge typically takes what they need to feed everyone first. There are a few things you should consider when trying to bring fish home from your Panama fishing vacation:
1 – Unlike some other popular fishing destinations, in Panama there is no service that will package and ship fish home for you. If you want to bring fish home with you you’ll have to do it yourself in your own luggage. Our best advice is to bring down a soft sided, leak-proof cooler, have your fish frozen completely solid, wrap them in newspaper, and then check your cooler as part of your luggage since it will stay cooler in the cargo hold of the plane versus in the cabin as a carry-on. If you don’t have a cooler or forget to bring one, you can purchase affordable plastic coolers here in local grocery stores. Some of our higher end fishing lodges will have vacuum sealers, ask us when booking your trip.
2 – While Panama does not prohibit you from bringing fish fillets home with you, your international airline might. We strongly recommend you confirm this with your airline (in writing if possible) or you may have the fish confiscated from you at the airport check-in.
3 – Even if your airline lets you fly the fish home, your local customs may have an issue with you bringing in meat products from a foreign country. In our experience most customs agents don’t seem too interested in you bringing back frozen fish fillets from your fishing vacation to Costa Rica, but it can depend on the agent and depend on the day.
What if there is bad weather on our fishing day?
This is a question we hear a lot and typically requires a two part answer:
If the captain, lodge, or government deem the conditions are unsafe the trip will be cancelled. The first course of action is to try and reschedule you, but if that is not possible you will be refunded in full.
However, rain and dark clouds are not considered bad weather. We are in the tropics and rain is a common occurrence here so that is not a cause for cancelling the trip. Many great fishing days happen in the rain, especially for tuna – as they say the fish are wet anyway! If you don’t want to fish in the rain there will be no refund.
Every single Panama Fishing Vacation booked with Central America Fishing includes 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 (as needed)
- Luxury accommodations hand-picked and customized for your group. Choose between private condos & villas, luxury beach resorts, exclusive boutique hotels, and all inclusive fishing lodges.
- 100% private fishing charters on all our Panama Fishing Packages
- All eco / adventure tours you’d like to include
- 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