Panama Kayak Fishing - Open For Business E-mail
Monday, 17 December 2012 12:23

Fifteen years ago I was chasing 1000lb Atlantic Blue Marlin in West Africa, when alongside me I saw the native Africans pma T pubcatching marlin, sailfish, dorado and many other fish species from their dugout canoes. I saw the 60-pound plus dorados they caught with hand lines 100 meters from shore, using only minimal equipment: boat, line, hook and bait. It wasn’t long till I bought an 18-foot dugout myself, and set out fishing with the villagers. Carved from one tree, the dugout was my way to escape the resort lifestyle and get some exercise.

We paddled these canoes in a stand up position. First, we caught land crabs and put them on a fire. We smoked them then set out. Chumming with small pieces of crab and small hooks we caught ballyhoo and then live-baited for dorado. I love light tackle fishing, and the action was often hot and furious around the canoe.

Well, some time has passed since then. I have been fishing and operating resorts in Panama. While visiting South Africa last year, I noticed how rapidly the kayak industry has developed. We used to do lot of rock and surf fishing, but now everyone fished from a kayak. South African kayak designs originated from the surf ski, a craft that lifesavers use in South Africa, Australia and many other countries.

pma roo stealth pubUnlike many plastic kayaks, these boats are able to launch more easily through the surf. This was just what I needed for Panama waters. I wanted to fish like the old days, a true kayak fishing experience. To take my craft, go to the beach, launch, catch my fish, be one with nature and come back home safely. While still in SA, I found my kayak- a Stealth Evolution 465.

On my return to Panama I noted that although we have the awesome annual Cayucos Canoe Race event, no one was really catering to paddle sports. I got deeper and deeper into kayak fishing Panama. With its two oceans, major lakes and rivers, Panama has so much to offer. And so, I established the Panama Paddle Center. It is great! I am getting out and catching fish the natural way, a full circle for me.

Panama means plentiful fish. Over the past 14 years, fishing resorts have popped up all around the country. Panama is most well known for offshore fishing in places like Cebaco Bay, Cobia, Hannibal Bank and the Pinas areas.

My home waters near Pedasi are an inshore heaven, known as the “tuna coast.” We have tuna and sailfish close inshore, as the continental shelf is within couple of miles from the beach. It is a natural spot for kayak fishing. The area has many launch sites and takeout points. The variety of inshore species is amazing, including cubera snapper, roosterfish, jack crevalle, bonito and yellow fin tuna.  The list continues- I had one angler catch 15 species in one four-day kayak fishing trip.

In Panama, live baiting is killer.  Corrinoas/green jacks make great baits. Roosterfish and cubera snappers jump at them. pma Roos pub Bonito are the best bait for targeting snappers and roosters over 50 pounds. Smaller prey, like jack crevalles and small roosters or snappers can’t eat them, but a 60-pound roosterfish will swallow the same bait as a big marlin. It is awesome!

I like setting up with live bait and then cast poppers to fish on the surface or just working an Island or underwater self. Surface action is always fantastic, watching a rooster jump a popper or snapper hitting hard from underneath brings quite an adrenalin rush. In the past year, we’ve started jigging as well. Jigging works great when bonitos are down deep, and is also fantastic for amberjacks and snappers

Besides Pedasi, we have plenty of other fishing spots- Santa Catalina, Cebaco Bay, Bahia Onda, Boca Chica, the Caribbean side from Bocas De Toro to San Blas Islands, and the Darien. Many of these spots have no road access and some have no accommodations whatsoever. I also like to take visitors to the nearby Achotines Laboratory. Well worth a visit, Achotines holds big tuna in research pens, which is amazing to see. The research efforts of people like Vernon Scholey help to ensure our kids will have the chance to catch tuna one day.

Local accommodations vary from luxury to hostel, even camping. With great food and cold beer, it sounds like a perfect kayaking fishing destination to me! We’ll be running excursion in 2013 with experienced English speaking guides to some of our favorite locations. We use a prescheduled calendar, and spaces are limited to ensure the highest quality fishing experience.

Hope to see you in Panama soon!   

About Hennie Marais

Hennie is from South Africa. He has been living in Panama for 15 years. During this time he has managed the Tropic Star Lodge, Robb Report's Top Rated Saltwater Fishing Resort in the World. Currently he is developing the Cebaco Bay Sportfishing Club as well as the Panama Paddle Center.

About Panama Paddle Center

We are a fully equipped paddle store, with the focus to develop the full range of paddle sports in Panama. We support recreational kayaking, kayak fishing, open ocean paddling and flat-water racing. Panama Paddle Center carries the best brands. We currently stock Stealth Kayaks from South Africa, Wilderness Systems, and Perception; with Fenn, Epic and Nelo racing kayaks coming in 2013.

 

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