Panama, First Impressions E-mail
Written by Allen Bushnell   
Sunday, 28 April 2013 15:00

WelcomeToPanama

Bahia Honda

Abuelo

Cubera

It felt like an adventure before we even got out of the airport. I knew we were in a very different place for sure. First, there was the solid wall of heat and humidity when we exited the Boeing 757. Next was dealing with a dour old lady at immigration, followed closely by a flirtatious 20-something at customs. Hennie Marais, our host and the proprietor of Paddle Panama was right on time and whisked us to our transport. Hennie had already positioned supplies and gear in Santa Catalina, a four-hour drive. We were equipped with four beautiful Stealth Kayaks from South Africa and two Ocean Kayak Trident 13's, shipped in country by the folks at Ocean Kayak for this trip.

Outside the airport doors, we were greeted with a cacophony of sound and even more heat. Horns were blaring, people yelling at each other and a few long legged beauties lounged around, wearing low tops and high bottoms and trying to catch our eye. We were more interested in getting dinner and some sleep before traveling in the morning.

Our final destination was everything Panama City isn't. Bahia Honda is a sheltered refuge on Panama's "Lost Coast." There are no roads that lead there. It is all thick jungled mountains that drop steeply to the coast, which features rocky cliffs, beaches, and mangroves in the coves and inlets. Access is by boat only, unless you are the Italian billionaire that owns the next island north. He drops in with his helicopter occasionally.

It became quite apparent that this country is replete with contrasts. A highly technical and growing modern capital city, with prices not unlike those in the US presented a stark difference to the more traditional sustenance-centered existence of our new friends in La Bahia.

The following week was one of discovery, learning about our indigenous host family and their lives, and lots of paddling and fishing. A giant south swell from storms near Antarctica had created a "ten year swell event" that was peaking the day of our arrival. This made things a bit more exciting, and made our usual safety awareness even more important. Sadly, it seemed to result in a slower than usual bite as well.

Nevertheless, we kept paddling, plugging, jigging and using live bait when we got it. The results were modest by normal Panamanian fishing standards, though quite satisfying for us as we utilized unfamiliar techniques in pursuit of (for us) exotic gamefish. We ended the week with plenty of catches under our belts, and 16 species counted. Catches ranged from yellowfin tuna to sierra mackerel to cubera snappers.

When we had to leave at the end of the week, I knew we had barely scratched the surface of what this magical place has to offer kayak anglers, and I know I'll be coming back as soon as possible.

For the full feature article on this trip, please see Seduced by Panama.

 

 

 

 

 

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