This post is also available in: Spanish
By Ilene Little
It is officially the rainy season in Panama and that makes for changes in fishing strategy. “There is the North Wind season, which is dry,” says Captain Miguel Botero, “compared to the South Wind season, which brings the rain.” The rainy or “green season” lasts from May through mid-December. Botero, who is a partner in GEM Fishing Charters, like many fishermen, adjusts to the wet season weather pattern by changing where and how he hunts for and catches fish.
Fishing in the Rainy Season
“The storms drive the water higher at high tide, and the downpours raise the water level of rivers,” he said, “so you see more organic material in the water, especially trees, but also you might see inorganic materials like an abandoned refrigerator or a piece of a car that gets washed into the ocean.”
All this effluent collects in drift lines; basically seaweed and logs mixed with plastic bottles and trash. But it’s not all bad from a fisherman’s perspective as drift lines attract fish. In the ocean a drift-line, or thermocline, is formed when water temperature changes more rapidly with depth than it does in the layers above or below.
“Thermoclines have two main effects,” said Botero. “The temperature change causes an upwelling that brings organic nutrients to the surface and creates a side movement current that collects all the organic and inorganic materials. You often see turtles in drift lines. A drift-line is a micro-system of sea life,” he explained. “For example, birds use logs as rest stops. Seaweed and little crustaceous form on logs that attract little fishes and bigger predators like Mahi-Mahi or Dorado as well as rare species like Wahoo and Jacks.”
Fishing the drift lines
“On the ocean you’ll encounter two types of drift lines,” said Botero. “One kind forms temporarily and moves around in response to random changes in water temperature, and the other kind tends to stay in one place due to the fairly consistent water temperature patterns that occur over drops in ocean-floor depth.”
According to Botero, drift-lines are easy to find in the rainy season. Navigation charts show where there are significant drop-offs in depth and hence where the drift-lines are easiest to find. “The first drift line you are likely to encounter off Panama City is at the 20 fathom drop a few miles behind Taboga Island,” he said. “If you don’t have a navigation instrument you can cruise straight south until you run across a drift-line where you might catch Tuna, Sailfish and Marlin,” said Botero.
“You want little or no wind,” said Botero, “If the wind is stronger than the current, the wind can spread the debris away from the drift-line.” Good fishing etiquette is to fish responsibly. “Practice catch and release ethics,” said Botero. “If you have trash on your line pull it in and take it back to shore with you; it’s good karma.”
How to cook your catch
Mahi-Mahi Tacos – Chef E H Cain Gerrod
• chopped purple onions
• chopped garlic
• chopped Roma tomatoes
• dried oregano
• two beefy tomatoes cut in half
• sour cream
• corn or flour tortillas, heated and covered to remain soft and dry
• iceberg lettuce or shredded cabbage
Prep and Cook Directions:
1.Sear Mahi Mahi fillet in a hot skillet with coconut oil seasoned with
oregano, salt and pepper. Do not over-cook this fish. Chop into bite-
size pieces and season with lime.
2.Turn off the skillet. Set fish aside
3.Warm beefy tomatoes on the warm skillet.
4.Remove the tomatoes, chop, and place in covered and heated bowl.
5.Mix chopped garlic, onions and warmed tomato together with salt
oregano and pepper.
6.Chop or thinly slice the lettuce
or cabbage and keep separate.
7.Put sour cream in a bowl and
mix until creamy.
8.Put warmed beefy tomatoes in
a blender. Add ½ cup of wa
ter plus a pinch of salt and a few
spoonfuls of the mixed chopped
vegetables and blend.
9.Heat tortillas in the oven and
cover to remain soft and dry.
10.Place all ingredients in heated
tortillas and enjoy.