Panama, your fish tale waiting to happen

A Black Marlin hooked at the Tropic Star Lodge in Darien.

A Black Marlin hooked at the Tropic Star Lodge in Darien.

That the name Panama means “an abundance of fish” in an ancient indigenous dialect is a time-honored Panamanian cliché. Trust those Indians. They knew what they were talking about.

TROPIC STAR LODGE located in the Darién Jungle about 150 miles south east of Panama City is Panama’s oldest established fishing lodge. It can only be reached by boat or light aircraft. The nearby Zane Grey Reef is famous for having more than 200 world IGFA records.

PEARL ISLANDS. Hacienda Del Mar on Isla San José, the outermost island of the archipelago of Las Perlas, offers inshore and offshore fishing. Fishing expeditions can also be arranged out of Contadora Island through any of the island’s hotels.

PANAMA CITY. City yacht clubs have fishing boats for charters.

CHIRIQUI / COIBA. Up in Chiriquí, the Coiba Marine Park with its celebrated Hannibal Bank is best reached out of Santa Catalina. Hooked on Panama Resort near Puerto Armuelles, Gone Fishing Panama Resort and Seagull Cove in Boca Chica offer both inshore and offshore fishing. Boats can also be chartered at the port of Pedregal which serves the city of David.

PEDASÍ. Superb fishing grounds can be found on the Azuero Peninsula where “pangas” are the vessel of choice for local fishermen whose livelihood depends on their catch. They are open fiberglass boats with an outboard engine, so do not forget your lucky fishing hat and sunscreen. You will discover why Pedasi is called the Tuna Coast.

SANTA CATALINA. Further west and reached by the Pan American Highway to Santiago, turning off to Sona and then to the coast, is Santa Catalina. Santa Catalina Boat Tours will guarantee you a good day’s fishing.

GATÚN LAKE. For fresh water fishermen, Gatún Lake is one of the world’s greatest Peacock Bass lakes. There are small boats for hire with a guide from Arenosa, a small village 40 minutes by road from Panama City.


Generally speaking, the Caribbean coast is not so well endowed with facilities but the fishing is superb. Most companies organize charters for such fish as Tarpon, Kingfish, Spanish Mackerel, Snapper, Grouper, Shark, Great Barracuda, African Pompano, Amberjack and Snook.

During the dry season (December to March) the seas are choppy but the rest of the year the seas are calm and the water clear, making conditions perfect.