Panama– Battle ReadyNovember 12, 2012
Some folks look at fishing as a hobby. For some, it something that you do on the weekends, others for a summer vacation. Down here at the West Coast Fishing Club Panama, it is serious business. We are about to enter into three months of extreme fishing mode. This time of year, December, January and into February, can be some of the best for marlin fishing on the calendar. Last year our boats caught lots of big blacks, they also laid into slob yellowfin tuna. Big fish, ready to wreak havoc, hungry and ready for action. Articles about fish we caught during these months have been featured in the Robb Report (the June 2012 issue of Collection) and in Gaff Magazine.
It’s easy to say that we’re serious and that we’re gearing up for show time. Lots of people claim such things– the old cliché, interview with a football coach at halftime sort of deal. But we’re serious. We have invested thousands of dollars into new tackle and gear. As we speak our guys are hard at work, getting prepared.
Our stated goal for the months of December, January, and February is to do battle with the sea monsters that surround the Pearl Islands. Antagonizing creatures that can weigh upwards of 800 pounds and are capable of throwing themselves twelve feet out of the water is not something to be done haphazardly. It requires that you have your ducks in a row. There are fish here, fish that we hope (and have a realistic chance) to encounter that can make runs of several hundred yards, even against 15 pounds of drag. If your stated goal is to pick a fight with a dragon, you had best not bring a knife to a gun fight. With that being said, we are hard at work.
We are changing out the line on all of our 50s and all of our 80s—the trolling gear that is the link between the fish of a lifetime and the angler in the chair. We are stripping off miles of line, and putting fresh, battle-ready monofilament on everything we’ve got. Could we have gotten by without doing this? Maybe, but that would be cut-rate. When you have a 500 pound black hooked up, boat backing down, spray flying over the gunnel, you’ve got enough to think about without having to consider the state of the line. We are changing out all of our wind-on leaders as well. We make them ourselves aboard the boat, they are great. If you tied one off to the fender of a hybrid car, you could stop it. When the right fish comes up and you are wrestling with it behind the boat, you can’t afford equipment failures.
There are also hellacious roosterfish and refrigerator-sized cubera snapper lurking around inshore rocks and pinnacles. These fish are so big that the normal gear we use to catch them are 30 and 50 pound trolling outfits. As this fishing is so much fun and can be so action-packed (a day fishing inshore can result in roosterfish, cubera, mullet, and barred snapper, many types of grouper, jack crevalle, horse eyed jack, African pompano, houndfish (really big needlefish), sierra mackerel, the occasional wahoo, and more), we figured we would diversify our arsenal. We called our buddies at Altenkirch Outfitters in New York and put together an inshore tackle list that includes light spinning gear (4000 class Shimano Stradics), intermediate spinning gear (8000 class Stradics), and bait casting gear. All of these reels will be paired up with an Altenkirch rod, which may very well be the best around. They have been in business making rods on Long Island since 1930 and have sold them to the likes of Babe Ruth and Roger Waters. Not even power outages caused by Hurricane Sandy could stop them. These rods and reels will be down in Panama on November 18, along with a certified scale that weighs up to 2,000 pounds. Any fisherman worth his salt knows what we are up to with the scale, but that will be a whole other article entirely. Stay tuned.
And of course there are our boats. The fleet is hungry for action. We have the Pacific Provider in the boat yard, out of the water. We are sand blasting and painting the bottom, making her ready for and beautiful. We have a diesel expert down from the states to check up and tune up the motors in the Gamefisherman (could we have gotten by without doing this…). We are cleaning the bottoms of the four sportboats as well. Finely tuned fishing machines, ready to make it happen. And the crew—they are chomping at the bit to start fishing again. Hell, if I don’t fish before too long, I may need to be medicated myself. Even Alexandra is excited to get out fishing.
We are serious. Before we leave the city, we will take on tens of thousands of gallons of diesel aboard the Provider. We will purchase freight trucks’ worth of every kind of food and beverage you can imagine. We have inventoried the liquor and wine supplies, and they will be battle ready too. About the only thing, come to think of it, that we haven’t ordered surpluses of… is warm clothing. It may be winter where you are, but pack your sunscreen; it’s time to get serious about fishing in Panama.