Kayak Fishing the Wild Coast of Panama
If you are a fisherman of the adventurous type, you are addicted to Google earth. You spend your spare moments looking over your local waterways and eventually start to look beyond. Then you think quietly to yourself “I wonder if anyone has explored that? I bet there is good fishing there. Man If I had the time.” Eventually life responsibilities knocks on the door and you snap out of the day dream.
Life goes on. One day while FB lurking, you run across a photo of person you know fishing one of the spots you often dream about. You say to yourself, “Damn, there is a way to fish there! Let message him and see how much it costs.”.
If any of these thoughts ever come into your mind about Kayak fishing Panama I will answer them. Here is a mini guide for people who possess the “Wanderlust Gene” for fishing and exploring foreign waters.
My trip was with Pascal Artieda of Panama Kayak Adventures
Warning: This is not a guide to a 5 start resort fishing where you are pampered and where the fish are hooked and handed to you. The accommodations are not air conditioned, no spa, hot tub and 5 star chef prepped dinners are not on the daily itinerary. There are no banquets, no awards or parties, just a pure sleep, eat and fish destination. If getting pampered is what you are searching for please click away now.
Traveling to Panama City, Panama from Miami ranges from $500-$1000 round trip depending on the time to year and when you book. From Miami the direct flight took about 3 hours in the air via American Airline. I use Kayak.com to search for the cheapest flights. You do need a passport to travel there. Most countries you do not need a visa(special permission papers for travel). You can check here.
Once you fly in and get settle the 30 minute cab ride to the hotel cost about $35.00. Hotel cost in the city is very reasonable. We stayed at the TRYP, a 4 star hotel in the center of town for $60.00. Food and gifts can be bought inside the hotel or just down the street. There were plenty of small stores around to purchase drinks, food and snacks.
Even though Spanish is the main language there, most everyone spoke a little English. The currency is $1 to 1 so you can use your US dollars there without an exchanging them. Credit cards are also taken there.
In the morning a driver will pick your group up and take you to the coastal city of Cambutal. This is a five hour trip but with food and bathroom stops it is more like 7 hours as you stop for supplies along the way. Walmart is not at every corner there so get all your needs before you get to Cambutal.
Once you arrive at the launch sight you will meet Pascal and his crew. There you eat a quick lunch and drink a beer. Afterwards you will load the 27′ Panga up with your gear and do a beach launch.
Here the adventure begins. The cell phone signal is gone along with the comfort of air conditioning. You and your crew along with the supply for a week is loaded down for the 1.5 to 2 hour boat ride to base camp.
Internet and cell phone services works perfectly in the City of Panama. Outside of that especially in the mountains, your services will be spotty at best. At camp and Cambutal there is zero signal.
3G and 4G LTE works 95% of the time so you will have full internet access and many shops does have free wifi.
Services like hotels.com and hotwire works great for booking hotels as well.
Verizon services cost $10/day extra while ATT needs to be changed to international services for it to work in Panama. You can go online to turn this on or call them before you leave the states.
The fishing here is deep water fishing. Fly fishing for the most part is ineffective, unless you plan on walking the beaches for snook.
The sharp rocky drop off provides some dramatic imagery as the waves pounds the shore line. There are plenty of submerged rocks for baitfish to hide and ambush predators to lurk.
The targeted species for nearshore fishermen in the waters are Cubera snapper, Roosterfish, yellowfin tunas, mullet snapper, broomtail groupers, african pompano a variety of snappers and jacks abound.
The camp is located inside the protected area of the national park. It is quite remote for most fishing vessels, limiting the fishing pressure. This rugged coast line lives up to its name the “Wild Coast” , there is little to no impact visible by man.
The outfitter provides every angler with a late model Hobie Outback to fish from. They are very stable and nibble to get around in. The outback has a peddle mirage drive system so you can fish and maneuver at the same time.
1 long heaving spinning rods for casting poppers and stickbaits
1 short stout rod of vertical jigging
1 trolling out combo for trolling or use on bait.
1 conventional for the trolling rig.
2 Offshore saltwater spinning reels with a good drag.
50-65 lb test braided line.
60-80 lb test leader material. Mono for for poppers and Flourocarbon can be used for vertical jigging.
Mostly medium and a few large poppers in pink, white or blue
Stick baits from 5” to 7” (same colors) I had good luck with the white Rapala Subwalker 15(Upgrade the hooks to 3x)
Vertical jigs 2 to 4 oz
Most stock lure hooks are not made for this type of fishing I suggest upgrading them in case you hook into that trophy.
The ones I used were the Mustad 36329NP-BN Ultra Point Treble 3X Strong Hook in size 3/0, 2/0 and 1/0
Bring strong pliers. This is necessary to take out hooks and your rigging on the water.
You are on the water all day, bring gloves to protect your hands from the sun as well as nicks and cuts when you land fish.
The ones I used that worked great were the AFTCO Solmar UV Fishing Gloves
These gloves are breathable and has open fingers allowing you to rig without taking them off.
Waterproof bag to carry your gear.
Sunblock is a must. When you look at the forecast in Cambutal it often says rain. It might be so in the nearby mountains but on the beaches it is bright and sunny all day.
I know it’s hot out there and you want to wear shorts, make yourself wear breathable quick dry long pants. You will thank me later.
The same goes for shirts, long sleeves all the way.
What I like to bring besides your travel clothe you have on.(To keep the weight down I rotate 3 pairs of quick dry clothes)
3 quick dry underwear,
3 quick dry long pants,
3 microfiber quick dry fishing shirts,
1 casual shorts and short sleeves to walk around in,
a sandal you will not fish in,
Light rain jacket,
headlamp and your toiletry.
The Accommodations and Food
A rocky xeriscape walk way leads you to the beach side cabin. Each cabin is comprised of a porch with two chairs one table, a line to dry your clothes and a hammock on the porch. Inside there two led lights, two beds and shelving for your gear. There are two windows to allow the sea breeze to flow and a screen to keep the bugs out. Sorry no air conditioning or fan here.
In the back of each cabin there is sink. The water water gathered from rain sources and stored before it is pressurized. A shower and next to that is an eco toilet.
Food at the lodge is mostly organic sources. The bread is even baked right there in a wood fire oven. Your dinner usually includes a salad, fruits , breads, your fresh catch of tuna, snapper and African pompano. If you enjoy home made jam/jelly, fresh squeezed juices and breads you will love it at base camp. Everyone has a group breakfast at 6:30 am, lunch is packed for you daily and dinner is cooked as you bring in the catch of the day.
Besides your flight which is totally up to you.
(From website for 5 days for fishing 6 days lodging)
“The new 2016 RATE: $1300/per person. if you are a group of 4 anglers.
Our new 27′ assistance boat have enough space to carry 4 kayaks at the time, in this case we can propose this lower rate for groups of 4 anglers. Arrival and departure package: $170.”
I hope this answers most of the questions for you. Good luck satisfying your “Wanderlust Gene.”