Coral Star Marlin and Tuna w/Photos!

Casa Vieja Lodge

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"The Roving Angler"
BD Writer
Jun 1, 2006
2,737
453
Valley Center, CA
www.rovingangler.com
Name
Tony Pena
Boat
n/a
I hosted a week on the Coral Star mothership from March 20-25 which was notable for a good marlin score, lots of yellowfin tuna and huge roosterfish. Although the marlin fishing had been slow for the Coiba-Montuosa-Ladrones triangle, the Coral Star boats came away with three black marlin from 250, 300, 500 lbs., two blue marlin from 250, 400 lbs.(17-yr old Jeremy Lundberg took the 400 lb. blue and a 300 lb. black), many yellowfin with four over 100 lbs, roosterfish from 20 to 75 lbs. (the big one coming on a live bigeye scad the last half day at Isla Paridas for Floyd Friess), cubera snapper to 40 lbs.(Patricia Gilbreath), dorado to 42 lbs. (Carlos Ortiz), rainbow runner to 30 lbs. (John Vindiola) and a variety of others.


Trolling MoldCraft Softhead lures was better than live bait as most of the marlin hit the plastic very well on the Montuosa shoal and within four miles on the northwest side. A big blue even attacked the tiniest lure in the spread (4 ½ inch Wide Range) intended for tuna and dorado but failed to get the small single hook to hold. Other lures that did hold on to trophy marlin included a pink/white 7 ½ inch SuperChugger and silver/blue/black 11 inch Wide Range. While boats were chasing tuna we stayed with the marlin for a total of 2 ½ days out of the 5 days available and had some good results with three fish taken on my boat including the 500 lb'er that Sabrina released as well as another at 250. When feeding tuna popped up near our trolling spread we brought in the trolling lines on the starboard side of the boat to allow us to cast to breaking fish which was a good technique to get tuna as well as not interrupting the marlin fishing very much.


Popping was the best way to get a tuna hook-up because they would come up and travel fast making it difficult to troll a bait or lure over them. However, making a long cast to the front or side could reach the feeding tuna before they sounded. The tuna averaged 20 to 40 lbs. but there were enough 80 to 120 lb'ers. to keep things interesting. The big 200 lb'ers. have not shown well this season.


The seas were calm this week before the full moon, prevailing blue skies with one refreshing thunderstorm one night at the Bahia Hermosa anchorage at Isla Coiba, sea temp 83.5 degrees and lots of bait ranging from black skipjack (bonito), mackerela (bolillo), bigeye scad (ojoton), sardinas and green jacks (cojinua). At times the spotted dolphin and tuna would work the sardinas into dense surface bait balls that would take cover under the boats making it easy to scoop bucket loads of bait as well as get easy hook-ups with the tuna and other pelagics such as dorado attracted to the slaughter.


Our group of 12 anglers featured John Habants' crew of eight from California as well as Louisiana, Arizona and Germany. The Panama fishing was a great first-experience for most of the group and it was a party atmosphere on the mothership at night as well. Young Jerermy lost three big fish at night hand lining a spool of 80 lb. P-Line that only whetted his appetite to return. That's how Panama anglers are made!


Tony Peña
“The Roving Angler”



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PuraVida2U

Booking Agent
Nov 14, 2009
222
0
San Diego
Name
Fred Stephens
Boat
34' Custom
Thanks for another ALL-PRO trip report Tony! It's amazing how many times you have been on world class trips of epic proportions and how you ALWAYS manage to capture the moments in your descriptions and magazine quality photographs so thoroughly.

I doubt that most anglers realize how hard it is to take action fish shots like those and to summarize an accurate description of the conditions and overall experience in a way that is interesting to read.

I hope your group realized who they were fishing with... enough to appreciate the fact that they probably just had the fishing trip of their lives and had it completely documented by a master outdoorsman, writer and photographer.

I see that your bag of tricks..."Moldcraft Softhead" lures came in handy AGAIN! You brought those same lures on our first trip on the Coral Star 16 years ago...with the exact same results!

On that subject, I would be very curious to hear about other Bloodydecks members who have had good success with Moldcraft Softhead lures and which lures/colors have produced the best for them?

Here's a shot of a Hannibal Bank tuna I caught last season with the 7' clear/purple "Superchugger" still hanging out of his chops.
 

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johndtuttle

Angler/Client
  • Mar 20, 2008
    5,594
    1,784
    Carmel, CA
    Name
    john
    Boat
    not crazy enough yet
    Thanks for another ALL-PRO trip report Tony! It's amazing how many times you have been on world class trips of epic proportions and how you ALWAYS manage to capture the moments in your descriptions and magazine quality photographs so thoroughly.

    I doubt that most anglers realize how hard it is to take action fish shots like those and to summarize an accurate description of the conditions and overall experience in a way that is interesting to read.

    I hope your group realized who they were fishing with... enough to appreciate the fact that they probably just had the fishing trip of their lives and had it completely documented by a master outdoorsman, writer and photographer.

    I see that your bag of tricks..."Moldcraft Softhead" lures came in handy AGAIN! You brought those same lures on our first trip on the Coral Star 16 years ago...with the exact same results!

    On that subject, I would be very curious to hear about other Bloodydecks members who have had good success with Moldcraft Softhead lures and which lures/colors have produced the best for them?

    Here's a shot of a Hannibal Bank tuna I caught last season with the 7' clear/purple "Superchugger" still hanging out of his chops.

    The only problem with being a MoldCraft lover (like myself) is that eventually you come across statements by the maker of the Lure that they only make 2 colors: Black or White for the fish...and the rest are to catch the anglers LOL.

    Be that as it may, I don't leave home without Pink/White (covers the white) and Purple/black/silver (covers the Black).

    Green/yellow/yellow is nice if you want to cover "grey" :D.
     
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    "The Roving Angler"
    BD Writer
    Jun 1, 2006
    2,737
    453
    Valley Center, CA
    www.rovingangler.com
    Name
    Tony Pena
    Boat
    n/a
    Thanks for the kind words Fred. Sometimes crews, wherever they are, get locked onto one method such as the live bait fishing for black marlin in Panama even when nothing is happening. When I broke out the Moldcrafts the action really started with a black taking one within five minutes of trolling as well as getting dorado and tuna on them as well.

    Tony Peña
    "The Roving Angler"
     
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    "The Roving Angler"
    BD Writer
    Jun 1, 2006
    2,737
    453
    Valley Center, CA
    www.rovingangler.com
    Name
    Tony Pena
    Boat
    n/a
    I really don't know if it makes any difference having the circle hooks in the down or up position. Personally I prefer them "up" just as if it were the tail hook on a plug but I have no evidence to argue one over another.

    Tony Peña
    "The Roving Angler"
     
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    igfarich

    Almost A Member
    Oct 25, 2006
    234
    1
    Woodland Hills, CA
    www.cabosbest.com
    Name
    Richard Chudy
    Boat
    None
    Awesome report and pics Tony.... always a great read and always pick up something new from your posts... you kill it every time buddy!

    Re: downward circles.... saw it done in Panama quite often with the locals. Some claim it works better on bottom species... Cubera especially. Why, they really couldn't tell me but I'll be damned if they didn't out fish everyone else. Me, don't think it makes a hell of a lot of difference, but who can argue with numbers?
     
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    PuraVida2U

    Booking Agent
    Nov 14, 2009
    222
    0
    San Diego
    Name
    Fred Stephens
    Boat
    34' Custom
    Ya...kind words, I'm just trying to get invited to one of Tony's BBQ-pool parties this summer at his new casa! I'll say just about anything for some ribs!

    The surf isn't too bad off Coiba Island either, I find it's hard to have anything but perfect days in Panama!

    This perfect panamanian surf & fish day was served up flawlessly to me on a platter hosted by Chris and Andrea Palle from the Lost Coast Explorer.
     

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    Juan

    Member
    Aug 31, 2009
    430
    160
    Sayulita
    Name
    Juan Munoz
    Boat
    24' Grady White
    Good times in Coiba ! I can see Montuosa on the back of one of the photos, the waves looked sweet ! There is never a dull day around those islands they are teeming with life and the ocean looks very healthy still. When I camped in Montuasa and Jicarita back in the 90's it was a fishing mans heaven, all day hooked on something, as if Christopher Columbus had never arrived in the Americas. I have not gone back in ten years, I cant wait to camp out there for a week again and fish, surf, dive, cook, drink Seco at night !!
    Listen to a am Panamenian local radio station !
    Great report, Panama Coiba area absolutely rocks !
    Thanks Tony,
    keep the dream alive.
     
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    "The Roving Angler"
    BD Writer
    Jun 1, 2006
    2,737
    453
    Valley Center, CA
    www.rovingangler.com
    Name
    Tony Pena
    Boat
    n/a
    Juan,

    Take plenty of Seco with you-it may keep the biting insects off or at least make you not care about them. By the way, there is an absolutely beautiful little white sand spit about the size of a tennis court nestled among the jagged rocks on the westerly side of the island. You can't miss it. Do me a favor and swim out to it. Is it as cool as I think?

    Tony Peña
    "The Roving Angler"
     
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    Juan

    Member
    Aug 31, 2009
    430
    160
    Sayulita
    Name
    Juan Munoz
    Boat
    24' Grady White
    Chitras in MOntuosa are a nightmare !!
    We used to make a tower of dry palm tree leaves add some gas and make 30 foot tall bon fires on the beach, there was so many dry palmtrees leaves !
    That kept the chitras off for a while but late at night some guys had to burry themselves under the sand cause the bugs where insane ! ! we brought tents instead of hamacas for the next trips.
    It so cool to see it all so wild still, as if I never went. Priceless !
    Thanks Tony again !
    Great Report !
     
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    FAT CAT

    FAT CAT
    Nov 11, 2007
    8,886
    2,768
    Baja Sur, MX
    Name
    Bill Burkett
    Boat
    22' Twin-Vee Catamaran POLE CAT
    Well Tony, you've once again made me wish I was you. Thanks for the great report and photos of my favorite place on the planet.

    As to the Moldcraft lures, they may not be as pretty as some, but the fish really like to dance with them. They work everywhere.
     
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    "The Roving Angler"
    BD Writer
    Jun 1, 2006
    2,737
    453
    Valley Center, CA
    www.rovingangler.com
    Name
    Tony Pena
    Boat
    n/a
    Juan,

    When I was shipwrecked on Coiba in 1995 the chitras and mosquitoes were a nightmare. We had to lay in turtle holes and cover up with sand and leaves for protection. If just one finger was exposed it got bit really bad.

    William,

    I take Moldcrafts wherever I go and they have produced well from Thailand to Brazil. They are so "chewy" that fish stay on them longer at the strike which allows for a better hookup. Frank Johnson lll (owner of Moldcraft) just told me that they have come out with an insertable scent tablet for the lures called "Juice" that has been extensively field tested and improves the bite even more. You know what I'll be packing next time!

    Tony Peña
    "The Roving Angler"
     
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    Team Karma

    Member
    Aug 29, 2008
    497
    0
    San Diego, CA
    Name
    Kyle
    Boat
    54 Sculley: Karma 3
    Tony-

    Great report and great fishing. My dad and I passed you in the airport in Panama City on Friday the 26. We fished 27-3 with almost identical results. We based out of Cebaco Bay (with the Pacific Provider). Thanks for sharing about the moldcrafts, we've never taken the time to troll plastics around Montuosa, we have always headed west or south, never worked anywhere north. Also, great article in this months marlin. You'll have to come pull on some fish with us sometime.
     
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    "The Roving Angler"
    BD Writer
    Jun 1, 2006
    2,737
    453
    Valley Center, CA
    www.rovingangler.com
    Name
    Tony Pena
    Boat
    n/a
    Kyle,

    So you got a mooring from Cebaco Bay Sportfishing Club? Was there much going on at Aguja Reef at that time? I know you like the big boat-big game fishing but you should try the popping in the Western Tuna Coast sometime (you need a smaller boat though). Maybe we'll fish together.

    Tony Pena
    "The Roving Angler"
     
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    Woodman

    Almost A Member
    Sep 19, 2005
    101
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    53
    Point Loma
    Name
    Woody
    Boat
    Keeps changing!
    We did a little discovery on that beach it's actually tiny coral and sand!
    I,m guessing this is the beach your talking about. Those bugs got ferocious the last night we anchored there the wind changed and filled the boat. I could only imagine camping there. The true Gilligan's Island.:rofl:
     

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    "The Roving Angler"
    BD Writer
    Jun 1, 2006
    2,737
    453
    Valley Center, CA
    www.rovingangler.com
    Name
    Tony Pena
    Boat
    n/a
    Woody,

    You're the only people I know to have landed there. That's pretty cool. The sand looks like white powder from a distance. Regarding the bugs, when we anchor there the wind often howls at night and if it shifts direction from the south it literally rains insects on deck.

    Tony Peña
    "The Roving Angler"
     
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    Woodman

    Almost A Member
    Sep 19, 2005
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    Point Loma
    Name
    Woody
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    Keeps changing!
    Roger that about the bugs.
    Interesting landing on the beach as the current is screaming through there.
    Certainly a beach that caught our eye first day there.
    A real paradise....
    Great report though thanks for the update.
    Tight lines.
    Woody
     
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    Ocean Gypsy

    Newbie
    Jul 16, 2007
    9
    0
    Chino
    Name
    Russ Miller
    Boat
    none
    Tony, interesting report ( plus the MoldCraft info ) and great pics. I've always liked the mother ships because you are so close to the fishing grounds, very little travel time. Anything going on at Hannibal ? Were you able to fish snook at all and were there any signs of Tarpon at Coiba ?
     
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    "The Roving Angler"
    BD Writer
    Jun 1, 2006
    2,737
    453
    Valley Center, CA
    www.rovingangler.com
    Name
    Tony Pena
    Boat
    n/a
    Russ,

    The Montuosa area has been better than the Hannibal Bank lately. On some days Hannibal is holding bait and birds with clean water but the next day it can be a desert. Some of the sportboats usually check it out every day just to see when it will come alive again. You can hear the radio chatter.

    On my last trip I cast a variety of lures for snook at "Crocodile Creek" near the Bahia Hermosa anchorage at Coiba. Didn't raise anything during an evening and morning session there. Not much bait being scattered and only a few birds working the beach. We also checked out the tarpon hole with live cojinua and lures with no takers. However, there were a good number of terns working tight to the shoreline which was a good sign but we couldn't get close enough to them due to the swells coming through. Tarpon are a rare catch anyways. It's a good thing that we don't rely on snook and tarpon to make a great trip!

    Tony Peña
    "The Roving Angler"
     
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