I just returned from a week in Panama aboard the Lost Coast Explorer. It was the best trevally fishing I have ever hadâ¦â¦â¦â¦.dorado, sails, jacksâ¦it was a great week with great friendsâ¦â¦â¦. my buddy Blake just put up a post too! haha....great minds think alike eh?
Some of the best decisions in life are made over sushi and cold beers. This is what happened one cold February night last year as my lifelong fishing buddy and adopted little brother Blake and his longtime girlfriend Vanessa joined my wife and I in Seattle for some Japanese food and rounds of cold draft Kirin pints . Blake and Vanessa moved to San Diego several years ago from Seattle so we donât get together as often as we used to. My wife wanted to buy us a cool fishing trip for my 50<SUP>th</SUP> birthday present. Something with plenty of adrenaline, but without the likelihood (instead of the mere possibility ) of being hacked to pieces by murderous pirates. Blake and Vanessa are adrenaline junkies tooâ¦.. they jump out of airplanes for a living. We have taken some awesome trips together over the years and we wanted raw adventure. We had been telling them about Panama ever since Robbo came back from his first exploratory trip with fishing and scenery shots that made us both drool. <?xml:namespace prefix = o /><o></o>
It was settled. Panama it is! The four of us toasted our decision. In the morning I called my old pal Rob Endsley (AKA âRobboâ) and he locked us in. Rob owns Prince of Wales Sportfishing in Craig, Alaska and is a full time salmon and bottomfishing guide up there in the summer months. His expertise and business relationship with Lost Coast were invaluable in helping us plan our adventure.......
The journey unfoldsâ¦â¦â¦â¦â¦â¦â¦â¦
Day 1 â Travel Day. We meet up with Steve Maris (AKA âStamâ), Rob and Joe Maris at Seatac for the boring flight to Houston, where we all head to a seafood joint to wait for Blake and Vanessa. They arrive from San Diego. Introductions and hugs all around followed by several rounds of Cajun Bloody Marys to start things off. After we boarded our flight to Panama City, the flight attendant told me âIâm sorry, but our credit card machine does not work so we cannot sell any alcoholic beveragesâ. Uh huh. Sure. Oh is that right? Mingo somehow manages to convince them that we are suffering from horrible thirst and we need some special attention. Several free rounds of Corona later, things are looking good. Then we land. Hard. As in, collapsed-landing-gear- with- a-dash-of-double-tire- blowout- hard. A few screams and sobs were heard. Fillings were knocked loose, glass eyes popped out, bladders spontaneously emptiedâ¦the woman in front of us said âIâ¦â¦.Iâ¦.I think I sharted!â. We were in Panama.<o></o>
After checking into our hotel we went to find a bar where they follow the awesome only-in-Panama â80/20 ruleâ with their rum and cokes. The glass on the left contains only Abuelo rum. The right one has a splash of coke. Game on.
Day 2 â Panama City and the Canal. Donât expect Panama drivers to play by U.S. rules. They close their eyes, point their vehicles where they want to go and just punch it and pray. This is not a city for pussies, cuecos or those with heart conditions. You place your life in the hands of the taxi or shuttle driver and hope for the best. A good buzz helps.
On the way to the canal, Stam recreates the gangland brain-splatter slaying that happened in this cab only 36 hours before. The driver chuckles.
Checkinâ out the canalâ¦â¦...
Where is the spigot? Weâre thirsty!
Day 3 â This is not Disneyland. â We leave our hotel at 5:30 AM for the four hour drive to Puerto Mutis, where we would meet one of the mothershipâs twin 24â Kofflers for another hour-long ride across rough waters to the big vessel. The Panamanian countryside unfoldsâ¦â¦â¦â¦â¦â¦..signs are all over the place advertising my favorite Panamanian nutritional supplement.
The best little combo Rodeo / Disco in all of Santiago, with the notorious â3-for-1 Lunch Specialâ:
At Puerto Mutis, we load up our gear and wonder why everything is being locked in giant plastic bags. We find out soon enough. Imagine a giant picking you up five feet in the air, slamming you down hard on a bucking boat seat and every five seconds dumping a 5 gallon bucket of seawater in your face. We were a pack of drowned rats. After the long bumpy wet ride we arrive at the Lost Coast Explorer, our home for the next weekâ¦â¦
After we dump our gear in our cabins, within 45 minutes we are off fishing!
Robbo started us off with inshore action. Blake, Robbo my wife and I were in one boat, Joe and Stam in the other. Vanessa was still not sure about this whole âfishing thingâ. She stayed on board to chill and check out the shipâ¦â¦but good lord, would that change the following day!
We hit some inshore popping action to start things off. Boiler rocks are where they live so that is where we aimed our castsâ¦..
Robbo immediately had a huge cubera snapper explode under his Sabile popper but it missed. I had a nice mullet snapper swirl on mine. Midday doldrums. Robbo had a wahoo track and attack his popper. Another near miss. I hooked and lost a needlefish. Not much going onâ¦..so we headed out to see if we could find some hungry fishâ¦.â¦.
My wife did not know it, but she was about to go on her first bluewater thrill rideâ¦â¦â¦â¦â¦â¦
The release was textbook perfect, she was thrilled to see this magnificent creature swim away strongly
This was a great start for our band of thrill-seeking party pirates!!!
Back on board Robbo kicked off the nightly sashimi fest
After a tasty meal, the Balboa was flowing like wine and a school of bigeye trevally showed up in our ship lights. Robbo scored first on a metal jigâ¦.
These fish have freaky giant eyeballs that glow pink in the darkâ¦â¦â¦â¦.
Blake broke the tip of his new flyrod on his first castâ¦.but he landed his jack. Unfortunately this was just the firstâ¦.and not even the worstâ¦. tackle mishap he would suffer during the week. Vanessa caught her first-ever fish that evening and I scored a little trevally that almost became a snack for a 30 pound trevally.
Soon the sharks showed up it was time for bedâ¦â¦.it had been a long, tiring, perfect day.
Day 4 â The Great Bait and Switch Solution â We headed out with Robbo for a day tossing poppers, swimbaits and flies at the boiler rocks for bluefin trevally, cubera and barred pargo. I love any kind of jack but bluefin trevally have been a favorite ever since I got into some nice ones in Hawaii. Robâs tales got me jazzed over coffeeâ¦â¦â¦â¦â¦
Our skipper Camillo set us up on set after set of rock formations that were known to hold fish. We started out tossing big poppers tight to the structure
Robbo led the way, hitting the foamy water close in to the rocks where the fish are looking up for stunned and wounded preyâ¦â¦â¦.
I had some awesome battles using plastic swimbaitsâ¦â¦
I got a few fly strikes blindcasting to the rocksâ¦â¦..
Mrs. Mingo gets in on the actionâ¦â¦â¦.
The trevally and snapper prowl the rocks looking for fish that get the sh!t beat out of them by waves. This type of fishing is not for everyone. It is highly addictive and awesome but it requires hours of nonstop casts with heavy lures in searing heat in an open boat. Those who like their fishing on the sedate and lazy side need not applyâ¦..this would kill someone who wants to sit on their ass all day. Photos can be deceiving, they create the impression of nonstop, easy action. Nothing could be farther from then truth. We ground it out hard and earned every single fish we hooked on lures and flies.â¦.
Rob was on fireâ¦â¦
My wife doing battle with another gorgeous trevallyâ¦..
Rob hooked a hefty cuberaâ¦..
Gangsta man needs a beer after that!!!
I was aching to hook a trevally on my flyrod and do battle with one of these gorgeous creatures. After a lot of trial and error, we hit on a bait and switch formula that resulted in several hookups. Rob would toss his popper deep into the furthest reaches of a cove, inlet or boiler rock and I would double haul my cast as far as I could so my fly landed two to three feet to the right of his retrieve path.
When we would see a hot pack of trevally or snapper or roosters chasing his popper, Iâd wait for his lure to get within 10 feet of my fly and I would start a super-fast sweeping retrieve using my left hand and my rod tip to help speed up the sweeps so they were as fast as I could humanly make them. Hot fish need a hot fly and this was the only retrieve they would chase down and killâ¦â¦.it worked!
A barred pargo crashed the partyâ¦â¦.
Trevally do NOT come in easilyâ¦..forget about coho, the power of these beasts will shock you.
Some local fishermen came by asking for beerâ¦â¦
The peanut gallery in the other boat cruising in to see how we were doingâ¦..
This guy came in spoiling for a fight!
Home sweet homeâ¦â¦â¦.
Chillinâ on the deck after a long hot dayâ¦â¦
Day 5 â The Big Blue with Rob â Rob and Chris joined us for a day out on the Hannibal Banks to chase marlin and dorado. A much calmer sea and a pleasant boat ride started the day off right. Rob showed me his technique for making bait using metal jigs. Basically, you never rest, you never stop and you crank until your arm falls off. He took some skipjack right off the bat that went into the tuna tubes. We locked into our basic trolling routine with Rob continuing to fish for more bait and me trying to master his technique. All of a sudden, Rob yells âDORADO!â and chucks his jig right at the fish he spottedâ¦..the fish climbed all over Robâs jig as soon as it hit the waterâ¦â¦
We found an old crusty floating log and Rob saw some green flashes under itâ¦âMingo! Grab your flyrod! Get âem bro!â
This is the sh!t you DREAM about during long, cold wet rainy Puget Sound days and nightsâ¦â¦.
I had one follow and one other near take before they moved off the logâ¦â¦..but I wasnât too bummed because this yellowfin was lurking nearby spoiling for a fightâ¦â¦â¦.
Then this green demon showed up, pissed off and ready to go mano y mano
My wife had a trolling strike and was hooked upâ¦â¦â¦..â¦â¦
Nice job honey! J
We then started trolling for giant marlin. Rob was up firstâ¦â¦â¦..we wanted to see him catch, photograph and release one of the these giants to get the party started. Suddenly, the clicker on the left-side rod started going offâ¦the live bait was getting nervous. Then without warning, line started peeling off the reel and we saw the culprit come up for air. Flipper was toying with us. It would chew off a nice chunk, hold on and then come back for more. Robbo had to reel in a thousand yards of 80 pound mono while this craven cetacean slowly ate our bait. I felt badly for Robâ¦.we all thought this was the monster we were searching for. But redemption and a fresh chance were right around the corner! Once he had cranked all that line in, the RIGHT side rod got slammed! âTake him Mingo, take him!â âNo bro, you got ripped off that time, so this one is all yours, GET HIM!â
Rob lurched over and yanked the rod out as line peeled away. He set the hook with a mighty sweep. He felt a heavy weightâ¦â¦thenâ¦.nothingâ¦â¦then a huge weightâ¦..and nothing again. This means only one thingâ¦..another thieving porpoise was eating our bait. Once Rob realized he was stuck reeling in ANOTHER thousand yards of line, he did what any sane person would doâ¦.he laughed, handed me the rod and said âhere Mingus, this one is all yoursâ and went to slam a frothy Atlas from the cooler. I cranked away on Flipper. Feeling that much live weight is pretty strangeâ¦.you realize you are pulling against a mammal that weighs a ton and is too smart to get hooked. They know exactly which parts to eat safely. I reeled in a skipjack head and we were off to find dolphin-free water.
Time for a beer while we look for busting schools of hungry fishâ¦â¦
Murphyâs Law is universal - This day turned out to be one of the most awesome experiences of my life. One thing about Panama that surprised me was how many various species will come up into a spread together, unlike some places where it will be all tuna, or just dorado, or only billfish. I was hoping for a sailfish. Soon a hot school of dorado came up and start zigzagging back and forth in our lure spread. One whipped over and inhaled the fly I had flopped out there. It bent my 12 wt right down to the cork as it peeled off a hundred yards of line and backing in a nanosecond. As I settled into the tussle, I looked down and saw a nice sailfish come right up to the boat, not 15 feet from our outboards! Shit!
Here is my best sailfish shot on a fly and Iâve got a dorado onâ¦Murphyâs Law in action.â¦.!!
We were practically at a dead stop since I was already hooked up, So Chris told Rob to feed a bonito we had in one of the tuna tubes back to the sailfish to keep it lit up. Damned if that billfish didnât gulp that bait and take off for Costa Rica!!!!!! Rob set the hook and held the rod while my wife belted in to go a few rounds with Senor Pez Vela. This was surreal, movie type stuffâ¦.Iâm fighting a hot dorado on a flyrod while my wife is standing next to me battling a sailfish on standup gear. Robbo was busy shooting video of the twin battles, Chris and his crew worked their asses off keeping the boat situated so lines would not tangleâ¦.it was a zoo. A great, frenetic, wonderful zoo of pure pandemonium and shouts of encouragement. If something like that does not get you jacked up, you are DEAD !!!! J.
My wifeâs arms eventually gave outâ¦after 30 minutes of hard battle, lactic acid had built up to the point where she was cramped and just could not pull on the beast any longer. Rob took over and kept at it until the beauty was subdued. After a few quick photos we put him back to swim again.
Gringo Grande and Mrs. Mingo chill with ice cold Atlas after teaming up to land the gorgeous pez vela!!!!!
I did actually have two more sailfish shots that day. One hit my popper and was hooked for maybe 3 headshakes and came unbuttoned; the other came up and just waved his bill at my fly, chafing the hell out of my bite leader with his sandpaper rapierâ¦â¦..
After several Balboas to quench our tropical thirst, we decided to go inshore â¦â¦ Robbo wanted that big rooster!!! Working the poppersâ¦â¦â¦â¦â¦
Rob kept getting heart-pounding rooster follows but no strikes. He finally put the wood to a fish that attacked his lure right off the beach and landed this awesome bluefin trevallyâ¦â¦
A nice post-fishing snackâ¦â¦..waitâ¦.wine? wtf? Gimme a beer man! Iâm thirsty!!!!!
âSeriously dude, that howler monkey came right out of the jungle waving his simian weenus at us, it had to be THIS LONG!â
Jose âEl Huevosâ working on fresh grilled dorado for dinnerâ¦â¦
You are getting real close little broâ¦..tip your head back, get the âOâ readyâ¦â¦thatâs it!â
Day 6 â Thieving tuna !!!!!! â Blake and Vanessa went out with us for a day chasing tuna and chillinâ on the beach. Mrs. Mingo chilled while Vanessa grabbed the rod for her first fish of the dayâ¦â¦
This was a costly day for Blakeâ¦â¦with a school of yellowfin all around the boat, we were casting from opposite sides of the stern when he hooked a hot fish. It tore out so fast that the handle of his reel caught and ripped his thumb so hard it sprained it. He took his left hand off the reel for just a second and that was all it took. This was like a Bugs Bunny cartoon unfolding right before our eyes. His rod is ripped from his hands and streaks away from the boat. Blake yelled out âNO FUCKING WAY!â and dove in after his gear. The fish swam faster and he didnât see anything but the blue streak of his TFO Bluewater going down down down to the briny depthsâ¦â¦â¦â¦â¦â¦.
My little bro needed a beer after that ordealâ¦..
We had several multiple hookups of yellowfin until things went totally dead around noonâ¦â¦.this little yellowfin was a bit ambitious when he came up and attacked my big billfish popper!
Whoâs ready for another beer?
A little time spent working the gorgeous Panamanian shorelineâ¦â¦
This guy schooled my arse and rocked meâ¦â¦.byebye popper!!!!! If you have never caught a trevally, I highly recommend tryingâ¦â¦you WILL be impressed.
Back to the mothership for lunch and some chill time with the gangâ¦â¦â¦â¦â¦.
Waiting to go snorkeling and flyfishing. Blake is as bad as I am, he canât stop fishing!!
Our own private blue lagoon for the afternoonâ¦â¦â¦â¦â¦â¦â¦â¦.
Getting ready to hit the water before fishing â¦â¦
Want a beer honey?
Once we were back on the Koffler, Blake and I started fishing â¦â¦â¦â¦.
I had a hookup on a small popper, and as I was fighting the fish, something slammed hard into my cranium and put me down on the deck. It felt like someone smacked me upside the head with a ballpeen hammer. I donât think Iâve been hit that hard since Sister Madeline split my lip in the 2nd grade. Blake had accidentally double-hauled his clouser right into my temple. Being the diehard he is, he kept casting, but would occasionally stop and ask if I was okay. He did change to a âsofterâ fly. Thanks brother. Camillo came and pulled the hook from my head. Not too badâ¦..just a little spot of blood on the hat to keep the dried sea salt company. It was time to coagulate, man up and keep fishing!
We kept hitting lookdowns on almost every cast for another 15 minutesâ¦â¦
They were super aggressive and so many would compete for our flies that this happened a few timesâ¦â¦â¦
I kept casting while watching Blake out of the corner of my eyeâ¦â¦
As I was pop-pop-popping my fly in, a huge head appeared and attacked my fly. The fish tore out at hyperspeedâ¦â¦
âOOOOOOOOOO sh!t! This ainât no lookdown!â
Raw power on a 10 wtâ¦â¦heart-pumping brute strength and a very bad attitudeâ¦..
Day 7 â Stam and the Mingos: A pleasant surprise and a meeting with destiny â Steve headed out with us this day to chase marlin, yellowfin and anything else we might find that wanted to fight. We settled in for the bumpy, grinding run out to the Hannibal banks again. Lumbars were punished, spines were compressed, faces were splashed with buckets of water and the sky was as blue as it could possibly be. We were in heaven. When we got out to the grounds Stam and I started tossing metal jigs on spinning rods since we needed 2 to 5 pound skipjacks to use as bridled marlin baits while the crew set out the trolling spread. Stam and I kept tossing jigs, picking up the odd skipjack and bonito. We came upon another school of what we thought were skippies crushing bait on the surface. I tossed my metal jig into the melee and got a very nice surpriseâ¦..
This bastard could really pull, it was easily one of the top light tackle dorado battles of my lifeâ¦â¦â¦.
Iâd get him up and heâd go right back downâ¦..not the typical dorado battle at allâ¦â¦..
The gears on the spinning reel ground to a nauseating, clack-clack-clack halt as the fish sounded under the boat. The battle lasted at least 20 minutes longer than it would have if the gears had not burned out but it was well worth the grind. These guys can flatass PULL!!!!!
This battle was worthy of a double âOââ¦â¦..
Nope, it needed the rare triple âOâ
And then my bro Stam had a date with destinyâ¦â¦.a leviathan of the deep came up to crash the party and the battle was on! Stam posted some of these shots earlier. This was an epic battle.
Stam in happier timesâ¦â¦..
He asked me to take over for a while so he could hydrate and restâ¦â¦â¦.
Then after 20 minutes of intense H2o and cerveza hydration, Stam came charging back to finish off the bruteâ¦â¦â¦â¦.
The trophy of a lifetime came up to the boat as Stam ground it out inch by agonizing inchâ¦â¦â¦the fight was brutal, it was down and dirty and worth every moment of agony!
Victory lap around the boatâ¦â¦
Aggressive skipjack were everywhereâ¦..I still canât believe they would hit my big sailfish fliesâ¦..
After the celebration of the great tuna, Mrs. Mingo hit a gorgeous dorado and fought the beast like a champâ¦
Post-fishing snack, Panama style!
âItâs too late to go flyfishing for jacks Mingo, weâll hit it tomorrowâ â Stam was enjoying the afterglow of his best-ever tuna battle once we were back on the ship, so much so that he at first turned down a chance to go flyfishing with me for jacks! âAre you kidding me? Câmon man, weâre loading the boat, letâs go Stam!â âAwwâ¦..alright!â Stam grabbed his flyrod â¦â¦â¦. But I noticed he also had a deathgrip on his spinning rod loaded with a huge popper. He did not know it yet, but his day was about to get even better. Over at the reef I hooked a trevally that ate a crease flyâ¦â¦â¦â¦â¦â¦â¦â¦â¦.
Then Stam tossed his giant popper up tight to the shorelineâ¦.Chug-sploosh chug-sploosh chug-sploosh WHAM!!!!! Game on! He was tight to a hot cubera snapper that worked him all around the boat like a kid on a merry-go-round. It was awesome to witness yet another epic Stam battle with one of these prehistoric beasties! After 20 minutes, his toasted tuna-weary arms finally worked the massive snapper to boatâ¦â¦.
Back on board we feasted on platters of fresh sashimi and ice cold beers as a tuneup to our evening meal of seared yellowfin steaks, courtesy of Stam. â¦.
âThat was a pretty big freakinâ tuna, wasnât it?â â Stam ogles his pictures as Blake gets reacquainted with his girlfriendâ¦â¦..
We polished off three bottles of rum, dozens of beers and several bottles of wine. Everyone was glassy-eyed and goofy and Stam had the quote of the evening --- âtomorrow, I may have to uncork the Pendleton, blow the doors off this joint and do some partyingâ. Ahhh..what have we been doing every night then? !! Priceless.
Day 8 â Roosters, jacks and a very happy ending â Rob, Blake and the Mingos headed out to the Rooster Pen, a spot known for holding trophy roosterfish. We hoped to repeat the bait and switch success Robbo and I had found on Day 4 so Blake could get in on some of that wildness, and Rob was in search of his 50+ pound trophy Pez Gallo. Blake had already hooked and lost a 20 pound rooster on his 12 wt two days earlier. I just wanted to catch whatever I could. The morning bite was on as we saw schools of fish chasing bait on the surface. I cast right into a swirl and hooked a a jack crevalle
Rob took this stubborn jack nextâ¦â¦..
And I hooked another trevallyâ¦.. This bluefin put up one SWEEEEEEETASS battle!!! J
Blake cashed in with a sweet trevally on the flyâ¦â¦â¦â¦â¦â¦â¦.
After the early morning flurry, we settled in for a hot sweaty day tossing poppers to tease the fish in close enough to get them on the fly. Rob was on his own quest for a monster roosterfish. He wanted a brute and he worked his ASS off for it. The man is a nonstop casting machine. He wasn't tossing 1/4 oz krocodile spoons or some other cueco lure, he was pitching massive poppers for hours on end trying to hook something big. Blake and I became little budgie birds on the hippos back, benefitting from Robâs nonstop casting and retrieving. We split the lanes and duplicated the technique Rob and I used earlier in the week. I took the bow and Blake took the sternâ¦.I figured my head would appreciate the spatial separation
Rob lured a HUGE cubera from a boiler rock and Blake actually hooked it for 15 seconds on his 10 wt......we were all screaming like little bitches when the giant coppery garbage can turned after Rob yanked his popper away and inhaled Blakeâs fly. The fish went into convulsive full-body twisting headshakes that were almost scary to witness. This brute was at least 25 pounds heavier than the fish Stam had landed the previous night on a spinning rod.
Rob took the middle position in the Koffler while my wife shot photos and tended the beer cooler. I shot my backcasts into the rocks. Thanks to Rob's bionic shoulder, we each had shots at BIIIIIG roosters that would follow but turn away at the last second. Agonizing to witness, but you should have heard the chatter...."Here he comes! He's all over it! CAST! CAST! GET YOUR Fâing FLY IN THE WATER! HERE HE COMES! HOLY SHIT!! HE'S ON IT! HE'S ON IT!"
Blake started laughing. He runs a successful company and he said "you assholes! I'm not used to being yelled at like this, heh....jes' keep 'em comingâ¦â¦.Fâers!!!!"
Blake hooked up to a hard pulling jack lured in by the expert tease technique of Robboâ¦â¦.
Then took a little break to chill and have a beer with my wifeâ¦â¦
FLycasting from the bow of a boat bobbing around in tall waves, swirls and boiler rocks is like trying to hit a small target while standing on a mechanical bull set on high. I did almost lose my balance a couple times.....I have legs covered with bruises from it. It was awesome. You never knew when or from where the hits would come. We all worked our butts off. Every fish, every follow, every strike was earned. At one point both Rob and I were tossing the poppers and we'd be pulling fish toward Blake from two directions....Robbo and I would yelling "BLAKE! BLAKE! GET YOUR FLY OVER HERE! BLAKE! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?? BLAKE WHAT THE HELL? CAST HERE! HERE! HERE HE IS!!! Sometimes we would simply run out of room as the fish would practically slam into the side of the Koffler chasing our flies. Robbo used a musky "figure eight" once to hook a big snapper that attacked his popper literally 6 inches from the side of the boat. Amazing.
2:30 PMâ¦â¦. almost time to go in and call it a great adventure. My wrist and elbows were aching from hours of casting my stiff 12 wt flyrod. I grabbed my spinning rod and started hucking big poppers again. Robbo and Blake were both chugging Balboas. Fatigue set in from hour after hour of nonstop casting. Blake whined about sore wrists and shoulders. Mrs. Mingo was the world's best bartender, making sure we were all well hydrated with nonstop beers. What do you think happened? Of course. With those guys totally spent, I had a GIANT rooster follow my popper on the first cast. Rob saw it (his 6â8â sitting position is the same height as my 5â8â tiptoe position). It swirled once and missed my lure 10 feet from the boat. Rob immediately sprang up and started casting again, Blake stripped line from his reel and we were back in action. Another huge rooster comes inâ¦.Blake castsâ¦the fish followsâ¦and turns away. Nada. Finally Camillo says "5 minutes more, okay, guys?" Cool.
I made one final cast to a boiling cluster of rocksâ¦â¦â¦â¦.
I popped my lure twice and had a massive strike from a bluefin trevally. My drag was clamped down tight and he STILL took line. He bulldogged me hard left, then straight down, then up. Rob was standing up on the console rail and had the best vantage point.
My jack zipped right and wrapped me around two rock formations. "Mingo! Hand me your rod, I see where he is!" I gave Rob my stick and he and Camillo played cat and mouse with the fish for over 15 minutes, trying to unwrap the line. My Saltiga reel was a gift from my awesome Hawaiian brother Jon Yoshihara. Jon had set it up with his favorite 80 pound braid and a long 80 pound leader, the exact same system he uses when he chases giant trevally in Fiji. I was set up with the best possible terminal rigging thanks to his expertise, and we would have lost the fish if not for this setup and Robâs keen eyes and experience in this fisheryâ¦â¦.
After many nerve-wracking minutes Rob yelled "He's off! Mingus!!! Mingo!! He's free bro!â as he handed the wildly bucking rod back to me. Another 15 minutes of serious tug 'o war and we caught and released this beauty. An awesome end to a great day!
Back on board, Blake and I celebrated the trip with the Slappy Danceâ¦â¦..
We enjoyed one final mouth-watering snack platter prepared by the nimble hands of Jose âEl Huevosââ¦â¦.
When a girl needs a nap, she needs a place to rest her headâ¦â¦â¦â¦â¦â¦â¦..
The gang chillinâ, enjoying cold beers and the warm Panamanian sunâ¦â¦â¦
Thanks for the awesome 50th birthday present honey! I canât wait to go back!! J
The gang enjoying our final Panama sunsetâ¦â¦â¦â¦â¦until next year.
Thanks for a great adventure my friends!
Grab life by the nuts. Itâs the only one you get!!
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