by Nolan Booth, Director of Lodge Operations
With the polar bear safari season fast approaching, boss Mike decided some of the management should get out and do some fishing. So out comes the plan for myself and Doreen to join Mike and Jeanne in Panama.
Day one was all travel to get to a private island and join Sport Fish Panama Island Lodge owner Shane at his amazing location. We arrived around 1 p.m. and spent the rest of the day snorkeling at the beach and checking out our new home for the week.
Day 2 began early and we were soon on our way to the tuna grounds. It turns out it should be called tuna hunting and not tuna fishing. Looking for birds hunting from the air and dolphins hunting from below are the first two steps. After that Shane gets us in front of the herd and the live baits hit the water. Everywhere we look tuna and dolphins are breaching and frigatebirds are leading the charge of sea birds diving out of the sky, hitting the water and enjoying a feast.
BANG! Fish on! After 20 minutes I gave up exhausted and passed the rod to Mike so he could take over the fight. Twenty minutes later a 90-pound tuna was in the boat.
We all figured that was the craziest thing we had ever seen, until it began all over again. This time Mike was casting poppers. We had talked earlier about how cool it would be to watch a tuna leap out of the water to attack a surface popper.
Then it happened!
A gigantic tuna breached full body out of the water and came down hard on Mike’s 8-inch popper. Mike fought the beast from the deep for the first 30 minutes before handing the rod to me to try and finish up. I pulled on our second tuna for another half an hour or so and finally landed the monster. There was no official weight recorded but numbers thrown around by the Captain and First Mate estimated it to be over 210 pounds. It certainly looked the part in the photos!
Not to be outdone, Jeanne showed the guys up when she pulled in an 80-pounder by herself. It was an epic struggle but she held her form perfectly to battle the giant into the boat. Shane and Juan were just as impressed as we were after watching that tussle. It was what fisherman would call a fabulous day on the water by any standards, and it just happened to be our first day on the grounds.
Mike and I will head to the tuna grounds bright and early tomorrow in an effort to top an incredible day on the water, while the ladies will enjoy some beach time and explore this island paradise. They will however, soon be back in tuna country.
Doreen is already getting pumped up for battle.