Game On 2 in Panama a photo report

Photo report from Game On 2 Panama shoot.

What a great operation they have at Pesca Panama. This is our floating lodge or floating bar as the case may be. They would move it every day to a new location while we were out fishing.
Pesca Panama home base
I don’t seem to have any photos of the support boats but they were top notch. Twin four strokes, full electronics and a huge bimini top to keep the sun off while on the boat. This was huge as when the sun was out it was blistering hot. Lucky we had plenty of cloud cover to keep the heat down a bit. Water temp was 86.5
We are talking long fishing days also, basically fishing dawn till dusk or even later if you take too long on a fish.
We were all very excited to get on our kayaks as we were told we would be the first kayak anglers to fish much of these amazing waters.
The first day of the trip we got into some real nice Roosters with my biggest being close to forty pounds, unfortunately no still shots of that fish but here is one of the others I got on a live bait.
Jim and Roosterfish
Here is Ken Releasing another
 Ken releasing roosterfish

We spent a lot of time fishing the inshore structure with Sebile poppers and magic swimmers, and you never knew what might hit.
Sometimes Jack Crevalle
Jim Sammons and Jack Crevalle
Cubera Snapper
Jim Sammons Cubera Snapper
Blue Trevally
Blue Trevally

We were fishing in some nasty neighborhoods and these fish were tough, wanting to pull us into the rocks and the surf. We lost a lot of lures to these fish in the rocks. You basically just buttoned your drag and at times would have to paddle the fish out of the surf zone. The pictures don’t do justice to just how gnarly these spots were. It sure was nice to be in our Ocean Kayak Trident 13’s has they handle the rough conditions so well.
Blow hole
fishing the rocks
fishing the rocks
kayak fishing the rocks in Panama
When it wasn’t hot it was raining
The Storm is coming
Paul kayak fishing in the rain
Our Videographer/Director Will in a down pour
Will Richardson getting wet in Panama

As we were moving from one island to another we saw a huge school of porpoise and swung by to check it out. Saw some tuna jumping so we tossed the kayaks in the water to give them a shot. Chased some boils and tossed out a surface popper right on top of one with my little Shimano 300 Calcutta and got slammed on the first crank.
Rather like taking a knife to a gun fight.
Jim Sammons Kayak Fishing for 38 pound tuna
Paul and I each got one his going 42 pounds and mine 38, note the porpoise behind Paul.
Paul Lebowitz Tuna and dolphin
Paul Lebowitz and Jim Sammons Kayak Fishing for tuna
Back near one of the islands we were told about a spot they called the Snook hole for a good reason. These were our first Snook ever.
Paul Lebowitz kayak fishing for Snook in Panama
Jim Sammons first kayak fishing snook

After fishing the Snook hole we decided to investigate a small tidal river. As soon as we got on the water we spotted a couple of very small crocs sinking out as we approached.
Hunting for saltwater crocs
Paul and I each caught small snappers in the river.
As we came around this bend a VERY LARGE salt water Croc Flew off the bank which was about four feet high and landed just a few feet off my bow. I think I levitated out of my kayak; needless to say this is where we turned around. The camera was rolling at the time so I am dyeing to see if they got it on tape.
The croc spot

One of the spots that I was really looking forward to fishing while in Panama was the famed Hanibal bank. This place is famous for big tuna and billfish and I really wanted to try our luck out there for a couple of days. As we would be the first kayak anglers ever to fish this spot. Unfortunately there was a medical emergency on the barge which kept it in one location for an extra day so all we got at the bank was one late afternoon. That turned out to be enough.
As we pulled up to the bank several of our other fishing boats from the barge were just leaving saying that no fish had been landed all morning. I made the comment to Paul and the rest that once they left the kayaks would take over and do some business. We all put out live baits and trolled the area in the kayaks in the 97 degree heat, which Ken was really having a hard time with, what do you expect from a Canadian. The baits we were using were large live Bonita, if we were going to get hit it would be by something big. An hour into trolling my bait go nailed and instantly popped off. You never know how many chances you will get so I was bummed. I pinned on another Bonita and was off again. The issue I was having was that with these big baits it was hard to get the lever drag reel set in a good spot to hold the baits in place but not be so tight that the fish couldn’t run with it. Well I saw some bird working in the distance and decided to head that way, I tighten down the drag a bit so I could paddle harder and got hit and popped again. This time I was pissed, the other guys had not been hit at all and I didn’t know how many chances I would get. I put on another bait this time a smaller goggle eye which would let me troll a bit faster. I was chasing the bird very hard for over a mile and was really running out of steam by the time I reached them in the extreme heat. I had just slowed down to rest a bit and got SLAMMED. I let it run a bit threw it in gear and it was Game On.
I don’t think I have ever pulled this hard on a fish, thank God for the Shimano Tiagra 12 two speed reel loaded with 50 pound PowerPro braided line I was using. The fish had my rod pegged to the rail for much of the fight ad that two speed allowed me to still gain line. In these clear waters I think the Berkley Vanish fluorocarbon leaders really helped us get bit.
Jim Sammons Bendo on a BIG tuna from his kayak
I had the fish to color in a little over an hour and when I saw how big it was I was amazed. I had the guys from the camera boat toss me a gaff and I gave it my best shot. It was rather like gaffing a stick of dynamite as when the gaff it the fish it just exploded.
Jim Sammons attempts to gaff a large tuna from a kayak
I think all I really did was piss the fish off, as it smoked off a ton of my line not to be seen again for another two hours.
By the time I got the fish back up to color my body was a wreck, my arms were dying, my hand were cramping and the always problematic muscles in my back were one big knot. The sun was starting the set and we did not want to lose this fish or fight it into the night, you would know why if you saw some of the huge Bull sharks we saw and the fast approaching lighting storm heading our way. I had the boat come in close and let them stick the gaff in the fish, good thing too because again the fish exploded and it took two gaffs to get it in the boat.
Jim Sammons with 120 pound tuna on the deck of his kayak

Happy Landing

Happy Landing

Jim Sammons with 120 pound tuna on the boat
We were not able to weigh the fish but our boat captain estimates the weight to be 120 pounds. All I know for sure is that I could not lift the fish from the deck of the boat. The picture about does not do the fish justice because its tail is still on the deck with a good bend in the fish. Great fish and a great day.

Many Rum and cokes followed up this catch and lots of Motrin for my sore muscles.
Panama is my new favorite place. The fishing and scenery were absolutely off the charts.

On a side note you will notice that in most shots we are not wearing PFDs, I am a strong proponent of wearing a life vest when out on the kayaks. The reason we are not wearing them is that the Kayaks, paddles and PFDs were all shipped to Panama in advance of our trip and the PFDs simply didn’t show up.

On another note, in this picture you can see my new favorite fishing shirt. The Exofficio Neptune.
Jim in the Exofficio Neptune shirt
It kept me cool in the blazing sun but also after getting blasted with fish blood washed up like it was brand new.

Panama is definitely a place I want to go back to, even though we put in very long hours on the kayaks I know we barely scratched the surface of possibilities on what a kayak angler can do here.

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