Panama is a world-class fishing destination known for its fast and furious reeling-in of monster species such as blue, black, and striped marlin; yellow-fin tuna; wahoo; and swordfish. Marlin and tuna are most abundant from January to April, but fishing takes place year-round. The Pacific Ocean is where the best fishing is—there’s also fishing in the Caribbean, but the infrastructure (marinas and such) isn’t well developed. Anglers looking for a sure bet can’t beat Lake Gatún for peacock bass—throw your line in and in minutes you’ll snag one.
Fishing charters are available for day and multiday excursions, either as part of a trip organized by a competent operator or by simply hiring a local boatman to take you out on the water. Custom sport-fishing tours head to the Pearl Islands, the Gulf of Chiriquí (around Coiba Island), and Piñas Bay—the latter is home to the Tropic Star Lodge (see below), and when they’re sold out, a fishing charter is a good second option. Charters typically include transportation, meals, fishing gear, and bilingual or native-English-speaking guides.
Pesca Panama (tel. 844/264-2246 in the U.S.) is a U.S.–based company that offers inshore and offshore sport-fishing in the Gulf of Chiriquí around Coiba and Hannibal Bank. Pesca guests fish from a fleet of five Ocean Masters, a 17-foot panga, and four ocean kayaks. Prices vary considerably between itineraries.
Panama Fishing & Catching (tel. 6622-0212) has custom charters with prices that vary according to group size and desires. It offers multiday offshore fishing charters (prices run from bare-bones to all-inclusive), as well as day trips in central Panama.
Tropic Star Lodge (Bahía Piña, Darién; tel. 800/682- 3424 in the U.S.) is considered the best saltwater fishing resort in the world for its monster black and blue marlin, sailfish, and more. American-run, the prestigious lodge has been around since the early 1960s and is located on the remote shore of Piñas Bay in the Darién Province. The lodge draws famous VIPs but is homey enough for families with kids.
Gone Fishing Panama Resort (Boca Chica; tel. 6573-0151) is a fishing lodge with friendly American owners and comfortable, ranch-style accommodations on the shores of Boca Chica. The focus is on fishing around the Gulf of Chiriquí, aboard one of the lodge’s two 9.4m (31-ft.) open boats, but there are also activities for nonfishing guests.
Panama Big Game Sportfishing Club (Boca Chica; tel. 866/281-1225 in the U.S.), like the aforementioned lodges, is American owned, in this case by two retired charter-boat skippers from Miami. The club is located near the Gone Fishing Lodge in Boca Chica and has four upscale teak cabins perched high on a hill, offering lovely views. The lodge has four fishing boats to accommodate all guests.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.