The word ‘Panama’ means “Lots of Fish.” For deep sea and offshore fishing, that holds very true. For stream, lake and inshore fishing, it may have been more true in times gone by. The really good fishing in this part of the world now seems to be by boat, both small and large.
What fish can you catch in the Azuero?
The Azuero is on the Pacific side of Panama, which is said to have a greater variety of fish than the Carribean side. Depending on where you are along the coastline, species could include dorado, wahoo, pargo, amberjack, grouper, Pacific sailfish, tuna, dolphinfish, blue fin trevally, red snapper, and the delicious corvina. One of these might weigh in from two to over one hundred pounds.
In the Azuero most beaches have large lava patches that extend well into the water. It is possible to fish off these lava flows, but “you will be lucky to catch anything there.” I’m told artificial bait works best for this. Spinners will net you spiny lobsters or bait fish you can use elsewhere.
Puerto Mensabe is at the mouth of a river, and local fishermen who fish the deeper waters tie up there. As they frequently throw the offal from cleaning their catch into the water, crocodiles also ‘tie up’ in that area. It is not safe to swim near there.
But you can catch fish in the river or in the ocean from the shore just beyond the mouth. Live bait is recommended. Shrimp or minnow-sized fish to use for bait are easy to catch there with a casting net.
It’s much better to get a small boat and go ‘drift fishing.’ In most areas the shelf drops off beyond the surf about a half mile or so from shore. The water is 300 feet deep in some places. There, where it is too deep to anchor, you can throw your anchor out and let your boat drift. You can even use a rubber raft for this purpose if the weather is suitable. Otherwise, try to get a local fisherman to take you out. The price is usually quite reasonable and can be as low as $10. This close in, you might catch corvina or pargo, even a shark or a large dolfinfish.
Deep Water Fishing
For deep water fishing you will want to charter an experienced captain. There are lots of different factors involved in creating a successful day on the water, including specialized equipment, a thorough knowledge of weather patterns, safety regulations, and fishing locations. Most of the local hotels down in the Pedasi area will have someone they can recommend.
Other Fishing Options
Lake Gatun has pretty good fishing, I’m told, with plenty of hungry large mouth peacock bass, up to about six pounds.
According to my source, “It ain’t happening.” He tells me that Boquete claims they are seeding areas with trout, but when he fished the area there were none bigger than an inch or so. In several trips to the area, he never caught one of a decent size.
Here in the Azuero, the streams are few and far between, and mostly fish-less.
My source’s summary of fishing here? “Unless you take a boat out, the fishing sucks.”