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San José Island and Hacienda del Mar
On San José Island in the Pearl Island archipelago is the Hacienda del Mar hotel, which offers trips around the archipelago’s shallow Pacific waters, including charter trips to Piñas Bay. The continental shelf extends for miles across the Pearl Island archipelago, housing 90 volcanic islands which form a wealth of underwater structure praised by sport-fishing enthusiasts, including islets such as the famous “Three Monks” just 200 meters from the shores of San José Island. These islands provide a varied shoreline of beaches, hundreds of small bays, rocky points, steep drop offs, sea mounts, and river mouths serving as sea life habitats.
The Pearl Islands don’t suffer fishing dry spells. “Even though some species are seasonal, Las Perlas has the advantage of being the recipient of the gulf of Panama upwelling creating the conditions for sustaining great quantities of different demersal species like Great Amberjack, Red Snapper, Broomtail Grouper and others right at the time pelagic species are scarce,” explains George Novey, owner of the Hacienda del Mar hotel. “As the waters get warmer in the month of June the pelagic species make their big entrance, with great abundance of Dolphin, Tuna, Sailfish, Marlin and Wahoo.”
The Hacienda del Mar has four boats available for half- and full-day shore or deep-sea fishing excursions. The boat options include a 22-foot Eduardoño with 70-HP gasoline engine, a 26-foot Shamrock with a 240-HP diesel engine, and two Shamrock Tunas—one gasoline and one diesel. Unless you are into fly and light tackle, everything from 20 lb. to 80 lb. gear is available. Equipment and lures for trolling, spinning, popping, and jigging, plus artificial, light and heavy lines are available.
The lovely restaurant, perched on a rocky promontory, will skillfully cook up your day’s catch. For overnight stays, spacious cottages and VIP suites line the property’s edge, all with sea views. (See our Hacienda del Mar hotel review for more details).
Coral Star on Hannibal Bank
Above Hannibal Bank floats the Coral Star operation, a 115 foot mothership or "floating lodge" with a fleet of seven, totally retrofitted sport boats with twin Yan Mars up to 380 HP. All boats are brand new except for the hulls which have been gel coated and painted.
“We enjoy fishing the Hannibal Bank,” says Sherri Wilson, Coral Star Office Reservation Manager. “But if fishing is not there, we have the ability to pull anchor and go to where the fish are.”
On the Coral Star, fishing is 24/7. “You actually wake up on the ‘fishing grounds’,” says Wilson. “When we say the first day of fishing you fish up to five hours, the second through the fifth day of fishing you fish up to 12 hours, and the on the sixth day of fishing you fish up to eight hours—this is ‘true fishing time’ and not a ‘boat ride’.”
Fishing gurus Dennis and Teresa Braid coined Panama an “angler’s paradise.” Whether you are interested in big game or inshore fishing, Panama’s rich and diverse coastline and supportive weather patterns present a low risk for anglers desirous of success.
Ira Lobis, a repeat visitor to the Tropic Star Lodge over the past twenty years, didn’t reel in a prized marlin on his first day out. His response: “It’s still more than I’d catch back home in a day.” In partial agreement, his wife Cindy quipped, “in a season.”
Story and photos by Beverly Gallagher
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