IFD: Panama must rank as one of the worlds top fishing destinations. Here we talk to Sam Wadman of Panama Kayak adventures who is a well travelled global angler about the kayak fishing they provide.
Can you tell us about what makes Panama so special as a fishing destination?
In the native American Indian language of the Guarani people, ‘Panama’ literally means….. ‘Place of many fish’.
It’s a small country of only three million people with stunning, varied coastline on both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. There is huge biodiversity, especially on the Pacific side where we are. As an anger you are completely spoilt for choice with many exciting species to target.
The fish grow big, they look incredible, they fight hard and there’s plenty of them- it’s world class saltwater game fishing!
Our eco lodge is situated right on the beach in a beautiful, sheltered bay and is backed by the lush rain forest and mountains of the Cerro Hoya National park. It’s a privilege to fish in such an unspoiled, pristine place with zero fishing pressure. We call it the ‘Wild Coast’.
What are the highlights from a species perspective?
For many of the anglers that come to visit our lodge, ‘The big Three’ have to be the Cubera snapper, Roosterfish and Amberjack. All of these species are incredible sporting fish that provide an exciting challenge.
We specialise in popping and jigging for these amazing beasts from kayaks and are blessed with many trophy sized fish every year. We have even caught some very fine specimens from the beach and the rocks right in front of the lodge! We have our own Wild coast Grand slam if your lucky enough to catch all three species in a day.
Yellowfin tuna are another species that are in abundance and we are located in one of the few spots in the world where you can catch them almost within a stones throw of the shore at times. Ranging from several pounds right up to several hundred pound, they really pull some string and provide epic battles that will leave your arms stretched and a big smile.
We have five other different species of Snapper, several Grouper species (includng the Goliath and Broomtail), Dorado, Wahoo, Pacific Snook, Blue Trevally, Golden Trevally, Pompano, Jack Crevalles, Black Marlin, Sailfish, Sharks and many more. Some groups have had in excess on thirty species in a week, such is the variety available.
Can you talk us through the seasonal fishing calender?
Our fishing season begins in December, which is a stunning time to visit. The dry season is beginning and everything is lush and green from the previous months of rain, The ‘Wild Coast’ is looking at it’s best. The larger Yellowfin Tuna are around (they come closer to shore in the rainy season) and there are also good numbers of Dorado and some Wahoo to be found.
The changing of the seasons really fires up the Cubera Snapper and Roosterfish inshore. The tail end of the rainy season is also the best time for those big Pacific Snook.
January through to April is our dry season and we find that the bait schools up along our coastline then. Cubera Snapper are at their most numerous and can provide excellent sport.
Top water fishing with poppers and stick baits is generally very good during these months and the roosters can show up at any time, with some big specimens thrown in the mix.
During this period, we get upwellings of cold water which can concentrate the fish on the reefs and structure just offshore. The jigging sport can be very good at this time. This is when we find good numbers of Almaco Jacks and Amberjack, broomtail grouper, Yellowtail Snappers, Pompano and many other reef species.
We have been finding some impressive Roosterfish on our jigging marks too, they seem to be very keen on a well presented slow jig.
There are often large schools of Yellowfin Tuna around close to the shore during the dry season, in fact they are present most of the year. These large schools tend to be the smaller fish, up to 40lb, and throwning poppers at them provides exiting sport.
From April, some very impressive Black Marlin are to be found on the Aguja reef and migrating along our coastline, well within our reach from the lodge. Slow trolling Bonito livebait is the key to success here. Sailfish numbers are starting to increase also and are at their peak by June.
As the rains start to ease their way back in at this time of year we find it brings the bigger tuna back inshore and within reach of our kayak anglers. With fish that can be well in excess of 100lb, they present a serious challenge. The Dorado are also not far behind.
This is merely a guide to our main species and seasons. With fishing being fishing , we often get surprises throughout the year and you can never be too sure exactly what’s going to turn up on the ‘Wild Coast’, which makes for exciting fishing. One thing you can be sure of finding year round are planty of different Snapper species (including the Cubera), Roosterfish, all the different Jack species and plenty of tuna.
How long is the flight and how best to get there?
There are no direct flights to Panama City (Tocumen International airport) from Ireland or the UK. It’s necessary to make a transfer in mainland Europe, Canada or the USA, through either Amsterdam, Madrid, Frankfurt, Miami, Atlanta or Toronto.
Prices vary depending on which carrier and route you choose to use but it’s a reasonable fare and there are some good deals to be found online. The flight time from Europe is between ten and eleven hours. We feel that this is the best route to take as it avoids the lengthy security procedures in the USA.
What packages can you guys provide for visiting anglers?
We offer packages that include your transfers with six nights stay and five full days fishing at our lodge. This includes your accommodation in our beautiful double occupancy cabins, thee excellent meals a day and all of your fishing.
We pick you up in Panama City in a private air-conditioned minibus and bring you down to the end of the road on the ‘Wild Coast’. From here it’s an hour and twenty minutes by boat into the wilds to our lodge. We do not include flights in our package.
Kayak fishing: We can cater for groups of up to six kayak anglers at a time and provide fully kitted out ‘Hobie Outback’ peddle kayaks for our guests. These are very stable and manaeuverable craft, you have your hands free for fishing at all times. We have two custom built super pango boats that we load the kayaks and anglers into, we then fish different spots up and down our vast stretch of deserted coastline every day. this way there’s no launching of the kayaks from the beach which can be difficult at times, we also get to put you on the best fishing spots every day.
How does the climate vary throughout the year?
The ‘Wild Coast’ has two main seasons. Wet and Dry. The temperature is fairly constant throughout the year averaging between 28 and 34 celsius. The dry season is typically from January through to April when temperatures are at their highest and humidity is low from April through to June/July then we have some occasional showers and rain here and there.
From August through until November is considered the wet season with rain and thunderstorms on a fairly regular basis. The temperature is a little lower due to the cloud cover and the humidity is high. By December the rain is easing off and the dry season just around the corner.
A lot of work had to be put into building the lodge can you tell us more about this?
Building a fishing lodge on the ‘Wild Coast’ was a great challenge for Pascal as there is no road access and he decided to use only drift wood and fallen trees from the rain forest. He and his team had to carry the materials by boat and transport the wood down from the mountains using horses. All of the timbers and planks that were used to build the lodge had to be formed from the fallen trees that were dragged out of the forest. This was done using only a chainsaw.
It took a whole year to build all of the structures that make up the ‘Tembladera Fishing lodge’ today. We have four double occupancy cabins and a main rancho which contains the staff quarters, kitchen and the main dining/lounge area. The lodge is a 100% sustainable eco-lodge, powered by solar panels. We pipe down fresh water from the mountains which is a high pressure, gravity system. This supplies the private bathrooms to the rear of each cabin which include a shower, basin and a compost toilet.
The lodge is beautifully designed and entirely in keeping with the environment in which it is situated and from where it comes. It’s a very special place, a pleasure and a luxury to be totally self-reliant in such remote area.
Anything extra anglers need to bring?
Most anglers bring their own fishing tackle. However we can provide hire gear if necessary at a very reasonable rate. It is all excellent stuff from Shimano, Daiwa, and St. Croix. The beauty of our hire gear is that all you need to bring is your terminal tackle, lures jigs, leaders etc…… all the rods and reels are here waiting for you. It certainly makes for easy travelling. We also provide a comprehensive list of lures and terminal tackle that you should bring to put you in with the best chance of success.
Other than that, we advise you bring the appropriate sun protection clothing and sunscreen, if you’re comfortable and well protected you’re going to have a great time.
And don’t forget your camera!
What has been your own favourite memory so far?
My first trip to the lodge a few years back was just incredible. It blew me away. The location was beyond my wildest dream. I knew it was going to be good from the photos I had been sent by Pascal, but the reality of it was something else. As a well travelled, global fisherman I thought I had seen it all. However ‘The Wild Coast’ was in another league.
The fishing was exceptional. In five days I managed to catch trophy sized Cubera Snapper, Amberjack, Wahoo, Blue Trevally and huge numbers of other species. All on lures and jigs and achieving the ‘Wild Coast Grand Slam’. The highlight was undoubtedly the capture of my two 70lb class Roosterfish in consecutive days. I will never forget the sight of those huge Roosters appearing behind my popper. With their dorsal combs scything through the water, slashing at the lure, before inhaling it and giving me incredible fights…….. That’s got to be the top angling experience of my life!
How can people go about making a booking?
If you’d like to find out about our prices, availability or make a booking then you can find us on Facebook or check out our website. Just search for ‘Panama Kayak Adventure’. Send us a message or email us on Panamakayakadventure@gmail.com
Our prices are incredibly reasonable, it’s cheaper than you’d think. We want to share our special little corner of paradise with you and make it accessible for everyone. We’re taking bookings now for next season. Come and join us.