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CM Tackle Visits the Perlas Island Chain in Panama

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  1. Just returned from a really special trip to a chain of small islands approximately 60 / 80 miles off the coast of Panama City, Panama. What made this trip really special was the opportunity to fish and live as "locals" and enjoy an offshore fishery that is truly unique, remote and generally not available to Americans. Kevin and I brought and fished exclusively Temple Reef rods as Alta Pesca's staff wanted to see them in action prior to taking the line on as the exclusive dealers for Panama. We also experimented with the new Ballista Poppersaccessories and back support belts. We also threw quite a bit of our go to lures, the $10Salas surface irons (swimbaits).

    I've uploaded the videos (unedited) to our youtube channel so you can see the bends of the rods in action.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s4qLlnOdrYM

    Since we where to spend three days offshore, rather than spend alot of money for a hotel, we opted to rent an apartment in one of the many newly constructed buildings. It was very modern and we where the third people to rent it so it was really clean and nice.



    The apartment had a full kitchen and washer/dryer which was great to wash our clothes after two days offshore

    Some History I found online and learned from our hosts, Alta Pesca Pro Shop in Panama City, Panama.

    In pre-Columbian times, the Pearl Islands were ruled by an Indian king whose subjects’ main occupation was pearl-diving. Pearls were then used as ornaments and objects of trade. Some of the most renowned pearls in the world were collected in these waters.
    
The Pearl Islands precipitated the greed of the Spaniards. Vasco Nuñez de Balboa, who discovered and gave name to the Pacific Ocean from a point less than 90 kilometers 45 miles from San Jose Island, was attracted by its wealth in gold and pearls. Later on, the Pearl Islands sheltered famous pirates of different nationalities who, for several centuries, looted the wealthy Spanish fleet and settlements.

    

Finally the United States used the Pearl Islands as a forward listening post and at some point during WWIIl populated the Island with White Tail Deer and Boar for sport hunting and food. They also built the dirt runaway which is still in use today by the island's owner, the President of Copa Airlines. Unfortunately the island was also used for bomb practice and many unexploded bombs are still located on the island to this day ( of course non too close to the resort but the Indians do routinely report seeing them).

    Our adventure begins in Panama City where our hosts collected us and drove to the Marina over the Bay causeway. Many of you from the first trips might remember the causeway and marina where we had lunch in the place with the glass floor allowing a view of the fish below. There are also some small shops there and its a popular place to walk/jog on the weekends.

    So we load-up Jan's '33 Worldcat with enough ice, food, rods and tackle to support the trip. Its easy the marina is like a golf club, we had three or four porters and they made short work of hundreds of pounds of ice, gear, food, etc via some pretty nice carts. 







    The boat is really nice with everything you could need or want for offshore fishing, once underway we make 33 mph at 1.2/1.3 with sprints to as much as 40 during the day when we had good light, the beam is amazing wide excellent stable platform for fishing. 

    Shot of Panama City Coastline as we make our way across the bay 

    Last edited by Dashing Dan; 10-13-2013 at 11:24 AM.

    Available at more than 50 Shops in the US and 10 shops overseas including Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Costa Rica, Panama, and South Africa!

    Please visit our website or send a P/M for a dealer near you 

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    Dan Harley 

    Customer Service / Issues / Questions / Problems
    24x7x365 609-435-2788
    Shop 610-721-6999

    https://tacklenow.com

    dan@capemaytackle.com

     

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    We make our way to the largest of the Islands, San Jose, that supports a very small and exclusive eco-type resort consisting of 17 small cabanas and one large main building housing the bar, restaurant, additional bathrooms and a viewing deck.





    Here we are having breakfast in the main house on Saturday our first full day of fishing. We stopped and fished some weedline on the way out Friday night but only picked a few small mahi off it.





    Hotel has a natural spring feed pool with no chorine



    There is no dock or marina, to gain access to the island you radio in and an Indian comes in a small canoe to a very small zodiac which then comes to the boat to take you to the beach. It was a bit interesting the first night at dusk, but we mastered it by the second day. Having a waterproof HPA bag(s) is an absolute must.







    Last edited by Dashing Dan; 10-11-2013 at 10:57 PM.

    Available at more than 50 Shops in the US and 10 shops overseas including Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Costa Rica, Panama, and South Africa!

    Please visit our website or send a P/M for a dealer near you 

    https://tacklenow.com

    https://www.facebook.com/cmtackle


    Dan Harley 

    Customer Service / Issues / Questions / Problems
    24x7x365 609-435-2788
    Shop 610-721-6999

    https://tacklenow.com

    dan@capemaytackle.com

     

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    Most of the structures on the island are constructed of local woods especially a type of sugar cane that is as large and strong as bamboo. We stayed three to a cabana as the Island is fairly pricey and it was just a place to crash for a few hours sleep anyway. On the second day, I discovered there were actually additional larger bathrooms and showers in the main lodge so it made it faster in the morning.

















    Last edited by Dashing Dan; 10-10-2013 at 09:55 PM.

    Available at more than 50 Shops in the US and 10 shops overseas including Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Costa Rica, Panama, and South Africa!

    Please visit our website or send a P/M for a dealer near you 

    https://tacklenow.com

    https://www.facebook.com/cmtackle


    Dan Harley 

    Customer Service / Issues / Questions / Problems
    24x7x365 609-435-2788
    Shop 610-721-6999

    https://tacklenow.com

    dan@capemaytackle.com

     

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    The place is really nice, its rustic not commercialized, very small in terms of the overall size of the island. 



    At night you hear the ocean crashing on the nearby beach, the calls of the birds woke up before first light and we had a light breakfast that is served buffet style.

    Good, strong Panamanian coffee, boiled eggs, toast, oatmeal, homemade cakes, meats/cheeses. We ate quickly as everyone was excited to get to fishing. We radioed for the zodiac and were transported out to the waiting Cat, 3 at at time. The mate had the job of sleeping on the boat to keep everything safe, after all we are 60 miles off the coast of Panama, basically in the middle of nowhere.

    First light view from the dining hall deck



    The ocean is remarkably flat, the skies are clear, our hosts Jan, Loki, Jose and from Alta Pesca Tackle Shop are as excited as we are about the amazingly good weather as its been raining for weeks nearly everyday inPanama City.

    The guys want to make bait, we run to a series of small islands and using sabiki rigs we quickly fill both the live wells with hardy and very large blue runners (Corinbuas) as "insurance" - our hosts are already concerned that the gin clear water might not prove right for jigging as most of the spots prove to be very shallow. Starting with the poppers and Salas 7X - we find action immediately.

    My first cast of a Blue/White Salas is picked up my a Wahoo or large Spanish Mac - a short sizzingly run and then nothing but a cleanly cut leader. Dan -1, we are keeping score - our hosts are seasoned tournament anglers and professional ball busters its going to be a fun weekend!

    Next cast, I'm picked up again and so is Kevin, we are latched onto stubborn Amico Jacks, excellent table fare and hard fighters. The Temple Reef STK 7'8" HH rods make quick work of these reef donkeys 









    Last edited by Dashing Dan; 10-10-2013 at 10:14 PM.

    Available at more than 50 Shops in the US and 10 shops overseas including Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Costa Rica, Panama, and South Africa!

    Please visit our website or send a P/M for a dealer near you 

    https://tacklenow.com

    https://www.facebook.com/cmtackle


    Dan Harley 

    Customer Service / Issues / Questions / Problems
    24x7x365 609-435-2788
    Shop 610-721-6999

    https://tacklenow.com

    dan@capemaytackle.com

     

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    The Jacks are plentiful and provide good action but they can really test you and your gear, knots, leaders. In spots we are fishing as shallow as 20 feet and the water is very clear, you can see all kinds of structure rocks and giant boulders keep our Captains on their toes no doubt you have to know these waters or it could be very dangerous but these guys have been fishing these areas since their late teens and they really know them well.

    We are fishing pretty much 100% drag at this point and #100 Varivas and #80 Yozuri leaders. Even so, from time to time the fish are winning and a few lures are lost to the Jacks. Our host Favo is a cook and swears these big jacks the Amicos are good eating so we do take a few.









    They really provided good action with as many as three or four on at once







    At many of the deeper spots we also trying jigging but it didn't produce very much

    Last edited by Dashing Dan; 10-10-2013 at 10:44 PM.

    Available at more than 50 Shops in the US and 10 shops overseas including Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Costa Rica, Panama, and South Africa!

    Please visit our website or send a P/M for a dealer near you 

    https://tacklenow.com

    https://www.facebook.com/cmtackle


    Dan Harley 

    Customer Service / Issues / Questions / Problems
    24x7x365 609-435-2788
    Shop 610-721-6999

    https://tacklenow.com

    dan@capemaytackle.com

     

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    Loki! Nice fish!!!!



    Last edited by Dashing Dan; 10-11-2013 at 08:10 AM.

    Available at more than 50 Shops in the US and 10 shops overseas including Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Costa Rica, Panama, and South Africa!

    Please visit our website or send a P/M for a dealer near you 

    https://tacklenow.com

    https://www.facebook.com/cmtackle


    Dan Harley 

    Customer Service / Issues / Questions / Problems
    24x7x365 609-435-2788
    Shop 610-721-6999

    https://tacklenow.com

    dan@capemaytackle.com

     

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    The first full day fishing was Saturday, we had risen at 5:00AM, eaten and left the island by 6PM, now at 4:30PM or so we start the 16 or so mile ride back to Isla San Jose to spend the night. Our hosts had brought everything needed to make cevchie 
    15 limes, salt, sugar, hot sauce, white onion, red onion and in no time flat Favo was dicing the Amico Jack fillets into chicklet sized pieces. 

    (this shots are on Kevin's camera)

    The lime juice cooked the fish and we enjoyed with some rum at the pool before dinner.

    Dinner the first night was good - we ordered right off the menu but tonight with fresh Amico and Wahoo we where ready to feast.

    (more shots off Kevin's Camera)


    Last day fishing we want to focus on Roosterfish but they prove to be impossible to catch, with the faster and far more fearless Jacks being a real problem. Our hosts recommend we try some bottom fishing and we agree!

    Our first mystery fish fought extremely hard and almost took Kevin overboard, to keep him out of the rocks, Loki bumps up the drag, fish makes a run and Kevin gets dragged into the corner, just couldn't stop the fish and we get reefed on that one, nothing comes back up but torn up #150 leader.

    I'm up next and I max out the drag on the rod, seeking what has just happened to Kevin. Its not long till I feel something below pickup my bait, a live giant blue runner and its not long till the rod is doubled over in a U.

    I'm determined to keep what I know is a very good fish out of the rocks, but its not easy - the reel is strong but at 6.2:1 its near impossible for me to turn the handle and I resort to pumping the fish to gain some line. Slowly and stubbornly I begin to gain some line and Jan assures me I have him out of the rocks and can take a breath but there is no resting I figure I have another 150 feet to go or so.

    I am realing him up carefully and just waiting for a chance to see him, when Loki yells color "oh es muy grande Dan" now I'm really excited but I cannot see the fish and I don't want to get distracted, i see more of the guys looking down and Favo and Jan are holding gaffs at the ready. When the Grouper finally surfaces its high fives all around, a beautiful Broomtail Grouper, my size of this size class. We recover and get a weight on the Boca - he maxed it out but Jan estimates at least #64 pounds.