I first fished in Panama in 1995 and the fishing was spectacular; the best blue water fishing I had come across anywhere in the world. Due to other destinations calling and the sale of my scaffolding company, followed by my leaving the UK and building my own fishing resort here in Thailand www.gillhamsfishingresorts.com it was to be 17 years before I made a return. I had kept in touch with the fishing over there and friends told me it was still as good as ever, but it was still with a niggle of a doubt that I made plans to return. Nothing lasts forever and with the Japanese continuing to rape the oceans I was not convinced, so it was a pleasant surprise to find the fishing and country had hardly changed.
Up until August 2011 the plan to return to Panama had not entered my head, that is until my old mate Dave Plummer brought one of his guided trips to our resort. Dave has fished the world and is up with the top names in catching numerous big fish around the world, nowadays Dave works with Angling Direct guiding trips around the globe. Angling Direct run trips to Gillhams and last year decided to try a guided trip with Dave, which was a great successes and is now a yearly event on Dave’s tour list. While sitting one evening in our restaurant overlooking the lake, watching monster fish rolling to a perfect sunset and sipping ice cold beers, Dave asked me where in all the places I have fished would I like to return to. My first answer was Jarbu Lodge on Croker Island near Darwin in Australia, owned and run by my good friend Rob Hunt. But as I go there every year running group trips with friends and clients, it didn’t really count, so it had to be Panama.
Dave told me of the place he goes to called Paradise Lodge, out came his camera, and he showed me pictures of huge fish and the lodge. Immediately plans were put in place for a trip in July, and contacting my old chubby mate Richard Foster plus other friends we soon had a group of six booked and champing at the bit to sample what truly did look like paradise. Flights were booked for the long journey from Thailand, which involved flights from Krabi to Bangkok, Bangkok to Taipei, Taipei to Los Angelis and finally LA to Panama City. The journey was gruelling with 48 hours’ travelling.
We decided to take two days in Panama City to get over the flight, and arriving in the evening we met up with John Duffy who had flown in the night before. Aaron Hyde arrived a few hours after us, and we met up in the hotel bar for what was supposed to be a quiet drink before an early night. Sitting in the bar the departing group who had been the week before us turned up – two friends and clients of ours, Paul Quenet and Nick Peat. A quiet drink soon developed into a full-blown piss-up, and while swapping fishy stories and ogling the local talent the night went into the wee hours. Waking up the next morning at the crack of 11am with stinking hangovers, we all went sightseeing and were pleasantly surprised to find a vibrant modern city. That night Richard Foster and Andy Hales arrived, but I had picked up a bug and spent the night tucked up in the pit and missed another booze-up!
The following morning our motley crew flew from Panama City on an internal flight to David, and upon arrival we were met by Eddie, the resident do-everything guy from Paradise Lodge. After two hours driving through stunning countryside we arrived at Paradise Lodge. This place was absolutely stunning and fully justified its very fitting name. Greeting us at the lodge were the rest of the group – Dave Plummer and Colin Belton plus the lodge owner, Chad. We were introduced to the rest of the lodge staff who were all extremely friendly and helpful, and the rest of the day was spent swapping bullshit and exploring our new home for ten days. After a superb meal that even Chubby Foster and I couldn’t finish, it was an early night ready to fish the next day. Breakfast was served at 6am, and then it was a short drive via the lodge golf buggies to the boat pier. Here we met our boat captains and crewmembers. All the boats are the same, in top order and well equipped.
I fished with Sean for nine days, and we had target lists as you always do on these trips. Although I had caught all the species on our list in the past all the fish were new to Sean. Panama is famous for roosterfish, which was our number one target fish. Other fish on our shopping list were cubera snapper, large yellowfin tuna, amberjack and marlin. Day one was spent getting to know the captain and crew, and just generally fishing for anything that came our way. We arrived back at the lodge that evening having caught tuna in the 60 to 80lb bracket, mullet snapper, jacks, blue trevally and amberjacks.
Sean and I are into lure fishing, especially surface lures such as poppers and flappers, so the next day plans were made for a day’s lure fishing. The boats here work long days – 7am through to 6pm, and I wasn’t sure how I would hold up on a full day’s casting big lures, let alone hauling hard fighting fish all day. After the first two hours fishing and landing six tuna between us, we moved into some islands for roosterfish and my arms were killing me as the tuna seem intent on wrenching your arms from their sockets! But it was good to be back doing some serious fishing. We worked a sandy shoreline for a couple of hours, catching numerous small jacks in the 10lb bracket, and with two hours left to go we moved off the shoreline to some rocky outcrops. The first one produced a small cubera snapper around 15lb to yours truly, plus a similar sized rooster fish.
A short steam to the next set of rocks and Sean made the first cast. A herd of roosters swarmed over his popper but he failed to hook up, and seizing the opportunity to cast at some agitated fish, I launched a large flapper into their midst. Immediately a rooster around 20lb grabbed my lure only to leap skywards and throw the hook, but as the lure dropped back into the water a rooster around 40lb engulfed the flapper! This fish fought like a demented racehorse, going on long runs and leaping out of the water. The fish obviously thought he was bigger than his 40lb and fought like a fish double the size. Then it was time for the long steam back to the lodge. I felt sorry for Sean, having caught both of his target species, but that did not stop me ribbing him all the way back. We always wind each other up on our fishing trips, but in reality I wish he had caught the fish. Back at the lodge everyone was buzzing having all caught some good fish. John and Aaron had caught lots of tuna to 80lb with John taking the honours with cubera snapper of 60 and 50lb. Richard and Andy had spent the day hunting marlin, failing to catch their intended target but landing numerous tuna to 100lb.
After the previous day of hurling lures to the horizon we decided to have a more sedate day bait fishing over the numerous reefs and sea mounts – yeah right, dream on! The sedate day soon turned into another arm-wrenching punishment! First off the skipper found a shoal of tuna so we spent an hour hauling 60lb-plus tuna on live bait, which were cut into 1lb chunks for bait! Moving onto the reefs Sean absolutely annulated me with numbers size and species, but he still failed to catch his rooster or cubera snapper. Between us we landed several snapper species including lots of beautiful mullet snapper, blue trevally, jacks and sharks. Richard and Andy had fished the same methods as us but had found some large cubera snapper and amber jacks, plus Andy hooked up a big shark that played games with him until it got bored and bit through his line. John and Aaron had a successful day working the rocky shores of the outlying islands for roosters and jacks.
The fourth day we all had a change of boats due to the deckhand on our boat and I having a clash of personality. Don’t get me wrong; the young lad was very good at his job but his misunderstanding of my sense of humor got to him and the atmosphere was deteriorating badly. By the end of the third day I was sitting on my hands as the red mist descended, and anyone who knows me will tell you I have a short fuse and lash out rather than argue, so in the interest of the lad keeping his teeth we agreed to change boats. Just to put the record straight Richard and Andy fished on this boat for the rest of the trip, and never once had a problem with the boy, rating his character and work extremely highly. As I say, it was just a clash between two stubborn people and some misunderstandings on both sides.
Our new boat captain and crew were both excellent friendly blokes and as all of the Paradise captains and crew, bloody good at their jobs! After asking us what we would like to target, we set off to some outlying islands for roosterfish. The journey out was 1½ hours and we stopped on the way when we came across a huge pod of dolphins. The sea was alive with tuna, with some fish showing that would have been well over 100lb. Launching lures into the mayhem, it wasn’t long before we had our fill of tuna and left the other boats working the shoal. One thing that always amazes me about dolphins, they might be in a feeding frenzy, but never slip up and take lures or bait. Imagine if fish had their sense – they would be uncatchable!
The new team took us to their favourite island for roosterfish. The island was lush green with jungle coming down to the shoreline and spectacular waterfalls tumbling down the rock faces. Between sheer cliffs were sandy coves with packs of black monkeys playing on the beaches and dodging the surf. With a spectacular clear blue ocean and large waves crashing into the rocks this truly was paradise. Working surface lures along the rocks and surf, we soon started catching roosterfish, amber jack, blue trevally and other jack species. As a bonus we also set two rods off the back of the boat with freelined live baits. These were left to fish for themselves with the ratchets on the reel to alert us of any enquiries! We named a rod each as the one we would strike; these rods gave us plenty of bonus fish and every time a ratchet screamed we would turn to see whose livebait had become the next victim!
Sean and I were having a blast with regular hits on the lures producing various species plus a good scattering of our target fish, roosters. These fish are one of the most stunning fish you can imagine, with a long, flowing top fin which earns them their name and vivid silver body with black stripes. Every morning you can catch 100 or so live baits in 20 minutes close to the lodge, and these are kept alive in specially built tanks. Today’s supply of bait was taking a severe pounding by the jacks. Most of these fierce scrappers are in the 10lb bracket with the odd fish to 20lb – great fun on light tackle, but today they were becoming pests, and each time a ratchet screamed we were both hoping it would the other’s rod.
We had just come around a particularly fishy looking set of rocks with some stunning surf rolling into a monkey infested beach, where large numbers of birds were working the surf and rooster fins could be seen cutting the surf. I had sneaked into pole position at the front of the boat, as Sean had been plagued with jacks on his bait rod. Just as we started to cast into the surf a ratchet screamed into life on a bait rod, and hoping it would be another jack for Sean, I turned to see my bait rod bent over double with line pouring off the reel. Sean had a smirk from one ear to the next knowing he could now scuttle into the pole position. As I ran to the back of the boat a huge silver flank broke surface and headed into orbit amongst shouts of “Tarpon” from the captain and crew. As we were using circle hooks there was no need to strike, just tighten the line and hang on, and attached to the other end a big tarpon started leaping and shaking its head. The fish was going on 100m runs and trying every trick in the book to rid itself of the hook. After 30 minutes of this spectacular fight the fish was tiring and so was I.
Sean, prior to the trip, had bought himself an all-singing and all-dancing head camera. This bit of kit also films underwater and to the crew’s surprise Sean suddenly stripped to his under crackers and dived in. The crew seemed worried and asked was he not concerned about sharks. My reply had them in stitches: “Don’t worry about him, he will keep the sharks away from my rapidly tiring tarpon!” I have caught tarpon over 100lb from the Atlantic but to catch one from the Pacific never entered my head. I don’t suppose many people have had tarpon from both oceans, let alone over 100lb, so I felt very honored to have had the opportunity. While I was playing the tarpon our old skipper was on the radio reporting that Richard was playing a yellowfin tuna estimated at over 300lb. Everyone on the boat was taking it in turns to fight this powerhouse of a fish, but unfortunately the fish won the battle. The others had all gone to the Hannibal Bank in search of marlin, which unfortunately were playing hide and seek, but they all ended up with tuna up to 100lb.
Sean has yet to catch a marlin so the next day we headed out to the Hannibal Bank in pursuit of his dream. On the way we fished for skipjack tuna for live bait and sneaked in a couple of casts with small lures for dorado. The plan was simple enough – Sean would take any strikes on the marlin rods as I have caught all the marlin species in the past, and I would just cast lures from the front of the boat for tuna plus catch up on some much-needed kip! The moon phases were wrong for marlin, but the odd one had been showing, and as they say, you have to be in it to win it, so we gave it a go. We ended up the same as the other boats the day previously and got skunked, but prior to the long haul back to base we did fish over a reef, catching some nice mullet snapper and blue trevally on light tackle. The others fished for roosters etc around the outlying islands, both boats catching a variety of fish and roosters to 50lb.
With only three days left we decided to make a serious assault on locating some big cubera snapper. This area is renowned for big cubera with a good amount over the magic 100lb boated every year. The day started with black sky and rain, which spelt out a rough day, as most days previously had started sunny and ended in torrential rains and bumpy rides home. Asking the captain what he thought, he just grinned and said, “Let’s go for it,” so Sean and I moved some cushions to the back of the boat, donned the wet weather gear and prepared for a two-hour wet and bumpy ride to the cubera grounds.
On arrival the sun was threatening to make an appearance, but the seas had flattened off so we proceeded to find a tuna shoal for bait. The sea around Panama is infested with tuna and within minutes we were over a shoal of fish in the 30 to 60lb bracket. Within an hour we had mounds; the bait was cut into bite size 2lb chunks and it was bombs away! As I was letting my bait down, suddenly the line started to disappear at a rate of knots, and thinking I had pulled the ultimate stroke on Sean I tightened into the fish. This fish turned out to be a shark, as were the next six fish we caught. This mark was obviously teaming with the bloody things, so it was a 15-minute move to the next spot.
As the captain positioned the boat over the new mark the sky turned black and the wind sprung up from nowhere – within seconds you couldn’t see the length of the boat and the seas started to rise. With thunder and lightning all around the captain suggested running away from the storm, and there were no arguments from us on this decision: “Let’s get the hell out!” We ran the boat at full power for two hours and still the storm stuck with us. “What do you want to do?” asked the boat boss. “Sod it, let’s go home and get on the piss” came our reply! The captain decided to steam home a different way using some large islands for cover, and as we rounded the first headland the sun came out and the seas had flattened off. It was like being in a different world, but behind us all you could see was a big ugly storm. The captain told us the storm was going away from this area, and he knew a spot close by for cubera, so the hot shower and booze was cancelled and we drifted some rough ground.
First up was Sean with a nice 50lb cubera, and with photos done and baits back down, my rod suddenly got a life of its own as something tried to wrench it from my grasp. These things fight like hell, but once you get them away from the bottom they gas up and come in reasonably easily. I seriously think if they didn’t do this, your arms would be pulled out of their sockets! My fish had topped Sean’s by 10lb so it was mission accomplished. We fished a further hour landing some nice jacks and trevally when the storm caught us up again! The captain knew of one more spot on the way home, so it was take refuge at the back and pound our way out of the squall! We had soon outrun the storm again and within an hour we were back in sunshine. We headed between two islands and plotted up on a permanent buoy, which marked an inshore reef.
We immediately lowered tuna chunks into the depths and started to tuck into our packed lunch. As my bait was going down something snatched it and pissed off without me even feeling the culprit. Then out of nowhere came a huge streak of lightening followed immediately by the biggest clap of thunder you have ever heard! Within seconds we were in the middle of torrential rain with white caps on the waves, and this was no ordinary squall – we were in the middle of thunder, lightning and wind. Casting off the buoy and gunning the boat we hightailed it for terra firma for one hour of wind, rain and thunder in which we were treated to the most spectacular light show imaginable. For the whole hour you could not see the front of the boat. We all huddled under the small roof cover and tried to help il captaino spot any obstacles. With stinging eyes and a thorough soaking suddenly the pier made a welcome appearance.
The captains here are bloody good at their jobs and their boat handling skills are 100%. This guy had driven the boat through atrocious conditions without ever seeming worried; to him it was just another day in his office! We tied up at the boat dock as the storm followed us in, but the surprise was that the other two boats were not already in. Sean and I got back to the lodge, showered and changed, descended on the bar and were on our third beer before the other lot appeared back at base. They were surprised to find us back and started describing the storm they had ran through to get home. Apparently they had fished all day outside of the storm in glorious sunshine, only copping the storm on the way home. They had pulled off some good fishing while we took a battering; we had missed some good fishing, but who would have thought to run into a storm, hoping it would be fine further out?
Sometime in the night the storm passed through, and the following morning we were greeted with blue skies and a sea like a millpond. As Sean has yet to catch a marlin, the decision was easy – Hannibal Bank here we come! On the way out I told Sean that every take was his, and I would take a back seat. The boats here prefer live bait than lures for marlin, so on the way out we located a shoal of skipjack tuna and stocked up on bait. A couple of hours later we were on the banks, two baits were quickly rigged on heavy outfits, and we proceeded to trundle around the ocean! I was soon sprawled out on the sun bed and in the land of big tits and huge fish. Some time later, just as I was about to eat a lobster off the most stunning pair of boobs I had ever seen, my dreams were shattered by a screaming reel and revving engine to the shouts of, “Fish on!” Bugger the fish, get me back to my dream!!
Sean in the meantime thought his dream had come true as the rod hooped over and the monster of the deep was trying to pull him overboard. After 20 minutes of stalemate it had become obvious that the marlin had turned into a tuna, but a very big one, so Sean’s other target was on the cards. The captain was telling Sean to hang on and not give it an inch, and to see the little sod’s face as the tuna tried to break his back and pull his arms off was a picture on its own. With a grin from ear to ear he stuck at the task with sweat pouring off him. Boy, was I glad it wasn’t me attached to this underwater bus! Sean coped admirably with the fish and eventually boated his prize. Before we came, Sean had said he wanted a 100lb-plus tuna and this fish made his trip at 170lb. Telling Sean that he still had the next fish, as it could be his marlin, I was hoping he would get another big tuna just to see him go through more pain! It wasn’t to be his day for a marlin or anything else for that matter, and the livebaits remained unmolested.
Back at the lodge it’s always good to hear how the others have fared. Richard was now fishing with Colin as Andy had gone home. They had caught some good fish with grouper, various snappers, plus some nice roosters to Colin on poppers. John and Aaron had also been hunting marlin without success, although they did get some nice tuna on small livebaits, and ended he day reef fishing for a mixed catch of snappers, jacks and trevally.
As the inventible last day had now arrived and it was obvious the marlin did not want to play, we left it in the hands of the capable captains to choose what to do. All three boats decided to bait fish the reefs in search of the cubera snapper this lodge is famous for, and Richard and Colin caught some good cubera plus another mixed bag. They then sneaked off for some rooster fishing and caught some good fish to 50lb. Colin also lost a monster at the boat estimated around 70lb. We had some good snappers of various names, shapes and colors, plus the inevitable jacks and sharks, but the cubera eluded us. On the way back we fished the same island that I caught the tarpon from. Sean caught a nice rooster around 40lb, and it was my turn to act as pest control officer and keep the jacks away from Sean’s lures. John and Aaron stuck it out on the bait fishing, catching the same as us and avoiding the cubera snapper.
To sum the trip up in one word – awesome! We visited in a bad moon phase (we know for next time!). Despite the moon and storms the fishing was still exceptionally good and the lodge is very high standard with good food and the best staff imaginable. Put this with good boats and captains it makes a first class holiday. Chad the owner has got it spot-on – the perfect fishing holiday, and as the name suggests, Paradise. Plans are already underway for Panama 2014, and as the big bloke said, “I’ll be back!” To book a trip to this fantastic location contact us at email@example.com for a trip joining our motley crew. We can arrange it for you without flights, or you can have the whole trip sorted for you including flights with www.anglingdirectholidays.com.
We returned to Panama City for three nights, with the plan to do one day’s sightseeing and two days’ fishing at Lake Gatun. This lake is connected to the Panama Canal, and is reputed to hold trophy size peacock bass plus tarpon and snook. After some research and asking local people in Panama we were recommended the Gamboa rainforest resort. They advertise specialist guides and excellent flats boats, and top quality tackle and equipment is supplied, with peacock bass in the 5 to 7lb bracket, tarpon to 40lb and snook to 20lb. We booked two days’ fishing with experienced guides and tackle. Miguel our driver took us for a day’s sightseeing and a nice meal, washed down with a few too many beers.
We met up at 6am in the hotel restaurant and over breakfast we were all enthusiastic about the prospect of another two days’ fishing. Miguel, our excellent driver, was waiting to take us at 6.30am, and a short while later we arrived at the Gamboa rainforest resort to check in for the fishing. The hotel is set in a spectacular location, appeared to be top class, and after check in we were taken to the boats. First impressions generally give you an idea of what is in store, and we were greeted by a slimy little character who described himself in a rehearsed American drawl as the marina manager. He was so up himself with importance that we all had to suppress bursting out laughing, and the marina would have been better described as a jetty! No gleaming super yachts here, just the glorified pedalos described as flats boats. The little worm went into full marina manager mode, bigging up the fishing guides and equipment. We were introduced to our experienced guide – the sort of lad you see working in his school holidays at the local park lake.
With three of us in one little plastic tub and two in the other, we squeezed into position and the boat wobbled out into the Panama Canal. They did supply us with good life jackets, and the feeling was they would be needed as the good ship Lollipop wobbled past supertankers with Roger the cabin boy at the helm. We crossed the canal and entered a beautiful lake that had lots of fishy looking areas, where our experienced boy scout motored to the nearest island, slung a concrete mud weight out, grabbed a rod and launched a live bait out all of 5ft. Mind you that wasn’t a bad cast, as the reel was loaded with 20ft of line. He then handed me the rod without a word of explanation and proceeded to do the same for John. Mistakenly, as paying guests, we presumed when he cast the third rod it would be for Sean. Wrong – this was Roger the cabin boy’s day out, and he proceeded to fish. We explained to him that we paid for three people and the third rod was Sean’s. Roger just shrugged his shoulders and carried on with his fishing.
Watching what he was doing, it soon became apparent that the method was to fish the live bait on a slow sink and draw. Within seconds of fishing this method I hooked into a trophy size 4oz peacock bass, which was followed by several more up to a monstrous 5oz! Roger was thrilled with the action and was holding onto the rod determined not to give it up. Plan B had to be put into action, so I cast my line onto the island, tangling it in a bush, telling Sean to grab Roger’s prized rod as he pulled the pedalo towards the bush. Roger, seeing he had been outsmarted, had a tantrum, snatched the line and broke off 10ft of my original 20ft of line. As Roger sat sulking we asked him if he knew of any other spots that might hold some bigger fish. He up-anchored and moved 20 meters to the other side of the island, and 20 minutes in this spot produced more trophy fish to 4ozs!
Giving the little boy some encouragement we pointed out that it was a large expanse of water and that maybe we should try some other spots. We tried several spots all with similar sized fish, which was probably lucky, as with 10ft of line I was going to struggle with a decent fish. Richard and Aaron’s boat came into view, so we poodled over to them to see how they had fared. On the way Roger managed once again to hit an underwater tree stump and nearly capsized the boat for a third time! It was now obvious why the boy wonder stayed in a small area – his knowledge of the lake was zero and he was probably frightened to be away from his mum! The others had a much older guide who was obviously experienced on the lake. They had fished a large area and caught numerous fish to 8oz. Their guide had told them that he hadn’t seen fish over 3lb for a few years. He gave Roger some directions to go and try one of his known spots. The new area was surrounded by underwater tree stumps, and Roger made a cracking job of hitting most of them.
We pulled into a particularly good-looking area and Roger was clearly excited at the prospect of a monster. Thinking that maybe we could now be on the money shoal, I set up my tarpon rod loaded with 300 meters of 50lb braid. Clearly over gunned for any peacock bass, at least I had plenty of line to cast further than the 10ft on the supplied top of the range tackle! As I was setting up my own rod, Roger thought it was Christmas and pounced on the other rod, taking up prime position at the rear of the boat. With Sean and John at the bows of the pedalo and Roger at the stern I was well and truly kippered. The three of them were hauling out fish after fish and Roger was creaming his Pampers! The average size had gone up to massive 6oz so I thought sod it, and hauled Roger out of his spot. As Roger sat sulking, I caught a fish of 8oz, which was clearly the biggest fish he had ever seen! With Roger the cabin boy sulking and clearly nothing of any size to be caught, we decided to call it a day, but arriving back at the boat pontoon, the marina manager was nowhere to be seen.
The ever faithful and all round cracking bloke Miguel our driver was waiting. Failing to find super nerd we went to the hotel to grab some lunch and wait for the others. Miguel is passionate about his home country and making sure that all visitors have a good time. He was fuming about us being ripped off and went to find Mr. Marina Manager. The slime ball eventually arrived and we told him that we were cancelling the following day’s booking. He agreed immediately to the cancellation but would not hear our complaints, boasting that he personally checks all equipment and all his guides are the best on Lake Gatun. As he got more agitated and realised we were experienced anglers, he ran out of bullshit and stomped off with a parting shot that contradicted his waffle when we arrived, stating that there hadn’t been a fish over 5lb caught in the last five years, and that their normal clientele are happy to catch immature fish to take and eat! Apparently if we had saved our catch we could have had them for lunch. Bloody hell – with the size of fish we caught, even Jesus would have struggled to feed us!
Richard and Aaron turned up and confirmed no big fish either, with their guide telling them that big fish nowadays were rare, which is not surprising if all the clients are eating their catch before they are old enough to get their fin over! They had decided to give it a full day in the hope of a miracle, but this was cut short as the marina manager, who claims to supervise everything, had not supplied enough bait so they ran out. The little slime ball claimed that he personally had counted 100 live bait into their boat, but bearing in mind this idiot’s highly prized job title, he probably can’t count past ten fingers! Poor old Miguel was now in full anger mode, taking it personally that his clients had been misled and had paid good money for tiddler snatching. He was not going to let this go despite us telling him not to worry, and he returned with the resident manager Mr. Calvo who was apologetic and most helpful. He confirmed our cancelation for the next day and was genuinely sorry about the whole incident described in this account. He kindly gave us a 20% discount on our food and drinks and went off to see the idiot marina manager.
Miguel was still unhappy, but we explained we were OK with the way Mr. Calvo had dealt with things. We had just finished lunch and were about to leave when Mr. Marina manager appeared. With his little chubby face red with rage he had obviously just received a bollocking! He went into a full defensive mode, demanding that we book with another Gatun guiding service, stating they would charge us double and that they use his guides, and we would see that his outfit was value for money as the fishing would be no better. Throwing insults at us, he accused us of trying to get more compensation, and demanded to know why we had gone over his head to his boss! Before I clumped the little nerd I told him to go forth and multiply, and stormed out. I wish to this day I had belted him, but as they say, one day our paths will cross again! My advice to any fellow anglers is do not book any fishing with www.gamboaresort.com as the marina manager is totally clueless and runs a Mickey Mouse operation. The hotel is well worth a visit – top class with stunning views and a good restaurant, but the fishing? Forget it!
We spent the last day of the trip in the excellent hands of Miguel who showed us the fine sights of the city and took us to the best restaurants, Miguel is one of the most helpful and genuine guys you will meet anywhere. His passion for his country and all round knowledge of what to see and where to eat is a credit to him. If you visit Panama make sure you use Miguel as your driver and guide. Contact him on 00 (507) 65310821 or email Miguel Angel Espino <firstname.lastname@example.org>