From offshore to inshore to freshwater, Panama offers some of the world’s best fishing destinations for big game and freshwater fish. Some of the top spots for fishermen traveling to this beautiful country include Piñas Bay, Pedasí, Isla Coiba, the Pearl Islands and Gatún Lake. Read on to learn more about when to go and what to fish for in these distinct regions.
This remote fishing destination set on the edge of the Darién jungle is world renowned thanks to the more than 200 world records that have been set in the region. Fishing season here runs from January through March and it may just be the best place in the world to catch Black Marlin. It is also home to schools of giant wahoo, 60+ pound dorado and jack. Inland and offshore fishing are both great options in this region, with Zanes Reef being one of the best spots to try your luck. Accessibility is a bit trickier than other fishing destinations in the country and most visitors arrive by plane or chartered boat. Tropic Star Resort is the only lodge in the area and attracts serious fishermen, though families are also welcome!
Archipiélago de las Perlas
The Pearl Islands are conveniently located just a short boat ride from Panama City in the Gulf of Panama. This string of more than 40 islands offers great fishing from December through May when the seas are flooded with red snapper, grouper and amberjack. One of the hottest spots to drop your line is behind the Pacheca Island or the outer islands that harbor giant jack, tuna, sailfish and wahoo. The relatively shallow underwater geography attracts many marine species that come to breed in large numbers in the sheltered gulf waters. Fishing in this area not only offers beautiful views of the Panama City skyline and uninhabited white sand islands, but also is convenient for families: with a short distance, family groups may choose to split their time between hitting the beach, snorkeling or enjoying a picnic lunch on a secluded island.
Hannibal Bank and Isla Coiba
The region around Hannibal Bank and Isla Coiba is another Panama fishing hotspot, located off the Pacific coast of the Veraguas province. The area is best known for its offering of black marlin and yellowfin tuna, which are best caught from December through April along with blue marlin, pacific sailfish and dorado. Other offshore species like rooster fish, grouper, blackfin tuna, swordfish, wahoo and snapper thrive in the region, while inshore species like blue travally, sierra mackerel, rainbow runners, jack crevalle and several types of tuna can be found thriving in estuaries and mangrove swamps year round.
Fishing around Isla Coiba also offers the unforgettable experience of passing by uninhabited islands, many of them wildlife reserves, with white sand beaches that run into deep jungle habitats. This is also a world renowned scuba diving destination thanks to conservation laws that are in place to protect local marine life.
Pedasí offers great fishing for amberjack, grouper, pacific sailfish, cubera snapper and roosterfish year round. Its peak season is during the North American winter and spring (December through May) when you can expect to see more bigeye tuna, yellowfin tuna, bluefin trevally, dolphin and mahi mahi. Wahoo fishing actually hits its peak in the month of October, though it may begin as early as May. One of the best fishing spots is known as Los Frailes, which is marked by two large rocks about an hour offshore. A fishing tour might also take you to the nearby Isla Iguana for some fun in the sun with beautiful turquoise blue waters and white sand beach. Other perks of fishing in this region include that it is off the main tourist trail, and therefore you can score a full day of fishing for as low as $200.
The best freshwater fishing spot in Panama is Gatún Lake, a 200 square mile man made body of water that actually serves to propel ships through the Panama Canal as the main source of water to fill and empty the locks. The area is largely uninhabited and surrounded by dense jungle and infinite animal, plant and insect species. Anglers and fly fishermen alike flock to the region to hook colorful Peacock Bass, a non-native species that now thrives in the lake. Other species include snook, rainbow bass and tarpon.