Marlin in San Blas Panama

Fishing And Chartering in San Blas

I’m assuming you read my last post, which seems like a reasonable assumption.  So I’m assuming I can pick up where I left off last time. But you know what they say about the word ‘ass-u-me’ 

Fishing And Chartering in San Blas

At this point we had just ducked into San Blas, fueled up, and started prepping to have Joe and Lisa onboard.  They were/are awesome, and for this we are/were incredibly grateful.  It’s a crap shoot with chartering – sometimes people are great and sometimes they are not. In this situation the consumer has much more knowledge than the provider – in that the consumer has recommendations and reviews, etc and the provider (us) has little/no knowledge about the consumer. 

In some things this isn’t as big of a deal – but in this context, it matters.  I can honestly say that I’ve had people onboard that I would never again have onboard unless they were buying my boat at a significant premium.  None of our charter guests have been this way, thankfully, but it will happen.  I say this just to highlight how much of a pleasure it is when we have interesting/fun guests onboard and it all of our future bookings sure seem that way too. 

We love it, thank you past and future guests for being awesome!

So when our guests arrived and they were cool and calm and collected, we breathed a sigh of relief.  There was a bit of fruit to eat and then we headed out to the clear water and the pretty reefs.  Joe was outside with me and I asked him about fishing – he said he wasn’t so keen, but then became interested when I told him the goal was to catch dinner.  I showed him how to let the lines out and how to keep the lines level when retrieving them.

Within twenty minutes there was a very healthy strike on our Sterling Tackle Spreader Bar and because it wasn’t a monster I kept the boat moving.  To my surprise, Joe asked Lisa to take the rod and so I helped keep the line level while she fought the fish to the boat – it was a Little Tunny  and definitely not my favorite of the tuna-types, but if you bleed it well, handle it well post-catch, marinate it, and eat it fresh it is edible.  Lisa brought the fish in (15 pounds), and by then we were both sweating and breathing hard.  I cleaned the fish underway and in a couple of hours we were anchored in a beautiful spot.  Just after a lobster risotto lunch we went for a snorkel among some great reef structure. 

Lisa bringing in Tuna

Lisa bringing in Tuna

Lisa weighing her Tuna

Lisa weighing her Tuna

The charter lasted for a few more days and we visited the caves, did some drift diving, ate very well and had some great conversation.  My highlights were the lobster risotto, the fresh crab, and the conch fritters – we ate the best and freshest seafood.  Toward the end we visited one of my favorite Kuna families and they brought us bread and Lisa chose a couple of molas (the indigenous artwork) to bring home.  Then it was their last day and it was time for us to get to Puerto Lindo where we could get our paperwork in order and begin prepping for our next charter. 

Molas and our Kuna friends

Molas and our Kuna friends

But before we took off, I wanted to try a sword fishing drift – so in the morning we took off for a bit of trolling, hoping to hook something for bait (squid is preferable, but nearly impossible to get here unless you shoot it with a speargun. I’ve managed this a couple of times, but it’s rare and difficult).  As soon as we were outside the reef I saw a squall headed our way, no biggie we get one once a day. 

But not like this one – we clocked 51 knots of wind in this one.  That’s crazy.

Right before the squall hit us two of our rods started singing – one came up quickly (grouper) and the other went straight down and then stayed down (a fish grabbed my Sterling Tackle Daisy Chain and then ran to the rocks).  Then the squall hit us in full force and we could see nothing and the autopilot couldn’t hold us on course and we were smashing from side to side blindly.  Not fun.  This lasted for nearly an hour, during which time I got to see a wahoo come and slash our remaining lure to shreds (a Sterling Tackle Spreader Bar).  By the end of the storm I’d lost 300 yards of mono, a Sterling Tackle Daisy Chain and the majority of a Sterling Tackle Spreader Bar – all while I watched helplessly, barely holding on. We finally got rigged back up and immediately hooked a Yellowfin Tuna, so I pulled the lures in.  It was a weird day.  Very weird when you get hit by a huge squall, catch a Grouper and a Yellowfin Tuna in the same hour. 

Grouper and Yellowfin Tuna

Grouper and Yellowfin Tuna

The rest of the day was spent rigging swordfish baits and then the night fishing for them while Marissa caught some ZZZ’s.  No luck on the swords but the sharks were out in force. 

Marissa and the Squid

Marissa and the Squid

The taxman

The taxman

When I pulled up from our first swordfish drift it was time to get to Puerto Lindo, so I turned our motors on and pointed us West and we were under way.  Around daybreak I took a break and grabbed about an hour of rest, when I was awoken to Marissa yelling ‘fish!’  … If you haven’t slept in a couple of days, it can take you a moment to get your bearings.  The reality is when I try to sleep, the fish hear about it and come by and grab a lure – so I’m kinda used to this wakeup now. 

By the time I got to the reel I saw the Marlin come out of the water and I knew I was in for a fight.  Nothing crazy – he wasn’t a big for a marlin – but he was big for a fish.  So I got the drag the way I wanted it and then got snapped into the harness and started our game of tug of war.  He was winning at the beginning, but I am ready for this class of fish now.  The fight was relatively short and soon enough I had him up next to the boat.  We don’t kill Marlin unless they’ve been mortally hooked (and we don’t target them, they are bycatch).  So I unhooked the fish and revived him and released him.  But I can’t tell you how good it felt to (finally) get a quality fish in.  After much heartbreak, hundreds of hours of fishing, countless hours of research and rigging (and more than a few dollars), we’ve got this fishing thing figured out.  For now.  

Of course now we’re adding swordfishing into the mix, which is a whole different beast.  Having a bait 1500 feet underneath you and then trying to pull up seamonsters from the depth is, literally a whole different beast.  They’re here and we’re looking for them.  I have a feeling it’s just a matter of time. 

 

Tug of War with a Marlin

Tug of War with a Marlin

Marlin in San Blas Panama

Marlin in San Blas Panama

Back to sailing/cruising/traveling…

Naturally in Puerto Lindo, the Port Captain had a car accident and the Immigration guy wasn’t around.  I shouldn’t have been surprised, but this country can really throw some curve balls. So we waited and fueled up and waited again.  Finally ready to leave we were hailed by someone trying to sell us kitesurfing gear (my next hobby), and so (again) we got a late start and had wind in our face on the way back to San Blas, where we dropped anchor just after dark behind Chichime (sometime I strongly advise against unless you really know the area). 

Charter-wise our next charter is a fisherman and his wife and I couldn’t be happier about that.   Marissa is probably ready for a break in fishing-related conversation too.  Though she hasn’t pointed it out yet, I suspect having another female to commiserate with (‘all our men do is talk about fish’)  will help :)

Until next time, send me good swordfish karma.  I need it.

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5 replies
  1. Dani McDaniel
    Dani McDaniel says:

    Love these! We are planning our next escape. Please put a link to contribute to your blog:) I know it’s hard to take these pictures while covered in salt and tired, upload them with crappy internet, and the write these stories when It’s 95 degrees inside. It’s a nice escape to read these. Looking forward to the next one.

    Tate and Dani

    Reply
  2. Ryan
    Ryan says:

    I’m sending the good swordfish karma as long as you don’t strap yourself to that rod connected to a monster! That would be a bad post to share! Be safe dude… cool post!

    Reply

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