2009 Billfisheries of the Year – #6…Panama

The Billfish Report is counting down the top billfisheries of 2009 – and coming in at #6 is Panama.

Black marlin getting some air off Pinas Bay. Photo courtesy Tropic Star Lodge.

There’s no fishery in earth that’s better named than Panama – it literally means “place of abundant fish.”  And if there’s one overriding characteristic of Panama, it is precisely that: waters teeming with life, and plenty of billfish feeding on it.   Every species of Pacific billfish is found in Panama – with huge numbers of sails and blues.  Striped marlin show up in Panama, and the odd swordfish is also seen in Panamanian waters.  And the black marlin are positively prolific: while they don’t reach the size of the Australian blacks, the season is year-round – the only consistent and year-round black marlin fishery on the planet – and the fish are numerous.

2009 was another terrific season in Panama.  Huge numbers of black marlin were seen in the peak season – December through March – and a good blue marlin bite this year was punctuated by the typically inexhaustible supply of sailfish.

Here are some highlights from Panama’s terrific year:

–          The late January black marlin bite off Pinas Bay.  95 black marlin caught by the Tropic Star fleet – with quite a few larger (500+) girls in the mix.  Black bite continued throughout the season and has started December with some good numbers and size as well.

–          Some huge fish seen this year.  Tropic Star saw a couple of blues around the 800 mark in August – which is quite large for Panama…and Panama Sportfishing and Tropic Star both seeing blacks up to 800+ as well.

–          That typical sailfish bite. Everyone in Panama saw it – and it was particularly awesome in May.  Boats were seeing as many as 50 a day, and fleets could see hundreds of sails a week, rivaling Costa and Guatemala for the incredible numbers of sails a boat could see on a given day.

Blacks in abundance, blues offering some variety, some stripeys mixed in, and sails almost too numerous…all par for the course for Panama.

So Panama is the Billfish Report’s #6 Billfishery of the Year.  Stay tuned for #5, coming later this week.  Merry Christmas!

About John

John Harmeling is the co-founder of billfishreport.com and granderwatch.com. Having traveled to and fished the major billfisheries across the globe, he counts Kona and Cairns as his favorites, and the black marlin to be the ocean's supreme pelagic specimen. He believes the very best and most enjoyable place to find tuna is in a marlin's stomach.

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