The Capstone To our First Panama Trip
Toward the end of our second week in the Boca Chica area Alex and I, now by ourselves, headed out to Coiba for a few days. We spent our time there gunkholing at some absolutely incredible coves and free diving. While there we explored Coiba National Park, finishing the trip with a whopper of a day doing some Panama fishing at the famous Hannibal Bank, where we ran into our old friends from Pesca Panama (see our previous posts).
Coiba is a national park encompassing over 1042 square miles and 38 islands. Ruins still stand on the main island as a grim reminder of a penal colony operated there from 1919 to 2004, where over 3000 prisoners served harsh sentences in crude conditions.
The Hannibal Bank
As we started our journey back to Boca Chica on the mainland, we made our way over to the Hannibal fishing bank located a few miles offshore from the island. It raises from about 2000 feet to a minimum depth of 50 feet.
Bait was plentiful, skipjack schooling and swarming everywhere, oftentimes forming huge “fish whirlpools” swimming round and round. The splashing was audible from quite a distance. The birds were having a field day.
The above notwithstanding, we fished for at least two hours without a strike, other than the skipjack that we brought in to use as live bait.
About 2 PM we got a call on the radio, “Embajador, Embajador, is that y-all? This is Haimmer from Pesca Panama, we’re on yer stern quarter about 4-hunderd yards bauck.”
“Can we come abowrd? We could shore use a reest and some air-conditionin.”
Sure enough it was them and were pleased to have the company. After a short tour of the boat Alex put the jigs back out to start trolling again. All the while the boys and I sat up in the pilot house gibbering like a bunch of teenage school girls. With the jigs deployed Alex came back upstairs too, having lost all but a little bit of hope that anything was going to bite that day.
My First Black Marlin
A few minutes later I noticed a perceptible change in the tilt of Alex’s head and then we all heard it. Zzzzizzz!!, that wonderful sound of a rod going off. We all looked back at the same time to see a large marlin tail walking a hundred yards back.
“Get back there!,” Alex yelled as I scrambled for the back deck. The reel screamed as line ran out like, “there was no tomaura,” as Hammer put it .
When I pulled the rod out of the holder I thought that it might take me with it off the back rail. Luckily, Alex was soon there to put the engines in reverse as I slowly gained control of the fish just in time to keep from getting spooled.
You want it? You waunt it? You? Hammer exclaimed, “Id just as soon haive you put a guun to my heyad as take thait thing.”
So it was on me to bring it in. Alex helped me to get into a stand-up harness and the fight was on. The thing pulled hard! Somehow I made progress with no little bit a hep from Alex who backed down on it sompthen fierce.
By the time I got it to the transom I was as red as a tomato, but as happy as a pig in sheat, notwithstanding that Hammer had been spraying cold water on me the whole time to avoid a complete meltdown.
Later, after pictures, a successful release (and a couple of beers of course), our friends sped off toward shore on their center console. Alex and I went on to catch a few more dorado before days end, remaining convinced that they brought us the luck and good humor needed to find the fish.
God love em!
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