PANAMA: JAN 2015

Two posts in a week, I must be getting the hang of this blogging lark!

After a little bit of swapping and changing finally we have confirmed I will be hosting a week in Panama based at Paradise Fishing Lodge in January 2015. This lodge has a first class reputation for providing world class sport fishing on the stunningly beautiful Pacific coast of Central America. Take a look at their website: http://www.paradisefishinglodge.com

Panamanian roosterfish, 'Pez-Gallo' one of the many species of sport fish we will be targeting

Panamanian roosterfish, ‘Pez-Gallo’ one of the many species of sport fish we will be targeting

Mullet snapper caught in Panama, one of several key species that take surface poppers

Mullet snapper caught in Panama, one of several key species that take surface poppers

Key target species will include rooster fish, yellowfin tuna, cubera and mullet snapper, amberjack and big groupers of various species. If you visit the lodge website, click on FAQ’s and scroll down to fish seasons/availability you will see that our trip coincides with absolute prime season for all of these species, plus black marlin and sailfish. Fishing aboard fast, centre console sport fishers techniques will include medium/heavy popping, jigging, light tackle spinning and live baiting.

Following a first night stay at Panama City we will transfer to the lodge early the next morning via road. This avoids the limited weight restrictions imposed by light aircraft. We will spend six nights at the lodge, to include five full days fishing.

Panamanian black snapper-'Pargo'

Panamanian black snapper-‘Pargo’

Panamanian Dorado

Panamanian Dorado

Popping off Las Perlas, Panama, in a typical pacific swell

Inshore fishing off Panama, in a typical pacific swell

Central America is undoubtedly one of my all time favourite fishing locations, and the rich waters off the Panamanian coast are about as productive as fishing gets. When I tell you already I am excited about this trip you will realise just how spectacular a week I am anticipating. If nothing else it will give me the opportunity to again hook into the stunning rooster fish, truly one of the worlds great sporting species. On my last trip to Panama roosters were caught to over 80lb, what I would give for a fish like that!

A nice roosterfish caught off Las Perlas, Panama

A nice roosterfish caught off Panama

Cabo is one of the best places in the world to catch rooster fish

Doug Olander, editor Sport Fishing Magazine, with a nice Panamanian rooster

Big Panamanian AJ

Big Panamanian AJ caught on livebait

A brace of big Panamanian amberjacks

A brace of big Panamanian amberjacks

Another nice mullet snapper

Another nice mullet snapper

Already the first six places on this trip are confirmed, but a few remain. If you think you might be interested I suggest you contact Anglers World Holidays ASAP on Tel: 01246 221717

African Pompano caught in Panama

African Pompano caught in Panama

Horse eye jack caught popping in Panama

Horse eye jack caught popping in Panama

Doug Olander with Sierra Mackerel

Doug Olander with Sierra Mackerel

Nice AJ caught on light spinning/jig outfitr

Nice AJ caught on light spinning/jig outfit

SRI LANKA

What a fantastic country Sri Lanka is! From the moment we arrived at the international airport in Columbo, which is as modern and efficient an airport as I’ve seen, our group were struck by the genuine friendliness we encountered everywhere we went; even the immigration officers were full of smiles! Outside of the airport we found the streets incredibly litter free, and while the traffic in and around the city along with the various villages and towns we passed through was chaotic to the point of insane madness, mostly we drove through beautiful green countryside, flanked by the Indian Ocean. English is spoken everywhere, hardly surprising as Sri Lanka was once the British colony of Ceylon.

STILT FISHERMEN IN SOUTHERN SRI LANKA

STILT FISHERMEN IN SOUTHERN SRI LANKA

The famous stilt fishermen who fish the numerous bays south of Galle are one of the iconic images of Sri Lanka. Sat gnome like upon a precarious stick ledge lashed midway up a stout bamboo pole, these historic fishermen manage to winkle out a mixed catch of invariably small reef fish using little more than a stick and fixed line. Well, I just had to have a go didn’t I! Yes before you say it they must be VERY strong poles to support my bulk but hey, how many of you can say you’ve been stilt fishing in Sri Lanka!

YES, THOSE BAMBOO POLES ARE A LOT STRONGER THAN THEY LOOK!

YES, THOSE BAMBOO POLES ARE A LOT STRONGER THAN THEY LOOK!

We were based at Krinda, midway upon this island nations south coast, an area devastated beyond belief by the Boxing Day 2004 tsunami, which killed 100,000 people in Sri Lanka alone. If you look you can still see the remains of buildings destroyed all along the coast, but what is remarkable is just how well this coastal community has recovered. Certainly this is as scenic a tropical coast as you’ll find anywhere in the world, a great location for a holiday. We stayed at Krinda Beach Resort which was perfect in every way. I hope to revisit soon with my wife, which is as strong a recommendation as I can give.

ACCOMMODATIONS AT KRINDA BEACH RESORT

ACCOMMODATIONS AT KRINDA BEACH RESORT

And so to the fishing. Yet again we were faced with unseasonable weather conditions, which impacted negatively upon our sport. This time it was strong force 4-5 occasional 6 north-east winds that from around 1100 each morning turned the ocean to a maelstrom, especially in the vicinity of the shallow reefs we mostly intended to fish. It was as tough a week as I have spent fishing anywhere, a week when for much of the time staying on our feet was a major challenge, let alone casting or jigging. Luckily our hosts Game Fishing Asia run two fine boats with experienced skippers, but even so by early afternoon most days the smaller of these had been forced back to port.

MT BEST FISH OF THE TRIP, 40LB GT CAUGHT ON A CHARTREUSE 250G WILLIAMSON ABYSS JIG

MY BEST FISH OF THE TRIP, 40LB GT CAUGHT ON A CHARTREUSE 250G WILLIAMSON ABYSS JIG

Throughout the five days we fished we steadily pulled together a somewhat modest haul consisting of GT’s to around 50lb, yellowspot and bluefin trevally, various groupers and reef fish and a lone 30lb+ dogtooth tuna for Darius. Fish of the week was a chunky 40lb plus king mackerel, one of two caught on a surface popper by Simon Powell; what a take! Yes we struggled to catch fish, but as we all know there is nothing you can do about the weather, the strong north-east monsoon winds we were experiencing should have ended in early January. Certainly there are plenty of fish here, the boat sounders frequently marked dense schools beneath us, I guess we will have to go back to catch them!

40LB+ KING MACKEREL CAUGHT ON SURFACE POPPER BY SIMON POWELL

40LB+ KING MACKEREL CAUGHT ON SURFACE POPPER BY SIMON POWELL

A DOGTOOTH TUNA FOR DARIUS

A DOGTOOTH TUNA FOR DARIUS

A GOOD GT CAUGHT ON A STICK BAIT FOR RAY JENNINGS

A GOOD GT CAUGHT ON A STICK BAIT FOR RAY JENNINGS

Krinda is located just 12km west of  Yala National Park, and part of our package included the option for either an early morning or evening game drive, something most of us took up, especially the latter once we had been forced back to port in the afternoon aboard the smaller boat. Yala is Sri Lanka’s second largest game reserve, noted for its large population of leopard, which I managed to see on each of the three game drives I went on. There are plenty of elephant, spotted deer, water buffalo, wild boar and lots of other animals including the elusive sloth bear. The bird life is truly staggering with lots of wild peacock, vast flocks of colourful wading birds, and exquisite kingfishers and bee eaters that positively glow in the rich evening light. Fishing aside, I’d go back for the game viewing alone.

WILD PEACOCK ARE EVERYWHERE, INVARIABLY YOUR EARLY MORNING ALARM CALL!

WILD PEACOCK ARE EVERYWHERE, INVARIABLY YOUR EARLY MORNING ALARM CALL!

ELEPHANT AT YALA NATIONAL PARK

ELEPHANT AT YALA NATIONAL PARK

In summary Sri Lanka is somewhere I fully intend to return. This is one destination that is perfect to take your wife or family, giving you the opportunity to escape for a day or two tropical popping and jigging offshore. This really is one of the most impressive ‘developing world’ countries I have visited, with daily direct flights from the UK only adding to Sri Lanka’s overall appeal as the perfect holiday/fishing destination.

BEAUTIFUL CHESNUT HEADED BEE EATER AT YALA

BEAUTIFUL CHESNUT HEADED BEE EATER AT YALA

Most trips we have a client or two burnt to varying degrees by the sun. Over the years I’ve heard all of the excuses as to why this has happened, the bottom line being the victim has not used sufficient high factor sun cream. One of the most overlooked and painful places to get burnt is the tops of your feet. I have seen cases so bad the client has been all but bed ridden for several days, one case I heard of in Namibia resulted in a three week stay in hospital for skin grafts. One of our Sri Lankan group got badly burnt, take a long hard look at the pictures, yes it was as painful as it looks. Remember this image when next you pack for a tropical fishing trip. You need cream/sun block of a minimum of SPF30; if you are fair skinned SPF50 is better. And remember you actually have to squirt the stuff out of the tube and apply it to your skin in order for it to be effective!

SUN CREAM DOES NOT WORK IF STILL IN THE TUBE!

SUN CREAM DOES NOT WORK IF STILL IN THE TUBE!

Trips to Krinda and a few other locations throughout Sri Lanka with Game Fishing Asia can be booked through Anglers World Holidays, Tel 01246 221717

For more information visit: http://gamefishingasia.com and

http://yalawildlifebeachresortsrilanka.com