PANAMANIAN PARADISE!

Welcome to my first blog of 2016, long overdue but as you will see I have been extremely busy. The year started off with a two week cruise around the western Caribbean with Alison, a great opportunity to visit a few new places and explore future fishing opportunities. We started off in Barbados, calling in at Aruba, Roatan and Trujillo in Honduras, Port Limon in Costa Rica, Colon in Panama, Cartagena in Colombia, Grenada and finally back to Barbados for the flight home. I had hoped to sneak in a bit of fishing here and there but these days the ships are in port for the absolute minimum of time, so this was not possible.

DSCN3675

A sloth seated high in the tree canopy near Port Limon in Costa Rica

During my time in the Merchant Navy I spent 6 months on the P&O cruise ship Oriana and almost always we would arrive in port at 0700 and sail at 1900, and usually had an overnight stop once per cruise. Seemingly that is not the case today. Often we didn’t get ashore until 0900 or even 1000 and then usually the ship sailed around 1600-1700, which was very disappointing, and something you might like to look at if you plan on taking a cruise. However I have some great leads to follow up for fishing in Honduras, Colombia and Aruba.

DSCN3702

Colourful fruit seller in the streets of Cartagena. Check out the hot sauce; now thats my kind of fruit seller!

DSCN3712

The old town in Cartagena, Colombia, a truly fantastic city

Barely had I got home and unpacked when I was driving back to the airport to again fly across the Atlantic to Panama, this time with a  group of 11 friends all eagerly anticipating a week of popping, jigging and live baiting. Most of these had joined me the previous year when we had fished at Paradise Fishing Lodge on the countries northern Pacific Coast. That year the fishing had been outstanding, this year we had to work for our fish.

DSC_0053

Sunrise near Coiba Island, Panama. One of our crews catching live bait for the day ahead; what will they catch?

The eastern Pacific is in the grip on an especially strong and protracted El Nino, with much warmer than average temperatures that seem to have slowed the fishing down. That said ‘slow’ fishing in Panama is the equivalent of excellent fishing at many destinations I have fished, and during the week everyone in the group boated some memorable fish including several sailfish, cubera snapper to over 50lb, roosterfish to 35lb along with school sized yellowfin tuna and numerous other species. The weather was fantastic, the rum, food and company even better; what else could you want from a fishing trip in the tropics in February?

DSC_0047

A 50lb+ cubera snapper caught off Coiba Island, Panama. Check out the AFTCO shirt; cool eh!

DSC_0049

Business end of my big cubera, not a good place to be if you are a fish!

During this trip I was able to try out some of the extensive range of technical fishing clothing manufactured by AFTCO, for whom I am now a pro-staffer. Most offshore anglers are aware that the companies rod hardware and deck equipment are widely regarded as being the industry standard, few realise just how extensive their range of technical fishing apparel is. Their tropical fishing shirts in particular are beautiful to wear, especially the Ultra Performance ‘Fish Ninja’ range which feature a built in buff and hood. The AFTCO Solarmar UVS gloves are comfortable to wear all day long, providing excellent grip when casting or fighting fish, the wearer all the time benefitting from SPF 50 protection. Check out the full AFTCO range at: http://www.aftco.com

DSC_0088

AFTCO Solamar UVS fishing gloves offer great grip, plus SPF50 protection

DSC_0076

A nice little rooster caught off Coiba

DSC_0204

My biggest rooster of the trip, again caught off Coiba Island

Part of the reason I have not blogged for so long is that I have been working full time on my latest book. Back in the autumn I was introduced to a publisher who immediately became interested in the ideas I proposed to him, and within the week a contract had been agreed and I had begun work on the project. Can’t reveal too much at the moment, but basically the book will feature around 25 chapters featuring some of the many wonderful locations around the world I have been fortunate to have fished. Key to my original idea was to maximise the use of some of the many thousands of images I have stored, and each chapter will have a minimum of 6 colour images, which I hope will give a ‘feel’ of the destinations featured. I plan on finishing my part of the work in March, so hopefully the book will be published sometime this summer.

DSC_0149

Terry Thomas with a good mullet snapper caught off Coiba Island

DSC_0217

Andrew Leaves with a stunning bluefin trevally caught on a Shimano Waxwing lure

Something different now. Recently I was contacted by Mail Speed Marine, an online marine chandlery company and they have generously offered anyone referred to their site from here a discount of 5% on products from their vast range. Take a look at what they sell here: https://www.mailspeedmarine.com

DSC_0135

One of our crews fishing & hooked up off Coiba Island