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SPORTFISHING CHARTER BOAT
– 24-foot center console super panga powered by a Yamaha 50 hp 4 stroke outboard that cruises at 30 mph. Excellent snook fishing guide boat especially for plug casting and fly fishing snook.
SPORTFISHING CHARTER – 8 hour Tarpon fishing and Snook sportfishing charters with experienced tarpon, snook fishing guide. Maximum of 2 anglers, bottled water, ice and giant tarpon and snook charter fishing gear is provided. Boat landing is about an hour drive from any Panama City hotel or residence – ground transportation is easily arranged. Sportfishing trip for Snook fishing and Tarpon fishing starting at $550 a day.
SPORT FISHING CHARTER QUARRY – Pacific Tarpon 5 to 250 pounds, Black Snook and White Snook from 5 to 50 pounds.
SPORTFISHING CHARTER COLATERAL QUARRY – Various smaller Pacific Snook species, Pacific Mangrove Snappers, juvenile Cubera Snappers, Corvina, Jacks, Machaca, Grunts and assorted trash fish.
SPORT FISHING CHARTER TACKLE- Assorted Penn spinning reels (5500-8500 and 712z-704z) on Penn, Ugly Stick or Custom snook fishing rods, Fly fishing snook enthusiasts are welcome and encouraged for tarpon angling or snook fishing charters but I provide no fly fishing equipment.
SPORTFISHING CHARTER WATER CONDITIONS – Panama sport fishing charters for giant tarpon fishing and snook fishing trips are accomplished on a fairly large Central American tidal river system with several tributaries and creeks. The Bayano River meandering length is roughly 30 miles before emptying into the Gulf of Panama where it is approximately a mile wide. Due to the substantial Pacific Ocean tides in this part of Central America the river has a strong current and the water level drops 12 to 20 feet with the tide depending on the moon phase, producing a fast current which optimizes Panama snook fishing opportunities. From May to December water clarity varies depending on tidal flow and rain but the river is mostly calm, perfect for fly fishing snook or just plug casting. Late December to early May (dry season in Central America) there is no rain and water clarity is at its best for Panama snook fishing charters. Due to the prevailing north wind in dry season a 1 - 2 foot chop develops in the afternoons along some sections of the Bayano River. However there are always sections shielded from the wind that are excellent for fly fishing or plug casting for big snook that are busting bait or rampaging giant tarpon.
In the middle of the 16th century hundreds of black runaway slaves established settlements in Central America, many inter-marrying with the Indians, especially in the Darien area of Panama from the upper Atlantic coast (Nombre de Dios area) to the Perlas Islands in the Gulf of Panama. The Spanish referred to them as ‘Cimarrón’ which at that time probably meant runaway or maverick and possibly because of their color. Bayano was their greatest leader and was called King by them. Because of the abuses by the Spanish to his people, Bayano declared an apparently just war on Spain which he rather successfully carried out for quite sometime. He also established a policy of attacking and robbing the treasure caravans moving across the Isthmus of Panama via the Camino Real on their way to Spain which had the effect of seriously disrupting what should have been the Spanish Kings considerable income from the New World. He was so successful that Pedro de Ursua, Spains greatest Conquistador at that time was sent to deal with Bayano the King of the Cimarron. Pedro de Ursua confirmed what had been legend, that Bayano and the Cimarron could not be defeated on the battlefield. The treacherous Pedro De Ursua then lured Bayano and the Cimarron captains to negotiate peace under a truce. At this parlay while unarmed the Cimarron were captured by the Spanish troops. This underhanded trickery was the only means that Spain could use to imprison Bayano. Because he was so respected for his warlike spirit and such a dominant force in the war he was not executed but instead sent to Spain and a treaty was enacted freeing the surviving ‘Cimarron’. The ‘Cimarron’ mostly didn’t like the Spanish and generally joined with English pirates and buccaneers to continue the harassment of Spain’s conquests. Rather than a one time event with a single solution as Spain had hoped, the Cimarron war against Spain did not end in 1556 with the capture of Bayano. Towards the end of the 16th century Philip II’s own cosmographer would report ‘...many black Cimarron live in Panama, it is said they number 3000 and more, and that they freely live and operate there without any means available to overpower them...’
The Rio Bayano or Rio Chepo is formed from the Bayano watershed area, a Darien eco-region of approximately 1500 square miles. The area is generally 1/3 diverse intact tropical jungle forest, 1/3 degraded forest (logged) and 1/3 varied agriculture and cattle pasture. Capesino settlers (farmers), Kuna and Embera–Wau Naan Indians (choco), along with 'Cimarròn' decendants populate this zone. In 1972-75 the Bayano Dam was built on the Rio Bayano about 20 miles inland from the coast forming the Bayano Lake (350 sq.km.) and creating a hydroelectric plant. Before this time the river was many times called the Chepo River by most snook sportfishing guides because the only large settlement along its banks was the town of Chepo. The Chepo River had a meandering length of about 95 miles before it was dammed and the remnants became better known for snook fishing trips as the Bayano River (30 mi). In Central America rivers generally tend to be short with high gradients except for reaches near the coastal zones where they are inclined to meander and produce substantial mangrove estuary zones that are great for snook fishing trips and tarpon sport fishing charters. The Rio Bayano is a prime example winding more than 30 miles within a 20-mile zone from the dam to the coast. It is a large swift river with strong currents, the depth varying at low tide from 1 to 100 feet and about a mile wide at the mouth. The Bayano River produces a vast coastal estuary network with marshes, swamps and mangrove jungles for miles on either side, a snook fishing and tarpon angling paradise. This fantastic estuary system is a key nursery for all manner of marine life. Brackish or diluted saline water plays a major role in the development and survival of many important marine species from shrimp to giant tarpon in Central America. The Rio Bayano estuary network is a highly productive tarpon fishing and snook sportfishing charter area that yields much of the nutrient materials used as food by coastal marine organisms that in turn are the first step in the stairway leading to the top predators of the oceans which are the prime targets of Panama snook sportfishing charters. Various forage species such as mullet, shrimp, mollusks and a vast array of juvenile gamefish mass in the Bayano River and its tributaries in incredible numbers. It produces a variety and abundance of fish species in varying stages of growth – many types of large predatory gamefish of Central America frequent this area as prime hunting grounds and they are in turn sought after by snook sportfishing charters. The Bayano River is great for fly fishing trips and is active with small to medium Snook, Snapper, Corvina and Tarpon all year. However any experienced snook fishing guide knows that 3-4 days before and after the full moon and sometimes at the new moon stage the big snook invade and the river really becomes infested with hefty gamefish especially big Snook and giant Tarpon. This is the prime time for snook sport fishing charters targeting these larger quarry. In the dry season at the time of the seasonal cool vertical current inthe Gulf of Panama the giant Tarpon, big Snook and a collection of diverse complementary game fish positively overrun the place seeking refuge from the cold Gulf waters, a situation unique to Panama fishing, sparking the sportfishing interests of tarpon anglers and snook fishing hunters. This Panama snook fishing area is a fantastic sport fishing trip dreamland where you will rarely encounter another charter fishing boat. The Rio Bayano sportfishing snook record was a 64 lbs Black Snook landed in 1999, and the biggest Tarpon caught on a sportfishing charter weighed 273 lbs and was landed in 2002. Notwithstanding bigger snook and tarpon have been lost on snook fishing trips or tarpon fishing charters by disgruntled anglers, especially while fly fishing. The Bayano River is not only renowned for tarpon fishing charters and snook fishing trips but it is also famous throughout Central America for its huge and numerous crocodiles and caimans, there have been published accounts of ‘gator’ hunts dating from the 1800. Because of its fast flow, uneven bottom and winding nature it affords excellent habitat for gamefish with an ambushing nature and until something better comes along, Tarpon and Snook fill the bill quite nicely.
Centropomus Nigrescens, Black Snook VS White Snook Centropomus Viridis
1)The body of Centropomus Nigrescens, Black Snook while similarly elongate is rounder and heavier in general appearance – being thicker through the middle than Centropomus Viridis, White Snook.
2) The head of Centropomus Nigrescens, Black Snook is bigger and the undershot jaw, characteristic of all Róbalo is far less pronounced than in Centropomus Viridis, White Snook.
3) Most importantly, the fourth dorsal spine of Centropomus Nigrescens, Black Snook is taller than the third. In both species the first two dorsal spines are hardly noticeable. In large specimens these first two spines are only a quarter of an inch long, while the third spine is over two inches in length. Therefore if the first long dorsal spine is longer than all the others are, it is a ‘Robalo Ñato’ or White Snook (Centropomus Viridis), however if the first long dorsal spine is shorter than the second long dorsal spine it is a ‘Robalo Redondo’ or Black Snook (Centropomus Nigrescens).
The large Snook species are the gamefish of particular interest to anglers on a sport fishing charter or to a Snook fishing guide especially if fly fishing snook in Panama. These Snook are medium sized silvery perch-like fish displaying a pronounced black lateral line. The Robalo or Snook is long bodied but thick in the middle with a protruding lower jaw. The back is darker than the flanks, usually dark bronze or gray shading to a lighter silvery gray-bronze on the sides with a white belly and two distinctly separate dorsal fins. Snook are estuary apex predators exhibiting a wide tolerance to salinity fluctuations from an early age. They occur in pure freshwater and in ocean saltwater to depths of 300 feet so Panama snook fishing trips can range from far up a river on down to the mouth and into the ocean.
Development begins in the estuary usually at the mouth of a river. The gravid female migrates to the mouth of the river where she was spawned during a full moon phase to release her eggs. During this period Panama snook sportfishing guides will recommend catch and release for most big female snook caught on a snook fishing charter. The female snook releases about two million eggs and the male snook swims along side fertilizing the eggs as they are spawned. The male snook sperm requires a certain salinity of water to be activated, having no effect if the water is less than 15 ppt (parts per thousand) salinity. Therefore Panama snook fishing guides hunt along a tidal river for the optimum salinity conditions to render a successful sport fishing snook charter. The nearly transparent larva drift in the estuarine tides and feed on smaller organisms for three to four weeks, at 3/8 inch the post–larval fish–like Robalo or snook migrates from the tidal estuary into calmer mangrove creeks and canals. Here the snook feed on copepods and grow about an inch a month. In the first year the Snook grows to 12 – 14 inches feeding on increasingly larger live preys, always in close association with mangrove areas. If snook sportfishing guides are patient within four years baby Robalo or snook grow to about 24 – 26 inches long and are sexually mature male snook ready to do battle on a snook fishing trip. Snook are protandric hermaphrodites, meaning they start life as males and later develop into females. In the case of the larger Robalo or snook species they become sexually mature female snook at about six or seven years. Before this change the male Snook prefer estuary, lake and river habitat migrating to the mouths of rivers during the full moon phase to spawn with the female snook that is coastal oceanic oriented. At six or seven years the female snook is about 26 to 30 inches long weighing ten to fifteen pounds and is a formidable game fish for any angler. An opportunistic predatory carnivore, the estuary bound snook or Robalo’s diet consists mainly of any live crustaceans and smaller fish. Panama snook fishing guides note that most big snook are most active in water temperatures of 68 – 78 degrees F, below 60F they are inactive becoming sluggish and at temperatures below 58F they are in danger of dying. Of particular interest to a Panama fishing snook guide is when ocean waters turn cold, as seasonally occurs in the Gulf of Panama. These conditions cause the full sized female Snook to invade the warmer rivers and lakes where they are found in astonishing numbers and thus affording spectacular snook fishing charters while Panama fishing. Bigger female snook or Robalo usually prefer the deeper waters of the bays when not mating but often extend their stay in the estuaries, rivers and lakes if prey is abundant. While Panama fishing in the Bayano River the snook full moon spawning ritual quite often coincides with the migrations and massing of prey species such as mullet and grass shrimp. In these instances the monster Snook will stay and feed for days or weeks creating a perfect snook charter fishing and snook fly fishing scenario.
A good sport fishing guide in Panama knows that Snook are fast efficient predators that feed equally well in muddy low visibility or clear waters, day or night. Panama snook fishing guides note that snook have a highly developed lateral line, which endows them with an extraordinary ability to feel movement in any water. This sixth sense allows them to find and attack prey in water of such low visibility that other fish are helpless. Fast turbid water is the preferred habitat of snook to ambush hapless baitfish victims that are unable to avoid the quick sure movements of the snook against the strong currents and upwellings. These are the prime areas veteran Panama snook fishing guides look for when on a Panama snook fishing charter. The Snook feeds best on the outgoing tide in swift tidal rivers, hiding at drop offs, sharp bends and behind any sunken structure assaulting smaller fish as they are swept by. Groups of big Snook are frequently observed on snook fishing charters herding and trapping large schools of prey against the shore as the helpless prey is forced into deeper water because of the receding tide, this is the magic moment to sneak up and cast a top water plug or popping bug if fly fishing. Only through years of on the water local knowledge can a snook fishing guide find where and when big snook are prevalent and active along the Bayano River or elsewhere in Panama. This familiarity is essential for a good snook fishing trip.
Singular displays of the power and mastery of Snook in their aquatic environment can be observed on many snook charter fishing trips whenever big snook or Robalo are found busting schools of baitfish or shrimp. During these fishing charters outsized snook or Robalo are seen attacking from below, rocketing skyward in an explosion that injures many bait fishes at a time with their violent body movements entering and exiting the water. They are noted by snook fishing guides for slapping the surface of the bait rich water with their powerful tail crippling several victim bait fish at a time, then lazily slurping up the unfortunate prey as they float helplessly. This is the perfect time on a snook fly fishing charter to cast an attractor type popping bug into the commotion. Snook demonstrate a close association with submerged mangrove roots; thus they are often found feeding where creeks empty into rivers and rivers empty into the ocean, hiding in the mangrove pockets. These are the primary places that should be targeted on a snook fishing trip. Large Snook demonstrate a preference for the downtide side of obstructions or sandbars and deep spots at the edge of a current. Huge snook or Robalo are also found on snook sport fishing charters offshore in depths up to 300 feet feeding in shrimp profuse silt bottoms. The shelving points of islands and any high spots such as wrecks and rock formations attract and hold sizable offshore Snook. In the offshore habitat they are lured by three dimensional structure but will regularly be found feeding wherever prey are prevalent in the water column. However for snook charter fishing trips it is more productive to target big snook when they are feeding in the more enclosed vicinity of a sharp river bend or shallow fast moving flat with several submerged obstructions which the snook will use as ambush points.
Titanic Robalo are one of the most sought after charter fishing gamefish in the world. Snook charter fishing has a devoted following of master anglers who would rather catch Snook than any other gamefish. These connoisseur anglers make a science of Snook fishing trips in an effort to increase the probability of landing this tricky quarry. The capture of a stout Snook over 25 lbs. on a snook fishing trip is a profoundly important historic event that dwarfs such artless endeavors like a NASA moon-shot or the construction of the Panama Canal. Well maintained special rods, calibrated silky smooth reels and secret techniques are employed on a snook fishing trip in the search and capture of this ultimate quarry. The IGFA has honored the much sought after Robalo with a special category wherein the capture of a big Snook over 25 pounds, according to IGFA standards, will be listed in the IGFA World Record Game Fishes book. The listing in this the Holy Book of anglers is considered by many to be the angling achievement of a lifetime. To catch a king sized big Snook is a rare event but is not necessarily like getting married, happening only 4 or 5 times in a lifetime. However it is best to prepare for the exceptionally behemoth fish, as second chances at 30 to 70 pound Snook are not typically served up like hamburgers and fries. The big Snook is a tough hard fighting gamefish that has been described as a bass on steroids having been designed by a rocket scientist. An angler must not only have mastered the art of angling sufficiently to effectively battle a magnificent snook but he must be in the right place at the right time. This is best accomplished through the services of a knowledgeable snook fishing guide. Big Snook are notoriously difficult to find and once found can be a vexing struggle to hook. This perplexes and confounds many anglers, as once encountered, the Robalo or Snook is a voracious predator commonly providing first hand demonstrations at boat side. It aggressively attacks and devours prey on the surface in an apparently fearless demonstration of ravaging prowess with no regard for the close proximity of the snook charter fishing boat. Finding the haunts of colossal Snook and inducing them to bite are the jealously guarded secrets of the master anglers and snook fishing guides. Beginner Robalo or Snook anglers are warned that simply asking where to find and how to catch big Snook will not usually render fruitful responses. “Behind the boat”, “In the water” and “Use a hook” are the general replies to such innocently asked questions. Novice anglers stumbling across stray weighty Robalo on a snook fishing trip frequently never know what happened and are left to speculate as to what fish that was that snapped their line. Snook will hit a variety of live baits, especially shrimp and small baitfish. They will readily attack an assortment of lures and flies such as poppers, streamers, shrimp patterns and particularly vibrating swimming plugs which are favorites of Panama snook fishing guides. On sport fishing charters offshore and around deep holes in the Bayano River they are frequently caught using shiny arrañas and jigs or when fly fishing large clousers, whistlers and streamers with an intermediate line. It is of particular relevance to note that the snook hunts using its keen eyesight and by feeling vibrations in the water through the use of its sensitive lateral line. Snook have been observed on snook fishing charters in clear water refusing offerings of live shrimp with hooks concealed, but scarping up any hookless shrimp thrown in the water. Big Snook are unusually hard to fool and it is not so much a case of what lure or bait to tempt them with but how to expertly present it at the proper time during a snook fishing trip. To induce leviathan Snook to take the hook substantial angler development coupled with certain ambient conditions are required. Finding groups of competitive Robalo feeding in low visibility fast moving water is an excellent example.
Here the Snook is forced to make rash decisions influenced by reflex feeding instinct, his competitive nature and the pain of hunger. It is under conditions like these that the crafty snook becomes a sucker for the hook and these are the optimal circumstances to look for on a snook fishing charter.
Some heavyweight Snook species can attain sizes of almost six feet in length and ninety-five pounds as has been reliably reported by commercial fishermen. Colossal Robalo of 60-70 lbs. are occasionally seen busting schools of bait in the surf and in swift muddy tidal rivers, sometimes in water only two to three feet deep. These are perfect conditions for the Snook sportfishing enthusiast or fly fisher. Regrettably finding and hooking this ‘Holy Grail’ of gamefish does not amount to 25% of the catching. Mammoth Robalo display extraordinary fighting characteristics when hooked. When finally hooking up to 25 to 50 lbs. of Snook the angler quickly realizes he has a tiger by the tail and doubt in his angling prowess shortly follows. This fish has no delicate manner. He is bellicose and intimidating in his indignant siege of the lure or bait. Full sized big Snook render an especially strong and complex fight, ripping line from the reel and circling the boat clockwise then counter clockwise looking for structure such as mangrove roots to hole up in. If the angler has mastered his craft and manages to control these preliminary bouts, the big snook will then commence a series of reel melting runs with or against the current forcing the angler to pursue. Several furious gill flaring, head-shaking jumps and splashing lunges always pronounce these stamina challenging strong runs. The enraged snook’s repeated violent body shaking and crashing leaps are too many times successful in shedding the hook, resulting in a lost big fish and a dejected would-be master angler. A battle with a really enormous Snook can last for nerve rankling prolonged periods that stress equipment and angler resolve, which serves to further demonstrate the wily big snook tremendous determination and strength. The high levels of skill and concentration required to subdue monster Snook are often beyond the capabilities of even veteran anglers and their specialized equipment. Of every ten full grown big Robalo over 25 lbs. hooked, a master angler using the best equipment may land 4 or 5. Each Snook of exceptional size requires intense planning, perseverance, practice and patience to whip.
A first rate snook fishing guide or Panama charter fishing service will recommend catch and release of all Robalo not destined for personal consumption as they have been over fished and are ultra susceptible to gill netting. Whole river systems have been sterilized of all Snook species in one to three years by illegal commercial gill netting.