SPORT FISHING CHARTER BOATS-
1) 24-foot custom center console sportfishing super panga powered by a 50 hp Yamaha outboard cruises at 30 mph. Great for fly fishing trips and sport fishing charters in the Bay of Panama. Starting at $650 a day
2) 30-foot custom center console sportfishing super panga powered by twin 70 hp Suzuki 4 strokes cruises at 30 mph. Great for the Perlas Islands fly fishing and trolling for sailfish, dorad, wahoo and tuna fishing. Starting at $800 a day.
3) 24-foot Anna Capri open fisherman powered by twin 115 Yamaha 4 stroke outboards cruises at 35mph. Great for offshore fly fishing trips and sport fishing charters. Starting at $1000 a day.
4) 42-foot Custom Silverton powered by twin 380hp 3116 Cats cruises at 25mph. This 42 foot Sportfisherman has been custom built from the stringers up to facilitate offshore trolling for Marlin, tuna and deep dropping for swordfish plus the design allows easy plug casting popping and jigging close in around the many Islands of the Perlas Archipelago huge cubera snapper, broomtail grouper, roosterfish and amberjacks. Great for sportfishing offshore tuna, sailfish, marlin fishing and Fly fishing trips. Starting a $1850 a day.
PANAMA OFFSHORE SPORTFISHING CHARTERS -
PANAMA Nearshore Charter Fishing -
One day fishing charter, 8 hours saltwater fishing with super panga 1 to 10 miles out around the island of Chepillo at the mouth of the Bayano River in the Bay of Panama. Maximum of 2 anglers. Launching ramp is 70 minutes from most Panama City hotels- ground transportation is easily arranged. Sport fishing charter starting at $650 a day.
PANAMA DEEP SEA OFSHORE CHARTER FISHING -
Saltwater sport fishing charters, minimum of 3 days deep sea charter fishing with overnight at San Jose Island at Hacienda Del Mar resort, maximum of 6 anglers. Boat dock is 20 minutes drive from any Panama City hotel – ground transportation is easily arranged. 42-foot Custom Silverton sports a large unobstructed, stable cockpit seamlessly joined to a sizable salon that can easily and effectively accommodate two to six anglers Panama fishing. The custom layout allows for plug casting or fly fishing to be efficiently and safely executed from the large slip resistant bow platform. The walkways are ample permitting quick mobilization from the cockpit to the bow platform when the fishing guide sights tailing Sailfish or busting bait. The custom COCKPIT SALON design comfortably fishes up to six persons offshore trolling and there is plenty of room on the bow for those who like to plug cast poppers or for fly fishing on deep sea fishing trips. This is a wonderful boat for extended offshore fishing trips in the Gulf of Panama particularly around the ‘explosives’ fishing zone beyond the continental shelf drop-off as well as in around the various Perlas Islands. Deep sea fishing charter starting at $1850 a day.
FISHING CHARTER QUARRY- Nearshore Fishing Charter- Estuary, shelf demersal and shelf pelagic saltwater gamefish, including Pacific Sierra, chicken Dorado, school Snapper, Corvina, small Grouper, Pacific Jack Crevalle, Trevally, Sharks, Green Jack, Skipjack, Bonito & assorted trash fish.
Offshore Fishing Charter- Shelf demersal, slope, shelf pelagic and migrating saltwater pelagic gamefish including Pacific Sailfish, Dorado, Jack Crevalle, Trevally, Pacific Sierra, big Grouper, large Snapper, Cubera snapper, Rockfish, Amberjack, various Sharks, Wahoo, Bigeye Tuna, Yellowfin Tuna, Black Marlin, Striped Marlin, Blue Marlin, Swordfish & assorted trash fish.
CHARTER FISHING TACKLE- Have Tackle & Will Travel. Everything from light spinning to unlimited sticks- Penn international 30-50w, Shimano TLD 25s, Beastmaster 50/80, & Fin Nor 30-50 reels on custom rods, Shimano Stellas for popping and jigging- downriggers, outriggers, live bait rigging, dead bait rigging and specializing in lure fishing – popping, jigging, high speed offshore trolling, planers, z-wings, specialized patterns, current and temperature plotting, props tuned to raise fish etc. Fly fishing charters encouraged and fly fishermen welcome but I do not provide fly fishing gear.
CHARTER FISHING SEA CONDITIONS- Panama saltwater deep sea sportfishing is accomplished in an Eastern Pacific Ocean Gulf of approximately 12,000 square miles which, depending on your point of reference, could be considered relatively large. Charter fishing area encompasses over 100 volcanic tropical offshore islands including the Archipelago Las Perlas and out past the edge of the continental shelf. Deep sea fishing circumstances are somewhat variable but generally from late May to early December the Gulf of Panama is usually calm and seas are from 1 to 3 feet with the occasional afternoon squall becoming more frequent during the months of October & November. From late December to early May is the dry season and the North Wind prevails occasioning normally calm mornings with seas typically 2-5 feet offshore in the afternoons, however plug casting and fly fishing can be easily accomplished in the lee of the many Perlas Islands. There is no rain in the dry season.
During the Pliocene Epoch, 5-1.8 million years ago the Panamanian land bridge between North and South America formed creating the Gulf of Panama and separating the two great oceans, which curtailed most migrations and genetic mingling of fish species between the Atlantic and Pacific. The Gulf of Panama is singularly complicated and fragile. It may be the major area in the Eastern Pacific Ocean whose aquatic ocean environment spawns the very foundation of all oceanic life. The Gulf of Panama’s underwater geography is a shallow collective alcove when compared to the offshore depths and neighboring coastlines. Offshore, the second strongest planetary current the ‘Humboldt’ or ‘Peru’ Current initiating from the tip of South America pushes its way along the Colombian mainland towards the Azuero Peninsula and the Tuna Coast bringing opulent quantities of sea life. Several immense freshwater networks empty into the Gulf of Panama such as the Golfo de San Miguel and its hundreds of tributaries, the Bayano River and the Panama Canal. The Archipelago of Las Perlas consisting of more than one hundred beautiful volcanic islands, many of substantial size, and the islands of Bona, Otoque, Taboga, Taboguilla and others contribute to form a wealth of underwater structure praised by sportfishing guides. These islands further provide a varied shoreline of beaches, rocky points, steep drop offs, sea mounts, hundreds of small bays, river mouths, waterfalls and indentations that serve as sea life habitats. On the mainland bordering the center of the Gulf, where the Panama Canal empties to the ocean is found the lowest geographical zone across the Isthmus of Panama. During the dry season (January-May) the prevailing north wind is blocked elsewhere along the Isthmus by mountains except in this low area where a wind tunnel effect develops. The effect of the steady wind upon the surface water in the Gulf creates a strong ‘Drift’ current. Oceanographers call it the Panama Current. It has far reaching effects on the Galapagoes Archipelago warming the surface waters seasonally. This Drift Current in turn produces a very rare type of current known as a ‘Vertical’ current. In such cases a strong steady wind blowing across a landmass for more than a few weeks causes surface water to be blown offshore and water must move in to replace it, usually vertically from deep water. The deep up welled offshore water is cold and nutrient rich, when this water moves into the ‘alcove’ that is the Gulf of Panama the dormant nutrients it contains reach a depth where sunlight acts on them and this water then yields extravagant plankton supplies. Hence this area of tremendous upwelling is incredibly rich in marine life. Plankton and other organisms bloom at unusually rapid rates clouding water visibility with a venerable population explosion. The entire ocean area is affected as normal marine life is tremendously augmented and growth patterns are accelerated increasing various forms of fish aggregations spectacularly. This of course means Panama fishing and catching charters for Cubera Snapper, Big Grouper, Blue marlin, black marlin, sailfish, dolphin, wahoo, yellowfin tuna, big eye tuna, amberjack, roosterfish, Sierra Mackerel and various other snapper are quite good. These circumstances occur annually in the Gulf of Panama sparking a chain of events, growth, aggregations and development of marine life essential to the Eastern Pacific Ocean. During this period surface water temperatures in the Gulf of Panama cools from 84 degrees down to 62-69 degrees Fahrenheit. The fly fishing or charter fishing enthusiast is treated to fantastic and unusual deep sea fishing opportunities for gamefish normally found only at great depths ordinarily beyond the scope of normal charter fishing trips. Deep water extremely large shelf demersal and slope gamefish species such as Rockfish, giant Groupers, Giant Sea Bass, huge Pacific Cubera Snapper, Cabrillas and monster Red Snapper assail the Gulf of Panama in formidable numbers and extreme sizes foraging in shallow water of 10 to 60 feet and up close to the islands, a sportfishing guides dream come true. The duration of this deep sea fishing phenomenon is fundamentally dependant on the wind and usually lasts from 4 to 10 weeks. Additionally at this time Panama fishing charters are treated to an extreme and well defined temperature break (as much as 10 degrees but usually from 76-82 degrees) that forms along the continental shelf drop-off attracting vast aggregations of warm water pelagic gamefish. This type of Panama Fishing features great groups of hungry Marlin, Tuna, Swordfish, Wahoo, Dorado and Sailfish that are steadily encountered along this zone by anyone saltwater fishing willing to drag a hook behind the boat. As the wind subsides and the water temperature rises sportfishing guides note that tremendous schools of offshore pelagic gamefish invade and mass within the Gulf of Panama and close to its islands to benefit and feed from the occurring phenomenon. Offshore fishing trips in the Gulf of Panama encounter these great pelagic gamefish as well as many stranded bottom behemoths the rest of the year from late May to early December. (Cubera Snapper fishing, Big Grouper fishing, Blue marlin fishing, black marlin fishing, sailfish fishing, dolphin fishing, wahoo fishing, yellowfin tuna fishing, big eye tuna fishing, amberjack fishing, roosterfish fishing, Sierra Mackerel fishing, snapper fishing) Therefore offshore sportfishing charters in the Gulf of Panama can be neatly divided into two principal angling pursuits –
Economically, culturally and socially the most important fish are ‘pelagic’ and oceanic, meaning that they live in the near surface waters of the ocean, usually far from shore. Billfish (Swordfish, Striped Marlin, Black Marlin, Blue Marlin, Sailfish and Spearfish), Tuna, Wahoo and Dolphin fish are among the worlds most sought after gamefish by deep sea fishing charters and sport fishing guides. They are the stars of fly fishing and offshore saltwater sportfishing charters. These species are noted for their high rates of reproduction, rapid growth, stamina and extraordinary swimming speed. Differing from the estuary, bottom dwelling or coastal fish species that spend most of their time near shore within the continental shelf, pelagic species ramble freely in the oceanic environment. Distribution and abundance of these nomadic fish is closely associated to variations in their life history profiles. Years of local sport fishing guide knowledge concerning this information is vital to the successful fishing charter catching of these ultimate gamefish in any part of the world. Habits and migration patterns are affected by changing environmental influences including temperatures, currents and food supply. Their long migrations indicate complex relationships to surrounding oceanic conditions that vary for larval, juvenile and adult stages of life. Adults are more widely distributed in temperate and tropical waters while sub-adults are restricted to warm equatorial waters.
Distribution is variable depending on seasonal changes in ocean temperature and is generally hemispherical. Pelagic fish species tend to move towards the poles in warmer seasons and return to the equatorial zones as temperate waters cool. The oceanic migration behavior of pelagic game fish is not easily categorized or understood despite extensive studies and innumerable deep sea fishing trips. Migration patterns appear to be restricted by major world currents, water temperature and continental landmasses that consequently influence the abundance of prey species, local knowledge that an experienced sport fishing guide must have. The existence of localized ‘stocks’ is theorized, but these stock structures are severely disrupted and much genetic intermingling occurs, even trans-oceanically, for several years with each occurrence of the ‘El Niño’ or ‘La Niña’ phenomenon. ‘El Niño’ & ‘La Niña’ now historically appear to be routine large-scale natural oceanographic events transpiring every 3 to 8 years. Changes in the characteristics of water temperature and productivity during ‘El Niño’ & ‘La Niña’ years alter dramatically the somewhat predictable movement patterns to specific spawning and feeding grounds further shrouding the information a good saltwater fishing guide needs for successful offshore fishing trips.
However this also results in low commercial plundering of the ‘stocks’ and a limited recovery for most fast maturing species such as Dorado, Yellowfin Tuna, Big Eye Tuna and Sailfish but not particularly for the Marlin or Swordfish. Pelagic fish species are closely associated with their physical and chemical environment. Their actual abundance in a particular year or area is difficult to predict by Panama fishing guides and is subject to countless oceanic factors and characteristics. Sportfishing guides observe that they are typically more concentrated where food is abundant, commonly near offshore islands and seamounts that create upwelling zones and strong diverging and converging currents. Along ocean current boundaries caused by differing gradients in temperature, oxygen and salinity and along food rich temperature fronts between cold upwelled water and warmer ocean water masses also attract concentrations of feeding Pelagic fish and sportfishing guides. The areas where these conditions are most prevalent in the western hemisphere are in the Gulf of Panama, Gulf of Chiriqui and along the Tuna Coast of Panama. These Gulfs each comprise vast ocean areas within which are countless sport fishing trip hotspots that attract various aggregations of migratory pelagic game fish seasonally. (Cubera Snapper fishing, Big Grouper fishing, Blue marlin fishing, black marlin fishing, sailfish fishing, dolphin fishing, wahoo fishing, yellowfin tuna fishing, big eye tuna fishing, amberjack fishing, roosterfish fishing, Sierra Mackerel fishing, snapper fishing) Knowing where and when to target which gamefish species is valuable information usually gleaned by veteran Panama fishing guides from years of saltwater fishing trips in these specific waters. Light penetration and water temperatures diminish rapidly with increasing depth, once below the thermocline the water is only a few degrees above freezing. Pelagic fish make vertical migrations through the water column in search of food. Offshore fishing trips seem to verify that they tend to inhabit surface waters at night and deeper water during the day, but move extensively between the surface and the thermocline throughout the day. In many cases this ability further veils the location of many great saltwater fishing hotspots as there may be no detectable underwater structure or visible surface current lines to indicate these productive sport fishing charter zones. Pelagic fish species have many physiological adaptations for life in the open oceans that sport fishing guides need to be aware of. They have streamlined bodies specifically adapted for fast efficient swimming. They are the fastest fish in the oceans with some species capable of speeds over 50 mph. Some have large red muscle masses useful for swimming long distances at an intense pace and smaller white muscle masses for short bursts of super speed when chasing prey or escaping predators. Those with a proportionally larger white muscle mass to red muscle ratio such as Wahoo and Black marlin are the most accomplished sprinters over shorter distances of a few hundred yards.
Various species such as the Tunas have circulatory heat exchangers capable of regulating body temperature, especially heat build up generated from vigorous swimming or entering warm surface waters. Essentially in these fish constant muscle activity heats the blood. Outgoing blood vessels already heated by vigorous muscle movement are networked to pass in close proximity to incoming blood vessels thereby continually warming these and maintaining body temperature several degrees above that of the surrounding waters. Unlike most fish, many pelagic species can maintain their body temperatures above that of the surrounding water for extended periods mimicking this characteristic of ‘warm blooded’ animals. This adaptation allows them to utilize energy reserves quickly, translating into rapid bursts of speed and increased efficiency of the brain and eyes necessary for hunting prey in cold deep water. Fish are ‘cold blooded’ and for most the temperature extremes between shallow and deeper layers of the ocean are a physical barrier.
Tuna and Billfish have evolved the necessary physiological adaptations to accomplish this activity maintaining a relatively constant temperature in the key areas of their anatomy. The ability to make extensive vertical migrations through the water column increases the available foraging habitat and is dependent on sustaining proper temperature of the brain, eyes and essential organs. Tunas, which accomplish this through circulatory heat exchangers that conserve heat when the fish is relatively inactive, must move to colder deeper waters as activity increases. Hence large migrating schools of Tuna are most often found just above the thermocline and where the thermocline is closest to the surface in association with a landmass along Tuna migration routes are usually the most productive sportfishing zones for deep sea fishing charters. A veteran Panama sport fishing guide knows that on the Pacific side of Panama the outer edge of the Azuero Peninsula (Tuna Coast), the Piñas Bay area, the Hannibal Banks area around the island of Coiba and the zone between the ‘explosive dumping area’ and adjacent San Jose Island of the Perlas Archipelago are prime examples frequented by deep sea fishing charters. These Panama fishing areas are equally productive for the other species of pelagic fishes much sought after on saltwater sportfishing trips - Sailfish, Marlin, Swordfish, Wahoo, Dorado (dolphin fish), Amberjack and mackerels that tend to school in these zones for longer periods of time offering great offshore fishing trips. Billfish that have large white muscle mass but a smaller mass of red muscle must rely on different defenses against the detrimental effects of changes in water temperature. They have developed a process that acts like a heater organ to retain heat from warm surface waters and sustain favorable temperatures of the brain, eyes and central nervous system for extended periods in colder deeper waters. Thus they are able to endure rapid temperature changes and migrate vertically along the water column foraging opportunistically anywhere in the water column including below the thermocline but always returning to warm surface waters to ‘charge’ their heater process tissues periodically. The bill of a Billfish is a special physiological adaptation that serves to reduce drag and increase speed that is also used as a weapon for defense or for killing prey. The observed seasonal abundance by sport fishing guides of surface cruising billfish in specific areas which offer few other noticeable signs year after year are keystones to an offshore sportfishing guides portfolio of that region. These Panama fishing trips sites are secret to the one dimensional structure seeking deep sea fishing charter. An experienced sport fishing guide knows that most oceanic pelagic fish spawn over vast areas of ocean in warm surface waters above 75 degrees where ever food sources are abundant. Spawning generally occurs throughout the year in the tropics and in warm seasons at more temperate latitudes. Individual females are typical ‘batch spawners’ spawning many times at short intervals throughout the year, especially where feeding is extravagant. All Pelagic fish have high reproductive rates producing millions of eggs per year. The tiny eggs float and drift with the currents on the surface until the tiny larva hatch. From just a few millimeters at birth they reach very large sizes when fully grown. Growth rates, attainable sizes, and ages vary greatly among and within the various species subject to ocean conditions, food type and availability. Juveniles and young adults grow rapidly with a gradual slowing as full sizes and ages are reached. A veteran sport fishing guide is aware that most pelagic game fish that survive to adulthood are extremely ambitious opportunistic carnivores eating virtually anything that moves. Adult females of most Tuna and Tuna-like species are usually smaller than the males while female Billfish reach much larger sizes than the males. Dolphin fish and smaller Tuna species have short lives (4-5 years) and reach sexual maturity within the first year. Billfish and the larger Tuna species that are especially sought after by sport fishing guides live 10-30 years and do not reproduce until they are 3 to 8 years old. Energy demands associated with rapid growth and extensive swimming is great. Pelagic fish have voracious appetites some species can consume 25% their own body weight in a day! They are opportunistic carnivores with variable diets and major prey items vary depending on the fish’s life stage, oceanic region, seasons and specific prey abundance. Panama fishing guides have found that some species have well known predator-prey relationships such as Dolphin fish and Sailfish preying on flying fish, Swordfish on squid, and Blue marlin and Black Marlin on skipjack tuna. Tunas, Billfish, Dolphin fish and Wahoo compete at the top of the food chain for the same prey. They are frequently found schooling by sport fishing guides on saltwater fishing trips in the same offshore fishing areas or saltwater sportfishing zones. Charter fishing guides note that schools are most compact when the fish are spawning or attracted to a common food source near features such as seamounts, flotsam or offshore islands in deep water and these are the best sites for Panama fishing trips. Marlin are often encountered on Panama saltwater sportfishing trips in pairs or groups of several males with one or two females.
Sailfish in the Gulf of Panama are often found by deep sea fishing charters in great schools of over a hundred individuals. Panama fishing guides note that tuna schools are often associated with porpoises in the eastern tropical Pacific. Juvenile Yellowfin Tuna, Dolphin fish, Wahoo and even Sailfish are frequently found in close proximity to floating objects such as logs, turtles and whales. Although many times caught together on saltwater sportfishing trips pelagic fish maintain discrete species-specific schools and their co-occurrence is due to the mutual attraction of food and habitat. Full sized adult pelagic gamefish are excessively aggressive apex predators not accustomed to any taunting or teasing by a sport fishing charter. They have accomplished their size through the high development of an enterprisingly offense oriented predatory instinct that has been evolved over millions of years. Pelagic gamefish with the most highly developed fierce prey drive are the ones that attain the largest sizes. In other words unlike large long lived wary bottom dwelling game fish such as Cubera Snapper and big Grouper which live cautiously, Pelagic gamefish score points for being reckless. Their fast paced metabolism and wild offshore nomadic behavior causes them to be constantly desperate for food, a decidedly evolved reckless instinct is the only way to grow big in such a merciless offshore oceanic realm. Sport fishing guides have witnessed some pelagic game fish, such as Billfish, that will chase and eat fish almost 20% their own size and then will insanely chase and kill flying fish only a few inches long as if for sport. They will expend vast amounts of energy in swift contorted acrobatic movements to attack and kill small fish of no nutritional value. These deranged efforts cannot logically be hunger motivated. Dorado, Wahoo, Sailfish and especially Marlin have been reliably observed on offshore fishing trips apparently killing for the sake of killing and not eating their victims. Billfish, particularly Swordfish and Black Marlin have frequently attacked and speared sportfishing boats on a sportfishing charter and in one verified case even a small submarine. Many large pelagic gamefish were considered stupid by ancient sport fishing guides when saltwater sportfishing because they would readily attack such simple lures as a colored cloth dragged behind a moving boat. They confused the fish’s survival instinct with its thinking capacity. Adult pelagic gamefish don’t have much thinking capacity. Their brains are so small that they can afford only the most rudimentary of nervous systems in which they actually cannot feel pain, as we understand it. As near to pain as they are able to feel is when they are hungry, which is most of the time and which frequently manifests seemingly suicidal behavior especially when seen by novice anglers on a sportfishing charter. Bright colored lures with sassy popping actions or irregular swimming actions with smoke trails seem to visibly agitate large pelagic gamefish into a passionate rage when deployed on a sport fishing charter or when fly fishing. Being hooked up evidently further enrages them and they demonstrate a very definite and energetic response. Some will sprint across the ocean in long magnificent grey-hounding leaps and jumps that defy description or take off on long smoking runs abruptly changing direction and going deep. Billfish will routinely put on a spectacular aerial show sometimes tail walking for astounding distances while Tuna will render a deep back breaking toe to toe gorilla battle worthy of the WWF. To be successful, anglers especially when fly fishing are well advised to learn as much as possible on shore and then gain the on the water experience that is so essential. The Gulf of Panama has produced hundreds of saltwater sportfishing and fly fishing IGFA world records over the years for the various types of pelagic gamefish, more than anywhere else in the world. Pelagic gamefish can reach mind-boggling sizes especially Billfish and Tuna. A hooked giant can test the mettle of the angler and crew in battles that can last for hours. In the last few years bigger and bigger Marlin and Tuna are being hooked and fought in Panama than have been regularly encountered since the ‘old days’ when the worlds first ever rod and reel caught grander Black Marlin was hooked, fought and landed right here in the Gulf of Panama on June 11, 1949 by one of the legendary Schmidt brothers. This giant Marlin officially weighed 1006 pounds, was 13 feet 11 inches long with a fantastic girth of 76 inches. Based on the measurements its true weight must have been at least 1200 pounds. This ‘horse’ was caught using a 40 foot homemade wooden boat powered by a 100 hp in-line 6 Caterpillar diesel engine that had a top speed of about 10 mph. Obviously the billfish was fought without much aid from the boat or any of the high speed ‘backing down’ so popular today. These were true pioneer sport fishermen who built their own boats and originated many of the blue water and marlin fishing techniques still used today. They were also great fishing guides & sport fishing Captains, among their list of clients in those days were John Wayne, Clark Gable, The Kennedys, Peter Goadby, Vic Dunaway, Count Von Luckner, Helen and Doc Robinson, King Leopold and Queen Wilhelmina etc. (the list does go on). Their father, ‘Papa’ or Pop Schmidt along with his son Louis, guided famous angler & writer Zane Grey on his first swordfish and marlin fishing trips to Panama. These were some of the original no-nonsense founding fathers of saltwater sportfishing in an extremely remote area at a time "when men were men and the reels did all the whining, not the anglers." They were the Panama fishing experts of Cubera Snapper fishing, Big Grouper fishing, Blue marlin fishing, Black marlin fishing, sailfish fishing, dolphin fishing, wahoo fishing, yellowfin tuna fishing, big eye tuna fishing, amberjack fishing, roosterfish fishing, Sierra Mackerel fishing, snapper fishing etc. For The Full Story See 'UNSUNG HERO'
"The Price of a Marlin is Eternal Vigilance" read the sign aboard the 'Caiman II' requiring an active role by all those fishing onboard. When the behemoth Black Marlin was finally brought boat side the real fun was scheduled to begin. In those days they didn’t have a pro football team’s defensive line as mates armed with all manner of flying gaffs, just who ever was on board had to partake in a team effort to get the unwilling giant billfish in the boat. Catching and landing these big billfish was still an unperfected art. Since Black Marlin and especially giant Black Marlin display a keen reluctance to being dragged alive into a boat, ‘keepers’ were gaffed first in the anal fin area in an effort to hold the tail out of the water to get a tail rope on thereby rendering the fish’s propulsion system useless. Lots of practice and a cool head were required to gaff a struggling marlin in this small area tough enough not to rip out the gaff. With the tail out of the water you ensured the fish wasn’t going to get away but some new athletic challenges were immediately presented. This method suffered from a serious fundamental flaw that while the tail might be useless for swimming it was still employed vigorously as a weapon. I personally always suspected there must be a better way. Some old-timers still say it is safer to gaff a marlin in this fashion as he is less likely to charge the boat. In those days the boat was a holy thing that was never subjected to undue stresses as any damage incurred was usually fixed personally by the owner. Marina facilities were non-existent, skilled sportfishing boat-building expertise and hardware was difficult to come by here in Panama. In any case, one person usually would gaff the fish and the other would rope the tail then someone aboard would wallop it between the eyes with a blunt instrument to subdue it at the proper time. The transom of the Caiman II had been well designed, it could be easily removed in order to drag and float big fish aboard once they had been 'quieted down'. The Caiman II was and is one of the best marlin fishing boats ever built and is still floating in Panama today. On various occasions an enraged marlin would attack the boat during an attempt to gaff it. In the early 1980's when the Caiman II was dry docked to be refurbished two nice sized marlin bills were dug out of the bullet-proof yellow pine hull. Nowadays the conservation minded trend of releasing trophy Billfish cuts down on a ‘variety of damage’ that can be inflicted on the boat, crew and angler although the act of reaching into a big black marlin’s maw to retrieve a $2 hook probably could do with a little revision philosophy as well. A framed high quality on-the-water photograph of these magnificent fish in action is today preferable to a picture of a rotting carcass of what once was a noble gladiator.