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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 tarpon or snook fishing guide boat especially designed for plug casting and fly fishing tarpon and snook.
SPORTFISHING CHARTER – 8 hour Tarpon fishing and Snook sportfishing charters with experienced tarpon fly fishing and 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 (penn slammers 260-560 models and 5500-8500 spinfishers and 712z-704z) on Penn, Ugly Stick or Custom snook or tarpon fishing rods, Fly fishing for snook and tarpon is encouraged and welcome for tarpon fishing or snook fishing charters but I provide no fly fishing equipment to first time clients.
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’s 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 to big snook that are busting bait or rampaging giant tarpon.
In 1847 the Tarpon was described by Valenciennes as 'Large Eyed' or 'Megalops' in Greek which is the Genus it is classified under. While there is little debate over it's placement in the 'Elopiformes' Order there is much deliberation over the family designation of Elopidae or Megalopidae, a family separate from Elopidae within the suborder Elopoidei. Sabalo Real or Tarpon whether from the primitive family Elopidae or Megalopidae is the premier inshore sportfishing gamefish. Panama Tarpon sport fishing charters or tarpon sport fishing trips are the Big Game Safari of inshore recreational fishing. The first written records date from the late 1800 and were of fly fishing for tarpon in Florida. In prehistoric times, there were many more species of tarpon; today, there are just two. Megalops Atlanticus, Tarpon or Sabalo Real which has only one close relative within the genus Megalops- the Oxeye Herring, Oxeye Tarpon (Megalops Cyprinoides) or Indo-Pacific Tarpon that only grows to 60 inches and a weight of between 32 and 40 pounds. This Tarpon is confined to the western Indian Ocean from the Red Sea to South Africa and eastward to the Society Islands, northward to southern Korea, and southward to the Arafura Sea and New South Wales. It is restricted to high islands in Micronesia, and reported as far inland as the lower Shire River in Malawi and the Save-Runde junction in Zimbabwe. There is a well developed Tarpon charter fishing interest and significant tarpon fly fishing consideration for this sportfishing tarpon species along the coastal estuaries of Australia wherever they are established.
No other Panama sport fishing charter gamefish is harder to find, hook, fight and land than a giant Tarpon (Sabalo Real - Megalops Atlanticus) over 150 lbs. To accomplish the fly fishing or sportfishing capture of a behemoth 200 pound Sabalo Real on a Tarpon fishing trip you must stalk him, find him, learn his habits and prepare yourself with special rods, reels and methods. A successful Panama tarpon sport fishing trip is best accomplished through a good Panama tarpon sport fishing guide that knows the area, has had years of experience tarpon charter fishing and as a tarpon fly fishing guide. Finally you must hook him solidly, fight him expertly allowing no mistakes, usually from a small boat for several miles and sometimes for hours. This is an energetic explosive gamefish that in many cases is bigger than the angler is. Colossal Sabalo Real have been known to jump into boats during tarpon sport fishing trips destroying equipment and injuring anglers in the process. There have been several recorded instances in Central America of anglers being killed by giant Tarpon, mainly when trying to boat a green fish. Giant Tarpon are considered the supreme thrill of Panama sportfishing by many veteran anglers. The ultimate anglers dream, heavyweight Tarpon over 150lbs., are to be found in Central America especially in Panama on the Bayano River in surprising numbers and in places they are not scientifically supposed to exist. From Panama City, Panama they are reasonably accessible for tarpon sport fishing charters and tarpon fishing trips. Although many times present in great numbers, finding the secretive Tarpon is never easy. Sucessful giant Tarpon fishing involves hooking then landing a hefty giant Tarpon which is even more enigmatic. Only master anglers and top notch tarpon fishing guides devoted to studying the history, physical make-up and habits of monster Sabalo Real have ever caught one through rod and reel angling. Therefore an angler interested in Panama tarpon sportfishing trips aimed at 200 pound Tarpon catching is required to investigate a great deal about the species and be fairly proficient in the art of angling before successful attempts at finding, fighting and boating this gigantic fish will be remotely possible even with the help of a knowledgeable Panama tarpon sportfishing guide.
What is generally known about Panama tarpon fishing or tarpon in general is meager when compared to the information available regarding other more commercially valuable species and other charter fishing gamefish. Tarpon are dinosaurs that have survived for 125 million years with little evolutionary change in appearance or habits. The Tarpon is the only Panama sportfishing gamefish that is an obligate air breather, possessing a swim bladder with alveolar tissue that serves as a rudimentary lung. Studies in Central America indicate that small to medium sized Tarpon die within 7 to 120 hours when prevented from reaching the surface. This is one reason the Tarpon has survived throughout the ages; this air breathing capacity allows him to inhabit water not fit for other fish, especially those that might prey on him in his development. Another little known fact is that when afraid, the Tarpon produces sound in the form of thumps using its swim bladder. This helps to explain why a school of feeding tarpon will turn off for a time after one has been hooked and fought.
The Sabalo Real is a silvery large scaled fish resembling a monstrous herring. The back is dark blue to greenish-black shading to bright silver white on the sides and belly. Tarpon many times display a bronze hue when caught on tarpon sportfishing charters in inland waters of Central America that are stained or muddy particularly during the rainy season on a tarpon sportfishing trip on the Bayano River. The tail fin is deeply forked; the body is elongate but compressed with almost vertical sides covered with large silvery cycloid scales and a relatively broad belly. There is only one dorsal fin the last ray extremely elongated and the pectoral and pelvic fins have long accessory scales. Tarpon have a large head with a big undershot bucket mouth of impenetrable bone inside of which it sports rows of fine abrasive teeth which makes setting the hook on a Panama tarpon fishing trip unbelievably difficult. The Sabalo Real (Megalops Atlanticus) has large round dark eyes (the better to see you with).
The Tarpon begins life offshore about 80-100 miles at sea, spawned by very prolific females in milts of approximately 12 million eggs. The eggs hatch and soon develop into a larval stage called Lepto Cephali. These strange looking creatures have a transparent, ribbon-like body with slender, fang-like teeth. In warm oceanic waters the transparent eel shaped larva do not forage but obtain nutrients directly from the sea water through integumentary absorption. Mortality is high for Megalops Atlanticus as the larva develop through 3 stages and migrate to inland puddles and ditches over a period of 1 to 6 months. Storms in Central America many times contribute in drifting the larvae to their inshore nurseries. In stagnate pools, muddy ditches and at the edges of freshwater lakes they develop into a more fish-like form. When the Megalops Atlanticus larvae first reach these inshore areas, they are about an inch long. It is at this point, they begin their remarkable alteration wherein they lose their teeth and shrink, concluding the metamorphosis as miniature versions of the behemoths they will eventually become. Tarpon, bonefish, ladyfish, and eels all undergo a similar Leptocephalus transformation stages, however all except the eel have forked tails even during the larval stages. Gulping air and feeding primarily on zooplankton, small insects or other small organisms they survive in habitats that are mostly free of predators. Veteran Tarpon fishing guides in Central America recognize that as they grow they take up residence in larger bodies of water such as rivers and lakes feeding on larger prey, which they swallow whole. Juvenile tarpon in Central America prefer inland waters rarely venturing past the mouths of rivers which allows plenty of opportunities for tarpon sport fishing charters catching baby tarpon from 5 to 80 pounds. Panama Tarpon fishing guides appreciate that Megalops Atlanticus are a schooling fish all of their lives and can be found in fast turbid water, clear calm water or any combination of type and make-up of water, their only concern seems to be feeding and gulping air. However Tarpon also tolerate wide ranges in salinity throughout their lives but are temperature sensitive, preferring water temperatures of 72 to 82 F, below 60 degrees they become inactive and temperatures under 40F can be lethal, hence good Tarpon fishing trips seriously consider the chosen habitat circumstances of their quarry. Tarpon charter fishing trips in Central America reveal that Tarpon will eat almost anything dead or alive with equal enthusiasm so live bait on tarpon fishing trips is not absolutely required. Tarpon growth rates are slow, growing 15 to 20 inches in the first 2 years; to about 4 feet long and 60 to 80 pounds in 6 to 8 years at which time they are sexually mature and ready to move on to the coastal estuaries and the ocean, good information if on tarpon sport fishing charters targeting larger tarpon. Adult Tarpon migrate long distances in great schools up and down the coasts and estuary zones in search of optimal conditions and food. Good Panama tarpon fishing guides stalk and hunt for these somewhat regular migrations in an effort to arrange successful tarpon fishing trips. A Sabalo Real ‘s life span is long and they attain immense sizes, Tarpon of 380 lbs have been netted in rivers and there are unconfirmed but reliable reports from tarpon fishing trips of Tarpon weighing as much as 450 lb. It is estimated that a 200 lbs. tarpon is 60 to 70 years old and they may live in excess of 90 years. An interesting Panama tarpon fishing theory concerning Tarpon development surmises that the largest, oldest Tarpon (some over 400 pounds) live most of their lives in the deep water off the continental shelf, migrating mostly within these deep waters. This theory also holds that as Tarpon grow older the more infrequently they must surface to gulp air and that these older Tarpon which abide in these deep waters need only surface once a week or less. An intriguing Panama fishing theory that serves to answer many questions posed by divers who claim to have seen extremely large tarpon in profound water depths near deep water reefs adjacent to the deeper continental shelf drop off in Central America.
The Sabalo Real sexually mature phase of development is of acute interest to giant Tarpon hunters on charter fishing trips and to Tarpon fishing guides in particular. It is through the understanding and study of this interesting, confounding and confusing stage in Tarpon development that a good Panama tarpon fishing guide can begin to predict the location of his sportfishing charter quarry. Great herds of extremely large Sabalo Real, many over 200 pounds, mass together offshore at least once a year and head inshore towards coastal rivers. Exactly where they all come from or why they mass collectively is not well understood, just that hundreds sometimes thousands group together and migrate to the mouths of rivers, many times far up rivers or even into lakes such as Gatun Lake, the Chagres River and the Bayano River. Thousands of Megalops Atlanticus may throng in the same area for several consecutive years or they may gather for 3-4 years in a row then be absent or appear in small numbers for several years only to accumulate in the thousands again in the same or a nearby area for many years again. Keeping tabs on this activity is an essential component of successful tarpon fishing charters and tarpon fly fishing trips along the Bayano River and elsewhere in Panama fishing. It is suspected that these immense inshore aggregations are some sort of Megalops Atlanticus mating ritual with small groups of large mature Sabalo Real swimming cooperatively, head to tail, within the main aggregation. It is an incredible sight observed by relatively few anglers Panama tarpon fishing, as Tarpon are very wary and secretive, surfacing to perform the rituals only after long undisturbed periods. They have been observed on more than one tarpon sportfishing charter cavorting in this manner for about three days upon arrival at their predetermined destination, then they will spread out along the coastal estuary area, river or lake and begin to feed. During the initial arrival stage it is virtually impossible to induce them to take bait or lure on a tarpon sport fishing charter although tarpon fly fishing is sometimes fruitful on some of these tarpon sport fishing charters. The Sabalo Real will stay and feed for an undetermined length of time, days, weeks sometimes months, then they will crowd tightly together again, rolling and gulping air in unison, displaying the odd circling or ‘daisy chain’ behavior. This will again last for about three days and then the vast majority of adult Megalops Atlanticus and all the recently matured Tarpon in the area will move out to sea in great rolls and gulping of air. It is assumed they go 100 miles or so out to sea to spawn at the no moon phase, but this theory is supported only by the presence of newly spawned eggs and larva. No one on a tarpon fishing trip has actually observed Sabalo Real spawning. The above described Panama tarpon behavior and occurrences have been observed on tarpon fishing charters on both sides of the Isthmus of Panama in the estuaries, rivers and mangrove swamps of the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and particularly in Gatun Lake, the Chagres River and the Bayano River by several tarpon fishing guides. Since Tarpon have only been observed in the Pacific Ocean for the last 70 or so years and then only in the Gulf of Panama and the Gulf of Chiriqui ‘cowboy deduction’ surmises they migrated through the Panama Canal and have now taken up residence on both the Atlantic and Pacific sides of Central America.
There have been scientific studies principally The Panama Canal as a Passageway for Fishes, with Lists and Remarks on the Fishes and Invertebrates Observed by Samuel F. Hildebrand (1939) which indicate that schools of tarpon indeed migrate through the Panama Canal from the Atlantic to the Pacific and back. However it has not been scientifically established that they breed in the Pacific Ocean. Nevertheless anecdotal evidence by tarpon fishing guides and anglers would tend to validate this as many small juvenile tarpon have been caught over the last 60 years principally on the Bayano River as well as in the Gulf of San Miguel and its tributaries but also as far as Coiba Island in the Gulf of Chiriquí plus at Piñas Bay in the Gulf of Panama.
Through tarpon charter fishing experiences it seems the Pacific Ocean varieties of Sabalo Real appear to be faster growing and weightier per length than their Atlantic Ocean cousins. Pacific Tarpon are evidently more aggressive feeders, Panama fishing finds large groups on tarpon fishing charters actively feeding aggressively day or night. All Tarpon are extremely efficient feeders. They are fast, maneuverable and can see better than most other fish in low visibility muddy or turbid water like that found on many a tarpon fishing trip for most of the year in the Bayano River. Tarpon have huge thick armor-like scales covered in thick slippery slime that allows them to effortlessly slide through the water and mouths of impenetrable bone-like material that makes them almost impossible to hook solidly particularly when tarpon fly fishing. Tarpon fishing charters indicate that Tarpon are opportunistic feeders, feeding at all hours if conditions are right. They will feed anywhere along the water column, in the ocean, in rivers or in lakes. Tarpon will eat surprisingly small prey as well as large hard to swallow fish and crustaceans. On many a tarpon fishing trip groups of 4-5 leviathan Tarpon have been seen typically waiting in deep holes or behind sandbars along the Bayano River or at its mouth to ambush schools of baitfish such as mullet. Megalops Atlanticus display many of the same feeding habits as large Robalo or Snook, on a more immense scale therefore many of the same flys can be used when tarpon fly fishing. When baitfish are encountered in large groups Tarpon will attack from below in a skyrocketing fashion erupting several feet in the air and falling in a great splash on the bait, thereby injuring and crippling many at a time. The vying members of the Tarpon group then competitively scoop up the hapless injured baitfish. A few giant 200 pound Tarpon will decimate a large school of mullet in this fashion in a surprisingly brief period. When seen from afar on a tarpon fishing trip this activity is unmistakable and appears very much like mortar exploding on the surface of the water. This is a great tarpon fly fishing opportunity and the perfect time to sneak up and cast your fly, lure or bait in among the corralled persecuted school of victim baitfish. Attractor type popping bugs and Clousers are deadly for these monsters when on a tarpon fly fishing trip. The best way to catch Gargantuan Sabalo Real on a tarpon fishing charter is to be well prepared. This involves a knowledgeable tarpon fishing guide who has invested years Panama fishing on the local waters and more recently days of stalking, watching and waiting otherwise known as angling, then if you are lucky on your charter fishing trip – the hook up. A hook up to an enormous 200 pound Tarpon with the proper equipment and good tarpon fishing guide can last anywhere from 10 seconds to 2 hours or more. Tarpon under 100 pounds are immature fish that don’t have the stamina of a giant Tarpon. They tire quickly, usually in less than 30 minutes using 12 to 20 pound tackle and although they render a spectacular fight they do not compare to a giant Tarpon as sportfishing or fly fishing challenge. A dinosaurian Sabalo Real over 150 pounds is many times more of a challenge than even veteran anglers are prepared to engage on a tarpon fishing charter. Before deciding to go on a Tarpon fishing charter for full sized giant Tarpon you should be sure you want to hook one! Besides Fly fishing tarpon several other methods of tarpon sportfishing are employed to capture gargantuan Tarpon in Panama fishing. On the Atlantic side and in lakes where tides are small or there is little water movement the primary method used on Tarpon fishing charters is live or dead bait. The bait is usually fished at night on the bottom where Tarpon are known to be feeding. Secondary tarpon charter fishing methods include trolling swimming lures, jigs or feathers, Fly fishing for tarpon and sight casting. The Pacific side of Panama, especially the Bayano River has strong tides of 12 to 20 feet which produces fast currents with great water movement in these tidal rivers, estuaries and coastal mangrove beaches where Sabalo Real are to be found. Here bait fishing is made difficult on a tarpon fishing charter and trolling encounters much debris that must constantly be cleaned from the lure and line. Sight casting and Fly fishing account for most giant Tarpon caught on the Pacific side while fishing in Panama. The Sabalo Real seems to prefer a slow retrieve and lures that resemble whatever they are feeding on when encountered while on a tarpon fishing charter. Tarpon sportfishing charters on the Bayano River and elsewhere along the Pacific coast reveal that Red and white or gold and green lures are favored. The best fly fishing tarpon flys appear to be splayed winged streamers that work well because of the fluttering action produced even when retrieved slowly. Poppers and swimming plugs of the same colors also seem to be generally favored by most Panama tarpon sportfishing charter guides. However Sabalo Real are not easily induced into striking a lure or fly, they shy from any sudden movement or loud noises and typically will not surface again for several minutes after an outboard motor has been run. They are hard to find from day to day on tarpon sportfishing trips, even when known to be in a specific area.
All the quiet stalking, planning and preparation for the Tarpon fishing charter is in extreme contrast to what happens upon hook up to a colossus Sabalo Real. After days of monotonous, repetitious stalking, casting or baiting on tarpon sport fishing trips the retrieve suddenly stops. Giant 200 pound Tarpon don not hit hard, rather they gently take a bait or a lure and slowly move off, sometimes mouthing the lure before moving at all. Unless using a surface lure or fly, there is often times no discernible strike felt by the angler. The angler is almost always caught off guard and believes he is hooked on a log or other immovable object. Even while trolling, the lure just stops and line pays out at a measured leisurely pace. This can last up to 60 or so seconds, the bigger the Tarpon the longer the reaction time. In many cases the anglers and the tarpon sportfishing guide are engaged in debates as to the preferred method of untangling the stuck lure when the titanic Sabalo Real realizes it is hooked. When this happens the silence is broken. The birds stop chirping; the sound of running water and of insects buzzing and biting is forgotten. 200 plus pounds of a chained silver lightning hallucination is unleashed in an explosive thundering eruption. An outrageous monstrous dinosaur spews forth from the water in abundant spectacular gill-flaring, head-shaking, earth-trembling leaps and overwhelming contorted jumps - many times only a scant few feet from the angler in his tiny boat. These eruptions by the maniacal giant 200 pound Tarpon are not at all similar to the artistic ‘Ballet’ like surface acrobatics many times attributed to Billfish – the Tarpon’s movements are pure abandoned rage and demonic insanity as its spirit seemingly trys to violently escape from the contorted animal’s body! These profound excessively exaggerated gesticulations have a remarkable tendency to unsettle first time anglers. Hook-provoked Tarpon leaps or jumps are twisted, contorted, uncontrolled and frequently over ten feet high and twenty feet long. These surface shaking cannon-balling, mortar like explosions are accented by a series of tremendously long bounding, jumping runs of up to 300 feet that will melt down all but the finest of tackle. This preliminary action is usually all that is experienced by even the best anglers on sport fishing charters or tarpon fly fishing trips because the Gargantuan giant Sabalo Real has either shaken the hook loose, destroyed the rod and reel or broken the line and is gone just as suddenly as he appeared. Between shivering, shuddering and stuttering the veteran sportfishing enthusiast will compose himself and try again. Others will remain in a state of trance-like shock never to recover sufficiently to hunt giant Tarpon again. Compared to the small boat and 20 to 30 lb tackle used, the sheer size and fury displayed by a vast leviathan banshee Sabalo Real when hooked does not seem like a viable proposition to most reasonable people. In the unlikely event that the giant Tarpon should not free himself in the first few minutes after a hook–up, a master angler and a good Tarpon fishing guide are afforded an opportunity to put their tarpon fishing skills to the ultimate test. In the first few seconds the boat must be headed in the same general direction as the rapidly disappearing splashing big fish. The angler must efficiently recover line and be wary of the Goliath giant Tarpon changing directions and his insanely furious jumps. He must bow to the fish when it surfaces and pressure him constantly, turning his head frequently to guide him from obstructions or resting areas in fast current. A giant Tarpon will fight for miles and when he settles down it is imperative that the tarpon fishing guide have the boat in close proximity to the beast allowing the angler a chance to prevent the tarpon from gulping air and renewing his energy. The Tarpon fishing guide and angler must be wary of floating debris or underwater obstructions that can snap the line. Giant Sabalo Real must be thoroughly whipped before catch and release can be attempted or serious injury and destruction of equipment is probable. All of this requires expert angling with no mistakes and dexterous boat handling skills by the tarpon fishing guide. The time involved, difficulties of finding and the percentages of hooking then landing Giant Tarpon for each one encountered would be laughable if not for the seriousness and dedication demonstrated by some successful master anglers and dedicated Tarpon fishing guides. If the landing of a giant Tarpon is accomplished through bona-fide fly fishing or angling means, it is advisable to take several quality photographs, as this is a feat not routinely consummated. To accomplish this formidable angling achievement it is best to seek professional aid in the form of a reputable tarpon fishing guide (preferably in possession of at least one photograph of himself and a giant Tarpon). Pay very close attention to what he advises; buy the appropriate tackle, practice deep breathing, and good luck.
Due to the extreme value of the Tarpon to sportfishing, the fact that he is one of the last living fossils of our era and he is of no food value - catch and release is recommended on Tarpon fishing charters except for trophy fish or individuals foul hooked in the eye or other vital area that are dying or dead.