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Fish Panama’s Productive Caribbean Side

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Mocka Jumbies and Rum...

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Panama is known for offering some of the world’s best sport-fishing. In fact, the International Game Fishing Association has officially recognized over 50 World Records for Sailfish, Black, Blue and Striped Marlin caught in the coastal waters of this Central American country. Now, with a well-developed infrastructure in place, such as a World-Class Marina, it’s possible to angle off Panama’s Caribbean coast which may be more plentiful with prized sport-fish.

Dan Olsen, the manager for the Red Frog Beach Marina located in Bocas del Toro, is currently setting up a sport fishing tournament for the month of June.

“Bocas del Toro boasts fishing year-round for Snapper, Jacks and Barracuda,” says Olsen. “Offshore season fishing includes Yellowfin, Blackfin and Bigeye Tuna; Wahoo; Kingfish; Grouper; and Cuberas, Grays, Dogs, Blacks and Mutton Snapper. Big game fish are more consistent March through June, and September through mid-November.”

Those who don’t come by boat have the option of chartering a sport-fishing vessel based at the Red Frog Beach Marina. One is a 20’ custom-built Carolina Center Console perfect for a private charter for two. Take a half-day ($375) and troll for Grouper and Snapper on the shallow reefs a quarter mile offshore and enjoy light tackle fishing or take a full-day ($850) and head further offshore for river mouth big game species such as Snook and Tarpon. The second option is a 42’ inboard, “Old Florida”, designed and built by North Carolina fishing legend Omie Tillett. This vessel can accommodate up to 6 people and is equipped with brand-name tackle. Spend a half-day ($940/6 people) or a full day ($1,860/6 people) targeting Marlin, Sailfish, Wahoo, Tuna, and Mahi-Mahi. October through March is the best time of year for half-day excursions. This is because the blue water is pushed close towards the coast where Blue Marlin have been caught as close as 2 miles from the shore. April through September it is often necessary to run up to 25 miles offshore for billfish and gamefish.

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Offshore fishing at Bocas del Toro is extreme. Water depths can reach more than 2,000’ just five miles offshore. It is not uncommon to be fishing for Yellowfin, Blackfin, and Bigeye Tuna; Wahoo; Kingfish or Snapper within sight of the Islands,” says Olsen.

The Bocas del Toro Archipelago is a group of 68 islands and keys located in northwest Panama on the Caribbean Sea. The major city is the quaint town of Bocas del Toro, also known as ‘Bocas Town.’ The Bocas del Toro ‘Isla Colon’ International Airport offers daily 45-minute flights to and from Panama City, Panama and San Jose, Costa Rica. The Red Frog Beach Marina is located 15 minutes away by water taxi through the protected south side of Isla Bastimentos. As one of Panama’s largest offshore islands, at 23 square miles, it is home to the Isla Bastimentos National Marine Park. Outside of the Hurricane Zone at the 9 degree latitude line, Red Frog Beach Marina offers 84 slips for yachts up to 250’ and is located 133 nautical miles north of the Panama Canal on the Caribbean side of Panama.

Anyone in the mood for fish, but not fishing, can relax ashore and fork into freshly caught seafood. The One Punta Lava Beach Bar & Grill, at Red Frog Beach Resort & Marina serves delicious fish tacos as well as many other specials of the day. In addition, there is the floating Two Castaways Bar & Grill, located within Red Frog Beach Resort & Marina featuring fresh seafood. Bocas Town offers a number of restaurants serving Caribbean-Style fish and fresh seafood such as lobster, shrimp, conch, and octopus with coconut rice and green salad.

The Red Frog Beach Marina and its adjacent resort offer a soup to nuts of facilities and amenities in addition to those geared towards sports fishing. These include on-site spa services, private villas with pools and concierge. Shopping, private beaches and nightlife are nearby along with adventure activities like zip-lining, caving and guided rainforest hikes. Everything Red Frog Beach Resort & Marina has to offer makes it the perfect destination for exploring what Panama’s Caribbean coastal waters has to offer.


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  1. We love Bocas del Toro and spend part of the year there mooring at Red Frog Marina, with the rest being spent at the other island archipelagos of Panama and also running short trips from Panama City to the Pearl Islands.
    If you fancy fishing with a live-aboard charter (with mother-ship) on luxurious quality yachts then look no further. check out our website and our schedule to see where we’re planning to be (open to change) by clicking on the link in our name above.


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Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.

So Caribbean you can almost taste the rum...

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