Tag Archives: The Kayak Fishing Show

We spent our last day in Bahia Honda fishing until lunch and then shooting some other bits for the show in the afternoon. James and Jim got into fish that morning with Jim pulling in the only grouper of the trip, but I actually got skunked. I was a little disappointed to end the fishing trip on that note, but nothing was happening for me that morning.




(photo: Will Richardson)

12625879894_56c9ac67c4_c(photo: Will Richardson)

There was a little section of the island James and I explored where the rocks created a narrow chute you could paddle through. If you timed it right a swell would come through and propel you through the chute without even paddling.


At lunch we did some other pieces for the show and began the packing process. Edwin’s daughter, Daisy, brought out some of their pet birds and Abuelo came around with some hand carved wooden bowls he had made. They were beautifully crafted and looked as if he took a lathe to them, but he assured us they were all made by hand. I think we all went home with multiple pieces.


12625499323_70ded72662_c(photo: Will Richardson)

12625404265_4416af82a9_c(photo: Will Richardson)

12625353065_06cfce5b9e_c(photo: Will Richardson)

Once James and I were finished with what we needed to do we headed for a last little fish in the bay with fly rods in hand. We headed for the mangroves and started working the edges. I had a few follows from some small mangrove snapper and James thought he missed a snook, but we failed to bring anything to hand. Coming from an inshore background I think it would have been really fun to devote a whole day to fishing the bay, especially the area around the mangroves. It has great potential for the light tackle fisherman. The bay is completely protected and was a great place to fly fish. I blame not catching anything on the fly rod because I didn’t have my whole arsenal of flies. It wasn’t for lack of fish, that’s for sure.


I got to say James paddled the Big Rig the whole trip and he kept up remarkably well. It may be more at home in shallow water and around the mangroves, but I was surprised at how well it handled the open water paddling and swells. It was definitely impressive and it comes with more bells and whistles than a stealth bomber.


The next morning we loaded up the panga with our stuff, said our goodbyes to everyone, then headed back down the coast to Santa Catalina. Staying in Bahia Honda with Edwin and Rosalind was a real treat. Their hospitality is unmatched and they have an incredible set-up to host kayak fishing parties. The fishery they live on is amazing, we barely scratched the surface during our visit, so many species, so many different opportunities. I know the big fish potential is there because we saw that with Jims rooster. If you want to check it out for yourself get with Hennie at Paddle Panama. He was an excellent guide during the trip, very knowledgeable on Panamanian fishing. He took care of everything while we were there and runs a real top notch operation. The only thing we were left to worry about was catching fish.


12625870233_e0b521968b_c(photo: Will Richardson)

12625152965_6244c8377f_c(photo: Will Richardson)

After the long taxi ride back to Panama City, we had enough time to get dinner at a restaurant that was around the corner from our hotel. It was a much more authentic experience than T.G.I. Friday’s and the food was pretty darn good too. Glad we got to experience that while we were in Panama City. The next day our flights weren’t until that afternoon, so we put on our tourist hats in the morning and went to tour one of the Panama Canal locks. The size of the ships and the amount of elevation they have to rise in order to cross the country is impressive. As well as the fact that the canal was completed 100 years ago – quite the engineering feat. To think that the Post-Panamax ships that will come through once expansion is complete will dwarf those that are going through the locks now is mind boggling.






After the locks we had one last meal in Panama City – dim sum, on Hennies recommendation. A Sunday tradition for he and his family and I got to admit that was pretty darn good as well. I can’t say enough good things about what Hennie has to offer here in Panama. Besides the trip we went on I think he has three or four other options available that showcase what the country has to offer for the kayak fisherman. We said our goodbyes to Hennie as he dropped us off at the airport. I hope it’s not the last time I see him because it was a blast spending time with him and I’d love to get down there again. Like I said we barely scratched the surface.

There was enough time at the airport for one more beer with the guys before we parted ways. I had never met Jim or Will before the trip and getting to know them was a lot of fun. I thought the dynamic of the group was great, which made for some really entertaining conversations. I hope to fish and work with all of them again in the future. This was loads of fun and proved to be a great learning experience. I have a lot to be thankful for to have had this opportunity. Now it’s back to the real world of dirty diapers and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse for this guy.


We woke up early the next morning to the crow of a rooster, followed by the howl of a howler monkey and then finally the smell of fresh coffee and breakfast, courtesy of Rosalind. This is how every morning was and it couldn’t have been any better. A typical breakfast consisited of these fantastic hojaldres, which kind of reminded me of the shell of a Taco Bell chalupa, but better, then the sweetest fruit you could imagine – nice variety too, and finally a pork product of some kind. A very hearty, filling breakfast, that was always delicious. Cereal was an option too if you were so inclined. We loaded up our kayaks once breakfast was done, daisy chained them behind the panga, then took a ride out to an island that we were told was the only place we needed to fish for the week – that’s how confident the locals were in this spot. We would focus on fishing around the island and especially in the channel in between the islands which served as a main choke spot for currents running along the “Lost Coast” of Panama.


We fished around the entire island throwing poppers and swimbaits into the swells and breakers then working them back out. The poppers weren’t seeing much action but any time I ran a swimbait over some rocks it got attacked by these:

12626424044_4878c79b27_k(photo: Will Richardson)


Giant hawkfish – they were like the bream of the rocky, shallows we fished. Always happy to catch a new species so I was having a ball with these little guys, but that wasn’t what we were after. The island itself was very cool too, comprised of lava rock, it seemed to shoot right out of the water. There were even a few little caves to explore, though the waves had me hesitant to explore them further.

12626455524_6cb90d2c27_c(photo: Will Richardson) 

12625991535_dd0451e949_c(photo: Will Richardson)


At lunch we headed back to camp to grab something to eat and get a little rest before we would hit another spot in the afternoon. This spot was at the mouth of the bay we were staying on, like the first spot we hit it was an island with an adjacent channel that made a convenient place for predator fish to ambush prey. I put the swimbait to work and picked up more hawkfish and a couple more new species to me – a yellow(amarillo) snapper and an orangeside triggerfish. By the way, I had no idea what any of these fish were when I caught them, but this is what I’ve come up with through internet research. Let me know if I’m wrong.





No big fish for me our first full day out but a really productive day catching new species. Fishing the artificials in the shallows was fun, but it was obvious that live bait was needed if we wanted to get into some better fish. The tactics that have previously worked in Panama for Jim were not paying off like they had in the past so we had to change things up the next day out and that started with having more live bait available to use.

First, a little Panama backstory. Back in October of 2012 I was fortunate enough to win a tournament and with that an opportunity at a kayak fishing trip of a lifetime fishing and filming an episode of Kayak Bassin’ TV with Chad Hoover. Unfortunately due to a sponsor conflict, going on a trip with Chad was proving to be very difficult. Lucky for me Jim Sammons joined the Jackson Kayak team during this time and with Heliconia Press producing both Jim and Chads shows, Chad saw an opportunity for me to join The Kayak Fishing Show on one of their shoots. Everyone involved thought it was a good idea and I got an invite to join them in Panama, and of course I accepted (no-brainer).

Having never done any offshore kayak fishing or really any fishing abroad there was a fair amount of prep work I needed to do before leaving. I borrowed rods and reels(thanks Blake Matherne) that would be sufficient for pelagic species and bought a lot of new tackle because everything I owned was intended for inshore and freshwater species. Expect to spend a few hundred dollars (On the low end – I’m cheap) on poppers, swimbaits, diamond jigs, circle hooks, and leader material.

I was joining a trip comprised of Jim Sammons – host of the show and fellow Jackson Kayak team member, Will Richardson – producer/videographer/photographer/wearer of many hats for Heliconia Press and James McBeath – director of marketing for Jackson Kayak. Our outfitter/guide was Hennie Marais with Paddle Panama who had his brother Peter along to help run a smooth operation. As it turns out Peter is a world class grillmaster and proved to be an excellent addition to the expedition team.

Since everyone was flying in from different parts of North America (the 2 Canucks, Jim from San Diego and myself from New Orleans) the plan was to rendezvous in the Houston airport while en route to Panama City. Unfortunately I had a very short layover and was running behind. I ended up being the last person in line at the gate and with no seat assigned I was rewarded with the last seat available – 41F – the window seat on the last row of the plane. Normally I’d complain, but I was really just happy to have a seat, especially after the gate agent informed me that my passport was 13 days away from being unusable on a trip to Panama. Apparently your passport has to be valid for 90 days when traveling to Panama and mine is good for 103 days. Phew…

I made it to Panama City, got through customs, picked up my bags (which made it despite my short layover), and met everyone as our taxi was being loaded up. Jim and Will I had only previously exchanged emails with while James I fished with in the Everglades, way back in 2011 when I first joined the Jackson team. We were hungry so naturally where does one go when in Panama City. Why T.G.I. Friday’s of course!


Apparently the restaurant Hennie wanted to take us to was closed and this was close by. Take comfort in knowing that the T.G.I. Friday’s in Panama looks exactly like every single one in America. It wasn’t all bad, they still had local beer.

12626243373_cc0f5c8559_c(photo: Will Richardson)

Weary from travel we called it a night after Friday’s. We were taken to our hotel, a little B&B called the Canal Inn. A cold shower and a stiff bed never felt better. I slept as well as I could but I was very excited about getting to our final destination, Bahia Honda, and going fishing.

Day 1 was travel by air, day 2 was travel by land and sea. We were looking at a 4.5 hour drive from our hotel to Santa Catalina, where we would then board a panga that would take us another 1.5 hours up the coast to Bahia Honda. We did finally get to eat some local food for lunch when we stopped in Santiago. It was buffett style and I have no clue what I ordered, but it was pretty good (Panamanian Fresca is more like American Fanta). We loaded up on supplies at a local grocery then continued on through the Azuero peninsula.


The drive through Panama was nice, everything looked so arid, but I guess that’s why it’s called the dry season. Sugarcane was the crop of note (in St. Lucia it was bananas), but the difference between Panamanian sugarcane and Louisiana sugarcane was the fact that theirs looked ready to harvest. Roads were surprisingly good, some rough spots here and there, but overall good, of course take my opinion with a grain of salt, Louisiana roads are terrible. We made it to Santa Catalina and drove right out onto the beach to load our gear on the panga. There we were greeted by our host for the week Edwin and through spanglish he and I discussed a little bit of fishing, enough to get me excited about the week to come. It was about this time that we realized we made a huge error. One of Jims bags was left back at the hotel. It had been left in our room during the commotion of loading the van in the morning. Important takeaway here is to always do a dummy check before you leave a hotel. We would get the bag back later in the trip, but it was a costly mistake for sure. Still, the Pacific Ocean was beautiful at this spot. Santa Catalina is a big surf destination in Panama, but it didn’t look like it here.


The boat ride up the coast was awesome. The water was so blue and the elevation of the mainland provided a really nice backdrop when cruising up the coast. Not seeing a bunch of other boats on the water was really refreshing as well.


12626099985_cb439ab250_c(photo: Will Richardson)

Our destination was Edwins house, which was located on the mainland in a protected bay just off the Pacific. Their set up was incredible, with two thatch roof bohios that served as lodging and a plumbed bathroom, it would prove to be a perfect base camp for the week. While Hennie and Peter were busy getting everything set up we started rigging up our rods, reels and kayaks. We had brand new boats, two Cuda 14s and a new Big Rig to use while we there. James chose the Big Rig, having fallen in love with it in Florida, Jim went with the lime Cuda 14 while I chose orange.







Once we were moved in and squared away it was time to hit the water. We would be able to get in a short afternoon fish before it got dark. I was dying to get on the water, you could tell from shore that bait was busting the surface all over the bay. The activity even picked up as we were on the water, but I was having trouble getting a bite. I was playing a cat-and-mouse game with the fish trying to get a lure to the surface activity while it was within casting range. On top of that all the lures I brought seemed too big for what these fish were feeding on. I had on the smallest lure I had, a 5″ soft plastic swimbait and did what I could. It was good enough and I was able to boat a nice little bonito. Catching fish on what I would consider a travel day was a great way to start the trip. Shortly after this fish we ran out of light and paddled back to camp. The short afternoon session was the perfect way to whet the appetite of this long traveled fisherman. I was looking forward to getting some rest and then hitting the big water bright and early in the morning. We had a long week ahead of us.

12626061045_3e34cbe046_c(photo: Will Richardson)

12626494314_e5b483c5c2_c(photo: Will Richardson)

12626025085_6e47c88c47_k(photo: Will Richardson)