February 2022 Fishing Report

The Marlin bite in February started off with Blues and Blacks being almost equal in numbers of releases. Anglers were raising more Blacks, but they were not being very aggressive. That changed fairly quickly as the number of Black Marlin soon out outweighed those of the blues by 4 or 5 to 1. Boats had multiple shots each day at Black Marlin, and it was great being able to be part of the fun with guests who got to tell stories of their incredible Black Marlin experiences. Black Marlin are the rarest of the Marlin species, and are only targetable in certain areas around the world. Even in these areas it can be tough to achieve a single release – so we are so excited to share that in February we had over 50 people experience first time Black Marlin releases. We had multiple people get these for their Royal Slams which is a great achievement for any angler. The Dorado numbers here always start decreasing during February. This year was no different – but we were in for a surprise with the number of Sailfish that were still around. Most boats were releasing Sailfish almost every day! The Tuna didn’t show up in big numbers during early February, but they did start to show up right at the end of the month, and we got a few over 200lbs meaning that they are on their way.

The sea temperature stayed at a nice 82-85 degrees all through February, so we are expecting the cold water to show up in the early to mid March. The water clarity has remained very good, with great water all the way up on the inside. The winds did change often, and this changed the bite a lot. As the winds blew from the Southerly direction, we had more Sails and Blues biting, with nice calm seas. Then when it switched and came out of the North, we all got excited knowing the Blacks would fire up. The water got fairly choppy, with white caps forming. The white caps brought the blacks on the bite and it was great seeing these amazing fish tailing down sea.

Guest Highlights 

Bill and Nikki Wilson have been coming to the lodge for many years, and have fished the world over. Their favorite kind of fishing now is Billfish on fly, and they are pro at it. The couple have been chasing the Marlin world record on 20lbs tippet, and this year on February 18th Nikki achieved a massive feat by landing a pending world record of a Blue Marlin weighing in at 143lbs, caught on fly. The fight was close to 3hrs and Nikki, along with her crew on the Miss England, were victorious. During their stay, they had more Billfish on the line and a few nice Dorado. On one day, they even did a little conventional fishing that saw them release 3 Marlin – but then it was back to the fly! It was great being part of something so phenomenal and we are so proud of Nikki for getting her Marlin – and what a cheerleader she has in Bill. We love you guys!

The Canary Island crew got back to Tropic Star Lodge, and they even brought some of their buddies over from Spain. The entire group are avid anglers who regularly fish tournaments, and for fun. They fished on Tropic Star with Jacob and Elio, Darien with Walter and Arlin, and Spain with Azael and Ricardo. Salvador Garcia caught his first Black marlin, Blue Marlin and Pacific Sailfish, weighing in at 350 pounds, 300 pounds and 100 pounds respectively. Alfonso Caballero de Rodas reeled in his first 350 pound Blue and 450 pound Black Marlin. Alfonso Valls de Quintano caught his first 400 pound Blue Marlin. Pedro Bonny caught his first 450 pound Black Marlin. It’s always very special witnessing guests catch their first of a celebrated species like these, and being part of that with such a cool group was loads of fun for everyone. 

The Baldwin crew – Matt, Sam, Ray, Rob and Will joined us from Texas for the week and, oh man, what a time they had! The 5 brothers had heard of Tropic Star Lodge and wanted to test the waters, and they got to experience what makes Piñas such a famed fishing ground. On DAY 1 out on the water, Will managed to land a Grand Slam! Releasing a Black and Blue Marlin along with a Sailfish. In fact, Rob and Will both got to release their first ever Black Marlin, and with them being 400lbs and 500lbs, it made for some great fishing. Wills Blue Marlin was called at 300lbs and his Pacific sail at 120lbs making for some very good fishing stories.

Billy Howell joined us for the second time in a month! We have gotten to know Billy and his wonderful wife Dee very well and they are an amazing couple! Bill has completed his Royal slam once already, and needed a few more species to get it a second and third time, one of which was a Black Marlin. He fished on Hawaii with Vicente and Ricardo. Billy has been looking for a black marlin for the last 16 years, and he finally found it! Billy caught a 350lb and a 600lb black marlin. To say that it was emotional would be an understatement. Congratulations Billy, you are well on your way to achieving your second and third Royal Slams! Just the Swordfish to go!

February was some great fishing, if not a little unusual with the Sails and Dorado still being around. With all the amazing fishing stories each day, it was anyone’s guess if Marlin bar or the Jungle Pool had the more outrageous stories. What was common at both places was the excitement and laughter. There were a lot of congratulations going around as well as teasing – which is always to be expected when it comes to anglers! The season seems to be going strong and it is shaping up to be a cracker of a March, with the big pelagic species still around and the bait getting thicker and thicker!

Congratulations to all those who caught their first of these celebrated trophy species that we catch at this time of the year:

First Black Marlin

Mike Kurkendal – 400lbs – 2/16/2022

Rob Baldwin – 400lbs – 2/13/2022

Will Baldwin – 500lbs – 2/14/2022

Chris Persellin – 350lbs –  2/15/2022

Thomas Tasker – 400lbs – 2/17/2022

Manny Sanchez – 450lbs – 2/2022

Jeff  250lbs – 2/18/2022

Gary Krams – 450lbs – 2/19/2022

Sam Baldwin – 350lbs 2/18/2022

Tom Corcoran – 350lbs – 2/10/2022

Mike Rand – 350lbs – 2/9/2022

Joe Bonasersa – 400lbs – 2/10/2022

Kelby Krabbenhoft – 400lbs – 2/9/2022

Ramsey Akel – 400lbs – 2/7/2022

Ryan Bruinsma – 500lbs – 2/8/2022

Pedro Bonny – 300lbs – 2/7/2022

Alfonso Caballero de Rodas – 450lbs – 2/10/2022

Carlos Lagomasino – 400lbs – 2/8/2022

Neil Sullivan – 400lbs – 2/11/2022

Salvador Garcia – 350lbs – 2/11/2022

Dan Simpson – 450lbs – 2/21/2022

Holli McDonald – 400lbs – 2/20/2022

Mark McDonald – 350 lbs – 2/21/2022

Alex Depping – 400lbs – 2/22/2022

Phoenix Rogers – 250lbs – 2/20/2022

Joe Rogers – 400lbs – 2/21/2022

Colby Murphy – 400lbs – 2/21/2022

Sara Duff – 450lbs – 2/21/2022

Kendall Hendrick – 600lbs – 2/24/2022

Laura Hendrick – 250lbs – 2/22/2022

Benjamin Cart – 200lbs – 2/20/2022

Sara Cart – 250lbs – 2/20/2022

First Blue Marlin

Derek Loeffler – 300lbs – 2/16/2022

Will Baldwin – 300lbs – 2/13/2022

Jon Heslin – 300lbs – 2/14/2022

Rich Fehr – 200lbs – 2/7/2022

Alfonso Caballero de Rodas – 350lbs – 2/8/2022

Tom Corcoran – 300lbs – 2/14/2022

Salvador Garcia – 300lbs – 2/9/2022

Alfonso Valls de Quintano – 400lbs – 2/11/2022

Chris Murphy – 250lbs – 2/20/2022

Garry Tank – 250lbs – 2/20/2022

Jeff Spencer – 250lbs – 2/20/2022

First Pacific Sailfish

Mike Kurkendall – 85lbs – 2/13/2022

Rob Baldwin – 120lbs – 2/13/2022

Will Baldwin – 100lbs – 2/14/2022

Julie Snider – 120lbs – 2/15/2022

Chris Persellin – 85lbs – 2/16/2022

Jon Heslin – 80lbs – 2/18/2022

Thomas Tasker – 80lbs – 2/18/2022

Giovanni Cobielles – 100lbs – 2/14/2022

Jose Cobielles – 110lbs – 2/18/2022

Joe Bonasera  – 100lbs – 2/7/2022

Salvador Garcia  – 100lbs – 2/9/2022

Amber Simpson – 100lbs – 2/10/2022

Pheonix Rogers – 100lbs – / 2/21/2022

Joe Rogers – 90lbs – 2/20/2022

Chris Murphy – 120lbs – 2/20/2022

Colby Murphy – 130lbs – 2/21/2022

Tony Ketchu – 130lbs – 2/20/2022

Jeff Spencer – 100lbs – 2/21/2022

Christin Tank – 100lbs – 2/20/2022

Sara Cart – 90lbs – 2/20/2022

First Cubera

Hilary Loeffler – 30lbs – 2/13/2022

Derek Loeffler – 60lbs – 2/13/2022

Julie Snider – 40lbs – 2/15/2022

Laurie Krams – 60lbs – 2/18/2022

Giovanni Cobielles – 30lbs – / 2/14/2022

First Rooster

Hilary Loeffler – 50lbs – 2/13/2022

Derek Loeffler – 70lbs – 2/13/2022

Grand Slam madness: December 2021 fishing report

December is such a festive time of year at Tropic Star Lodge. The smell of fresh Noble fir pine is in the air. Guests are merry in spirit, and it is Grand Slam season at the Lodge. This season, we released 3 personal Billfish Grand Slams and 7 boat slams over the festive season. The Blue Marlin bite offshore was incredible,  with spectacular numbers and varying. We released fish over 750 lb and even released small Marlin of 150 lb, a size very uncommon for the area. The few anglers who got to take on Yellowfin Tuna offshore had their hands full, as the fish averaged around 100 lb with the larger ones coming in at around 200 lb. Tropic Star Lodge is the only place where anglers are not in awe of Dorado topping 50 lb, and that’s because through the course of December, it’s common for boats to get half a dozen or more each day. Closer inshore on the reef, the Blacks started showing up in small numbers – however, enough to get everyone excited for the opportunity to take on Her Majesty.

We still had a bit of rain in December and the flotsam offshore was around for crews to work. The water temperature was consistent, and the current ran beautifully from the south to north against the shelf, providing beautiful blue water and loads of nutrients. We did have northerly winds a few times, which made it a little choppy, but for the most part the sea conditions were calm and blue.

Guest Highlights 

Team Peru!!! Our friends from down south have been coming to the lodge for 16 years and it was great to see them return. Each year there is tough competition between the gentlemen and there is always a lot of laughter. Luis Carlos and Alonso fishing with Candelo on Australia had a fantastic week. Their best day was releasing five Blue Marlin. From there it was tough for the rest of the boats to catch up. The team that undoubtedly had the most fun was Pepe and his three sons, fishing with Jose on Beatriz. The guys released 20 Marlin, 15 Sailfish, mountains of Dorado and a few monster Yellowfin Tuna.

Brent Heist joined us all the way from North Carolina with a group of his buddies. The guys all had an awesome trip, but Brent never got to release his Marlin during the stay with his buddies, and so he extended his stay by a few days and really became part of the family. Brent got his reward from Neptune and released his first Blue Marlin and a few Sailfish amongst hordes of giant Dorado. 

The Grouse and Trout club from Canada joined us for a few days of fun in the sun. Matt Gaasenbeek, the organizer, arranged this memorable trip for a group of like-minded friends from Canada. They all have a shared love for the outdoors, fishing and adventure. Most of the gents had never caught Billfish before and everyone left having achieved that feat. Each member of the group released their first Blue Marlin and/or Sailfish after their 3 day trip. The Grouse and Trout group also held a very successful fundraiser for the Piñas Bay Conservancy raising money for the private preschool in the village. The funds raised will provide much needed support to operate the school this year, and will allow us to invest in the growth of the school. 

Curtis and Ashley Lee brought their daughters – Audra, Olivia and Evelyn to spend Christmas at Tropic Star Lodge. The family, from Texas, love the outdoors and they had an absolute blast here at the lodge. The girls all had an amazing time on the boat and the family had Neptune’s blessing, especially after helping us release newly hatched turtles in our neighboring town of Jaque. The family had a lot of first catches. Olivia released a 60 lb Sailfish and her first Roosterfish. Audra released her first 60 lb Sailfish, Ashley released a 250 lb Blue Marlin, and Curtis released his first Blue Marlin of 250 lb and 350 lb, and he got his Roosterfish. The family champion was Evelyn, who released her first Roosterfish and a Blue Marlin of 450 lb! The family also travelled north to the village of Playa Muerto and hiked through the jungles to see a Harpy Eagle in the wild. Curtis is a Falconer, so getting to witness this endangered species in the wild was truly an incredible experience for him and the whole family.

Francis Couzinet and Simon Elgreshi joined us from France to enjoy fishing in Central America. It was their first time at Tropic Star Lodge, and what a trip they had. Both Francis and Simon are die hard fishermen who love fishing of every kind. They were so crazed that they could be found on the dock each evening, or walking the beach casting after a full day of fishing on the boats! It became a standard joke that they got a new personal best for a different species almost every day. The real special catches for them though, were that Simon got an IGFA Inshore Grand Slam with a Roosterfish of around 50 lb, a Bluefin Trevally of around 20 lb and a Cubera Snapper of 40 lb. What’s even more impressive is that he got them all on lures, while casting at the rocks. Simon also achieved his personal best Sailfish of 90 lb, and a bunch of giant Dorado. Francis caught his largest Dorado almost every day, and released his first Black Marlin of 300 lb and a Blue Marlin of 350 lb.

December was an absolutely incredible time here at the lodge and seeing all the kids and guests enjoying the fishing and fun that was had by all always adds a certain something special this time of year.

August 2021 – Fishing Report

The Marlin bite was a roller coaster throughout August, with the bite peaking at exceptional before slowing down for two to three days. After the lull, it fired right back up again. The Blues offshore were feeding on large schools of Bonito, and more than a few times, we had Blue Marlin coming into the spread as anglers were fighting Dorado. A little closer in, the Black Marlin started coming through as expected. We released a few each week, with some over 600lb. The odd Black was caught further out, where we would normally target Blue Marlin. The Sailfish bite slowed as we moved away from July, as expected. Sailfish did give anglers some fun in between other bites, and helped a few anglers achieve their coveted Billfish Grand Slams. The Dorado came out in that XXL size range throughout August, and loads of wee little Dorado were found around the flotsam while fishing for bait. The Yellowfin Tuna bite has been either hot or not, which is strange for this time of year – with sizes ranging from 20lb to 200lb. Closer in, we were able to get some excellent inshore action, with Bluefin Trevally, Cubera Snapper, and Roosterfish biting. We even hooked the odd Tarpon, Grouper and Wahoo amongst other species.

The weather has continued on the erratic streak that we have been having this year, and we have felt the effects of the big storms up north, all the way down here in Panama. The water temperature has been hanging around 84F, which is perfect Marlin temperature. The winds have been anything but consistent, and we have seen a lot of rain. The current offshore ran a very nice two to three knots all month, right up to the end when it stalled slightly, which made the fishing a little tougher.

Guest Highlights

Mike Spezzano was back at Tropic Star, and this time he had his buddy, Paul Montalbano, with him for the adventure. Paul had practically no saltwater experience when he arrived at the lodge. But when he left, well… let’s just say that he now has more than enough stories to last him quite some time. The duo fished with Luis on Miss England, and on their first day out, Paul managed to release his first Black Marlin, two Blue Marlin and a Sailfish – also giving him a Billfish Grand Slam! The next day, Mike got to have some fun releasing a Blue Marlin. Over the course of the week, the guys released Billfish every day, with the exception of their last day. That’s when they went inshore to change it up, and have some fun around the rocky points and beautiful mountains. The guys smashed it again. The gentlemen anglers got stuck into a great Roosterfish bite and released a bunch of other inshore species. Mike and Paul had a trip of a lifetime, and we can’t wait to see them back again. 

Flint Besecker was back at the lodge, with his son, Noah. We haven’t seen Noah at the lodge in over three years, so it was great to see him again. The father-son duo always have a fantastic time with us, and we shared a good few laughs together as they shared some memorable fishing stories. On their first day out, they released a Blue Marlin and a Sailfish, and got the best of a giant Dorado. Not too bad for a half day of fishing! As the week went on, the guys added more Billfish to their list of catches, in addition to some exciting inshore species, including a Bluefin Trevally. Unfortunately, Flint’s trusty old pink popper didn’t have as good a time as the guys. Things were off to a promising start when it was devoured, as any angler hopes for…  except it was by a giant Wahoo, who then disappeared with Flint’s popper! I was fortunate enough to spend a day with the guys on Island Star with Gavilan and Manuel, and what a day we had. We got to release two Blue Marlin around the 300 -350lb mark, and they put on a real show! We  released Sailfish and brought in a couple monster Dorado too, to finish the day off strong.

Dana and Patty West were joined by their loved ones for an exceptional family trip. Their son Hugh, his far better half, Allison Catana, and their daughter, Leah came along, as did their good friends Mary and Wayne Underhill. It was great to see everyone back at the lodge, swapping stories and theories after not seeing each other for quite some time. The group caught and released multiple Billfish, both Marlin and Sailfish alike. Alison released her first Sailfish of around 90lb. She walked the plank to the cheers of the entire group. Wayne had a 100 to 150lb Yellowfin that popped the line after an hour and 20 minutes of fighting it. The group also had loads of Dorado scattered throughout the week to add to their score. Inshore, they caught gorgeous Roosterfish, and giant Cubera Snapper of over 70lb. And they even came back with Wahoo! All in all, the West family and friends had a great week and we cannot wait to have the family return next year.

George Couch returned for his 17th trip to the Tropic Star Lodge. He fished with Capt. Walter on Miss Darien, with Ermel as his mate. He was here to catch Marlin, and he brought his arsenal of toys with him, including his favorite lures, to achieve just that. He refers to his lures as cheeseburgers since the Marlin love them so much. And wow did they ever! George and his crew managed to raise and catch some Billfish, and some very nice sized Dorado. George has fished all over the world many times over and knows his way around the deep – but this trip held something very special for George. He released his 6th Billfish Grand Slam. That is a feat not many anglers have ever achieved, and we are proud and honored to share this memory with George, who achieved all 6 of his Grand Slams right here at Tropic Star Lodge.

Josh Spirtis and Kelsey Gray joined us for a very special trip… you see, they got engaged at the lodge! Josh planned the whole affair meticulously, and Kelsey made his night when she shared a resounding  YES. Neptune clearly blessed these love-bird anglers! On day-one, they each released a Blue Marlin and a Sailfish. The couple got to experience a lot of the species that Tropic Star has to offer, as on the rest of their trip, they experienced loads of fun with a great day of inshore fishing. They hooked two Black Marlin, which unfortunately came off, but they had a taste of the adrenaline that will no doubt have them return for more. They made up for the loss with Blue Marlin, Sailfish, and some giant Dorado. It was fantastic having the couple come and enjoy the beach, jungle and fishing here in the Darien, and we can’t wait to see them back as man and wife!

August was an explosive month, in between the slow days, with some incredible catches. There’s way too many to mention them all. We had many guests releasing their first Billfish, either a Blue Marlin, Black Marlin or Sailfish. We had guests coming back to the dock with monstrous Dorado, huge Yellowfin Tuna and a myriad of inshore fish making for some incredible stories around Marlin Bar. We celebrated two engagements, a couple of birthdays and 2 wedding anniversaries. And as always, new friendships were formed. These are the things that make the team here at Tropic Star love what we do. From getting to host the incredible people who come to enjoy their time in the jungle of Panama and creating memories made to last, to giving our guests the opportunity to catch that fish of a lifetime – there really is no place like our home, Tropic Star Lodge. 

April 2021 Fishing Report

Over the years, we have dialed in the Inshore bite at Tropic Star Lodge – and after years of practice, it really is starting to show. Anglers have been releasing huge amounts of different species on each outing, and stories of being beaten up by tackle-destroying Inshore beasts are becoming more regular. The colossal Cubera Snapper are right at the top of this list – fish that destroy anglers’ dreams as they peel line off, heading into the rocks. Sometimes they break hooks right off, and on occasion, whole poppers come back to the boat in half.  When you get it right, though, it is incredible to feel the power of the Cubera Snapper. The Roosterfish have been coming through in larger numbers and a few guests have been able to catch trophy-sized fish of over 50lb. These larger Roosterfish give anglers multiple powerful runs and are a blast to catch on surface lures. Bluefin Trevally, Mullet Snapper, Almaco Jacks and African Pompano are just a few of the species that anglers have been hooking into as well. Offshore, the Yellowfin Tuna have been around in smaller schools, in the football-sized range. Anglers have been loving fighting them on the lighter spinning gear.

We had a bit of rain over April, but the sunshine was always quick to return and the seas were beautiful. The sea surface temperature remained pretty high throughout the month, reaching into the 80’s Fahrenheit, and the breeze was a nice gentle one from the South most days. Inshore, the water has been clear most of the time – heavier rains meant green waters at times, but that didn’t stop the fish biting.

Guest Highlights 

Dan Erb, an experienced angler and friend to all at the Lodge, has been visiting us for many years and has done more than twenty trips to the Lodge. This trip, he was joined by a good friend, Pete Giffen. Pete really wanted a Billfish, and so they tried Offshore for some Billfish. Unfortunately, it’s a tough Billfish bite in April. That said, the two gentlemen happily smashed some Yellowfin Tuna. They caught 14 in a single day and many more over the course of their trip. Inshore was also a lot of action with both anglers releasing a whole stack of Roosterfish, and Red Snapper.

Garry Simmons, Richard Lynch, James Edwards and Michael Dyer came to Tropic Star Lodge at the end of April to target Roosterfish, and that’s exactly what they did. Fishing with Capt. Adolfo, the guys headed up the coastline and targeted the wraiths of the rocks while enjoying the truly incredible jungle surroundings. Garrys’ Rooster was one that he will be able to boast about for his whole life. He released a monster that the captain called at 70lb. Another goal was for Richard to get something awesome on fly, and he got that right with a Dorado on fly while fishing Inshore, again, showing us that you never know what might hit your bait.

Mike Schneidereit loves the outdoors, especially hunting and fishing. He has been trying to get this trip right for a long time, so it was great having him at the lodge. His main goal was to catch a Roosterfish. He has been trying to catch one for many years, and told us he didn’t think they existed because he always caught something else, but never his Rooster. On his first day out on the water, he came back still believing that they did not exist. The next day, however, he came back to the dock with green flags flying high and a big grin on his face, as he had fought and released his mythical beast. Mike also caught a Sailfish Inshore, along with a few different Jack species, Yellowfin Tuna and Sierra Mackerel over the next few days. 

We had the opportunity to spend quality time with our guests this April, which the staff here really enjoyed. Anglers had to work hard for their fish, but Neptune provided, as always. We are looking forward to the Roosters coming through in even bigger numbers as we head into May, and are very excited to be hosting our upcoming Annual Roosterfish Tournament.

2021 Tropic Star Lodge 5th Annual Roosterfish Tournament

Roosterfish flags flying high in the afternoons, laughter, cheers and high-fives. There was a lot of that each afternoon at our annual Roosterfish Tournament. The fishing was incredible and the anglers absolutely smashed the old record of 102 Roosterfish in three days of tournament fishing. 12 anglers managed to catch and release 131 Roosterfish in the three-day tournament. Two of the teams released 18 Roosterfish in a single day and there were more than a few fish caught over 50lb with the largest of the Tournament coming in at 58 inches which is an estimated 60lb. 

We kicked off the Tournament with some fun and games to get the teams better acquainted. We are firm believers that fishing is all about having fun. Of course, there is that competitive angle in tournament fishing, especially when the top team wins an invite to the OWC. Our goal, however, was to make this tournament as fun as possible. Since a boat draw dictates the boats teams will fish with each day of the tournament, we held the Tropic Star Roosterfish Olympics to determine the order anglers would draw their boats. Each team had to choose a person for each activity, with the points from the day being tallied to determine the order for the boat draw.

We started the Olympics with a drawing competition. The challenge? The anglers’ rendition of a Roosterfish. Some of the artwork turned out amazing, and this activity is one that always ends in everyone talking and laughing over the various renditions. The second activity was a casting competition – which everyone always assumes is pretty straight forward, but often takes anglers by surprise. The anglers competing in the event had to cast from behind the start line, with each angler having three casts. Distance is what gets you your points in this challenge. The ocean is out of bounds on one side, and the palm trees and grass on the other. We had two people cast their lures way out of bounds, with one going right into the Marlin Bar and the other straight over it. Both anglers received 0 points for those efforts. The final activity is the one that draws the biggest crowd and the most laughs – the Cayuco Race. Cayucos are dugout canoes that the locals use for fishing. It takes extreme balance to paddle in a Cayuco, and this race left all of us in hysterics.

Each day, the boats were able to leave fully stocked with live bait before they left, and just as well, as the fishing was phenomenal with no wasted time on bait fishing. Roosterfish are a highly sought-after trophy fish and the number of flags that we saw coming back to the dock was awesome. The stories of Roosterfish giving run after run as they got closer to the boat were common at our Papa’s Pilar Rum happy hour each afternoon. Each day, the angler with the biggest fish of the day was rewarded with a bottle of 24 year old Papa’s Pilar Rum.

Day 1 the fleet released 47 Roosterfish with the biggest one going to Mike Kennedy of team Loco Lechugas, with a 58 inch monster of a Roosterfish, which is around 60lb. The top boat for the day was Team Dilly Dilly with 18 Roosterfish. They went for an incredible 18 for 30 shots.

Day 2 saw fewer fish but a bunch of them were on the larger side. The fleet released 24 Roosterfish. It was a team Dark Horse day, with the top score of 650 points and the biggest fish of the day going to Bob Stewart with a fish of 54 inches, estimated around 55lb.

Day 3 the bite picked right on up with boats smashing fish. The fleet released 60 Roosterfish. People on the dock were going nuts seeing so many boats coming in flying so many flags. Team Tough Cat took the highest score of the day this time, with another 18 Roosterfish. Angler Bob Wright caught the fish of the day with a 57 inch beast, weighing around 60lb.

During the tournament, anglers put 39 spaghetti tags on Roosterfish, which serves as a significant contribution to the ocean conservation research being conducted. Not much is known about Roosterfish as they have 0 commercial value. They are only found from Mexico to Peru and are a very sought after game fish and so we are doing as much as possible to learn about these incredible wraiths of the rocks to ensure they will be here for many generations to come. A big thank you to the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation and NOVA South Eastern University for their hard work in protecting our oceans. We’re extremely honored to be participating in their studies.

The tournament was a great success! All of us at Tropic Star Lodge would like to thank the participants and our sponsors, for without all of you, none of this would have been possible.

Traeger Grills, YETI, Shimano, Rods by Dru, OWC, Papa’s Pilar, Guy Harvey, Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation

A special congratulations to our winners: 

1st place: 3000 points, Team Dilly Dilly: Michael Peterson and Pete Ballew

2nd Place: 2950 points Team Tough Cat: Mitch and Debra Bademan

3rd Place: 1950 Points Team P Max Poppers: Pat Riley and Brian Hill

Top angler: Michael Peterson

Fishing at Tropic Star Lodge in December

December awakens a whole lot of excitement to fish at Tropic Star!

December holiday is traditionally a time for sharing special moments with family. There are always specific smells, tastes, places and traditions that mark the holiday season for each of us. For some, it’s the snow and smell of Pine trees, for others, it’s pumpkin everything and sitting by a fire with loved ones. What makes the holidays for me is the smell of sunscreen, seeing old friends and being next to the water.

The atmosphere at Tropic Star Lodge is incredibly unique all times of the year but it’s certainly heightened in December when fresh Christmas trees dot the property and holiday décor is up. The cheery atmosphere of holiday season is contagious. Many of our guests return the same times each year to celebrate, see old friends and, of course, to target fish species. On Christmas Day our jungle elves come out. Gwen Kosi and her son, Frank Kozi, visit every Christmas, and every year I’m jealous of Frank’s shirts.

The variety of fish an angler can target at Tropic Star Lodge in December is vast. We have the Blue Marlin bite wide open offshore. Any angler who has had the chance to take on a Blue Marlin will tell you it is incredible the way they make a reel scream grey hounding away from the boat. Often doing a giant circle only to come flying past you with a huge bow in the line. Few other species of fish can make a reel lose so much line so fast. Big Sailfish are patrolling offshore as well putting on their usual aerobatics display. Sails glistening in the sun as they do flips and tail walks around the transom.

We sometimes find the odd Black Marlin Offshore but generally they are found closer in and during December they are just making their way into the area. The Black Marlin is a brutal fighter and doesn’t have the pure speed or grace of the Blue Marlin but when she is angry it doesn’t matter who is on the rod or in the tower, you are going to be in for the fight of your life. Black Marlin fight extremely hard and keep their heads down making you work for every inch of line. Then without warning, she will be flying behind the boat showing off her brutal strength and beauty. Some lucky anglers will land their Black Marlin in mere minutes for others it is a much longer affair.

These Billfish are what Tropic Star Lodge has made its name on. December is the best time of year to achieve a Grand Slam. Every season we release more Grand Slams during December than any other month, making it an angler’s reverie.

If chasing a Grand Slam and Billfish is not your thing, then no problem. The monstrous Mahi Mahi are around in droves and provide anglers endless hours of fun on all tackle. For when you get your first Bull Dorado over 50 lbs it will have you rethinking everything you thought you knew about the species. Dorado are spectacular fish as they spring out of the water showing off their iridescent blues, greens and sunshine yellows. Their stamina and strength often surprise anglers, especially with the bigger XXL Bulls.

The brutish Yellowfin Tuna are around but not in big numbers. But what the waters lack in numbers, it is made up in size. Through December we have some of the bruisers coming back to the scales reaching up to 300 lb. These fish are extremely hard fighters and make a B line straight for the ocean floor making anglers put in their all trying to turn them and bring them back up towards the surface. We generally get them on blind strikes while trolling large live baits for Marlin.

Having this variety of fish offshore makes an Offshore Slam an achievable feat , this is any Billfish, a Tuna and a Dorado by a single angler in a single day.
Fishing inshore along the coastline is still strong over December with Cubera Snapper, Roosterfish and Almaco Jacks bending rods and keeping anglers busy. The numbers are not huge but the quality of the fish has anglers all giddy as there are some trophies to be caught while casting surface lures towards the white water engulfing the rocky out crops.

Some of my best memories growing up are fishing with my father during the summer December holidays. Getting to go offshore with the guys, getting sea sick for the first time, getting my first nickname from the “guys”, which on account of being sea sick, was Green. Catching my first Dorado particularly sticks out. Seeing it’s beautiful colors and the way it sprung out of the water. And I’ll never forget seeing my first Billfish – the thrill of pulling in this prized species after a good fight is something that never leaves you! We saw the Sail above the water on the starboard side. My buddy Mark and I were around ten years old and neither of us had ever caught a Billfish. The adrenaline was coursing through us so much that we were shaking. The Captain took the boat out of gear about twenty feet from the fish and it went under. My dad took the TLD 20, put a goggle eye on the still then “J” hook and threw it out. It didn’t take long at all for the line to start peeling off the reel, my dad set the hook and handed the rod over to Mark. As soon as Mark took the rod, the Sailfish was in the air and she was a thing of beauty.

All of these memories are flashes of my past that have changed my life completely and made me who I am today. Looking forward, I can’t wait to make memories just like these someday with my son on the water far away from technology and the troubles that wait for us on land. I could not actually think of a better place to do this than at Tropic Star Lodge.

Spending quality time with friends and family is one of the greatest gifts we are ever given. It brings us closer together, makes memories which in turn become stories which we will tell over and over again, getting to relive things that truly make us happy. I can’t wait to spend this December with my family at Tropic Star Lodge and make some incredible memories I hope some of you will be in my future stories.

Tournaments with a difference

Remember when fishing tournaments were not just about prize money? It seems that as the boats get bigger and the prize money grows, tournaments have become more serious and not as much fun. I used to love putting together a team of my closest fishing friends, who were not always the best anglers, but man, were they fun! Memories of coming up with a team name that often had some funny and inappropriate meaning, designing team shirts, and the fish, of course. 

Tropic Star Lodge tournaments are different to many of the tournaments you’ll find out there. They are smaller and more intimate. Our tournaments revolve around conservation and camaraderie. The goal is for anglers to have an absolute blast fishing with friends, telling stories and creating memories while learning about, and participating in, conservation. There is still something amazing to aim for at the end of the day, though – anglers have the chance to win an invitation to the prestigious Offshore World Cup

Tropic Star Lodge has a rich history of world records by anglers of all ages – achieved by both men, and women. It is a diverse fishery that has something for everyone. For that reason, we host two different tournaments each year, yet similar in style. 

In November, we have our Billfish Tournament that opens our season. It is exciting fishing, with Dorado in huge numbers, Sailfish still moving through in small packs and Blue Marlin bite that is wide open. Anglers will also find the occasional Black Marlin in November and even the XXL Yellowfin Tuna that smash the larger live baits. 

In May, we have our Roosterfish tournament, where we fish right up close to the craggy coastline. There is a lot of trolling with live baits, or using lures in your favorite areas, casting or jigging making it extremely exciting for anglers who enjoy this more “hands on” style of fishing

Billfish Tournament: November 

The Billfish tournament in November is our season opener to kick things off with a bang! Our guests’ fish three to a boat for the tournament and draw boats on the first night, fishing a different boat each day. We also have around fifteen to twenty private boats join us for the tournament making it around thirty boats in total. Day one is a practice day to help all the anglers work out the kinks in their hooking up and team orders, and for the next two days it is tournament time. Blue and Black Marlin count for the most points at 300 points per release, Striped Marlin 200 points per release and Sailfish at 100 points per release. There are time constraints on how long you can fight a fish to ensure a healthy release for it to count for points, and all anglers must follow IGFA rules. Prizes are also up for grabs for the largest weighed Dorado and yellow fin Tuna.

Roosterfish Tournament: May

Roosterfish are only found in a very few places in the world, and Tropic Star lodge is known for having some monsters. It is for this reason that we have an annual Roosterfish tournament in May, when the fish come through in great numbers and anglers have a chance of releasing a trophy-sized Rooster, and making it into the 50 lb club. This tournament has two anglers per team and again we have a boat draw on the first night and teams fish with a different boat each day. Day one is practice with the next three days of fishing being tournament days. Each released Roosterfish is awarded 100 points. Roosterfish caught on artificials with a successful release will also earn the angler 150 points. At prize giving the winning team will win a chance to fish in the IGFA Offshore World Championship. For fun, the last place team gets to take frustrations out on our Roosterfish Piñata. A tradition we’ve come to love.

The Tropic Star Difference

Comraderie is a major aspect of what makes Tropic Star Lodge tournaments unique. Our guests truly give this place life. Like-minded people together, having fun and fishing. Learning from one another, sharing experiences all in the name of fun competition, and of course, sharing a few good rums. 

Conservation is the foundation of our tournaments. We work closely with the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, and personally with Dr. Guy Harvey and Jessica Harvey who are leaders in ocean conservation. They lead by example and impart great knowledge unto the fishing community. They work tirelessly to produce scientific data to aid in setting standards and lobbying for conservation policies. At our tournaments, they give talks to help us understand more about this wonderful resource. The ocean is in fact the very thing that brings us all so much joy – and making sure the resource is sustainable for the future generations has become very important to me personally as well. 

We participate in a tag and release program during both tournaments

For the November billfish tournament, we tag Dorado with spaghetti tags. This is done with the Dolphin Research Program. In the past three years, the program has had over 5,000 tags deployed and has tracked over 140 movements. We also deploy satellite tags in a select amount of billfish. These sat tags give us valuable information on where the fish are moving and their depths. There is still so much that we do not know about the migration patterns of the Blue Marlin, Sailfish and especially the Black Marlin. We are very happy to say that in the past three years we have put out over 100 satellite tags together with the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, The Guy Harvey Research Institute, NOVA South Eastern University, The Smithsonian Institute, and the Guardians Program (a non-profit organization that raises funds for the sole purpose of funding research into the South Eastern Pacific Ocean.)  

During our springtime Roosterfish tournament. We also deploy both spaghetti and satellite tags. It was at Tropic Star Lodge that the first successful satellite tag was deployed on a Roosterfish. This has proven to be a very successful project, and we continue to gain so much knowledge about these fish that hold little value to much of the world. There is zero commercial value for Roosterfish and this is why there is still so much that we do not know about the species. They are a beautiful and exciting species to target, and we are privileged to have them in abundance in our waters. 

I am extremely excited for the upcoming tournaments. The fisheries in Panama have been closed for quite some time, and there has been little to no fishing pressure. We have been fortunate enough to be allowed to send out a few of our own boats to catch food for the local village and it has been remarkable fishing, with Yellowfin feeding frenzies full of porpoise and birds . The Dorado have started to come through and we have caught some of those prized Bulls that pull so hard they make you rethink everything you know about Dorado. Even though we have been targeting food – the Billfish have still found their way onto our hooks! All of them have been safely released, as is always the case at Tropic Star.

At the moment, the lodge boats are fully booked for the Billfish tournament this November but we still have some openings for our private boat guests who join us from all over the world. We do, however, still have openings for our 2021 Roosterfish and Billfish tournaments, so let us know if you’d like to be a part of the action for  next year! 

The Moorings are all set, the waters are teaming with fish and the staff at Tropic Star Lodge can’t wait to welcome our friends and family back for what is looking to be an insane fishing season come November. The stories get more and more interesting around happy hour where anglers swop stories about the one that got away, or sometimes even the one that they got to weigh while enjoying a Papas Pillar at our new Marlin Bar overlooking the Bay.

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