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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