March 2021 – Fishing Report

The Black Marlin bite slowed down as we went into March, but anglers who put in their time still got shots at Her Majesty and we released some incredible fish. We had a few people walking the plank for their first Black Marlin, which is always something special. Sailfish were around in small numbers and strangely, the odd Dorado was being caught, which is very unusual for March. The Yellowfin Tuna came crashing through in epic fashion with birds diving, dolphins all around and the tuna turning the ocean white by smashing bait fish in feeding frenzies that must be seen to truly be appreciated. Anglers’ arms got stretched and tackle got tested by the larger fish over 100 lb. 

It was the 40 -60 lb fish I love to chase on spinning gear and catch on surface lures, expecting the incredible strikes. Inshore the bite was on fire with loads of different species, and we had the best Cubera Snapper bite I have ever seen with one boat releasing 18 Cubera in a single day. Anglers released Tarpon, Grouper, Bluefin Trevally and Roosterfish just to name a few making the bite along the shoreline incredible.

The seas were beautifully calm during March and the cold water arrived, but only for a few days and not for as long as we normally see. The water dropped to around 74 degrees Fahrenheit and when it did; the fishing went nuts! With the cold water species such as Tarpon, Grouper and Cubera snapper made their way into the shallows. We still received a few inches of rain in March, which I have never seen, personally. Things were still a little strange, but the fish were here, so no one minded.

Hal and Kathy Hunter returned to the lodge after many years of fishing on private boats, this time brining their son, Randy and his wife, Alice. It was great to catch up with them. Hal and Kathy have caught fish all over the world and fished with some of the greatest Marlin captains ever. As a fellow angler, I hope to have half the stories that they shared with us. Hal brought some of their original Black Bart lures made by Bart Miller himself and were ready to chase Marlin. True Marlin anglers are used to putting in time for beauties of the deep and that is exactly what they did. It was tough fishing offshore with not too much happening. The family convinced Hal to try Inshore action for about 2 hours and then it was back offshore, but in the end, it paid off. Capt. Adolfo put them on two Marlin. The first jumped off, but about an hour later Randy Hunter was hooked up and released his first Black Marlin. The entire crew was ecstatic as they had put in a lot of time and effort for the incredible Black Marlin. Randy walked the plank when they got back to the dock, with cheers from fellow anglers and crews alike.

Justin and Melisa Webster love the outdoors, having a good time with a lot of laughs. Justin is an avid angler and his wife Melisa is just a straight up bad ass. The couple released an inshore Grand Slam, which is something very special for any angler. They released a Bluefin Trevally, a Roosterfish and a Cubera Snapper in a day. Melisa released an absolute beast of a Cubera and a Blue fin trevally. And that is just a few of the fish they caught. The couple released Sailfish and fought Yellowfin for dinner… but deep down all Justin wanted was a Marlin. Unfortunately, it did not happen, but that’s Marlin fishing. They always keep you wanting more. We are so excited to see Justin and Melisa back in the future to get them their giant Marlin, which will be an even cooler story for the kids when they get home.

Mid-March, Tropic Star Lodge hosted the second annual Inshore Fishing Seminar. This year the Inshore Fishing Seminar was completely sold out, and it was an absolute blast! We would like to give a big thank you to Capt. Bo Johnson, JP DeRose, and Patrick MacCafferty, who were our hosts for the seminar. The fishing was absolutely off the charts, with boats catching on average around 45 fish per day. The most prized species that anglers got to release were Roosterfish, Cubera Snapper, Bluefin Trevally, Broomtail Grouper, Black Grouper, African Pompano, Mullet Snapper and even a few Tarpon. During the school, we had two possible world records caught, a Broomtail Grouper of 80 lb and a Bluefin Trevally of over 23 lb. Both fish were released and only measured, so will not be eligible for world records. A lot of the school’s focus is fish handling, how to release the fish safely and the best way to get spectacular photos. Actually targeting the fish and catching them is only part of the fun.

John and Kerry Shanks do a lot of fishing in Florida, and it was so cool getting to meet them for their first time at Tropic Star Lodge. The couple joined us for the fishing seminar, and in all honesty, they are incredible anglers. They smashed everything off their bucket list while with us and even extended their stay for a few extra days after the school was over. Kerry landed a monster Cubera Snapper on a jerk bait, and John got a huge Bluefin Trevally, and a world record Broomtail Grouper. That was just on day-one, with over nine other species caught on that day. By the end of their stay, they had also included some tackle testing Roosterfish and a few Tarpon, Jacks, African Pompano and Mackerel to their ever-growing list. The couple extended their stay by a few days, and Kerry caught a big Roosterfish and a bunch of other species. It was great getting to spend the extra days with the couple, and we can’t wait to see them back next year.

Jay Dollries, Randy Lane and Eric Knop joined us at the lodge and had a great time fishing on Pollyanna with Capt. Fidel. The gentlemen spent their time in between chasing Billfish and Tuna offshore and casting at the rocks inshore. They raised quite a few Billfish and even had a Marlin on, but it was not meant to be. They did, however, catch Yellowfin Tuna trolling cedar plugs and casting poppers at the shoals that were busting the surface. Inshore, the guys got a bit of everything and had had some mind-blowing days. Jay brought an Almaco Jack of over 75 lb back to the dock – a monster that he caught on a popper. The guys also caught over 15 Cubera Snapper in a single day, all on surface lures. By the end of their stay, each angler had released the coveted Inshore Slam, all on surface lures, which is what anglers’ dreams are made of.

March was really an amazing month with so much happening. The guests that came down had a great time, and we can’t wait to see them all back in the future. It was great to be part of so many anglers’ firsts and seeing the excitement of them retelling the stories to each other in the afternoons at Marlin Bar or at the pool while snacking on sushi or and a cold one.

January 2021 – Fishing Report

January 2021

The New Year is finally here and all signs are pointing toward the 2021 season being a little later, and a cracker at that. The Black Marlin have been running a little bigger this season – it’s early to predict, however they have been averaging at around 400 to 450lb, which is definitely on the large side for average size range. We have been consistently hooking the Blacks close to the Lodge on the Zane Grey Reef and in the surrounding area. Further offshore, the Sailfish bite has slowed somewhat (which is to be expected) and the Blue Marlin numbers, which started off strong at the beginning of the month, declined as the Black Marlin became more numerous. Dorado are breaking that 50lb mark everyday on the dock, gifting us with some incredible eating. Tuna bite has slowed down, with only a few being caught. The schools have still been seen but are moving at an incredible pace.

At the beginning of January, the winds were still blowing strong from the south meaning the season had not quite changed yet. We are still getting the odd downpour some afternoons, leaving our waters somewhat inconsistent on the inside. That means that boats have had to run a little further to find that beautiful blue water for the Blue Marlin, but being so close to the fish means that we are still running a whole lot closer than most. The Blacks, on the other hand, really don’t mind a little off-colored water. As soon as that northerly wind came through and made things a little choppier, the Black Marlin came up hungry and the bite was on. The water temperature stuck to a constant 83 to 85 degrees all through January, and conditions are looking amazing for very fishy February. With the rains still here into January, we anticipate that March should also be a cracker month for the Blacks – an occurrence that is always welcomed.

Guest Spotlight

Michael and Candy Stuart have been fishing together for many years and this January was their first time visiting Tropic Star Lodge. Michael started the long road of achieving his Royal slam in 1989 out of Chub Key in the Bahamas. Candy started her journey in 2008 off Stuart Florida, and this week they both got to finish the lifetime achievement of releasing all nine Billfish of the world! On their second day of fishing with Capt. Jose, Candy managed to release her Pacific Sailfish and a Black Marlin of 450lb. There were tears of joy on the boat and the dock, and the whole lodge joined in with excitement to celebrate the achievement of something so special. The next day, Michael got to release his first Black Marlin of around 450lb. This was a truly momentous occasion – the couple completed their Royal Slams just days apart. During their trip, the Stuarts released another Black Marlin, more Sails and impressive amounts of Dorado. We can all agree that completing their Royal Slams made this such a special trip.  We can’t wait to have them back in just a few weeks.

Father and son team, Mark and Preston Wagner, have traveled together extensively, and love the outdoors and adventure. On their latest adventure, they joined us at Tropic Star for some fishing action on board the Pollyanna with Capt. Fidel. The gentlemen were both new to offshore fishing, so both got to walk the plank for releasing their first Sailfish catches, respectively. They got stuck into some amazing Dorado fishing during their stay and both got to show off some incredible trophy Dorado. Preston also got the release on an awesome Blue Marlin that put on a show for the guys.

Drew, JD and Mike Messler joined us too, fishing on Australia with captain Candelo and mate Ricardo. They were back for their fifth visit all the way from New Jersey. The group were undoubtedly here for Black Marlin, and that is just what they were delivered. The Black in question hit a live bait and dropped it, but Mike was quick to get another dead skip bait back to the fish and got to feed a beauty of a Black Marlin. The fish was called at 280lb. Our Videographer, Kesh, was out with them and got some awesome footage of their majestic Black jumping behind the boat. The guys are very experienced anglers and it showed when Mike released his first Black Marlin. 

Guests Gary and Melissa Jones love the outdoors, fishing and embarking on adventures together. While down at the lodge, they fished with Capt. Fidel on Pollyanna. The couple had to work for their fish, but fish they got! Both Gary and Melissa released first-time Black Marlin. It was an insane day, with a Sailfish having been caught too. They were only a Blue Marlin away from a Grand Slam. While trolling around the Zane Grey Reef, there is always an opportunity for those giant Cubera Snappers that lurk deep beneath the surface. Both Gary and Melissa were lucky enough to release monster-sized Cubera Snappers, a bucket-list catch for most. 

January has been a wild month with giant Dorado, big Marlin and incredible action from the Sailfish. The weather has certainly kept us on our toes, but it’s all part of the sport. The team and I have enjoyed seeing familiar faces. Sharing in these incredible memories is always so much fun, and the camaraderie is what makes the fishing experience at Tropic Star Lodge so special. We look forward to seeing you all down here soon for your fishing adventure and hope you enjoy the photos.

December 2020 Fishing Report

December started off with a bang! It was a fantastic reunion with so many guests returning and everyone eager to get out on the water. 

At the start of the month, the Dorado were around in droves. The bite slowed during mid-December and then came back with a vengeance to close out 2020. The average size was the usual XXL. As always, guests wrestled a love/hate relationship with the aggressive Dorado bite – even though catching MASSIVE Dorado is a lot of fun, the sheer quantity tends to take away from Marlin time.

Yellowfin Tuna over 200 lb are considered a trophy fish to any angler, and we had quite a few guests who had their arms stretched by these deep-diving beauties. The Sailfish bite was very consistent, and boats were able to rack them up when targeting them. Sailfish were also around for those chasing a  Billfish Grand Slam. The Blue Marlin bite started off wide open, slowed down for a short time in mid-December, and then turned back on. Black Marlin were caught on Zane Grey Reef with the odd few found offshore. We released a beauty of 750 lb – she has been the biggest Black so far this season, and it is still very early on. 

The water temperature hovered at 84 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit all month, with a gentle breeze from the South all day, every day. This also brought on afternoon showers most days, creating debris lines offshore. Fishing the areas of floating logs made for some incredible fishing. The current has been consistently coming up from the South, pushing in beautiful clean water offshore. In normal circumstances, we are on the fish in under 20 miles, which is exceptionally close. We had to run a little further than normal to find the blue water at times, but it was well worth it when we did. On the reef the water was a little off-color but that didn’t dissuade the Blacks, as the fleet released quite a few.

Trevor Foster and Eric Hamlin returned for their fun in the sun fishing trip to Tropic Star. It is their 5th trip and it was so good catching up with the guys. On this trip, they also brought their buddy, Martin Sandoval, for his first time. The guys had a slow start on their first day on the water, but that all changed amazingly fast on day 2. Eric released his first Black AND Blue Marlin. Martin released his first Sailfish, first Dorado, and first Yellowfin. By the end of the 4 days fishing, the gents had racked up some incredible stories and numbers. They ended their trip with the sore arms of worthy fighters, and enjoyed some well-deserved rest after catching nearly 30 Dorado and releasing 25 Billfish!

Team Peru returned for their 15th trip! It was great getting to see our family from Peru. These guys enjoy a fun boys’ trip every year with friends, dads, and sons getting together at Tropic Star for a bit of competition and loads of laughter. The guys held their annual tournament and the competition was fierce, as always. This time Lucho and Alonso took the win on Scandia with Capt. Jose. They released 9 Marlin for the week, and loads of other fish. We had some newcomers this season as well. Alessandro, Lucciano and Rafael all had first-time Marlin releases during their first trip with the group. In total, the guys released over 60 Billfish during their 6 days on the water, and too many Dorado to count. It was a story-book trip and we can’t wait to see them back for some more action next year.

Friends, John and Kim Miller and Dewy and Patti Blaylock joined us for some fun on and off the water. Both John and Dewy are avid anglers and caught some new personal bests. John boated the biggest Dorado he has ever seen and Dewy, who has been a tournament overseer for years, released his first Black Marlin of 450 lb. Patti doesn’t really like to be on the water for too long, as she likes catching far more than fishing, and so on the last day the whole gang fished inshore. The boat returned full of laughter and stories from all the action, catching smaller Yellowfin and many other inshore species on offer, all while enjoying the beauty of the virgin coastline.

Denise Guillen and her family fished for 2 days on Miss Australia with Captain Candelo and Mate Ramiro running the deck.  The first day they caught Sailfish and some monster Dorado. It was a ton of fun for the family to experience the bright green, yellow, and blue flash flying across the spread and exploding on big live baits. Their second day, they did not go as far offshore in efforts to search for some Marlin after the action-packed first day. Rolando and Sebastian both released a Blue Marlin. We threw Sebastian off the dock for his first Marlin release. The 2 Marlin were called at 300 and 250 lbs. They paired nicely with some larger Dorado that made for a fresh catch of the day. In their 2 days they totaled 3 Dorado, 2 Blue Marlin, and a Sailfish. 

The Houser family; Brian, Debby and Clark, family to our very own, Hayden Houser, joined us from Texas over the Christmas holiday. Great fun was had by all, and Hayden was able to spend quality time with his family. This was the fifth trip for team Houser, and it was Debby’s time to fight and release her first Blue Marlin of 300 lb. The Family also received the perfect Christmas present from Neptune, a Grand Slam. The Housers released a Black Marlin, Blue Marlin, 3 Sailfish and brought back a bunch of Dorado to complete the magical day. The entire trip was amazing and we can’t wait to see them back to make more memories.

Bryan, Marguerite, Luke and Rebecca Fleener came to the lodge for a family vacation. Their destination was chosen by Rebecca for her senior trip. The entire family was heaps of fun and loves the outdoors and adventure. During their trip, Rebecca released her first Blue Marlin which earned her a plank-walk off the dock along with her mom, Marguerite, who released her first ever Pacific Sailfish. On their second day fishing the Fleeners caught more Sailfish than we had flags for, so they flew a white sock for flag number 17. 

I would like to say a personal thank you to Bryan for leading a beautiful devotional during our Christmas Eve celebrations – it made the special occasion with our valued guests even more memorable! The grand memory of Christmas carols sung alongside the rest of the families at the lodge is sure to be one that we won’t easily forget. 

December is a special month here at Tropic Star Lodge, as Christmas trees dot the property and fish mounts are adorned with Santa hats. The Christmas spirit is contagious. It has been a month of plank walking, stories of monsters lost, and monster fish released. We have had a lot of families enjoying all the Darien has to offer, from helping release newly hatched turtles, hiking through the virgin jungles, playing on the private white sand beaches, and exchanging fishing tales. The spirit of generosity is felt throughout Piñas during this special time, and as always, it was a great pleasure for us to be able to keep the spirit going with the people in the village – a special thanks goes out to all of those who have contributed to the Piñas Bay Conservancy, and to the Tropic Star team for all of the efforts to make Christmas a special time for the people in Bahia Piñas.  

We ended December with a fabulous New Year’s Eve celebration and fireworks at Marlin Bar, alongside our traditional dinner – whole roast pig and whole Grouper prepared by Chef Gabriel. The food and festivities were sensational as always, and the evening was thoroughly enjoyed by all. 

All in all, I’m pleased to report that the fishing season has started off spectacularly, and I personally cannot wait to see what 2021 will have in store for us!

Tight Lines,

Capt. Richard White

November 2020 Fishing Report

Panama is open! Tropic Star Lodge is open! We are so excited to be welcoming guests and getting to do what we love so much – making sure our guests enjoy the ultimate fishing vacation.

The season kicked off in true 2020 style. We experienced loads of rain from the two tropical storms that passed through making the seas… sporting, to say the least. That aside, as soon as the weather calmed down, the fishing kicked off just as everyone was hoping it would. Guests took on Black Marlin over 400lb at the Zane Grey Reef.  Black Marlin put on aerial displays like no other species can, showing anglers why she is referred to as “Her Majesty”. Blues were active offshore, tearing up baits and dumping reels, with Sailfish and Dorado showing up in between. Yellowfin Tuna in every size range were feeding on the surface, introducing anglers to the pain that only those brutes can bring on as they dive down to the depths. We caught some fantastic Almaco Jacks coming in on the reef, as well as released a few giant Cubera Snapper.

With the weather being so unpredictable for the first few days of being open, it made the fishing a bit tough to forecast. We had to go pretty far offshore by Tropic Star Lodge standards, running nearly 25 miles offshore to find the blue water, but once we found it – the fish did not disappoint. As the weather calmed, the clean water started to move in closer to land and the fishing exploded.

Heidi and Tim McBride joined us for an extended stay in November. Tim and Heidi are both passionate anglers who have fished at Tropic Star before, so we were thrilled to welcome them back to open the season. Some highlights from their trip included one day when Tim caught two massive Dorado. One was taller and wider than him! Then on top of that he came back having released a Blue Marlin. Heidi also had one of those days where she released a beautiful Blue Marlin and brought back a 155lb Yellowfin Tuna to the scale. A personal best for Heidi! 

Auston Gower and his wife, Laura, brought their two sons, William and Charles, for some family time in the jungle where they could relax and spend quality time together on the ocean. William and Charles are 10 and 11 years old, respectively, and love pretty much everything to do with the outdoors. They are both avid junior anglers and it was great to see them getting first catches. Both boys released their first Blue Marlin along with Sailfish and boated more than a few very impressive Dorado.

Mark Martorell brought his son, David, for a fishing adventure, and some father and son bonding. Both Mark and David love fishing, and really enjoyed targeting multiple species, both inshore and in the deep blue. During their trip David released his first Roosterfish and first Cubera Snapper. He also released a beautiful Blue Marlin. He wrangled with some bruiser Yellowfin Tuna, released around 15 Sailfish, and brought back enough Dorado to feed the lodge. During their time inshore they also released a Broomtail Grouper along with a bunch of other species.

The Groeger family, AKA the Billfish family joined us from the US. Van Groeger lived in the Panama Canal Zone in the 60’s, and has known about Tropic Star Lodge for many years. This year he made the trip with his wife, Linda, their two sons, Nick and Garret, and Garret’s lovely girlfriend, Assia. Until visiting Tropic Star, the family had not been offshore much for big game fishing, but that didn’t stop them from smashing some incredible Billfish and walking the plank. The family fished on Pollyanna with Capt. Fidel and they all got to experience their own first-time Billfish release. Garret released a nice 300lb Blue Marlin and Van released a gorgeous Black of 300lb. The family also brought back a Yellowfin Tuna of 150lb which made for some delicious sashimi for everyone back at the lodge. The whole family released multiple Sailfish and some truly monster Dorado,  who were keeping them busy.

The season is off to a flying start and we are so happy to see so many families coming and enjoying this special little piece of paradise. As we head into December, the fishing should keep going from strength-to-strength and we can’t wait to share it with more anglers.

Tight Lines,

Capt. Richard White

March 2020 Fishing Report

The Black Marlin action continued into March as we saw loads of Black Marlin on the surface daily as well as the odd Blue Marlin. Boats at times saw more than ten fish in a single day, however, the Black Marlin were just teasing anglers as they were doing nothing more than just sunning themselves. The Yellowfin Tuna came through in giant shoals moving quickly in unison with the Porpoise. The inshore bite exploded bringing with the plethora of inshore species our waters offer.
The currents and winds changed constantly during the first half of March making it tough to predict the bite. We had some cooler water up in the north and then warmer water down south. Each area offered a different fishing experience. The skies were bright blue and the seas beautifully calm almost every day.

Ron and Britt Vergnolle brought their son, Finch, to Tropic Star for his 15th Birthday. Ron and Finch are avid outdoorsmen and love hunting and fishing. Finch is a fishing machine and I loved his enthusiasm and knowledge. It was great spending time with him and the family. Finch also had Neptune’s birthday blessing as he released his first Pacific Sailfish and a beautiful 60 lb Roosterfish on a popper. Ron released a Cubera Snapper on popper which is one of the most exciting experiences as an angler. To top it all off, Finch released his first Black Marlin!
March guests Mark and Chuck Madary fished with Capt. Azael on the Miss Spain. The guys loved the inshore fishing and absolutely slammed it. It is always great hearing anglers complain about tired arms! The first day they caught too many fish to count. The second day the gents conducted a species challenge and caught over 10 different species trolling and casting along the shoreline. Their quote “The best fishing they have ever had”.

Jodi Leonetti brought her four sons fishing down at Tropic Star Lodge in March. Getting to meet the Leonetti boys and mom was a lot of fun, the guys are very passionate about fishing and we are hoping to have Jeffrey back to intern with us in the future! The family fished on Pollyanna with Capt. Fidel. Keshmen, our professional videographer, went out with them to record the action. The boys loved casting along the rocks. There were quite a few top water action shots from Snappers and Roosters. They also released their fair share of Roosterfish along with a bunch of Jacks and Mackerel while popping. Offshore they got into some awesome Yellowfin Tuna action and released a beauty of a Pacific Sailfish.  

Wes and Tara Masters along with Ryan and Janie Bloom joined us from Alaska. They were quickly known to all as team Alaska and they did the name proud. Both couples love fishing and the outdoors and what a trip they had fishing abaord Miss Hawaii with Capt. Gustavo. They released a total of six Black Marlin. Four Marlin were released in a single day, all over 300 lb. Janie released her first Black Marlin of 400 lb and Tara released one of 350 lb. Team Alaska has already booked for February next year and we can’t wait to see them back.

We had a large group of friends and members of the International Light Tackle Tournament Association meet at Tropic Star Lodge. It was an awesome crowd with many of the anglers coming from Central America. All the anglers have plenty of experience when it comes to catching billfish. There was one angler from North America that the group lovingly referred to as “Gringo Bill”. Bill released multiple Black Marlin in a single day in addition to releasing a monster Roosterfish. Many of the anglers were chasing their Royal Slam which is all nine billfish from around the world. On this particular trip, Gustavo Merck got to complete his by releasing his first Black Marlin, an incredible and memorable lifetime achievement. Many rums where shared over the many Black Marlin releases that the group achieved.

Steve Demboske and Kaite McCray love fishing together. Their first day out on the water, they targeted Black Marlin without luck. Raising one and a few Sailfish with Capt. Adolfo. The next day, changing things up, they went inshore. They loved the diversity of species and being involved in the action by casting into the rocks. They caught mountains of Jacks and Mackerel and also brought home African Pompano, Yellowfin, and Dorado for dinner. Highlights from the day included releasing a nice-sized Cubera Snapper and Roosterfish. The lovely couple are engaged and we’re thinking about having their wedding at Tropic Star Lodge! We can’t wait to see them back again.
The fishing was solid during the month of March with a great Black Marlin bite and more Tuna than anyone could ask for. Currently we are keeping the wheels turning down at the Lodge making sure the boats are clean and serviced, the tackle is all ready to go for when the world returns to normal. Our amazing team is doing great. Please keep safe everyone and we can’t wait to see you in the near future for some amazing fishing adventures.

Tight lines and fair seas,
Capt. Richard White

Fishing Highlights – February 8 – 15, 2020

Release of the Black Marlin

Yellowfin Tuna have started to outnumber the amount of Dorado caught, which always makes anglers excited for fresh sashimi on the water. Some of the anglers also got to pit themselves against some of the larger Tuna which is always an exhilarating contest.

The skies were bright blue and the winds were far gentler this week. The water temperature is still hanging around the mid 80’s which is great for Billfish. We had a little off-color water move in for a few days but that doesn’t affect the Black Marlin like is does for Blue Marlin. The sea state was generally calm and anglers could sight fish from quite a distance.

Christian Weissenberg and Andrea Avalos from Guatemala came to Tropic Star Lodge for their first time. Their goal was to release a Black Marlin. And they accomplished just that and then multiple times overfishing with Captain Jose on Miss Scandia. Right off the bat on their first day out, Christian released his first Black Marlin, a beautiful fish of 500 lb and Andrea released her first Pacific Sailfish of 90 lb. Each day the couple was excited to return back to the Lodge and see the daily scoreboard. They had a couple extremely special days fishing, and on one of those days released three Black Marlin and a Sailfish.

Incredible Dorado and Yellowfin action

Father and son, Michael and Corey Gustavus, are avid anglers who share a pure love for fishing. We enjoy having them at the Lodge. While fishing with Captain Vicente on Miss South Africa the guys racked up some incredible Marlin. They nearly missed a personal Grand Slam twice due to the Sailfish attacking baits lazily.

Ed Cady and Jack Heflin fished with Captain Jacob on Miss Tropic Star and what a week they had! Ed and Jack have fished many times together and this week will be one that they remember for many years to come.  The Guys both released multiple Black Marlin as well as Pacific Sailfish.

John and Pat from Canada joined us this November to fish in the season-opening Billfish tournament. The gents fished with Captain Candelo on Miss Australia. The Marlin bite was a little tough for them but they still managed to release a Black and a Blue Marlin. What they missed with Marlin releases was made up of some great Dorado and Yellowfin action. The guys are always a good laugh at the pool and dinner telling tales of fishing adventures they have had.

Family Fishing Adventures

We feel fortunate to welcome the Rathbun family to our Tropic Star family. Chris and Tracie came with their sons, Jarrod and Wyatt. The entire family is comprised of avid anglers. They fished with Captain Luis and Mate Ermel. Chris normally captains his own boat and has been part of many Marlin releases but has never had his chance on the rod. All that changed this week as he released his first Pacific Blue Marlin of 350 lb. Jarrod released his first Black Marlin of 380 lb and both of them walked the plank to cheers from fellow anglers. Wyatt really wanted to take on a big Yellowfin Tuna and he got his wish when he won the battle against a 236 lb Yellowfin.   

The fishing was really great for most of our anglers although some boats had a tough bite. The laughter and fun that was had by all was contagious. We do a village tour to the local village of Pinas and it was an absolute riot with our friends from the Canary Islands who are always up for fun. I know you are going to love the photos from this week.  As the season continues the Blacks will become more frequent and we can’t wait to share some more stories with everyone.

Tight lines and fair seas,
Capt. Richard White

Fishing Highlights – January 18 – 24, 2020

The Yellowfin began to feed in frenzies and there was some good-sized tuna brought back to the dock. With the Black Marlin being so much closer in than the Blues, it meant a shorter run for the fleet.

The weather over the past week was inconsistent with some big winds coming up from the south and even a bit of rain which is not normal weather for summer in Panama. With the winds changing constantly and blowing strong on two of the days, the seas were choppy. The water temperature was steady in the mid-’80s. It was bumpy sea conditions but the fish were biting! 

Michael and Sheila Bonsignore love fishing and visit us each year at the same time. It was around 20 years ago that they met their good friend, Mark Mahaffey, during their first visit to Tropic Star Lodge. Now, they visit us together annually.  Each year they host a small friendly tournament. Michael is the Sicilian muscle to make sure all entries are in. The guests love the tournament and it really brings anglers together. Michael and Sheila had some great fishing on Miss Scandia with Capt. Jose. They released Black and Blue Marlin, Sailfish and wrestled more than a few IGFA Trophy-sized Dorado going well over the 50 lb mark or 130 cm on the official IGFA measuring tape.

Mark Mahaffey and his son, Tom, return each year and host a fun cocktail party for all our guests in the original owner’s house overlooking the bay. This year they also brought long-time friend and fellow angler, Richard Earle, whose last trip to the Lodge was 20 years ago. Peter Lambie, Carl Lambrecht, and Don Howe also came along to join in on the fun.  The group fished on board, Miss Australia and Miss Hawaii. Peter released his first Black Marlin of 300 lb and first Pacific Sailfish of 100 lb. Don was fortunate enough to release his first Black Marlin of 400 lb. Miss Hawaii won first place in the annual Mahaffey-Bonsignore tournament. Tournament winnings were donated to the village where we invested the money in a new computer and projector for a new and exciting school project we are working on with the village. A special thank you to all the tournament participants.

Jens Mayer, Ed Novinski, Dewayne Ullsperger, Shaul Kuper, Dan Carrier, and Colin Rothery met at Tropic Star Lodge for quality time fishing together. The fun didn’t end on the water, back at the Lodge the guys exchanged laughs and tales over wine. A few of the guys that have been here before brought some new friends to join our ever-expanding family. Ed and Dan had actually met at the Lodge on the previous trip and decided to get the group together. Jens on Miss Canada had his perfect day out smashing Dorado on his ten weight fly rod. Shaul released his first Black Marlin of 400 lb. Dewayne released his first Pacific Sailfish of 125 lb.  In addition to billfish, the group caught over 50 Dorado.

Over the course of the week, friendships were made stronger and new ones forged in the time-honored tradition of fishing. Spending time with friends or family out on a boat is always amazing as you have no otherworldly distractions and able to spend special quality time together. In this crazy world, these moments are few and far between. It is great for me to see our guests relaxing, enjoying time with loved ones and seeing big smiles as big as their fish.

Tight lines and fair seas,
Capt. Richard White

Fishing Highlights – January 11 – 17, 2020

The northerly winds came up and there was excitement for the eminent Black Marlin bite. However, the weather did not cooperate. The wind has been inconsistent from the beginning of this season, shifting continuously making fishing conditions unpredictable from day today. The sea has been choppy on half the days and beautiful on the other half depending on the wind direction. The sea surface temperature has been perfectly sitting in the mid 80’s.

Team Rapp! Elijah Rapp, the group leader, organized this trip over two years ago for his return to Tropic Star Lodge with all his friends. We all know how exciting the build-up is of an imminent fishing trip. The group consisted of eight friends from all walks of life who love to fish. The gentlemen fished on Australia and Darien with Capt. Candelo and Capt. Walter. They succeeded in smashing the Marlin. On one of the days, we had three of the friends, fishing on the same boat, walk the plank for their first Marlin. Dick Lenholt had caught a Marlin out of Pinas Bay more than 50 years before this trip and he remembers everything about it! This time around he released another giant Marlin and fought and caught a Yellowfin of over 200 lb.

The Dahlback brothers, Claus and Gustaf, returned to the lodge for their second time all the way from Sweden. Both Claus and Gustaf had their eye set on releasing Black Marlin, a species that has eluded many an angler. This time while fishing with Capt. Jacob on Tropic Star the brothers accomplished their goals! Gustaf released a Black Marlin of 300 lb and Claus released a Black Marlin of 400 lb. The brothers also released a few beautiful Pacific Sailfish and a whole heap of Dorado.

Good friends of ours, Bill and Nikki Wilson love the outdoors, adventure and fly fishing together. This year the two were on a mission to achieve world records. They are chasing Black and Blue Marlin World Records on the fly for both the male and female categories. Their friends, Joey Arakas and Jeff Burwell joined them, to chase their first Marlin on conventional tackle. Both Joey and Jeff managed to get themselves each their first Black and Blue Marlin release. While it was a lot tougher for the world record seekers, the hunt paid off when Nikki Wilson successfully landed a 55.2 lb Dorado on 20 lb tippet, smashing the existing world record by over 10 lb. Nikki’s world record is currently pending. The couple is still searching for those world records and we can’t wait to see them back later this year to try to get that Marlin record!

Two dads, two sons, and some amazing fishing! Brian and James Cox along with friends, Steve and Grant Dunbar, from southern California came with their goals of giant Mahi and giant Marlin. During the week, the guys released Marlin and everyone got more than enough Dorado. Overall, the boat caught seventy Dorado in the six days. Of the seventy Dorado, most of them were over 20 lb and quite a few were at the 50 lb mark. Grant Dunbar released his first Black Marlin of 250 lb and Brian Cox released his first Black Marlin of 300 lb. The whole team also released some good-sized Blue Marlin making the trip one that, I doubt, they will forget for many years!

Rick Schappach, Gregory Schmitt, Keith McCulloch, and Noah White love fishing and generally fish for Musky. This trip to Tropic Star Lodge was a special trip for the guys. The excitement in the group was infectious and I’m sure it affected even the Fish Gods as the gents had amazing fishing with Capt. Adolfo on Miss America. The guys released their first Marlin each, which included both Blue and Blacks. They also caught a Yellowfin Tuna over 200 lb and more than a boatload of Dorado. When anglers catch their first Billfish we hand out certificates and the guys had some pretty cool nicknames for the certificates. Capt. Ricky released a 375 lb Blue Marlin, Greg Smitty released a 425 lb Black Marlin and Noah and Mach each released a 500 lb Black Marlin for their first Marlin. These fish as well as the rest of the Marlin, Tuna, and Dorado made it an insane week for the guys.

Overall, the fishing over the past week was fantastic and everyone had a great time walking the plank and cheering each other on after their first Billfish release. All the big Yellowfin that came in made for some great sushi and sashimi and kept the chefs busy. The bite is getting hotter and hotter and we can’t wait to see more anglers fighting Black Marlin.

Fishing Highlights – Jan 4 – 11, 2020

The billfish bite kept us on our toes. At the beginning of the year, we experienced good numbers of Marlin and Sailfish raised each day, but the fish were very lethargic in the spread and anglers found it tough to convert a raised billfish into a release. The baitfish could be found feeding on the surface in huge shoals and the Dorado continued to be in swarms offshore to the delight of some and nuisance of many as they stole the Marlin bait. However, the Dorado put up one hell of a scrap especially for those targeting them on spinning gear with poppers.

The northerly winds came through strong which is the sign of the imminent arrival of Black Marlin. The northerly winds go opposite the current and create waves that are a little steeper and less consistent. They also bring the cloudless blue skies of summer. The water temperature hung steady at around 84 degrees Fahrenheit. The wind was light in the mornings picking up by the afternoons.

Bruce Welsh and Patrick Zukowski are some of the most fun anglers you have ever met. Coming all the way to the lodge from the frozen tundra of Canada. It makes sense why they are full of smiles and jokes when they touch down in the land of easy smiles, palm trees, and rum. All jokes aside, Snowball (Bruce) and Pat are always a hoot and this season was no different. Fishing on Canada with Capt. Lorenzo, they had some great fish coming up in the spread and managed to convert a few of those into some incredible Black Marlin action. They also released a few Sailfish and got close to 50 Mahi with most of them being over the 30 lb mark and more than a few of over 50 lb.

Luis Romero and his brother, Juan Carlos Cuglievan, come each year with the same group of gentlemen from Peru. The guys fish a three-boat fleet fishing on Miss Hawaii, Miss Alaska, and Pollyanna. The also hosted a small tournament with fellow anglers. Fishing gets very competitive with these gents. Over the years the group has caught pretty much everything that swims in our waters so they thoroughly enjoy relaxing, stories of big fish, teasing each other, and good wine almost as much as winning. This year we included the entire Lodge in the tournament to make it a bit more interesting. Capt. Gustavo on Hawaii took the win! Onboard were the tournament winners, Alonso Rey Bustamante and Juan Carlos. They had some amazing fishing over the week releasing four Blue Marlin from the six raised and. They also released 5 Sailfish and brought back 20 Dorado for dinner. They raised a few Black Marlin, but unfortunately, they’ll have to wait until next year for their shot at Her Majesty.

Joe and Nancy Frazer from Corpus Christi, Texas love to fish and have a lot of history with Tropic Star Lodge. In addition to being regular faces, Miss America, formerly Bottom Dollar, was their personal boat. The Frazer family had a lot of firsts and good memories on Miss America and the great luck on the boat continued into this week. With Captain Luis as their captain, they had a fantastic week. The couple released two Black Marlin and a Blue Marlin. The also released Sailfish and brought back loads of Dorado. Joe also won the “Gentleman Award” because, as you know, gentlemen always stand up when a lady takes a seat. So, when the couple doubled up on Yellowfin Tuna both over 200 lb, Joe fought his on stand up until Nancy released hers.

Yevgeny and Aaron Litvak joined us from New York. This father-son fishing team loves fishing together and their goal is to catch a Marlin. They have had this goal for some time now and have tried to get a Marlin in quite a few different fisheries. The guys had some tough fishing with some close calls. The fish gods teased them quite a bit, however, fellow anglers were on the dock each morning giving best wishes and luck. It wasn’t until the last hour of the last day that Aaron released a beautiful Marlin. There were cheers at the dock for his achievement from all the other anglers. That moment proved again why this sport is so incredible.

The first week of the new year was fantastic with so many friends and family visiting us at the same time. I felt like I was actually at a family reunion and from the laughter and banter. I am sure I was not the only one feeling that way. The fishing was tough but rewarding and the atmosphere was second to none. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend the first few days of the decade!

Tight lines and fair seas,
Capt. Richard White

Fishing Highlights – July 14 – July 27, 2019

The big Yellowfin Tuna are bending rods too. If you have never gone toe-to-toe with a big Tuna or Marlin it is an experience like no other; and in July we present the opportunity to take on both. Inshore, the first Wahoo are showing up and the Roosters, Cubera Snapper, Bluefin Trevally and the rest of the inshore gang are still testing our guests strength.

The seas have been calm for the most part with the handful of bumpy days in July. The winds have been moderate from the south bringing the afternoon rains helping create the current lines with flotsam. These current lines and areas with good thermoclines have proved to be extremely productive fishing. The water temperatures have remained consistent offshore around the 82-degree range which is a little lower than earlier in the month. The current has been coming up strong from Colombia and with it the beautiful clean water. We have been experiencing showers most afternoons cooling off the anglers after a day out on the water.

Toke Aw and Big fish Bob Yokoi where back and fishing with Capt. Jose on Scandia. The stories that we swopped were amazing and it is always good seeing old friends return to Tropic Star Lodge. Toke and Bob fish all over the world, pretty much for everything from Golden Dorado in South America to Bluefin Tuna to Juvenile Black Marlin off Australia. Toke and Bob had a great trip releasing multiple Sailfish, catching numerous huge Dorado and also fighting monster Roosterfish inshore. We can’t wait to see these two again. Also, a big congrats to Toke on becoming a grandfather!

Harry Brickley is 93 years young this year and it was great seeing him return to the lodge to take on Blues and Blacks with his long time Captain, Candelo, on Miss Australia. The two have been fishing together for years and it is great seeing the gents have fun together. On this trip, Harry took Hayden Houser out with him to help out on the boat as a practice mate and standby angler. For the week, Harry’s boat released five Marlin, three Blue Marlin and two Black Marlin. Harry caught two of them and Hayden sat in the chair for the other three. I was fortunate enough to spend a day fishing with Harry and managed to get some great shots of his Black which was a memorable experience. We will be seeing Harry in January for more fishing fun and crazy stories of the Pico Grande.

Renaud Pelat and Patricio Garcia visited us from Peru. The two are crazy about fishing and have a great wealth of angling knowledge. We enjoyed spending time with the gents who are extremely humble for two such accomplished anglers. The fishing duo won the trip to Tropic Star Lodge at an IGFA auction and we loved showing them how we do things here in the Darien. The guys enjoy casting poppers, stick baits and jigging for fish. They had some fun chasing Tuna boils and bringing up some huge Almaco Jacks from the depths of the Zane Grey Reef. Cubera Snapper engulfed their artificial bates but they didn’t have luck bringing them all the way to the boat. It was great meeting the guys and learning some new tricks to try out and we look forward to seeing them in March for some crazy inshore antics.

This year Ernst and Gunda Esletzbichler brought their son, Stephan down to Panama to fish with us. During their stay, the fishing trio had excellent fishing with Capt. Vicente on Miss South Africa. They released over 30 billfish including Pacific Sailfish, Blue Marlin (one of which was over 500 lb) and a few more around the 300 lb mark. They also released a Black Marlin. The Dorado, Roosterfish, Yellowfin Tuna, Snapper kept the family busy in between the billfish action with bent rods and great stories.

Rexy Hamlin and his son, Eric, Hamlin with their friends, Trevor Foster and Chris Koenig, have made the trip to Tropic Star Lodge three times in the last two years. The guys normally join us in the inshore season and this trip was their first taste of the offshore bite here at Tropic Star. The guys had a great time as always and it was a lot of fun sharing a rum and recounting the fishing tales; be the story of Eric‘s battle with a giant Yellowfin or Trevor’s never-ending Marlin fight. Trevor and Chris both released their first Marlin and the guys released loads of Pacific Sailfish and caught a few Tropic-Star-sized XXL Dorado.

The fishing has been on fire at the end of July. A big congratulations is in order to Walter Moss and Ray Uttaro for releasing over 30 Pacific Sailfish and more than a few giant Dorado during their stay. And to George Paret, who has been coming to the lodge for years. He released over 25 Sailfish during his stay. George missed a few Marlin, one of which was a huge Black that the Captain called well over 700 lb. He fought a whole boat load of Yellowfin and Dorado– the majority of which made it to the boat and a few into the cooler. Also, congratulations to Bruce Welsh and his son Zach. It is always a blast having team Canada here. Zach was on a very large Yellowfin Tuna for over three and half hours and after a long fight he had to put the heat on as it was getting dark. Unfortunately, the line parted right as she was next to the boat.

The fishing in July has been great. Experiencing anglers walk the plank for their first billfish release with cheers from everyone has been incredible. The Sailfish have provided for more than enough fun and hearing guests tales of big arm stretching Tuna is always fun to hear. More friends were made and the junior anglers had the time of their lives! The summer is such a fun time to come and experience Tropic Star as both inshore and offshore are on offer.

Tight lines and fair seas.
Capt. Richard White


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