FAQ Big Game Fishing in PanamaPANAMA BIG GAME CLUB FISHING POLICIES:  Billfish, Roosterfish, Snook, Sharks and Cubera Snapper must be released unless your captain agrees that it is a potential world record. Circle hooks are used exclusively with live and belly baits and we are very proud of our conservation efforts at PBGFC, we were the founder member of the Panama Marine Resource Foundation here in Chiriqui an organization that promotes marine conservation and education in Panama.

On fishing days, you will be awakened at between 5.00 and 5:30 a.m. By one of the PBGFC team usually the mate of the boat that you are fishing on with a hot cup of local produced (highest grade) coffee or beverage of your choice. Breakfast is served in the Clubhouse from 5:30 a.m. And our boats leave the dock at 6:00 a.m. or at your leisure.

The boats head out each morning to catch bait and then to the fishing groundst to hunt for Billfish, Tuna or if you decide to fish for other species, they will gladly take you to their favorite hotspot. The crews are in constant communication with each other via VHF Radio, so if there’s a good bite happening elsewhere, they will be sure to let you know so you can decide if you would like to get in on the action. Lines are picked up at around 3:00 p.m but if you are hooked up, you will be given extra time (within reason) to land the fish. Boats must be back well before dark.

Common Questions and Answers

What sort of fish will I catch and what are the best fishing times ?

This will depend upon where you fish; off-shore (Isla Montuosa, Hannibal Bank, The Sea-mound or the drop-off) or in-shore (Isla las Paridas, Islas Secas or Isla las Ladrones), and the time of year that you come to fish.

Black Marlin patrol our waters year round, but are most prolific between December and May with January and February being the best for sheer numbers of black and blue Marlin (up to 600lbs) and also Sailfish.

Female Black Marlin enter our waters to spawn in August and September, and this is your chance to catch a huge one, ranging in size between 500lbs and 800lbs, and occasionally going even bigger..

There is also a resident population of Yellowfin Tuna, (but they normally run very deep between December to the end of April) which can be caught year round, but the really big cow tuna (200lbs – 400lbs) arrive in our waters usually some time in April with May and especially June being the best time to catch them.

Wahoo arrive in September and stay through to January. Roosterfish, Cubera Snapper, Dolphin (Dorado), Mullet Snapper, Almaco Jack, Amberjack and grouper are available year round.

What are the typical sizes of catch ?

Our clients call our fishing grounds “Jurassic Park” because no matter what fish ends up on your hook, it will be huge. Hundreds of IGFA record size fish have been caught at the club over the years, (with many records not being claimed as the angler did not want to kill the fish), the IGFA have a no-kill records section now, which means that every potential record can now be claimed should the lucky angler so desire. Marlin typically average 500lbs, reaching 800lbs in August and September and occasionally even bigger. Yellowfin Tuna average 80 – 100lbs year round and huge Cow Tuna between 200lbs and 400lbs are caught in May and June. We’ve previously landed an (unofficial) record 89lb 12oz Cubero Snapper (unofficial as the fish was released and is still out there,getting bigger every day). The current official IGFA all-tackle world record for a Pacific Cubera Snapper is 79lbs.

Must I bring any fishing gear ?

No, unless you like travelling with your fishing gear. We take our fishing very seriously here at Panama Big Game Club, and have invested in the finest fishing tackle money can buy, all our rods are custom-made, we use Shimano Stella and Tiagra reels primarily, and we have our own handmade custom lures made of extra durable material. The same goes for our fly-fishing gear, all brand new, custom and top of the range with 12wt and 14wt rods..

Having said all of that, we do recognize that some clients love to try out there ‘special weapon’ or newly purchased gadget on a real big fish, and we have no problem with our clients doing this, but please be aware that some airlines have very strict policies with oversize luggage especially rod-holder tubes (so please check with your airline).

What time does fishing start and end each day ?

The boats depart no earlier than 6:00am, or later if requested, and return to the dock by 5:00pm. Boats must be back well before dark as there are tidal estuaries in our fishing area in which the currents take debris and often large logs and trees out to sea and these are a navigation hazard which cannot be seen after dark.

What’s the best time of the year to catch Billfish ?

Black Marlin patrol our waters year round, but are most prolific during the months from December through until May when they are joined by Blue Marlin and Sailfish with January and February being the best for sheer numbers of black and blue Marlin (up to 600lbs).

Female Black Marlin enter our waters to spawn in August and September, and this is your chance to catch a huge one; they range in size usually between 500lbs and 800lbs with a few going even bigger.

What’s the best time of the year to catch yellowfin tuna ?

There is also a resident population of yellowfin tuna, which can be caught year round (but seldom in January, February and March), but the really big cow tuna (200lbs to 400lbs) arrive in our waters usually some time in April but most reliably in May or June.

What sort of boats do you use ?

Our fleet of sport fishing boats is the finest in our area; all are twin diesel in-boards, which gives us an advantage of the diesal engines attracting the Billfish. They are equipped with state-of-the-art high end tackle; rods and reels, every boat has outriggers, down riggers, live bait well, tuna tubes and fighting chair (apart from Rattlesnail and Bruce’s Sea Gal) GPS, Fish Finder, set of custom lures and custom teasers, fire extinguishers and first aid kits. See Our boats section on the website for further information and boat photo.

The cabins are comfortably furnished for the 90-minute journey to and from the fishing grounds, with beanbags for a nap, and of course free drinks, snacks and a gourmet packed lunch.

In addition we have two boats with outboards; ‘the Rattlesnail’ has twin Verado 275Hp 4 stroke outboards, and Bruce’s Sea Gal has twin Suzuki 150Hp 4 stroke outboards.

All of our boats are equipped with re-chipped super high power VHF radios and are in contact with each other (helping each other out as to where the bait is and where the fish are biting) and the Panama Big Game Club at all times.

What sort of lures and live bait do you use ?

Historically, this part of Panama has been a “live bait” fishery, with Bonito Tuna being the favourite live bait rigged with a circle hook but since the new owner Mr. “C” bought the club in 2011 and introduced the PBGFC custom lures it is now about 50/50. The beauty with the custom lures is that they seem to work when all else fails and has the added advantage of being able to be used at 7knots or more, giving the skipper the ability to cover a serious amount of water when looking for them.

We also utilize bait and switch techniques for Billfish, where hook-less teasers are trolled behind the boat and once a Billfish surfaces behind the lure, the mate then pitches either a live or dead bait back and pulls the teaser away. The strikes are usually very explosive. We also fish top water poppers/plugs for Yellowfin Tuna, Roosterfish, Cubera Snapper, Dorado and other inshore game fish.

When fishing for Sailfish we often use a  ballyhoo and circle hook rig connected to a softhead and often live bait sardines and blue runners, it all depends upon what is working on the day.

Do you do kite and balloon fishing ?

Yes, from time to time we have had clients bring their own kite or balloon gear with them, and they worked well especially for sailfish using a live blue runner or dead ballyhoo bait. The club is currently evaluating different brands and will be purchasing one or both of these systems in the near future.

How far are you from the offshore fishing at Isla Montusa and Hannibal Bank ?

It’s about 42nm to Isla Montusa and a little bit more to Hannibal bank, the run time dependent upon sea conditions is between 1.5 and 2 hours, but you stop on the way to catch Bonito Tuna for live bait if you are after Marlin, and every boat is equipped with our super comfortable bean bags and a great sound system, so our clients normally just sit back and enjoy the ride, or even have a little snooze.

What are the normal sea conditions ?

Sea conditions are flat and calm during the dry season (December to May), and also very mild during the green season. Very occasionally it gets to a moderate level with waves of 3-5 feet a couple of days a year. To demonstrate how fortunate we are here, only six charter days have been cancelled due to bad weather since the club first opened in 2001, and zero days have been lost due to bad weather since Mr. C bought the club in May,2011.

Do you cater for groups ?

Yes, we can cater for up-to 22 guests. Our four private cabanas are self-contained units, capable of sleeping four, with a combination of double and twin beds in an open-styled chalet, complete with shared en-suite and living room. They are ideal for a family of four, or a quartet of fishing mates. We also have a lodge, perfect for a larger group (sleeping six comfortably) and it comprises of its own private outside bar and barbecue area, separate male and female toilets, large entertainment terrace, three bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms, lounge, fully equipped kitchen and TV terrace.

What is the food and beverage like ?

We cook to order, you can request meals of your choice from our executive chef, including the day’s catch. Our kitchen staff are capable of cooking a wide range of tasty meals, although our somewhat remote location means some notice is preferred for non-standard dishes. You name it, we will try to produce it. What’s more, if you prefer to take your meals in private we will deliver them to your cabana. Our bar is well stocked with most well-known brand names and a decent selection of wine and beer.

Do you cater to vegetarians, vegans and people with food allergies ?

Yes, our chef Eric prides himself on catering to all tastes and dietary requirements of each and every one of our guests.

Are there business facilities at the resort ?

Yes, we have a business centre dedicated to your remote business needs, including computers (i-Mac 27” inch and touch screen PC), reliable internet (2 ISP providers), resort wide Wifi for free use, Smart TVs in the rooms for Skype and internet, phone and fax services, Brother super hi-def photo printer/scanner and assistance in operating them.

What about satellite TV and Movies ?

All rooms have smart TVs connect to our synology server, which is packed full of thousands of Movies, Fishing programs, TV Series, Stand-up comedy, and Music videos, not to mention past client videos and photos.

Satellite TV is available in the clubhouse and the pool bar and has hundreds of channels including all the normal Sports Channels..

Can I phone home from the resort ?

Yes, not only can you phone home, you can Skype video call from every TV in the entire resort. You can even video call home whilst sitting in the pool at the swim-up bar whilst drinking one of Rey’s (our head barman) superb cocktails whilst smoking a PBGFC custom blended cigar !. We have a 65″ hi-res Samsung outdoor Smart TV (it’s not smart enough yet to catch fish but full of YouTube tips on how to).

What about Mosquitos and bugs ?

We are very fortunate here as we are located 300 feet up on the top of a hill and too high for the Mosquitoes to bother us, there are some Mosquitoes at night down at the dock, but apart from that its not an issue.

What is included in the rates ?

Our packages are all inclusive and include just about everything to make your stay and fishing trip a memorable and hassle free one, including transfers, domestic flights from Panama City (with meet and greet), accommodation, meals of your choice, free flowing bar, Free Wi-fi, Free Movies and of course a full day’s fishing.

What is NOT included in the rates ?

Overnight hotel, food and drinks in Panama City should you decide to stay over in the capital, day tours, spa services, cigars and tips.

What if my companion is not fishing ?

If you come fishing with us and wish to bring someone who does not fish, or wish to add a rest day or two to your stay (which we highly recommend), then the ‘per day’ charge (sharing) is $300 per night (+ 10% tax), with an additional $650 transfer fee (excl. tax) from Panama City for non-fishers. There are plenty of tours and trips for our non-fishing clients to keep them occupied if they do not want to relax by the pool.

What is the minimum package stay ?

Our packages are priced from four nights minimum, which includes three full days of fishing. Special packages can be arranged directly with the Club.

Do I have to bring cash ?

While we’ve packaged your visit as a total ‘cash-free’ experience, with everything laid on, it’s a good idea to bring some cash in USD as you may want to tip the staff or go shopping, pay for a massage or buy a cigar. Virtually everything, such as food and drink, is included in the price of the trip.

Should I book well in advance ?

The resort caters to just 22 guests at a time, therefore you are advised to book early to secure preferred dates in the high season. Many guests book 6 to 12 months in advance. But we do have slots opening up all the time,so its always worth a call or an e-mail to see what we have available last minute.

Do you offer off-season rates ?

Unfortunately no, since there is no low season – the fishing is good all year something is always on the bite in “Jurassic Park”. And staff costs, electricity, fuel, food and drink cost the same year round.

Occasional specials may be announced for the club from time to time. So keep an eye on the club website and Facebook page for special deals. Please sign up for our Newsletter and you will be kept informed of all specials as and when they become available.

How and when is the payment made ?

We require a 50% deposit to secure a reservation and the balance is paid 45 days prior to your arrival at the club. We accept wire transfer, Visa or Mastercard.

How much time must I have remaining on my Passport ?

Please ensure that you have at least 6 months validity left on your passport from the date you leave Panama, failure to do so may result in Panama Immigration refusing you entrance to the country.

What is your Cancellation Policy ?

Payments are non-refundable. Travel Insurance is strongly recommended to protect your investment. We do try to give the clients a credit (i.e “a rain check” ) if the cancellation was unavoidable and they take their trip at a later date.

What is the weather like ?

Temperatures range between 80F and 90F (25-30 Celsius). There are two seasons: the ‘dry’ season from mid-December until end of May and the green season from mid-June until December. Green season means typically a refreshing tropical shower late each afternoon/early evening, which last for approx. one hour (normally when you are inside enjoying your evening meal). Pack your rain gear just in case. The exception to this is mid-October to mid-November when it rains a lot. (But the fishing is still good especially for Wahoo).

Are children allowed ?

Yes, not only are they allowed but also we enjoy looking after them and introducing them to the “Jurassic Park” fishing ground (as we like to call it), children love all of the wildlife around the club, playing in the infinity pool and challenging and beating the adults on the X-Box machines.

Having said that, we like children to be 12 years of age, or mature enough to be relied upon to follow instructions and to not be disruptive to the extent of annoying our other guests. Many families just hire the whole resort for the week, then you guys can do whatever you want as long as it is safe. We recommend hiring our three-bedroom lodge as a self-contained unit.

Don’t forget our Kid’s club special month in July where junior anglers (18 and under) can come for free with an adult. This is also a great opportunity to land a junior world record and become a member of the IFGA junior angler association.

As you will see on the Kids Fishing Photo Gallery we break our 12 year old rule all the time,but just mention it as a guide.

Is there anything to do for non-fishers ?

Yes, we have a huge range of tours and trips available,from shopping in David, to zip-lining over the rainforest, horse riding, visiting the monkey sanctuary. In particular we recommend fishermen set aside a break day to visit the mountain town of Boquete, where activities include ATV exploring, jeep trips to the volcano peak, whitewater rafting, tours of a coffee plantation and there’s even world class golf and tennis in the area. At the club we have a spa, and every TV is connected to our media server, which has 1,000’s of movies, TV shows and documentaries.

Of course, laying by the pool relaxing and enjoy the warmth and views is perfectly acceptable way to spend the day, whilst being waited on by our Chef and bar staff..

Where are the nearest medical facilities ?

We have first aid kits on all boats and at the PBGFC, full emergency facilities and hospitals are in David which is 1 hour 15 minutes away by road, we can transfer by helicopter when possible and the flight time is 16 minutes. Please advise us when booking if there is any pre-existing medical condition that we should be made aware of,and we will do our utmost to accommodate you.

Does the club carry insurance ?

Yes, we have Public Liability insurance for up to $5,000,000 per incident but advise you to have adequate travel insurance for your own security and peace of mind.

Can I bring a companion from Panama City ?

Yes, if they are booked in and have paid in full.

“All in all: With no reservations I can comfortably say that this has been the most outstanding fishing and vacation experience of my life. The Panama Big Game Club so far exceeds any other fishing club or resort I have ever visited that it is literally in a league by itself.”
Dr. Chris LCharlottesville