Panama fishing vacations have seen more world fish records broken than any other place on earth. Fish for blue, black, and stripe marlin, sailfish, tuna, dorado and more. Piñas Bay along the southern Panama coast is home to more the 200 world records. The legendary Hannibal Bank is world renowned for its giant billfish and tuna. A unique combination of water currents, winds, underwater structures, inland rivers, and seasons makes Panama one of the premier salt water sport fishing destinations on earth. If you want to experience the ultimate big game, salt water fishing experience, Panama has to be at the top of your list.
Panama fishing vacations for our family have been extra special. We celebrated our twin daughters’ sixteenth birthday on the Hannibal Bank on one of the best luxury fishing vacations of our lives. The photos in our gallery and on this page are from that trip and an experience we will always remember. We have more information below about traveling to Panama and Panama fishing resorts. We also know about other activities before and after fishing, the geography and of course the fishing, and the fish species you catch in Panama.
Panama Fishing Is Remote and Focused
Panama fishing vacations are at secluded and remote destinations often accessible only by plane or boat. Panama fishing is perfect for people wanting to focus on fishing. Legend has it “Panama” means abundance of fish in an ancient native language. The sparkling blue ocean waters around Panama are filled with enormous salt water fish. With year-round prize fishing, you’ll never run out of amazing sport fishing opportunities. Whether you choose inshore or offshore fishing, some of the best known fish in the area include:
- Goliath Grouper
- Almaco Jack
- Blue and Black Marlin
- Cubera and Mutton Snapper
- Yellowfin Tuna
One of the most exciting things about Panama fishing vacations is that you can fish for multiple species every day. You are simply exhausted from all of the catching! The chart below shows the most popular fish species and the best times to fish.
There really is no bad time to fish in Panama–I know, everyone says this but with Panama it is true. Panama fishing vacations are really about the type of fish you want to catch and when you want to go. Many factors influence Panama fishing including water currents and temperatures, wind, fish migrations and seasons. Generally, December through March are top months for marlin, yellowfin tuna, sailfish and dorado. April is a transition month to the wet season that lasts from May through November. In shore fishing for cubera snapper and rooster fish is excellent and offshore sees large schools of tuna.
Panama fishing vacations starting in May see not only the wet season, but shifting winds from the south and sailfish. June through August sees a great abundance of billfish and inshore fishing including big roosterfish. September is similar to August with October and November typically being the rainiest months in Panama. November is the end of the wet season and all of the fish species are back again for another great start to dry season Panama fishing vacations in December.
Most fisherman will say for the best sport fishing, go between December and March. You will experience the best weather and the widest range of fish species. I’ve also had great fishing in April and May although those are not considered high season. I enjoy inshore fishing very much and going a little later lets you fish both inshore and offshore. On top of that, the winter is obviously a great time to get out of the cold in North America. With gorgeous weather and optimal saltwater fishing, booking your sport fishing trip in the winter makes for a truly memorable vacation.
Why So Many Fish?
Lodges for Panama fish vacations are uniquely positioned for fishing. Panama is the meeting point of cool water traveling in the Humboldt Current up the west coast of South America and warmer water coming south down from Costa Rica. The Humboldt Current flows from the Antarctic northward creating deep, nutrient rich water that helps create many marine ecosystems including those in the Galapagos Islands. The Current intersects with warmer water off the coast of Panama and also encounters under water structures including the Hannibal Bank and Zane Grey reef in Piñas Bay which forces nutrients up to the surface water. The rich waters produce plankton which attracts bait fish that attract other fish which then attract bigger fish and ultimately the world record fish in these waters for the ultimate in Panama fishing vacations.
While any month of the year offers exceptional angling opportunities, the rainy season normally lasts from May through November. Usually that means there will be some kind of rainfall during the day, but most likely for just a part of the afternoon. Fortunately, Panama is far enough south so you won’t have to worry about any hurricanes ruining your fishing trip. October and November are the rainiest months and we would not recommend you fish then.
How to Get to Panama
Panama fishing vacations start with a flight to the country’s capital, Panama City. Tocumen International Airport is a regional hub to and from cities in the western hemisphere. There are many direct flights from the US and other countries into Panama City. Typically you will spend the night in Panama City and continue to the location of your adventure the next day. Panama fishing vacations nearly always involve a second flight to your fishing lodge. Big fish live in faraway places. Many lodges are remote and accessible only by plane or boat. There may be limited flight schedules to these locations. You may also need to stay a night in Panama City on your trip home.
Panama requires that you have a valid passport that does not expire within three months to enter the country. At this time, most US airlines will not board you for an international flight if your passport is not valid for more than six months from your return date. You do not need a visa to enter Panama if you have a valid US, Canadian or EU passport. Your valid passport allows you to stay up to 180 days as a tourist. The currency is the US dollar. We answer many frequently asked questions about Panama fishing vacations on our FAQ page.
Panama Fishing Lodges
Panama fishing lodges and resorts range from rustic to traditional to the luxury of the world famous Tropic Star in Piñas Bay. With a range of seasons, locations, and amenities you can experience an amazing fishing experience nearly any time you want to go and on your budget. Panama fishing lodges go to great lengths to cater to the needs of your family or group. Whether you are planning a business trip or a family vacation, there are several lodges to select from for the environment you want. From the inquisitive beginner to the experienced angler, fishing lodges understand how to create unique Panama fishing vacations for each client. With well-equipped boats, experienced crew members, inviting accommodations and personalized service, these resorts focus on the reasons why you’ve come to Panama – to catch amazing prize-winning fish and create incredible memories!
Other Activities In Panama
There are many activities in Panama but they are difficult to combine with a fishing trip depending upon the lodge location. National parks cover over 5 million acres of the country and include rain forests, marine parks and jungles. There are several parks near Panama City that offer birding and wildlife viewing. The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institution (STRI) was founded in 1923 in Panama and is one of the leading research institutions in the world in the study of long-term ecology in the tropics. Of course, there is the Panama Canal and you can choose from numerous tours and options to see one of the top engineering marvels in the world. Panama fishing vacations can include a lot more than just fishing if you take the time. We recommend you go a few days early or stay over a few days to really experience Panama.
At the end of our family fishing trip, we spent several days in Boquete in the western Province of Chirqui near the Costa Rica border. The city is in the green mountain highlands at approximately 3,900 feet above sea level. There are many activities to choose from including whitewater rafting, coffee farm tours, zip lining through the forest, hot springs, hiking, rock climbing and various eco-tours.
Why Fish in Panama?
If you are looking for the ultimate adventure in big game fishing, then Panama fishing vacations should be on your Bucket List. The namesake “Abundance of Fish” holds true. For an amazing fishing experience, we want to help you choose from a variety of fishing lodges and packages to make sure you have the ultimate experience at the right price.
The weather is always great in Panama.