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Light-Tackle Tuna Action in Panama
by John Brownlee

On a recent trip to the Pacific side of Panama, I got to fish again with two of my favorite fishing companions: George Large of Yo-Zuri Lures, and Carter Andrews, of Islas Secas Lodge in Panama’s Gulf of Chiriqui. Andrews invited Large and me down to sample the yellowfin tuna fishing on surface poppers around the famed Hannibal Bank, and nearby Montuosa Island.

The action started off a little slow, but we soon were getting a respectable number of strikes on a wide variety of Yo-Zuri plugs. The fish we caught weren’t large, but we had seen larger fish mixed in and knew our time would soon come.

It happened late on the second day, when Large spotted a large tuna rolling next to a school of porpoises. He wound up and cast a Yo-Zuri Sashimi Bull in that direction, made two pops with the plugging rod, and the surface erupted violently as a huge yellowfin crashed the plug, then thrashed around for an extended period on top before making a beeline straight down.

Now, calling the spinning tackle we were using “light” isn’t exactly accurate. We were fishing Shimano Stella 18000 reels spooled with 65-pound braided line, matched to stout Shimano Terez rods. This type of setup has become incredibly popular among jiggers around the world, especially in the Pacific, and you must have tackle of this caliber to best large fish in deep water on spinning tackle.

Large is an expert angler, and in about an hour and a half, he brought the huge fish to boat side, where mate Juan Andres Spragge and I gaffed it and brought it aboard. Back at the dock, the yellowfin weighed 207.5 pounds on a digital scale, so we’re calling it 208. That’s an incredible fish on tackle which most people would definitely consider light.

Look for a full feature on the trip in an upcoming issue of Salt Water Sportsman magazine.

John Brownlee
getreel@saltwatersportsman.com