Spearfishing Panama with MJK and Chris Coates

While I’m not big on planning ahead, this last trip was truly last second. Chris Coates, MJK, Sam and me were sitting around at dinner in Miami the Monday after The Blue Wild Expo. None of us had plans to dive that week but eventually it’s always what we end up discussing. I was thinking along the lines of a quick Bahamas day trip. At some point Panama came up. I had a trip planned for the end of the month and knew the tuna were going off. Still not completely sure what happened next but it kinda went from “I think Panama has fish right now” to finding out the boat was available, and then buying flights and arranging housing. Two days later we were in Panama.

We knew the Tuna were hot, but what we really wanted was a big cubera. We spent most of Day 1 diving the dirty water trying to pick out the big one in the school. The thermocline was super murky and it was really tough hunting. Eventually we decided to go see what the tuna were all about. None of us had hunted tuna in front of dolphins like this before. It took a bit to coordinate the jumping, diving, and filming, but eventually we got it down and MJK put two beautiful fish on the boat. We got both shots on film and were set for day 1.

Day 2 we decided to stay close all day and ignore the tuna. Unfortunately it was still pretty dirty where we wanted to hunt the snappers. We were all being super picky and only wanted to take a monster. Eventually we settled for a monster Mullet Snapper and called it an early day. On the way in we stopped to see the group from Uruguay. Really great guys so stoked on diving. They had a pile of nice fish and we had a few beers.

Day 3 was our last day diving and we decided to try for a snapper first then check out the tuna if it wasn’t happening. Unfortunately the water was still too dirty to hunt properly where we wanted. We decided to make the run for the tuna and try chumming the bank. First drift we saw a monster come into the chum. No idea how big he was but he made the 100 pounders we had been seeing seem small. He didn’t stick around though and we never got a shot. We chased the dolphins for a bit and managed to stop a tuna and get him feeding on the chum. These fish are so cool to see in the water just casually cruising through the chunks. After landing this one we were done and got ready for the long ride home.

Such a cool fishery practically in our back yard. Anytime I dive with Chris Coates I spend pretty much all day just asking questions and learning. The amount of knowledge MJK and him have collected together over the years is pretty incredible. Stoked to see such a last second trip come together and produce some great fish.

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