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Fishing in Panamá

Legend has it that Panama means “land of many fish,” as the natives told the gold-seeking Spanish centuries ago. True or not, it perfectly describes Panama fishing today, arguably one of the best big fish locales in the world!

Where to go

Panama City

The capital of the country is famous for having premier fishing right off the coast. If hooking up big fish on light tackle revs your fishing engines, the Pacific waters of Panama are the place to be. The offshore waters are full of Blue and Black Marlin, Sailfish, and other pelagic predators but that’s not the whole picture. Anglers looking to test their fishing muscles can target Jack Crevalle, Bigeye and Bluefin Trevally, and Roosterfish, just get ready for an impressive pull.

Isla de Coiba

The island is blessed with unique ocean topography – it’s connected to the Galapagos Islands with an underwater mountain chain. That has led to a who’s who of rare fish swimming around the island. As good as the nearshore action is on the gorgeous Isla de Coiba, it gets red-hot offshore! Hannibal Banks is a sea-mount approximately 20 miles west of the island, plateauing at around 120 feet of water, while surrounded on all sides by waters several miles deep. This natural phenomenon is a predator magnet, with all sorts of Billfish and Tuna converging here. If you’re looking for the biggest Black Marlin, this is the place to be!

Atlantic Ocean

While Panama is known best for amazing fishing in the Pacific, the Atlantic Ocean has plenty to offer to any angler. The less-developed marine infrastructure on the northern coast has driven most anglers down south but things have steadily improved since the 1990s. This can work to your advantage too, as the fishing pressure is much lighter on the northern coast.

Where to fish


Pelagic predators aplenty, the offshore waters of Panama boast some of the finest offshore fishing on the planet. Blue and Black Marlin are one of the staples of fishing here: you can target them year-round. The action heats up especially between December and April. Striped Marlin swim into Pinas Bay around March. You can hook up some real monsters, with the average Marlin being in the 300+ lb range. Wahoo, usually weighing over 15 lb, start rolling in just as the high season for Billfish closes, so you can keep the intense action going! Mahi Mahi, Yellowfin and Blackfin Tuna, and Sailfish also stalk the offshore waters, waiting for the right angler to show up for a tough battle.


There are numerous islands dotting the nearshore waters off the coast of Panama, as well as many underwater reefs and other structures. This all leads to excellent fishing, whether you’re a fan of bottom fishing, drifting, trolling, or casting. Tasty Cubera Snapper, various Groupers, Wahoo, and many other colorful species can be targeted. Panama Rooster fishing is known world-wide. You can target massive Roosterfish, a challenging fight worthy of including in your fishing stories! Nearshore action is good year-round, as long as you're with a captain who knows the right spots to fish.


Snook and Tarpon are the stars of the coastline and rivers of Panama. The Panama Canal is a very productive spot to go after huge Tarpon – anglers report an average of around 100 lb with the occasional monster weighing at over 200 lb. Tarpon are best at the start of the year, in January and February. Stalking the mangroves for Snook is rewarding just for the gorgeous tropical nature surrounding you, not to mention the amazing Snook fishing! You can reliably target them in the mouths of rivers and further inshore from December to May.

Need to know before you go

You should catch and release the larger reef-dwelling fish. Larger specimens can disappoint you if you’re interested in good eating – they might have the Ciguatera toxin which, while very rarely lethal, is certainly unpleasant. Smaller fish can go straight in the pan, though!

You don’t need a license to fish in Panama and there are no limits on how much fish you can keep. If you’re planning on fishing on Isla Coiba you should set aside $50, it’s a fee paid per boat, per week. To protect the wildlife of the island, all fish are catch-and-release only.

Whether you’re just looking to soak some rays and do some light angling or you dream of a trophy Black Marlin, Panama has the fishing trip for you! Book a trip in this tropical paradise now to take the first step towards your new favorite fishing destination.

Panamá Fishing Seasons


The most popular month for Black Marlin. You can hook also hook up Yellowfin Tuna, big Sailfish, Mahi Mahi, and other species. It’s the perfect excuse to leave the cold at home and enjoy the hot action!


The exciting offshore adventure continues into February with Marlin, Sailfish and various Tunas. You can test your mettle against several species of Jacks that are excellent this time of year.


The famous Roosterfish can be reliably targeted during March. Cubera Snapper bite like crazy, while Striped Marlin start moving in closer to the coastline. Yellowfin Tuna is voracious and a popular target for many anglers.


Inshore anglers can look forward to the action getting even more exciting. Anglers looking to beat their personal best on Roosterfish should head out, ready for a fight. Schools of Yellowfin Tuna show up around Piñas Bay.


The wind starts blowing from the south, bringing a lot of Sailfish with it. They come in as close as a couple of miles off the shore, so if you’re looking for a picture to brag about, now’s the time.


Sailfish season is in full swing, with multiple bites per day being common. Other pelagics like Blue, Black, and Striped Marlin are still good. Looking for a record Roosterfish? Specimens weighing over 70 lb have been caught in June.


If you aren’t sure what fish you want to go after, July is the month for you. Fishing is productive for a number of species like Marlin, Sailfish, Mahi Mahi, Roosterfish, Snappers, Groupers, and others!


The temperature is quite comfortable, the only sweat you’ll break is from the red-hot Marlin action. Bring a waterproof jacket on your fishing trip anyway, as occasional showers can occur.


Wahoo has arrived in full force and anglers are targeting it left, right, and center. Black and Blue Marlin fishing is still excellent, so remember to bring a camera to capture these incredible fish.


If you’re not looking to reel in numbers but trophies, this is the month for you. Big Cubera Snapper and large Roosterfish can be hooked up in bays along the Pacific Coast.


Mahi Mahi, Black and Blue Marlin, Sailfish, Yellowfin Tuna – the list of excellent targets goes on. The rainy season ends in November and debris-lines from the past season can make for excellent feeding grounds for fish.


It might be hard to decide on one species to target. Luckily, December helps with that! Black and Blue Marlin, Mahi Mahi, Yellowfin and Blackfin Tuna, Roosterfish, and more are all excellent this time of year.

Panamá Fishing Calendar

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Reviews of Fishing in Panamá

3 Dorados and a Spanish Mac.
Luciano A. fished with Panama GEM Charters - 27’ Proline on June 21, 2019
Don't eat the salad in the restaurant if you get your catch cooked, the salad made me sick.
Three day tryp
Maurus L. fished with Gatún Sportfishing Lodge on January 12, 2019
The sun is very hot!! Protect you properly!
Panama Canal Full Day Fishing
Rosalind C. fished with Gatún Sportfishing Lodge on January 8, 2019
Take means of protecting yourself from the sun.
Full day
Douglas B. fished with Gatún Sportfishing Lodge on April 20, 2018
Patience weather dictates everything but trust the excellent guide we had geraldo
Off shore with Christian and Kenneth
FishingBooker Member fished with Roxy Fishing Club - 28’ Boat on December 28, 2017
The only thing we would do differently would be to fish at the end of the trip, verses the beginning. I say this because we sure got hell not bringing or sending any fish home. Boca Chica is very remote so the possibility of sending it home or making it to a UPS to ship it is impossible. In a perfect world the resort would have a way to deep freeze and then it would be nice to check in a cooler on your way home!
Full Day to 20 Fathom Trench and Taboga Island
Gwen F. fished with Panama GEM Charters - 27’ Proline on December 20, 2017
Plan on a great boat ride, then if you catch fish, it's a great fishing trip.
Rolando & Cpt Issy were fabulous! We caught fish, they were very attentive to all our needs and more. Book with Rolando for inshore or he has offshore too. He won't disappoint!
Jose G. fished with The Pearl Island Charter Company on July 13, 2017
Book with a charter and experience cpt like Rolando
Half day fishing with captain Edgar of Panama Gen character
Roger T. fished with Panama GEM Charters - 27’ Proline on March 16, 2017
The only recommendation I would have is that you planned your trip for the morning

Top Fishing Techniques in Panamá

Top Targeted Species in Panamá