Panama’s Best Fishing Months
Panama Fishing Calendar
Our fishing calendar will give you a great idea of what type of fish you can expect to catch during your Fishing Vacation. As you will notice, the bottom feeders remain here year around. Our Best Fishing Month calendar is provided with research and years of fishing these waters. However, one thing to keep in mind is that with all this research fish still don’t know how to read calendars! Like any party guest, they don’t always show up when they should and sometimes they still hang around when they’re supposed to leave. The chart below is a guideline; many factors go into the migratory path. Water temperature, wind, current and bait can cause these normal patterns to fluctuate. Our captains will alter your target species with what will give you the best chance of a successful fishing day.
Best Time For Fishing In Panama
- Two hours before and two hours after high tides, and two hours before and two hours after low tides.
- Inland, the times for high tides correspond with the times when the Moon is due south. Low tides are halfway between high tides.
- During the “morning rise” (after sun up for a spell) and the “evening rise” (just before sundown and the hour or so after).
- When the barometer is steady or on the rise. (But even during stormy periods, the fish aren’t going to give up feeding. The smart fisherman will find just the right bait.)
- When the Pacific Sardines, aka California pilchard or Sadinops sagax caerulea commonly. (The fisherman will have to match his popper, stickbait, plug or go fishless.)
- When the breeze is from a westerly quarter rather than from the north or east.
- When the water is still or rippled, rather than during a wind.
Here in Panama there are only two seasons, dry and wet. Summer season (dry season) runs from December to April, May through November you will encounter typical tropical showers, wet season, with October being the wettest.
Come Fish Panama (CFP) consistently practices CPR (Catch, Photograph, & Release) on all billfish and other species which include Roosterfish, Cubera Snapper and Bluefin Trevally. Here at CFP we pride ourselves as a leader in a long-standing commitment to conservation and preservation of our natural resources. The benefits of proper catch and release have proved vital to the future of a number of important fisheries in and around our waters as it is a means of preserving and enhancing fish populations. In addition to preserving that experience for each group, we’re preserving that experience for generations of anglers to come.
CFP Tip: When looking at the tide charts, always look for a high tide from 10:30 AM to 2:00 PM. This will give you two tides during the day to fish (high and Low. Make sure your tide is between 12 and 15 feet during this time. Should you have any questions regarding Panama Tides feel free to contact us.
Scientific name: Istiompax indica
The black marlin is a species of marlin found in tropical and subtropical areas of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. With a maximum published length of 4.65 m (15.3 ft) and weight of 750 kg (1,650 lb), it is one of the largest marlins and also one of the largest bony fish. This marlin is one of the fastest fish, with speeds of up to 129 km/h (80 mph) as estimated from the speed that hooked marlins are able to unwind fishing line. Compared to striped or white marlins and sailfish, black marlins are more solid than their blue counterparts. They have a shorter bill and a rounder and lower dorsal fin. Black marlin may be distinguished from all other marlin species by their rigid pectoral fins, which, especially from a weight of around 150 lb (75 kg) or so, are unable to be pressed flat against their sides.
Scientific name: Istiophorus platypterus
The Pacific Sailfish is a sailfish native to the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is dark blue on top, brown-blue laterally, silvery white underbelly. Inhabits tropical and subtropical waters near land masses, usually in depths over 6 fathoms, but occasionally caught in lesser depth. Pelagic and migratory, sailfish usually travel alone or in small groups. They appear to feed mostly in midwater along the edges of reefs or current eddies. Its fighting ability and spectacular aerial acrobatics endear the sailfish to the saltwater angler, but it tires quickly and is considered a light tackle species. Fishing methods include trolling with strip baits, lures, feathers or spoons, as well as live bait fishing. The most action is found where sailfish are located on or near the surface where they feed.
Scientific name: Makaira nigricans
Blue marlin are the most tropical of all marlins but are distributed throughout the tropical and subtropical regions of the Indian and Pacific Oceans; a single stock is assumed for each ocean. The blue marlin is the largest of the marlins, common to 11 feet, and known to exceed 2,000 pounds. It is cobalt blue on top shading to silvery white on bottom, although colors can vary by region, leading to the belief that their may in fact be two distinct species. The upper jaw is elongated in form of a spear, dorsal fin pointed at front end with no spots, and pectoral fin and anal fin are pointed. The lateral line is reticulated (interwoven like a net), making it difficult to see in large specimens. The body of the blue marlin is covered with imbedded scales ending in one or two sharp points.
Scientific name: Tetrapturus audax
Striped marlin are a Pacific species; however, they still cover the most extensive range of any billfish species. Many anglers consider the striped marlin to be the perfect billfish. It’s certainly among the most beautiful, with its bluish-purple stripes vividly blazing along its flanks. Stripies readily bite a wide variety of baits, and because of their habit of tailing on the surface, they also offer anglers the unique opportunity to sight-cast to individual fish. They’re among the most acrobatic of any marlin, with the speed and strength to catapult themselves in explosive aerial displays. While they may not reach the grander status of their larger blue- and black-marlin cousins, striped marlin have been known to top 300 to 400 pounds in certain parts of the world.
Scientific name: Coryphaena hippurus
The common English name of dolphin causes much confusion. The fish is called mahi-mahi in the Hawaiian language, and “mahi mahi” is commonly used elsewhere. Mahi-mahi can live up to 5 years, although they seldom exceed four. Catches average 7 to 13 kilograms (15 to 29 lb). They seldom exceed 15 kilograms (33 lb), and mahi-mahi over 18 kilograms (40 lb) are exceptional. Mahi-mahi are highly sought for sport fishing and commercial purposes. Sport fishermen seek them due to their beauty, size, food quality, and healthy population. Mahi-mahi is popular in many restaurants. Spinning, baitcasting or fly-casters may especially seek frigatebirds to find big mahi-mahis, and then use a bait-and-switch technique. Once on a line, mahi-mahi are fast, flashy and acrobatic, with beautiful blue, yellow, green and even red dots of color.
Scientific name: Hoplopagrus guentherii
The barred snapper is a species of snapper native to the Pacific coast of Central and northern South America from Mexico to Colombia. Rounder in shape than most Snappers with thick lips and stout dorsal spines. The belly is rusty red with dark vertical bars make this one easy to spot. They inhabit rocky areas near coral reefs at depths from very shallow waters to around 50 m (160 ft). This species grows to 92 cm (36 in) in total length, though most only reach 50 cm (20 in). The heaviest known example of this species weighed 9.6 kg (21 lb). This species is important to local inhabitants as a food fish and is also sought as a game fish.
Scientific name: Lutjanus argentiventris
Yellow Snapper are a smaller snapper found in the Eastern Pacific between Baja Mexico down to around Peru. Like many snappers, they are typically found near the bottom over rocky areas down to around 120 feet. Nose and head are rosy, and most of the body is deep yellow or orange, as the fins. A blue streak runs below the eye. They are an excellent fighter for their size but rarely exceed 10lbs. Their diet, as is typical of Snappers, consists of small fish, molusks, and crustaceans such as shrimp and crabs. The biggest ones are caught on large live baits fished on the bottom but metal jigs and dead bait also produce large ones. They are great eating but are usually more of a by catch when bottom fishing.
Pacific Cubera Snapper
Scientific name: Lutjanus novemfasciatus
The Pacific cubera snapper looks quite like the cubera snapper (Lutjanus cyanopterus) of the western Atlantic, the “river” or”mangrove red” snapper. These snappers and some others around the world, grow to sizes approaching or exceeding 100 lb (45 kg). All have deep reddish bodies, 4 large canine teeth, stubby gill rakers, and almost identical body and fin shapes, habitat, and behavior. Growing to at least 80 lb (36 kg), it is the largest of the nine species of snapper that occur in its range. The most prominent and recognizable feature is the 4 large canine teeth, two in the upper jaw and two in the lower jaw. Currently this is a catch, photo and release species due to it’s numbers and growth rate.
Scientific name: Lutjanus aratus
This species is easily recognized by the alternating dark and light stripes on the sides formed by parallel rows of scales that have yellowish-white centers. Mullet snapper are generally dark gray-green to reddish on the back and sides with a silvery bellly. Individuals from deeper water are mainly reddish. Fish are dominant in the diet of this active predatory species. Other common foods include crabs, shrimps, prawns and other crustaceans, cephalopods and gastropods. They are strong fighters and can be taken on natural and artificial lures and flies. Methods of fishing include drift fishing, jigging or anchoring to chum. Like most snapper, mullet snappers are considered good eating.
Scientific name: Lutjanus vivanus
Silk snapper is a warm-water reef fish harvested primarily in Indonesia and Thailand. It feeds on fin fish, squid, and cuttlefish around shoals, coral, sandy bottoms, and offshore reefs. It is typically trap, hand-line, and bottom long-line harvested at depths between 20 and 300 feet. The firm, flaky texture and sweet, mild flavor of Silk snapper rivals that of the more well-known red snapper and is becoming increasingly popular with chefs and purveyors of premium seafood products. From ceviche to a simple pan-fry, Silk snapper adapts well to a wide range of cooking methods. One of our favorite meals here at Come Fish Panama.
Pacific Red Snapper
Scientific name: Lutjanus peru
The Pacific Red Snapper whose common Spanish name is Huchinango and known locally as Pargo rojo, is a member of the Snapper or Lutjanidae Family, known collectively as “pargos” in Panama. The upper body is bright red and the sides are silvery red. Overall color is lighter than that of the Colorado Snapper, and it does not have the dark bars that are often apparent on the Colorado. The anal fin has three spines and eight rays and is pointed; the caudal fin is concave; and, the dorsal fin has ten spines, is continuous and rounded at its terminal end. The Pacific Red Snapper is found over rocky bottoms, close to caves and crevices at depths up to 300 feet. The Pacific Red Snapper is most likely confused with the Colorado Snapper and is one of the tastier snappers.
Scientific name: Acanthocybium solandri
Wahoo is a scombrid fish found worldwide in tropical and subtropical seas. It is best known to sports fishermen, as its speed and high-quality flesh make it a prize game fish. The flesh of the wahoo is white to grey, delicate to dense, and highly regarded by many gourmets. The taste is similar to mackerel, though arguably less pronounced. Its body is elongated and covered with small, scarcely visible scales; the back is an iridescent blue, while the sides are silvery, with a pattern of irregular vertical blue bars and have razor sharp teeth. These colors fade rapidly at death. The mouth is large, and both the upper and lower jaws have a somewhat sharper appearance than those of king or Spanish mackerel. Wahoo tend to be solitary or occur in loose-knit groups of two or three fish, but where conditions are suitable can be found in schools as large as 100 or more. Their diet is made up of other fish and squid.
Scientific name: Nematistius pectoralis
The Roosterfish is a game fish found in the warmer waters of the East Pacific from Baja California to Peru. It is the only species in the genus Nematistius and the family Nematistiidae. It is distinguished by its “rooster comb”, seven very long spines of the dorsal fin. The Roosterfish has an unusual arrangement of its ears: the swim bladder penetrates the brain through the large foramina and makes contact with the inner ear. It uses its swim bladder to amplify sounds. Roosterfish can reach over 1.6 m (5 ft 3 in) in length and over 50 kg (110 lb) in weight. The weight of the average fish hooked is about 20 lb (9.1 kg). The fish is popular as a game fish, but it is not considered a good eating fish. Catch, photo and release is provided with this species here at Come Fish Panama. The Rooster is one of the top 5 game fish anglers from all over the world come to check off their bucket list.
Scientific name: Thunnus albacares
The Yellowfin Tuna is a species of tuna found in pelagic waters of tropical and subtropical oceans worldwide. The Yellowfin Tuna is among the larger tuna species, reaching weights over 180 kg (400 lb), but is significantly smaller than the Atlantic and Pacific bluefin tunas, which can reach over 450 kg (990 lb), and slightly smaller than the bigeye tuna and the southern bluefin tuna. The second dorsal fin and the anal fin, as well as the finlets between those fins and the tail, are bright yellow, giving this fish its common name. The second dorsal and anal fins can be very long in mature specimens, reaching almost as far back as the tail and giving the appearance of sickles or scimitars. The main body is a very dark metallic blue, changing to silver on the belly, which has about 20 vertical lines.
Scientific name: Seriola rivoliana
They are also known at the Pacific Amberjack and Almaco Jack. The Amberjack is the largest Jack found in Panama waters and they have an elongated fusiform. They are an amber colored fish with a massive body that is lighter on the undersides and they have a very distinctive dark “bandit” stripe running diagonally through its eye obliquely to the front of its dorsal fin, which fades into a black background shortly after collection and is significantly diminished with the age of the fish. The Amberjack is a major targeted game species in Panama, however, they are very seasonal and not caught with regularity. They are famous for its slow, steady and consistent “pull,” resembling a major locomotive that can continue for several minutes without a pause. They are considered to be excellent table fare.
Scientific name: Caranx melampygus
The bluefin trevally, also known as the bluefin jack among others is a species of large, widely distributed marine fish classified in the jack family. Bluefin trevally are easily recognised by their electric blue fins, tapered snout and numerous blue and black spots on their sides. The bluefin trevally inhabits both inshore environments such as bays, lagoons and shallow reefs, as well as deeper offshore reefs, atolls and bomboras. The bluefin trevally occurs in a wide range of inshore and offshore marine settings throughout its range, including estuarine waters. The species is known to move throughout the water column; however is most often observed in a demersal setting, swimming not far from the seabed. It takes 12 years for a bluefin trevally to reach 85 cm in length.
Scientific name: Alectis ciliaris
The African pompano also known as the pennant-fish and threadfin trevally is a widely distributed species of tropical marine fish in the jack family. The species is found in tropical waters worldwide, with adults often inhabiting coastlines. The African Pompano fights much like other big jacks, but uses its flat side to even greater advantage, and exhibits a peculiar, circling tactic that puts the angler to a rough test. Lures are often jigs or streamers worked on deep reefs and wrecks, although they have been known to take a trolled lure or rigged bait. In rare cases, they have even been known to take saltwater flies on sinking lines and poppers at the surface. The adults of the species prefer coastal waters to depths of 100 m, inhabiting reefs and wrecks throughout the water column. The fighting prowess and good table fare attract anglers to the species in many parts of the world.
Pacific Jack Crevalle
Scientific name: Caranx caninus
The Pacific Jack Crevalle is a species of large marine fish classified in the jack family Carangidae. The species is distributed through the tropical waters of the eastern Pacific Ocean from California in the north to Peru in the south, including several offshore islands. The species is best identified by its deep body and mostly unscaled breast, as well as other more detailed anatomical features. The Pacific Jack Crevalle is also a major target for anglers throughout its range, and can be taken by live bait as well as various lure types including surface poppers and fast retrieved metal slugs and spoons. These species will put up a nice fight on light tackle and test your skills.
Pacific Horse-Eye Jack
Scientific name: Caranx latus
The Pacific Horse-Eye Jack is a gamefish and minor commercial fish in the family Carangidae. It is also known as the big-eye jack, and is similar in appearance to the crevalle jack, although the head of the horse-eye jack is not as blunt. The horse-eye jack is known to feed on smaller fish and on many invertebrates, such as shrimp and crab. The horse-eye jack is a large fish, growing to a maximum recorded length of 101 cm and a weight of 13.4 kg, however is more common at lengths less than 60 cm. The horse-eye jack has a body form similar to other large jacks found throughout its range, with a moderately compressed elongate and deep body The adult horse-eye jack commonly swims with others in a school, either as one species or mixed with crevalle jack.
Have Questions? Contact Us
Should you prefer to speak directly to one of our fishing representatives regarding the best fishing months feel free to call us at any of the numbers listed below.