The kayak is the drag, and other fishing lessons from Panama

The kayak is the drag

On Panama’s rugged Wild Coast, that’s just one important lesson learned on the hunt for trophy fish

As my little plastic boat slides up and down the broad Pacific swells, I can barely take in the scene before me. Just a few hundred metres away, a headland carpeted in dense jungle ends in a line of black cliffs dropping into the sea, where the incoming waves break and boil around jagged outcroppings.

To get here, I’d spent the previous 50 hours venturing further and further from civilization. I first flew to Panama City, and took a six-hour van ride to the tip of the Azuero Peninsula, the furthest south you can drive in Central America. Then I waded down a beach and climbed into a super-panga, a 26-foot-long open fibreglass boat. It sped along the coast for an hour, with mountainous rainforest on one side and open ocean on the other. Save a couple of homesteader cabins, I saw nothing man-made until arriving at an off-grid lodge literally carved out of the jungle on the border of Cerro Hoya National Park. Finally, I travelled another 30 minutes by panga this very morning to reach this spot near the cliffs. Now I truly understood why the area is called Panama’s Wild Coast.

But I hadn’t come all this way to gawk at the scenery. I’m here to catch huge, powerful ocean fish in the most interesting way possible—from a kayak. It’s my first morning, and it’s time to get started.

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