After fly fishing Lake Gatun for two half days in June of 2007 I wanted to visit the lake again and spend a number of days fishing for the Butterfly Peacock Bass. With a phone call to Richard Castaneda of Cass Tours, he told me of a lodge that had opened on the lake, and gave me a phone number in the states. I placed a call and left a message. Within a few days I received a call from Mitch Jones the president of Panama Pursuit Lodge. He gave me the info about the lodge, and the location on the lake. (Nueva Providecia) He then sent me an E-Mail with some photos, info, and pricing for the all inclusive trip. The cost I considered very reasonable for what was going to be provided. I chose some dates at the end of April still in the dry season, and began to put together a trip. After all was said and done there were only two who made the trip, Charlie Abrams and myself. The others that canceled lost out on a fantastic trip.Our flights landed within a half hour of each other on evening of April 29th. Mitch was there waiting at Tocumen airport to pick us up for the two hour ride to the lodge. The lodge can accommodate six conventional or four fly fisherman. A late dinner was served, then Charlie and
I readied our gear for the first day of fishing.The lake was down more than four feet since we were there at the end of the dry season. There were stumps everywhere even out in forty feet of water with lanes to run in. Our first stop was an outside island which it did not take long to find out the peacocks were not using it, then onto a cove I had fished the year before and did well in, but the water was dirty from dredging and the catching wasn’t good. We then moved up the lake to clean clear water and found the peacocks very willing to bite. With this we would fish the clear water for the entire trip.
Charlie fished mostly subsurface streamers style flies and I fished a med to large white gurgler 90% of the time. We both caught fish in double digit numbers each day. After an early breakfast we would leave the dock at day light and fish till noon, then return to the lodge for lunch, take a couple hour break and leave for the afternoon / evening fishing, returning at dark. With two fishing times we would catch 60-90 fish a day. Along with the Peacock Bass, Snook, Tarpon, Jacks, Oscars, Juagar Gapota, and Viejas ( a cichlid that they call a bluegill, which grows to 8 lbs.) are caught. Peacock Bass are very aggressive and will hit the fly with such speed they miss the fly more than they get the hook. Also they will chase it all the way to the boat. We did not catch any peacocks larger than 3 lbs., but larger fish are there. Both of us had larger fish on but they came unbuttoned or broke off. In the clear water you could see the fish hitting the fly, and fishing a surface fly the strike was awesome. Mitch also teased some fish for us with a hookless Chugbug. While doing this he had the largest peacock blow up on it that he had ever seen. He said that he wished he had hooks on the Chugbug.We fished different areas each day and as long as the water was clean and clear we caught fish. The last morning Mitch decided to count the fish we landed, by noon we had put 59 fish in the boat, with another 15-20 that came unbuttoned at the boat. Not too bad for a mornings fishing.
What is provided on the trip is 6 days fishing, 7 nights at the lodge, all ground transportation, all meals, and drinks including alcohol. The fishing is done out of bass boats with all the bells and whistles. The lodge sits on a rise overlooking a point and you can catch peacocks off of the point. Meals are served family style and they will accommodate any special needs. The lodge is wonderfully kept as is the two bass boats.
I will be putting together another trip or two next spring before the rainy season starts. I would rather have some wind rather than down pours of rain. When it rains in the tropics, it rains inches upon inches at a time. Just ask any of the members who fished Panama in June 2007.
To contact Mitch at Panama Pursuit Lodge the E-Mail is email@example.com and the phone number in Panama is (011) 507 6688-5587, and in the US (817) 565-9280. Mitch is form Texas and is very knowledgeable on fishing Lake Gatun.
Article By Russ Hampton