In 1998 Jay Gustin followed his explorer’s spirit, and after running a successful charter operation in Alaska for years, worked his way down the continent, around Mexico, and eventually found a new home in the 38 island group whose crown jewel is Coiba Island off the Pacific Coast of Panama. Jay put together a small team of adventurers, built a fleet of boats staffed with fine captains, and spent the next 16 years figuring out safe sea routes, best moorings, seasonal fishing patterns, and creating the Pesca Panama family and fishery as we know it. I met him a dozen years ago and became fast friends. Augat Angling Adventures, my company, sent several hundred anglers to Coiba over this period and I visited almost 70 times. Over the years, good friends Eben and Dianne Huston and Doc Ted Merletti traveled there often and fell under the mystical spell of these remote, exotic islands. Eben, Ted, and myself have recently purchased Pesca from Jay who, due to family matters in the States, can no longer put the intense time and energy into keeping this fishing operation the best in Panama, and quite possibly in this hemisphere. I have the time, energy, drive and knowledge to make sure this status remains. There are now a number of good land based fishing lodges scattered along Panama’s Pacific coastline, but the daily runs to the fishing grounds are long and arduous. No other lodge besides Pesca can offer you the concentrated and varied inshore angling, as well as the famous bluewater fishing out around Hannibal Banks that our floating lodge can.
We’re going to take the operation up a few notches and move Jay’s dream forward into the next chapter, maintain the best, lose the rest. I will manage and oversee all angling operations and will implement an overall new company work ethic. I'll continue to work with the wonderful Pesca crew to make sure that when you visit us every angling desire you have is offered and achieved. Each individual boat will have a weekly plan customized to only the anglers on that boat. For those who love to fish offshore chasing marlin, tuna, sails, and other pelagics, nobody does it better than us. We’ll anchor the lodge close to the fishing grounds if most of the action is there, shortening your daily runs. We’ll do what we’ve always done for the inshore angler, jig and pop and flyrod and troll and bottom fish for well over 40 species. But we’ll also offer fishing from the beaches, will develop kayak fishing near shore and into some of the incredible jungle rivers. We’ll protect ALL cubera and roosterfish. We’ll keep some other plentiful fish for meals and snacks, but we’ll work diligently to encourage that all Panama lodges embrace more catch and release. Every boat will have fish release tailers that can be used to avoid gaffing fish up to 100 lbs. We’ll keep a current list of all line class world records so you can target them using spin or fly or conventional gear. All boats will have certified scales on board. We’ll never forget that it’s YOUR trip! If you want to keep some pelagic fish you can. If you want to pinch barbs, or use only one hook, or release every fish, you can. If you want to try to individually catch over 20 species, catch a giant marlin, beat a line class world record, you can. There are 760 species of fish near Coiba, including the rare guitar shark, the milkfish (perhaps the strongest fish lb. for lb.) as well as 33 species of shark. It is the only place on our planet where humpback whales visit from both the Arctic and Antarctic. 146 varieties of birds have been identified there, including the very rare crested eagle. Coiba is also a sanctuary for scarlet macaws. There is more here than just fishing. We encourage birders, hikers, surfers, snorkeling groups, authors and movie makers. All have stayed with us in the past and continue to do so.
The yellowfin tuna fishery is thriving these years, along with growing populations of roosterfish, snook, jacks, trevally, and numerous types of snapper. I guided near shore for striped bass in Maine for 20 years and brought some of these skills and methods to Panama. I've explored and studied the waters, moons, tides, and bait patterns around Coiba for the last decade. The islands are now UNESCO world heritage sites, and have been protected from netting for 5 years. I’ve watched schools of snapper re-appear and shallow bays fill with baby black tip shark; watched schools of big rainbow runner and ladyfish, tripletail and big mullet snapper and more. The pelagic wahoo and mahi mahi are as plentiful as they were a decade ago and are spectacular to target from June through early January. Coiba is alive and well and fishes like no other place I have found.
Individual customized boat plans for each group
Extended seasons running from November through August
Full afternoon fishing Sunday, followed by four days fishing, finished with a full morning fishing Friday
Line class records, all methods
Catch and release tools
Upgraded gear, sharp hooks, perfect knots and leaders
Full complement of Pesca Panama hats, technical shirts, sun masks
New upgraded and standardized fishing gear, Stingofish rods
Trips will be 5 days throughout the year, but we will offer 3 and 4 day trips to work around Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays and can customize lengths of trip duration in November, December, July, and August for large groups.
We will begin to arrange flying directly to Coiba from Panama City for some short trips to maximize your fishing time.
Our 18’ panga will be retrofitted with a casting platform, rod racks, better seating, and I will offer part day individual guiding, fly fishing, fly lessons if requested, light tackle spin instruction on local species techniques, and beach fishing.
Our four kayaks will be retrofitted with better seats, emergency kit, anchors, spare paddle, and we’ll help point or lead you up some of Coiba’s 19 rivers.
Selection of recommended plugs and Master tied flies will be stocked.
You will have choices of different types of hotels in Panama City.
All new transport vehicles will be used for all transfers.
Call me directly at 716-868-4432. We’ll talk fishing techniques and gear if you wish, and I'll work to make your trip perfect. If you’ve had an angling dream, call me! We’ll see if we can make it happen for you. I promise you that Pesca Panama is the finest, most unique, pure fishing operation you can find. Anywhere. Come join us for the true fishing adventure of a lifetime — Captain Mike Augat
At your service, the New Pesca Panama team:
Captain Mike Augat
Dr. Ted Merletti
Captain Jaime Bernal