After arrival at the airport our driver picked us up for a 4 hour ride by minivan to Puerto Mutis. A small fishing port located near the north western coast. From there it was a 2 hour boat ride through a scenic mangrove estuarine system to the Journey Bay anchored in a sheltered cove at Cebaco Island. The Journey Bay is a converted Gulf Coast rig tender and featured a nice party deck with lounge chairs and fully air conditioned staterooms. A long trip you may be thinking but keep in mind that you will be traveling to and be based in a very remote location that is smack dab to some of the best unspoiled fishing locations in the region.
The following four days were a blur as we caught more fish and species than we could have ever imagined. The extremely competent crew knew exactly what to do at all times – anticipating all our needs and dispositions. For example, they observed that all of us were right handed casters and always positioned the boat with the right bearing for proper casting. They also studied the individual casting skills of the anglers and kept the boat at the right distance from the hot zones. They also knew when to move and change to other techniques by observing how exhausted they were with popping by suggesting a move to a jigging venue.
Each evening was a blast as we joked and laughed about the days events over good food, company and endless Panama beer. Highlight of the trip was a 450 lb Blue Marlin that took over 2 hours in the chair to bring in, and my personal best Pacific Sailfish on a Popper. Total number of species caught? Eighteen – Blue Marlin, Pacific Sailfish, Wahoo, Snapper, Mullet Snapper, Bluefin Trevally, Roosterfish, Cubera Snapper, Rainbow Runner, African Pompano, Bonito, Albacore, White Tuna, Yellowfin Tuna, Parrot fish, Trigger fish, Black Grouper, Broom Tail Grouper. During our entire stay we did not encounter another fishing boat while fishing the area except for the one day at the ever popular Hannibal Bank location.
This report would not be complete without mentioning the incredible service aboard the mothership Journey Bay. Abner the chef was amazing and never failed to surprise us with the variety of dishes and how accommodating he was when one of our guys – an amazing chef in his own right wanted to whip up some dishes with the fresh fish we had caught. And Abdiel the Operations Manager and his team that made sure we had fresh towels, did our laundry and pretty much everything else to make us more than comfortable. By the end of the 3rd day our group had already unanimously decided that we will be back to Cebaco Bay. In fact we have already booked our trip for 2017 but I suspect that we may be back very much sooner!