On of the most popular and fun styles of fishing that we do here at Cebaco Bay, Panama. There's nothing more exciting than see a huge fish blow up on a hard chugged surface lure. It's exhaustingly hard work but ridiculously rewarding. We always have popping rods rigged up on the standby as we never know when we'll come across a surface boil of tuna or see a sailfish come up behind a jigged up tuna or snapper. Another very popular activity is to cruise the rocky coastline, throw poppers and stickbaits as close to the rocks as possible for Roosterfish and Cubera Snappers. We only use high quality 7'8" - 8' PE 6-8 (70-80#)class popping rods from Blackhole and Prohunter that are mated to Daiwa Saltiga 6500H or Shimano Stella reels with 80# Fins or Jerry Brown braid. These are light and powerful rigs that can handle almost anything in these waters. Some popular poppers we use are Halco Roostas, Yozuri Bull Pops and Prohunter GT Monsters. Sub-surface stick baits that have proven very effective are Prohunter Béitos and Nomad Madscads. We often throw one of these out and troll them when moving from one jigging drift to another. If you bring your own gear, keep in mind that the gear we use are a good reference, but you may also want to bring a mid weight PE 4-6(50-60#) class popping rod for inshore popping.
This is one of the most rewarding forms of lure fishing. Over a span of 28 years, we have marked literally dozens of locations in our area of Panama that are exceptional for this style of fishing. Many of them are within sight of the mothership. They often say a charter operator or captain is only as good as his 'secret' spots. Pelagics are roaming fish but bottom species are generally resident so our bottom structures are a closely guarded secret because they produce fish. Whether it's traditional fast jigging, long stroking or slow pitch style, Cebaco Bay is the place to proof and and demonstrate their effectiveness. If you have never done it, our crew can show you how and get you consistently hooked up to fish. This is why some tackle companies choose our location to test their lures. The sheer variety, quantities and size of fish that can be caught is impressive to say the least. That being said most of our jigging is done on reefs that range from as shallow as 80' to 160'. Species include 4 main types of Snapper, Roosterfish, Almaco Jacks, Jack Crevalle, Bonito, Yellowfin Tuna, African Pompano, Albacore Tuna, Green Barred Pargo, Groupers, Trigger Fish, Sierra Mackerel and Cubera Snappers. One of our locations also consistently produces large Roosterfish on jigs. Which is pretty uncommon. Here at Cebaco Bay because of the shallower depths we fish, we favor slow fall jigs between 80 to 160 grams. Occasionally we do use heavier jigs when the current is stronger. Some lures we have found to be extremely effective are Zcraft Cyclops, Prohunter Du Souel and Rankaru jigs.
The preferred method for all species of billfish found in the region. Marlin will often hit plastics, but are suckers for a trolled live bonito bridle rigged with a 20-25/0 Mustad circle hook. A good day would be 5 knock downs in 5 hours. Black Marlin frequent our inshore hotspots regularly and often swim up to inspect our jigged up yellowfins. Our Aguja Reef is considered one of the top marlin hotspots in Panama. We utilize Shimano Tiagra 50 and 80W LRS big game reels coupled with custom built big game rods. Our crew are very experienced in helping you bring these majestic fish in quickly so that they can be released safely. We endeavor to always revive when necessary and release every single billfish hooked.
Trolling divers like Rapala Magnums, Nomad DTX Minnows, Williamson Lures, Ilanders and Moldcraft Softheads are a very productive way to find non boiling Yellowfin as well as the wahoo that roam the inshore drop offs.
At Cebaco Bay we almost never ever use bait. When we do, it is usually with a live Bonito or Cojinoa(often called green jack) caught off our mothership at night with Sabikis. In fact catching Cojinoa under the lights is a much enjoyed evening past time among our guests. Live trolled Bonitos are extremely effective when trolling for Marlin; and Cojinoa for Cubera Snapper and Roosterfish inshore. Another exception is when tuna are skittish with excessive boat traffic such as when at Hannibal Bank. In those situations, an effective method is to quietly drift over holding schools and chunk sardines down to them. This method is deadly for big tuna at Hannibal Bank where at times it can get pretty crowded. If you prefer to bottom fish with bait, please inform our staff to ensure that we have sufficient bait of your choice. Keep in mind that we also don't use sinkers very often so you might want to bring some of your own or arrange with us to provide them. We also prefer that if you fish with bait, to only use non-offset circle hooks to ensure that all fish hooked have a less likely chance of being gut hooked.
All the methods outlined above are by no means mutually exclusive. Our skippers and deckhands are well versed in all of them. Just tell them what you would like to do before you cast off and they will make sure that all the required equipment is available for the tasks at hand. They are very intuitive and know what to do based on your skill level and experience. By all means mix up all the methods. Do a little trolling when you're tired of popping, jig after a bit of trolling etc. The crew are at your service. Keep in mind that they know these waters best and know what has been producing the week before. Fishing is not an exact science but we strongly encourage you to trust their recommendations.