The last year and a half have been a difficult time for all of us no matter who you are or where you’re from. The global pandemic has given all of us a little perspective on life and what really matters. It has changed everything and life as we know it…..for now.
My circumstances were no different than those that many of us faced. My work dried up along with my ability to earn money. The closure of borders and international travel meant there were no more anglers coming to Panama and with that my role as the manager and head guide at Panama Kayak Adventure Fishing Lodge fell flat on its face. Just like that!
At the time, it was a very disconcerting feeling but I hung on in there in the hope that things would return to normal, the lodge would open up again and I could get back to doing what I love and earning some money. Sadly, this was not the case.
As the pandemic stretched out, it became more and more apparent that the lodge wasn’t going to open up again any time soon. The owner was hesitant about reopening and in truth had lost his passion and interest in it as a business, getting himself involved in a reforestation project instead.
By this stage, I was starting to panic a little and was looking at other means of earning money, so I rekindled my copywriting and article writing network to bring in a few very welcome dollars. But it wasn’t enough. I needed to seriously plan my next move if there was to be a chance of continuing to live the dream in Panama. Longterm, I’d always wanted to end up running my own fishing business here, so I started to look into the possibilities. In actual fact, the answer was staring me right in the face.
PEDASi – This is the little fishing village my wife and I visited for our honeymoon and fishing trips since 2013 and where we have been living during the off-season from the fishing lodge for the last 4 years. The fishing is spectacular here and I have thoroughly enjoyed the amazing sport from my kayak and with local captains on their little pangas over the years, getting to know the area very well. We have many good contacts and friends here and are part of the local community. We started chatting to people and it seemed we had the support to go ahead and try and make a business of our own. It was the logical next step.
We managed to find investors and partners through which we were able to put a plan together to make our own dream of a fishing business become a reality. The pandemic had given us the motivation to succeed and the gift of time. Time is a precious commodity and we had plenty of it. We needed it too. Setting up a fishing business as a foreigner in a sleepy little Central American country is no easy feat, I can tell you. We planned to get all our ducks in a row and be ready for when the world opens up again.
We did our research and sussed out our target market. We set the business up to provide a professional, dedicated sport fishing operation for adventurous fishermen and independent travelling anglers. We realised there was a gap in the market for those wishing to do cost effective DIY trips that provide a little more freedom, flexibility and choice than is found at many fancy fishing lodges. In the digital age, the days of booking trips through agents and catalogues are over…..FISH PEDASi was born!
We are offering boat and kayak fishing charters on a day rate basis and will happily put together a package that fits the needs and time-frame of our guests perfectly, including all the logistics at this end. For the lodging, there are a number of different accommodation options available in our beautiful little village. There is something to suit every budget.
By using our hotels, stores, bars and restaurants during their stay, our guests are directly supporting the local community – which they love! They will also have the chance to absorb a little of the culture and are free to do as they please in the evenings, at their leisure. It a great way to get a true taste of Panama’s interior, its people, their warm hospitality, the excellent fishing and our wonderful village. We believe that this is one of the most cost-effective ways you can enjoy a tropical fishing adventure here in Panama. This ideology lies at the heart of our ethos.
With all of the ideas and a business plan in place we then needed to work on the major investment that lies at the heart of our operation – the boat. We thought long and hard about this and came up with a great solution. In this remote part of Panama, there are no marinas or breakwaters to speak of. All the locals use flat bottomed pangas and make beach launches and landings. If you want to have a boat that is available for daily use then this is the only way to go. For us, simplicity is the key and there’s a lot to be said for following the lead of the locals.
A simple local made panga like they use is fine for artisanal fishing or transporting people but not for what we wanted. Our beautiful sport-fishing boat was custom designed by us as the perfect fishing vessel for the waters here surrounding the Azuero Peninsula and was built by local craftsmen. It’s a 22ft Super-Panga with a 100% fibreglass construction and is perfectly suited to the beach launches and landings. We wanted something that was clutter free, clean, simple and a pleasure to be on. We based the design on a centre console style as being able to walk around the boat fully was of great importance to us. We are very happy with how it turned out and think the addition of the T-Top for shade and safe rod storage combined with the casting platform finish it off perfectly. We called the boat ‘Buenas Vibras’ which means ‘Good Vibes’ in Spanish. We are all about the good vibes!
The boat is fitted out with the latest Garmin Echomap Sonar/GPS, VHF Radio, High Pressure Deck Hose, Live-well, all the necessary safety and first aid equipment with no less than 26 rod holders! It is powered by a brand-new Yamaha Enduro 60hp engine and there is ample deck space, seating and storage which makes it a dream to fish from. We also carry a Garmin Satellite Communicator which connects to the Iridium Satellite Network. Help is available at the click of a button should we ever need it in an emergency. The safety of our guests and ourselves is everything to us.
Additionally, we purchased a fleet of kayaks. We have 2 Blackfin peddle kayaks for our guests and a larger paddle kayak which is the ‘guide kayak’ and can carry additional equipment, rods and supplies. These are perfectly suited to the waters here and having both the boat and the kayaks allows us to offer a great variety of fishing options to our guests which was of huge importance to us. Not everyone wants to fish from a kayak, preferring the boat and vice-versa.
We are able to offer fishing for small groups of 2 or 3 anglers at a time. It’s important to me that I get to give my full attention to our visiting anglers at all times and no-one likes competing for fish when they are on a trip they have worked hard to pay for. We are offering inshore and offshore boat trips, mothership kayak fishing adventures, kayak beach launches, shore fishing and much more.
The Pedasi area has one hell of a reputation for the quality of its fishing. The local fishing association here banned the use of nets some 20 years ago and insist that all fishing done in our district is by hook and line only. This is the reason we have such a vibrant fishery.
Personally, I’ve had many Roosterfish here to a best of over 80 lbs on poppers and live bait, Yellowfin Tuna over 200 lb are caught regularly in season, huge Mahi Mahi are also common. The Cubera Snapper fishing can also be insane on its day with packs of them chasing down poppers; specimens well over 60 lb and more are a viable target. There are another 7 species of Snappers, many different members of the Jack family, Snook, Billfish, Wahoo, huge Groupers and more. We even find Tarpon here. They have migrated through the Panama Canal from the Caribbean side and are doing very well in the Pacific. This is a very interesting and unique fishery.
We love jigging, popping and throwing lures for the fish here as it’s a great way to get to grips with our fishery and experience fantastic sport from a wide variety of species. The boat was perfectly designed and laid out for this kind of fishing too. We also love fishing big live baits at times because this is a wonderfully selective method that can single out some really very special fish. Trolling offshore, run and gun tactics, chunking and deadbaits are also techniques we always have up our sleeve if the target species require it.
Our boat has been in the water for nearly a month and now we have all the paperwork, licensing and permits in place we are fully operational and taking guests fishing. It honestly feels so good to finally get to this place after the previous darkness and I’m so proud of everything we have achieved here against all the odds. Making this dream become a reality is the best thing we have ever done. The future is an exciting prospect for us here at FISHPEDASI.
Although the world has not quite fully returned to normal yet, we are ready! We are anticipating a boom in traveling anglers visiting Panama when restrictions are lifted and very much look forward to sharing our incredible fishery with them. If you are thinking about making a trip like this when the time comes, then rest assured that you’ll be hard pushed to find a more dedicated and passionate crew than us to guide you on the water. You’d be most welcome here in Panama with us.