Eight Reasons You Should Join Us in Panama in January 2025

By Pete Robbins – Half Past First Cast

When we first visited Sport Fish Panama Island Lodge in April 2021 – thanks to the insistence of our friend Elliott Stark and after some discussions with Captain Shane Jarvis – we assumed it was going to be a “one and done” adventure. By the time we left, we knew we were coming back later that year. It was that life-changing.

We’ve now been a total of three times, and we’re heading back for Round Four in May. That trip is full, so we added another one just under eight months later, in early January of 2025. The goal is to never have a repeat of 2023, when we didn’t go at all. Hell, if I could just figure out a way to spend a couple of months down there each year I’d do just about whatever I could to make it happen.

You may never have considered this type of trip, but if you like to fish (for anything), if you like adventure, and you like beautiful places, I’m encouraging you to consider it. It’s that good. Here are some of my top reasons:

  • Remoteness and Accessibility Combined – It’s easy to get to Panama City, with many direct flights from all over the US, and then to the town of David, but once you’re on Isla Parida (where the lodge is located) it feels like Gilligan and the Skipper should be around every corner. You have all of the creature comforts you need, including A/C, a loaded bar, and internet, but it’s not like you’re at some corporate resort or big town, with tourists everywhere. It’s relaxing and intimate and a great way to get away from any other stresses you have in your life.
  • Variety is the Spice of Life – The trip is not inexpensive, but I consider it a value proposition. Many of us have been on bargain charters, where you spend a fair amount to putter around and come back to the marina at the first possible opportunity. This is not that. Instead, the captains work their balls off to put you on fish and keep you on fish. More importantly, it’s not just a marlin trip or a tuna trip or an inshore trip. It’s all of those things in one.
  • Fewer Conflicts – For most of you, January is a dog crap time of year. The heart of deer season is over, you don’t have any fishing tournaments, and the weather is miserable at home. The holidays are over, but rather than sinking into a funk, it pays to keep the merriment going and there’s no better way to do that than by getting out of dodge.
  • Accessible to all Experience Levels – As we proved, you don’t need to be an experienced offshore angler to get a lot out of this trip. We caught numerous species every time, including some true giants, without knowing what the hell we were doing. Nevertheless, Capt. Shane hosts luminaries from the saltwater world all the time. They can go anywhere but that’s where they choose to spend their time and money because it offers so much in terms of opportunity for serious anglers.

  • First Class Gear Across the Board – Remember that awful bargain charter I mentioned above. They had old rods from the 80s and reels spooled up with Original Blue Stren monofilament that’s older than that. Well, if you’re a gear snob, SFPIL is for you. Shane and his captains have all top-flight equipment, perfectly suited to each species and presentation, and they take meticulous care of it all.
  • Make a Meat Run – The food is exceptional on the island, but even better – you can take sushi-grade yellowfin fillets home with you. Bring a cooler (or buy one there) and they have a commercial-grade vacuum sealer and freezer that’ll get you situated. We’re just about out of tuna, which is an important (but comparatively minor) reason we need to get back there asap.
  • Our No-Assholes Rule – If you’re worried about fishing and traveling with people you don’t know, put that aside. We’ve met some of our best friends in the world – people from vastly different walks of life than our own – through these trips. We endeavor to keep everyone present, level, and recognizing that the best way for each person to have a good time is for everyone to have a good time.
  • You Don’t Even Need a Partner – Many people would like to go on these trips, but don’t have a partner or friends to join them, which makes the price as a single angler prohibitive. We do the dirty work of putting the group together, you fish with new people each day, and you end up paying what you’d pay if you went with your three best friends. So many of the unexpected partners have turned into long-term fishing buddies, it makes s extremely happy.

If this listicle alone doesn’t convince you, I’m happy to put you in touch with any of the people who’ve traveled to SPFIL with us in the past. I don’t know anyone who thinks the trip was anything less than exceptional. Just shoot me an email and I’ll send you a list. Ask them and I think you’ll be convinced.

I know that January seems like a long time away, but this gives you time to plan, time to save (if necessary), time to hit the gym (to winch in giant fish), and time to build up some anticipation for what I promise will be amazing.

[NOTE: We’ve already filled 12 spots, but there’s a fourth boat available, so we have room for up to four more anglers, in singles, pairs or one quartet. Don’t hesitate to join us!]