Travel Tuesday – Have You Truly Been Tested?

By Pete Robbins – Half Past First Cast

My personal best largemouth bass is 12 pounds. I’m immensely proud of that fish and thankful that I had a chance to capture it, but nothing about it truly stressed my tackle. The fight was certainly less than a minute long. In fact, while I’ve had bass strip drag and otherwise test my gear, I’ve never had one that truly provided a physical challenge.

That’s what I love about our trips to Panama – catching tuna, some of which weigh more than me. I’ve been part of landing a 205-pounder. This year one of our traveling partners handled a 247-pounder on his own – over two hours of backbreaking labor. Two days later, he and I were part of a four-angler team that spent over three hours working on a tuna that would’ve gone north of 300 before the hook pulled. It was exhausting and demoralizing. Everyone on the boat just silently retreated to separate corners and we started the long ride back to the lodge, an hour late for appetizers.

Nevertheless, while bass fishing will always be my bread and butter, I love our opportunities to try – and occasionally fail – to beat up on true giants. On our first trip to Panama, tangling with a 135 convinced me to join a gym. Subsequent trips and lots of questions have led me to understand more about how to properly tire them out, while conserving my own energy. It has also led me to understand more about tackle design and choice, and how to make the most of what you’ve got. All of that translates into every type of angling that I do.

Fortunately, we get lots of chances at 60-90 pound fish down there. Those are the “rebellious teenagers” that’ll test every aspect of your game without “wasting” half of your day bringing them in. Afterwards, you deserve a cold Panama beer and high fives from your boatmates – as well as the fillets that you’ll bring home.

If you’ve never tangled with giant fish, I strongly recommend that you give it a try, not just for bragging rights, but rather to really see what kind of angler you are. You may be able to do it in your backyard with big catfish or gar. Or maybe you want to see a tail-walking marlin. But for my money, and all of the species I’ve caught, tuna are the champs. Maybe I’ll reconsider when I catch a Giant Trevally, but for sheer bulldogging power and trickery, yellowfin will put you to the test. They’ll make you a better angler.

If you’d like to learn more about our trips to Panama, email us any time. We’d love to get you down there for a test of your stamina and angling skills.