Los Buzos, Panama: Part 1

Los Buzos, Panama: Part 1

If you are a serious kayak fisherman, chances are that you have heard of a place called Los Buzos. If you haven’t, then let me introduce you to a one-of-a-kind fishery that is tucked away on the southern coast of Panama. Los Buzos is a fairly new lodge located on the Pacific side of the country, and they have been breaking IGFA world records ever since they have opened. Given the remoteness of the lodge they have no way to maintain officially certified scales for weighing fish, which means their records are all length based, still very impressive, nonetheless. They have over 30 species that have been recognized by the organization with some of the more reputable being Cubera Snapper, Broomtail Grouper, Big Eyed Trevally and the majestic Roosterfish. They have even landed a few Blue and Black Marlin which is an impressive feat in itself. Oh, and before I forget, they have accomplished all of this from kayaks!

Last summer I had a buddy call and the first words out of his mouth were, “I’m planning a trip and you are not going to be able to turn me down.” I played along and asked where and when, to which he replied, “Next summer, at Los Buzos.” Without hesitation I told him I was in and to please send me the dates.

Fast forward a year later and I am meeting up with our group outside the gate to board a flight to Panama. I was somewhat of the odd guy out, being that I knew only two of the other nine members of the group, but getting acquainted was easy as we are all very likeminded. We landed in Panama after a four hour flight and headed to our hotel to stay the night and then head out first thing in the morning. The drive across the country to the lodge takes six hours. We were greeted by the Los Buzos crew and shown to our living quarters for the coming week. After getting settled we were called to a safety and itinerary briefing, followed by a fantastic dinner of fresh Yellowfin Tuna and grilled Mahi-Mahi. What a treat!

The next morning we were up early and headed down to the beach where breakfast was served. The crew had our kayaks laid out and prepped, ready to hit the water. The gameplan was to first kayak out to a small reef and catch bait, which you would rig onto a live-bait setup and begin slow trolling. The ideal bait was a lively Blue Runner; Roosterfish, they said could not resist them. Within an hour, between our group and the guide boats, everyone had a lively bait rigged up and began to spread out. Each boat was equipped with a small GPS/depth-finder loaded with multiple pin drops and we were told to hang around any of these as they were all known to be productive spots. Most of our group headed towards the rocks to slow troll the outer edges, but I had other plans. I had noticed a mark notated as Rooster CT, (Rooster City), and I questioned immediately how anybody could pass up a place with a name like that.

The morning started off slow but the tide was incoming, and they said when it peaks, there should be a few bites. Sure enough, JC started yelling over the radio that he had a fish on. The coolest thing was that you could hear the drag screaming in the background. The pangas rushed toward him to lend any assistance needed and not long thereafter the first Rooster was landed. Knowing that they did indeed exist, we all stayed carefully focused and patiently awaiting our turn. Around noon a little summertime storm began brewing in the mountains and looked to be headed our way. Hoping for a bit of relief from the heat, I was personally welcoming it.

Dakota came on the radio just as it was coming over the hills and told us to get ready and stay alert. They call them “Rooster Rains” and they turn on when it hits. I would not have believed it if I had not seen it; maybe less than a minute after it started we had two guys hooked up. One got away during the fight and another really nice fish was brought to the kayak.

We kept at it, and after about ten minutes of cooling rain my line began peeling off the reel. I fed it line, counted to ten as instructed, and then cranked down. I could tell it was not a giant, nonetheless I was fighting my first Rooster. I called over the radio and Jeff came over in the panga to assist and instruct. It was as beautiful as I had imagined and I quickly got her back into the water for a successful release. I am now a firm believer in the Rooster Rains and, even though the rest of the day passed slowly, we were off to a good start.

The next day started the same as the first and we all scattered about after getting live bait. I headed back to the same area I had fished the day before with hopes of finding another fish. The morning again passed rather slowly, a few good runs but no hook-ups. Just as the incoming tide was peaking, Blake came over the radio with news that he was hooked up. Once he got it in, Dakota came over the radio announcing that we had a new leader for biggest fish. Stoked for him, the rest of us kept grinding away. It was not long until Jeff, the other guide boat, said he hooked one while vertical jigging for bait. He had been catching a few fish throughout the past weeks while trying to catch Blue Runners. We continued on through the day and not long before time to head back in, Ryan radioed a hook-up. After a decent fight he, too, had his first Rooster.

Back at the kitchen for another great evening meal, talk soon turned to the next day’s gameplan. Dakota and Jeff laid it out, describing the next day’s weather and tides looking perfect for a mothership trip down to a place called San Patricio. It is a federally protected area and commercial fishing is off-limits, but recreational fishing is allowed. Dakota knew the area well and said that it is worth making the trip, and at times, it can be plain stupid good. So, with confidence in our guides, the next morning would see us loading up the kayaks and heading to San Patricio!