I got a great report from a recent trip at Isla Secas in Panama from David Decker, who was fishing with Jeffrey Cardenas and Carter Andrews, sounds like one of those days!!!! Read below………………………………………………………….
With the sun climbing out of the Pacific, Jeffrey and I stepped aboard the gleaming See Vee. For avid anglers like us, the morning greetings from Carter, Kid and young Billy could not have been more welcome and their hopes for a productive day mimicked our own. We were anxious to begin our search for signs of yellowfin tuna feeding near the surface.
Cruising over the soft swell and heading to Hannibal Bank, all eyes were trained on the horizon for birds and any debris that might signal tuna on the feed. Carter flipped on the radar to help us find flocks of gannets and man-o-war birds beyond our vision, then sure enough, there it was, a solid red blob about 2 1/2 miles away identifying concentrated bird action.
Kid pushed the throttle down and in no time the birds, wheeling and diving, were on the bait. The smooth surface of the water under the birds was erupting like bombs going off. Tuna were slashing violently at the bait balled up above them and below the birds. As the center counsel glided into casting range, Jeffrey and I were stripping out line from reels as fast as we could. I was in the stern and Jeffrey in the bow, making ready for our shot at this wad of tuna making sushi of the hapless anchovies. The boat settled and we both made casts as far as we could into the feeding frenzy, strip, strip, strip, no hook up.
As sure as we were that the tuna had made an exit to the depths, Carter quickly noticed that the bait had taken up residence under the boat and the tuna were still below them flashing through the deep blue water. We had no way to get a fly to the fish.
Kid was on the helm up top and took the direction from Carter to back away slowly from the bait ball to let the tuna push them back to the surface and our flies. Sure enough, after only seconds the big yellowfins were back on the surface churning the water white, murdering anchovies that now had nowhere to hide.
Frantically casting into the mob accomplished nothing. After only one cast, the bait had hustled back to the shadow of our hull with the tuna down deep still feeding full bore. Again, Carter gave the gentle command to Capt. Kid to back out slowly, and again the mayhem commenced again on the surface. Kid bumped us forward into range so Jeffrey and I launched shots into the chaos of silver rockets with no hook up.
The bait maintained their refuge under the boat and once more Carter implored the helmsman to back away, leaving the bait ball at the mercy of the tuna, putting us anglers in range.
There are occasions in fishing when you are part of something that is beyond description, time stands still and the world is so vivid that you can feel the stars lining up. And they did. Jeffrey’s rod bucked wildly and his reel was singing that tune that we seek with abandon, he was solidly attached to a yellowfin. My cast was a bit behind his, but after coming tight on the second strip the line in my hand was as taut as it possibly can be before hitting the reel. Sweet music and shouts all around, we had a double!
The beginning of a battle with these turbo charged fish is elation and excitement on par with nothing else I have experienced. Both tuna had made long, high speed runs into the backing and the depths below. The energy coming back up the line was electric. Neither fish were giving up easily and had their way for nearly an hour. At 90 degrees in the shade, the tussle was taking its toll on our every fiber, gaining and loosing line but always putting maximum heat on… then slowly the fly lines were in sight. Jeffrey was really putting the hickory to his yellow fin yellowfin as Kid and Billy hovered nearby with the gaffs, ready to finish the job. Words of encouragement and coordination drifted back to me as Jeffery’s tuna came closer, one reel turn at a time, in the long spiral inching towards the sharp hook of the gaff. I was still struggling with my fish as he retook the fly line back out of sight. My arms were numb, my hands refused to operate properly, my back was feeling the strain.
Into my dreamy world came the sounds of victory from the bow as Jeffrey’s big tuna landed on the deck, banging it’s tail wildly. All hands were whooping it up on the conclusion of the first half of the double. Not for me yet as I was still in the saddle and showing signs of wear and tear. With coaching from Carter and Billy, I was pushed to put the heat on this stubborn combatant that I had yet to even see. Sweat stinging my eyes, dry throat, aching muscles all made me doubt that I would ever best this beast from the deep.
Pumping, reeling, pumping, reeling, a little at time, I was gaining and the fly line was in sight through the clear water below re-energizing my effort. After what seemed a long time Kid from the tower hollered, “color, we got color”. There he was, still 70 feet down, slowly gliding in a long arch. He was near the end of his resistance and now only a couple dozen turns of the reel from the big hooks held in the hands of the crew. Carter and Billy stood, leaning on the shafts of the gaffs, peering into the blue, patiently waiting for their opening to close the deal, ever prodding me to stay with it. I looked at my hands that I could not feel and willed them to turn the handle of the reel a few more time. The glimmering tuna came out from under the stern and leveled off near the surface, I could plainly see his big eye looking back at me, the gaffs sunk deep and the tuna was hoisted over the gunwale onto the deck, still fighting back.
Jeffrey was there congratulating me as I was him. I only wanted to start breathing again and regain my composure. We were joyous in our fine fortune and what we had shared together. Cleaned up and washed off we were back to looking for birds.
Islas Secas, Panama, April, 2010