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Capt. Brant's Fishing Report

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START 1) 45.60 - Clearly Hooked     2) 44.00 - Team Grip Flip     3) 43.05 - Fish Hard Gear     4) 43.00 - Outta Line     5) 42.10 - Reel Methods     6) 41.05 - Open Wide     7) 39.45 - Shockwave     8) 39.35 - Beeracuda     9) 37.80 - Conference Call     10) 37.30 - Wilm Auto/King Hunter     11) 37.10 - Karma Bites     12) 36.85 - Four Sons     13) 36.20 - Lil John/Reel em up     14) 36.00 - Sea P.A.     15) 35.50 - OIFC     16) 35.15 - O D Bank     17) 34.80 - Max'd Out     18) 34.55 - On Point     19) 34.35 - King Carnivore     20) 34.35 - All In/AM    FINISH

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"Panama Report Day 5" | OIFC 1- 36 | 04/10/08
 

Day 5 Tuesday 2/12/08:

Today we woke up a little earlier around 5am so we get on the water sooner.  The bite has been best in the morning and we wanted to try and take advantage of all the daylight. At 6:00am I was boarding Capt. Chaca's boat with Brant and Robby and Dial.  We started the day like the others before by trolling small squid squirts for bonito that we needed for bait.  Within a few minutes of leaving the mothership we had 4 lively bonitos kicking in the tuna tubes.  Capt Chaca picked up speed and headed offshore of Montosa about 2 miles. He spotted a massive school of porpoise and zigged and zagged through the school.  We couldn't really figure out what he was doing but all of a sudden he says "aqui' aqui'" which means here here. We dropped 3 baits in the water.  Two were on 50 wide Avet reels and one was on Brant's OIFC custom combo with a 30TLD and custom gulf stream rod. Apparently Chaca's plan was to find the very front of the school of porpoise and then deploy baits. He later told us that the big yellowfin tuna stay underneath the porpoise. They come thru in waves, feeding and moving fast.  He likes to put baits out in front of the porpoise that way the whole school will pass by our baits.  Less than 10 minutes later 2 baits get nervous.  When you're fishing with 5-8lb bonitos you know when a bait gets nervous. Then at the same time both baits get whacked. It's not like a billfish bite that picks the bait up and carries it away. These fish nail the baits and stripping them from the hooks and off they go.  Chaca explains "grande tuna". Before we had time to try and figure out what happened the third bait gets hammered.  This time we free spool for 20 seconds and Chaca hits the throttles. The drag is advanced and the rod doubles. He's on! The 50 Avet is smoked as Robby takes his place in the fighting chair. For over an hour Robby does battle with the huge yellowfin tuna. The fight of the the yellowfin is exactly the same as that of a bluefin tuna. The fish runs hard at first staying up. Next he darts around confused as to what is going on. Finally he goes deep and begins the tuna spiral. After just over an hour Robby inches the fish to within sight. This is by far the largest yellowfin I've seen and looked to be in the 80" range. We guessed the fish to be in at least the 275lb class. The mate took hold of the leader and right as he had the yellowfin coming to the gaff the 300lb leader popped. It was an official catch and the monster tuna swam back down to the depths. We fished another hour or so without anymore action and decided to head back to the mothership for lunch and a short siesta. On the mothership we met with several of the other guys who all had a good morning fishing. Rube, Ray Boyd, and Jared Boyd were headed out but they were going to explore Montosa first. They took a fishing boat close to the island and then swam in the rest of the way while the tide was slack. Brant, Robby and I grabbed some lunch and then a nap. About 2:00 we jumped back on with Chaca and went for round two refreshed and ready for action. It didn't take long for the plan to pay off. Brant's OIFC custom setup gets popped. He free lines the big bonito for a few seconds, feels the fish take the bait then advances the drag. He came tight on the fish and the fish headed for the high country. About 300yards away he broke the surface and revealed he was a 300lb black marlin. The combo was spooled 450yards of braid and mono and we needed every inch. Finally we got the boat turned and ran down the angry marlin. He jumped at least 10 times while Brant did everything he could to keep the line tight. Within 30 minutes the massive marlin was boatside where we took some video and sent him on his way.  The rest of the afternoon we jumped off two sails and caught 1 dolphin.  Back at the mothership we enjoyed fresh tuna sashimi and started the story process from the day of fishing and exploring. While most of us were fishing Ray Boyd spent the afternoon on Montosa talking with the "squatter" on Montosa. By the time he left he was in deep negotiations to buy the island. On the fishing front it was another decent day for everybody. Tommy Lytton, Yorke Pharr, and Todd Schadd caught only 1 dolphin but missed 3 billfish bites and 2 other bites with Tito for a total of 1 point. Rube, Ray and Jared missed one sailfish, caught a small yellowfin tuna and Jared landed a monster yellowfin estimated at 275lbs for a total of 3 points with Capt. Lexi. Todd Helf, Robert Hughes, and Brian Richard fished with Capt. Kidd and Grouper and had a decent day. Brian landed a 160lb yellowfin tuna and then just 5 minutes later they were attacked by a 400lb blue marlin that ate a trolled plastica and this time Todd Helf was on the rod. They caught one more small yellowfin and missed another marlin for a total 7 points. Brant, Robby and I ended the day with one giant yellowfin, one dolphin, and one black marlin for a total of 8 points. The day's winner for a second time this week was Forest Taylor, Richard McCrae, and Tony McCrae who fished with Juan and Juan and caught 2 sailfish and an estimated 550lb blue marlin. Richard was on duty for the enormous marlin and had him whipped in 45 minutes. This team accumulated 12 points. Dinner tonight was fresh seared yellowfin tuna that cook Andy prepared just right. Tomorrow we are fishing around Montosa until about 2:00pm and then we have to start making our way back to Paridas. We're going to get an early start again tomorrow so we can get as much morning fishing in as possible. 


- Capt. Barrett McMullan
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"More Day 4 pics" | OIFC 1- 36 | 04/10/08
 

More Pics from Day 4 in Montosa
- Capt. Barrett McMullan
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"Panama Report Day 4" | OIFC 1- 36 | 04/10/08
 

Day 4 Monday 2/11/08:

Today was our first day of waking up at Isla Montosa which was just a few minutes from fishing grounds.  We woke at 5:30 and Andy once again had an impressive breakfast for us. By 6:30 we were loading all of gear, food, and drinks on the boats for a full out fishing effort off Montosa. As soon as we cleared the mothership the lines were put in the water. Today I fished with Rube and Robby Dial with Capt. Kidd and his mate Rupert a.k.a Grouper. Kidd and Grouper were a totally different story than what I had experienced the day before.  These guys were on point and it was obvious they had plans to catch some fish today.  Kidd spoke a little English so I was able to get his philosophy which differed a little from the other Captains.  He liked pulling plastics and other lures especially if he had ballyhoo.  He had been in Costa Rica the week before and brought back a few ballyhoo that we were using. Kidd and Grouper put out 12 lines including the lures used to target bonito, large plastics for billfish and one small islander with a ballyhoo. It didn't take long for this approach to payoff as less than 1 mile from the mothership we found the dolphin.  For the next couple hours we trolled and hammered the dolphin all in the 25 to 30lb class.  In the middle of the dolphin chaos we were attacked by sailfish 3 times and finally made one of them pay.  Robby Dial did work on his second sailfish in two days and second one ever. He made short work of the 100lb bill and sent her on her way. Once that sail was caught it seemed like the billfish really started to show. Until about 11:30am we saw marlin in sailfish everywhere we looked.  Some would come through our spread, some were free jumping and some were hooked up on other boats. Sometime around mid morning I was standing in the tower looking out front of the boat where I had already seen a few free jumpers when the water exploded about 400 yards ahead. It was then I saw the largest fish I had ever seen. I don't have a lot of experience guessing weights on billfish but this black marlin greyhounded twice and his head was more than 3 feet from top to bottom. It had to be in 800+lb class. We trolled towards the jump, but were not able to get the bite. Less than an hour later our turn finally came on a marlin bite. Rube had the ballyhoo rig in his hand on a small Avet reel with 100lb braid when the big boy came thru. He made one swipe and then headed for the high country. Rube held on while line disappeared off the reel. For 30 seconds the fish burned it down then he jumped and spit the hook. We learned quick it happens fast and you have to be watching all the time.  Most of our action was before noon as we spent the afternoon trolling looking for activity. Kidd and Grouper entertained us with stories of their lives and families. At day's end we had captured 10 dolphin, 1 sail, missed 5 billfish bites and seen a total of 11 billfish. Fishing was good today. We returned to the mothership about 5:30 and greeted the other crews as they returned. Everybody seemed to have a good fishing just on first reports. However, Yorke, Tommy, and Todd were not back yet. By 7:00pm everyone had returned and the fish stories began. Todd Helf, Robert Hughes, and Brian Richard were with Capt. Tito and Sam and managed 3 sail releases, 1 dolphin, missed a marlin and saw another marlin for a total of 7 points. Next was Ray Boyd, Jared Boyd and Brant fishing with Juan and Juan. They captured an impressive two black marlin one at 300 and one at 400lbs plus one sail and missed 5 other billfish bites for a total of 10 points. Third place was yesterday's winners Forest Taylor, Richard McCrae, and Tony McCrae with Capt. Alexis. They had 7 dolphin, and 1 black marlin estimated at 450lbs caught by Richard. According to Forest the black crashed a trolled plastic and drug Richard across the deck where the back of the boat stopped his momentum. They had the fish whooped in 30 minutes. Rube, Robby and I came in second with 12 points with our 10 dolphin and two sails. Today's winners were Yorke Pharr, Tommy Lytton, and Todd Schadd fishing with Capt. Chaca. The reason they were late getting in was that around 6:00 just a few hundred yards from the mothership they had 400+lb black marlin visit them. Tommy was on rod duty and battled the beast for 30 minutes before bringing him alongside for release. This crew accumulated 17 points with 9 dolphin, 1 black marlin release, 2 sail releases and they reported missing 3 more marlin and 4 sails. Overall the action was steady for everybody. We all missed a bunch of fish but I think we are mostly missing sails that are having trouble getting the large baits in their mouths.  After another great dinner we had a team meeting to discuss a variety of topics. First it is agreed the tournament rules need some adjusting. We limit the amount of dolphin and tuna that count towards your point total to 3 per boat. Next most of us decide that we will come in for a couple hours during the middle of the day and eat lunch and take a nap. The heat in the middle of the day is tough and the fishing seems to be dead so taking a siesta is a good plan. Ray Boyd, Jared Boyd and Rube negotiate with the Capt and get approval to go explore Isla Montosa tomorrow. They will take one of the fishing boats in close then jump off and swim to the island. After all the business is taken care of we all shared stories of the day's events. By 9:00 I'm exhausted and ready for bed. Today was a good day. The fishing was much better, the equipment held up and everybody's spirits were up. Hopefully tomorrow will bring more of the same.


- Capt. Barrett McMullan
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"Panama Report Day 3" | OIFC 1- 36 | 04/10/08
 

Day 3 Sunday 2/10/08: 

It is our first morning waking up on the Coral Star. Our wake up call consisted of Capt. Don banging on doors and announcing "we are buring daylight" at 5:30am. Sleeping is difficult the first night probably due to the excitement of the day's fishing ahead and the sardine can of a room with 2 inch mattresses on the beds. That problem would soon go away as I'm sure we are going to be exhausted after a day of fishing. After wake up we head to the dining room where we enjoy a full breakfast whipped up by Andy in the galley. By 6:30am we are loading onto our designated sportfish boats. Anybody who brought some of their own gear loaded it on their boat, but for the most part all the boats had a good selection of rod and reels.  They carried Penn reels, Avet reels, and Seeker rods. Today I was fishing with Ray Boyd and Jared Boyd aboard Capt. Tito's 28' Pursuit. We left the protected waters at Paridas and made the 2 hour run until we were within a few miles of Panamas most remote island Isla de Montosa. According to Tito this is where most of the action had been occurring over the past few weeks. Apparently Hannibal Banks, where I thought we would be fishing, had not been producing due to current flow. All 5 of the sportfish boats in our group spread out over a 10 mile stretch in hopes of locating the fish.  When we stopped we threw in two rods with small squid squirts that we were using in hopes of catching bait.  Also we put in a standard cedar plug and a couple big marlin plastics and started trolling about 7 knots. The idea I came to find was to troll around until you ran across a school of bonito and then try to catch 3 or 4 and put them in the tuna tubes on the back of the boat to keep them alive. Next they slow the boat down to about 3 knots and put out a spread of live bonitos.  It's very similar to live bait king mackerel fishing just with much larger baits and on 50 wides. We started pulling around our spread and passed a longline boat. A few minutes later I spotted a large group of porpoise and birds feeding.  We trolled all over the activity and were quickly rewarded when the cedar plug went off.  I had it tied on a Shimano Torsa and Shimano jigging rod with 80lb braid I had borrowed.  This little setup is pretty awesome.  It is very light weight yet extremely powerful.  Jared jumped on the first bite and just a few minutes later put a 30lb yellowfin in the boat and more importantly scored a sashimi dinner for us.  We continued to troll the area and caught 6 more smaller yellowfin. While Jared and Ray were catching the tunas off the back I had taken a Yo-Zuri Bull GT popper to the bow and started casting to the tuna.  The tunas were all over this thing but I quickly opted to put it away when at one time I looked down while we were moving slow and saw a school of about 20 yellowfin swim under the boat that were in the 200+lb range. I knew my spinning rod wouldn't be the answer. We trolled a while longer and couldn't hook up on a big tuna so we picked up and made our way to the official fishing grounds which was about 1-2 miles west of Montosa where there were numerous underwater pinnacles that the big game fish hung around. We trolled our squid squirts for a short time before we captured several bonito. Capt. Tito and his mate Sam quickly bridled the baits and deployed them. We trolled most of the day around a very fishy looking area with bonito schools crashing the top and birds and porpoise everywhere.  Surprisingly there were 10-15 other boats fishing the area that were from other outfitters or private boats. The top water action was extremely slow for us and for everyone else. We missed one bite that could have been a billfish but no guarantee. The method of fishing is interesting. The large 5lb bonitos are bridled with a circle hook and deployed. The drag is set extemely loose but tight enough to keep the bait in place. If a bait gets very nervous or drag comes off the reel is thrown into freespool until you feel like the fish has taken the bait and eaten it. Next the Capt. and mate start screaming in several languages, run in circles, jump up and down and slam the throttle to the corner as the angler advances the drag and reels like mad. Although we didn't hook up today I believe I understand the process. Near the end of the day we got a knock down on a bonito and we do the freeline deal. I'm on the rod and the Capt. nails the throttles. I reel hard and the line comes tight except that it's not ripping off the reel like I was expecting. Nonetheless the crew is screaming and reeling everything in. I look back behind the boat and see whatever we have hooked up is not real big because it's spinning with the boat making 12 knots ahead. The crew regains composure and Jared takes over angling the 30lb Dog Snapper to the boat. That was it for us today. It was very disappointing as I visions of double digit sailfish and grander marlin. Oh well maybe the bite will be better tomorrow. I did see a few other boats hooked up to marlin and sails so there are fish here. We headed back to the mothership around 5:00. The others make their way in behind us and we convene on the upper deck for tuna sashimi appetizer and happy hour. Dinner tonight was steak and lobster- no complaints. The mothership is anchored in the lee of Montosa about 1 mile offshore. The landscape of this island is incredible. It's very mountainous but has white sand beaches lined with palm trees just like something out of a movie.  We are told it is uninhabited except for two people claiming squatters rights who have built a small grass shack on the point of the island. After a great dinner we come clean with what each boat caught today. Tommy Lytton, York Pharr, and Todd Schadd fishing with Juan and Juan on the 28 Albemarle captured 1 30lb dolphin, 1 30lb cubera snapper, 4 mullet snapper and missed 1 marlin and 1 sailfish for a total of 1 point. Rube, Brant, and Robby Dial were fishing with Capt. Alexis aboard his 28' Pursuit and caught 1 dolphin 30lbs, 6 snapper up to 30lbs and Robby caught his first sailfish at 130lbs for a total of 2 points. They also missed one other sail that came up on a kite bait that Brant had set out which we brought from home. Todd Helf, Brian Richard and Robert Hughes caught 6 dolphin to 20lbs, 3 mullet snappers, 1 hammerhead shark, and raised two sails for a total of 6 points with Capt. Chaca. Ray Boyd, Jared Boyd and I ended up with 6 yellowfin tuna, 1 30lb snapper, and 1 missed billfish with Capt. Tito and Sam for a total of 6 points. Today's tournament winner was Forest Taylor, Richard McCrae and Tony McCrae who caught 2 dolphin to 30lbs, 4 sailfish and missed 2 sails with Capt. Kidd for a total of 10 points. There was some talk of disqualification though as we learned Capt. Kidd had ballyhoo on his boat and that was the ticket for the sails. We all hung out on the upper deck until about 9:00 and then started hitting the sack. Fishing off the back produced more blue runners but no big fish. Most everybody is too tired to mess with it anyway. Today was not a real good fishing day. I was not very impressed with the techniques or tackle on my boat. Most everybody else echoed the same thoughts. The condition of the sportfish boats was not great either to say the least. 3 of the 5 boats had mechanical problems today but to their credit, the crews are extemely resourceful as all the problems were fixed and no fishing time was missed. Hopefully the fishing will get on track tomorrow. Wake up is at 5:30.


- Capt. Barrett McMullan
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"More Day 2 Pics" | OIFC 1- 36 | 04/10/08
 

More pics from Day 2 in Paridas
- Capt. Barrett McMullan
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"Panama Report Day 2" | OIFC 1- 36 | 04/10/08
 

Day 2 Saturday 2/9/08:

The 6:15am wakeup call at the Marbella came early. Several of us were eating breakfast in the street side lobby when we spotted the missing crewmembers making their way back from a long night in Panama City. We finally rounded up all 13 in the group and the Starlite folks had our bus waiting to take us to the airport.  We were once again quickly processed through the airport lines and boarded on a plane to the port city of David.  A short scenic 45 minute plane ride through Panama led us over mountains, rivers and the Panama Canal.  We arrived in David around 10am and met with Capt. Dan and his crew from Coral Star Expeditions.  They loaded our luggage into the shuttle bus and we headed to Taz marina about 5 minutes away. At Taz we met up with the remaining 2 from our group Ray Boyd and his son Jared who flew direct from Atlanta on their jet.  The Captain was anxious to get on the road becuase of a low tide issue as he explained the tidal swing on the river we would be traveling was 18 feet. Taz was little more than a couple docks tucked away in the deep jungle. We loaded the 5 sportfish boats with luggage, three passengers per boat a captain and mate.  The sportfish boats are very slow, maybe 15 to 18 mph.  We take another scenic hour and a half ride down the river out to the mothership that was waiting at an island called Paridas. The landscape is incredible with volcanic formed islands everywhere you look.  At some point in time a serious geological event had taken place here. Once aboard the mothership we drop off our luggage, go over a quick safety briefing, grab some snacks and we're off again.  This time we're headed out for some afternoon inshore fishing around the numerous rock islands.  All 5 boats were targeting roosterfish, snapper, and jacks using top water plugs and live bait within a couple miles of the mothership. I was aboard Capt. Tito's 28 Pursuit with Brant and Robby Dial. In a few hours of fishing we caught a jack crevalle, missed a couple roosterfish and last several big snappers in the 30 pound range on the rocky bottom.  The snappers would come to the surface and take a surface popping lure that we casted towards rock piles and then make a b-line to the bottom.  Todd Helf caught a nice 25lb rooster with Brian Richard who also caught a 20lb snapper and Robert Hughes aboard Capt. Chaca's Pursuit. Tommy Lytton, Yorke Pharr, and Todd Schadd caught a small rooster and a couple snapper with Juan. Forest Taylor, Tony McCrae, and Richard McCrae caught a nice snapper with Capt. Kidd.  Rube, Ray Boyd and Jared Boyd caught a couple jacks with Capt. Alexis.  It was a nice warmup day for us.  A good day to get our sea legs under us and get used to the boats.  Once back on the mothership we were served snacks and took in happy hour as the sun set over the beautiful island of Paridas. Capt. Don struck a deal with a family passing by on their hand carved canoe for a 5 gallon bucket full of lobster we would eat for dinner the next night. Andy, the very talented cook, prepared an awesome fresh snapper dinner that Forest had caught just a couple hours earlier. After dinner Capt. Don gives us the gameplan for tomorrow, which was for the sportfish boats to take us out to Isla Montosa a couple hours away and begin our serious big game fishing.  While we were fishing the mothership would move to Montosa and anchor on the lee side assuming the weather stayed nice.  Next we figured out who would be fishing on what boat for tomorrow and we established rules for the tournament.  We planned to have a new tournament each day. The tournament was between the 5 boats and would be based on a points system.  4 points were earned for a blue or black marlin release, 2 points for a sailfish release, 1 point per dolphin, tuna, or wahoo. Double bonus points were awarded if the marlin was estimated over 500lbs by the Capt. and for tunas over 100lbs. A few from our crew brought satellite phones and made contact with home. Darkness fell and most of the team opted to hit the bunks for some much needed rest before the real fishing began.  The living quarters were not much to brag about but functional.  There was a set of bunk beds in each room with a small bathroom.  On the main deck was the living room, kitchen and dining room.  Upstairs was the outdoor bar, eating area and sun deck. Not too many frills to the mothership, but certainly nice enough to call home for a week.  Before we knock off for bed Brant, Tommy, Robert, Bryan and I try some fishing off the back of the mothership.  The water is about 40 feet deep.  We quickly found that the lights around the boat had attracted a multitude of fish including goggle eyes and blue runners. We had no where to store the baits so we let them go except that we put one on a balloon and one on the bottom for a few minutes.  Neither bait yielded any action so we cashed in and rested up for the day ahead.  


- Capt. Barrett McMullan
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"Panama Report Day 1" | OIFC 1- 36 | 04/10/08
 

Day 1 Friday 2/8/08:

Finally after months of planning and anticipation our fishing excursion to Panama is here.  I've been in Atlanta for a couple days visiting family and friends, but now it's time to start making progress south.  I met up with fellow travelers Yorke Pharr, and Tommy Lytton at my dad's house in Atlanta for a carpool to the Atlanta airport. At the check in we ran into three more crewmembers Forest Taylor, Richard McCrae, and Tony McCrae who had driven down from Rockingham.  We checked our bags including my fishing rod carrying case at the Delta International counter.  We made our way to the concourse and found everything in order. Our plane was on time and waiting, the remaining fishermen from our group, minus Brant, had arrived, and the airport bar was conveniently located directly across from the gate. The 3 hour and 45 minute flight was relatively smooth and uneventful except for the "chicken" or "fish" option at dinner.  We arrived in Panama City, Panama around 10pm and were immediately greeted by our in-country travel guide Starlite Travel Company.  We received rock star treatment as they hustled us to the front of the customs line and through it in no time.  They then showed us to the VIP lounge where we waited while the luggage was retrieved and packed onto our transport bus. By this time we have also met up with Brant who came in on an American Airlines flight from Miami that arrived about 20 minutes before ours.  The group now 13 strong is loaded onto the shuttle bus and taken on a 20 minute ride through Panama City to hotel Marbella. The city is bigger than most of us expect with numerous high rise buildings, bright lights and construction everywhere.  At Marbella the Starlite folks sort us out into our rooms and make sure all of our luggage is in the right place. Within a few minutes most of the team decides to check out the nightlife in downtown Panama City. Just a couple blocks down from the hotel is the heart of Panama City and a bustling casino.  The people in this place are dressed to the 9's, the atmosphere is vibrant and cultural diversity is very apparent. Our team equipped with fishing t-shirts and jeans made themselves right at home in no time.  Some opted for the bar, others for gambling, and the rest just took in the sights of this "different world."  After an hour or so several of the crew walked back to the hotel for sleep while the others were last seen high fiving at the craps table.  Tomorrow's, well I guess it's now today's, wake up call is at 6:15am.


- Capt. Barrett McMullan
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"In Route" | OIFC 1- 36 | 04/10/08
 

A quick update on the road to Panama.  Our crew has successfully navigated a night in the bustling metropolis of Panama City (some better than others :)  Everyone made it back from their evening excursions by departure time this morning at 7:30.  Currently we are waiting at a small airstrip near Panama City for our plane to take us to the port of David where we will meet the boats.  So far so good.  Nothing a dark pair of sunglasses and a quick power nap can´t heal. The temperature is about 75 degrees this morning and warming quickly.  We should be on the boats by noon and fishing this afternoon.  We´ll try to give as many updates as we can.  Signing off for now from Panama- Traveling Fishermen 2008
- Capt. Barrett McMullan
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"Changes in latitudes, Changing in attitudes" | OIFC 1- 36 | 04/10/08
 

The time has finally arrived.  We're out of here!  This evening, along with 14 other OIFC'ers, I'll be heading south to Panama City in Central America on our first Traveling Fisherman excursion.  By this time tomorrow we'll be making 6 knots and keeping watch for lurking billfish underneath teasers.  It's my understanding that so far this year aboard the Coral Star operation the marlin fishing has been excellent.  Both Brant and I are equipped with all kinds of electronic media devices so that we're sure to bring back evidence with our stories.  I will be keeping a day by day journal of the expedition and will post that journal on the Traveling Fisherman link off our website upon our return next week.  Wish us luck.
- Capt. Barrett McMullan
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"Now Booking Panama!" | OIFC 1- 36 | 04/10/08
 

After several months of logistical planning and conferring with the owners of the Coral Star Operation we have our first trip to Panama planned for 2009.  The fishing days will take place February 15th - February 20th 2009.  We've had tremendous interest in this trip from those who followed our adventure this past February so I expect the slots to go fast.  We have room for 14 fishermen or fisherwomen on this trip.  Booking is now underway.  If you have interest email: captbarrett@oifc.com or 910-575-3474 ext. 4.  Click here for more details or click underneath Trip Information.
- Capt. Barrett McMullan
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"The Countdown Is On!" | OIFC.com- 36 | 04/10/08
 

For all you folks who follow this website I'm sure you've seen information on the exotic fishing expedition we are heading up to Panama in a couple weeks. In fact we are now exactly 2 weeks away from departure and the anticipation of a fishing paradise has all of us "Traveling Fishermen" fired up. It certainly doesn't hurt that it's February and cold enough to freeze sea spray to the bow rail at home while we are headed to a sub tropical 80+ degree billfish mecca. I apologize if my fantasizing is making anyone sick but the point is we are all excited to go to Panama and hopefully the fishing lives up to its reputation. Capt. Brant and I are going to take this opportunity fishing the fertile grounds of the Hannibal Banks to put on our journalist caps and take as much video and still shots as possible. When we return we will be posting a daily journal with pics and videos on OIFC.com to give those following a clear picture of our experience abroad. There are 15 Traveling Fishermen taking part in this excursion all of whom are "OIFC fishing friends" and cover a broad variety of backgrounds. We have the "contractors", the "real estate guys", "the "sales guys", the "fishermen" and several other categories. I'm sure there will be some sort of internal tournament competitions arranged once this crowd gets together. The standard method of big game fishing in Panama is trolling live bonita on flat lines targeting blue marlin, black marlin, sailfish and huge yellowfin tuna. We are also likely to run into giant snapper, grouper, wahoo, roosterfish, mahi and who knows what else. Keeping true to form we plan to shake things up a little from a tactical fishing approach on our excursion. While we know we can fall back on standard live bait trolling with bonitas and hopefully experience incredible action we plan to bring a little home cooking innovation OIFC style to Panama. We hope to try a few new things including top water plugging, vertical jigging, kite fishing and possibly night time swordfishing while we are there. We'll probably go to the billfishing capital of the world and catch king mackerel! We are truly excited to experience this incredible fishing destination once again and even more excited to expose our fellow Traveling Fishermen to a fishing experience like no other. There are already plans in progress for the Traveling Fishermen in late 08' and 09' so next time don't miss out on an opportunity make an escape from the winter doldrums and head to warmer latitudes!

Here is an email report we received from George Whitaker who recently traveled to Panama and fished out of another operation near our Coral Star excursion.

"Thought I would let you guys know some friends and I just returned from 4 days fishing around Coiba and Montousa. Caught 7 black marlin from 250 to 500 lbs., plus 5 sails in the 130 lb. range, plus numerous dorado and cuberra snapper. We fished out of Panama Big Game Club, which is well run with great food and accomodations. Also, I wanted to add that numerous boats from a mother ship (don't know which one) also fished around Montuosa, with everyone hooked up with marlin or sailfish at one time or another. The bite was best early morning, up till about 11:30. Then dead for a couple of hours, followed by another bite. Bonita were plentiful, and ballyhoo showed up Wed. of last week. Capt. Lee Campbell of Panama Big Game Club reported that our catch of 7 blacks made their total through January 16th come to 27 blacks for the month. One party prior to our arrival on the 12th caught a 250 lb. yellowfin."

More reports to come. Stand by.


- Capt. Barrett McMullan
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"Team is Set" | Carolina Contender- 36 | 04/10/08
 

Thank you to everyone who expressed interest in joining our OIFC organized fishing excursion to the remote Hannibal Banks off the coast of Panama in Central America.  We have officially filled all available spots on this trip that is slated for mid February 2008.  I will continually post updates with trip details and upon our return from Panama will include a detailed report and pictures. For those who wanted to participate but couldn't due to schedule conflicts or other reasons, I'm sure another opportunity is already being formulated.  We are very encouraged to see the interest this program has brought forth from fishermen and we hope to offer even more exotic fishing adventures in the future.  Thank you again OIFC fishing friends for helping to get the Traveling Fisherman program up and running!

2008 Panama Traveling Fisherman Team

Robby Dial
Yorke Pharr
Tommy Lytton
Todd Schadd
Robert Hughes
Todd Helf
Brian Richard
Richard McCrae
Tony McCrae
Forest Taylor
Ray Boyd
Jared Boyd
Rube McMullan
Brant McMullan
Barrett McMullan


- Capt. Barrett McMullan
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"1 Spot Available" | Carolina Contender- 36 | 04/10/08
 

It's officially cold here on the Carolina coast which makes thinking about our excursion to the lower latitudes a lot easier.  In just a few short months the Ocean Isle Fishing Center's Traveling Fisherman program will be heading south to fish the fertile waters of the Hannibal Banks off the coast of Panama in Central America.  We'll be chasing a variety of billfish, hugh yellowfin tuna, groupers, snappers, roosterfish and much more.  We have a great team on this inaugural mission that are sure to bring back fish stories and experiences that will last a lifetime.  Currently we have 14 Traveling Fishermen on board.  There is 1 slot still left open for somebody who wants to join this exotic fishing adventure.  If you want to fill this position I encourage you to act quickly as this is the final spot available for the OIFC group's trip.  Contact me immediately if you have interest- captbarrett@oifishingcenter.com  The trip is scheduled for Feb. 8th, 2008 - Feb. 15th, 2008.  On the team so far:

Robby Dial
Larry Terrell
Yorke Pharr
Tommy Lytton
Todd Schadd
Robert Hughes
Todd Helf
Brian Richard
Richard McCrae
Richard's brother
Forest Taylor
Rube McMullan
Brant McMullan
Barrett McMullan


- Capt. Barrett McMullan
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"Forming Ranks" | Carolina Contender- 36 | 04/10/08
 

2 more Traveling Fisherman have joined the Panama excursion leaving a total of 8 slots remaining.  We need to fill these 8 slots as soon as possible in order to keep the trip an all "OIFC" excursion.  Traveling Fisherman #3 for the Panama trip is Tommy Lytton of Ocean Isle Beach.  Tommy has extensive experience billfishing in Central America especially Costa Rica.  Traveling Fisherman #4 is Rube McMullan.  Rube made this excursion about 10 years ago and couldn't pass up the opportunity to return to the fertile waters of the Hannibal Banks.  I can't stress it enough, if you're planning on joining this trip or need more information please contact me as soon as possible.  Thanks.
- Capt. Barrett McMullan
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"2 Slots Available" | OIFC 1- 36 | 04/10/08
 

Our October 1 deadline has come and gone and the Traveling Fisherman program at the OIFC is officially in full gear.  With only 2 slots remaining for the Panama excursion Coral Star Expeditions in concert with the OIFC has declared the trip a "go".  The trip is slated for February 8th, 2008 - February 15th, 2008.  Two final slots remain for anyone interested in jumping on board.  Currently the trip is composed of all "OIFC fishing friends" and it would be great to round out the last spots with 2 more.  For additional details or if you have any questions please don't hesitate to contact Capt. Barrett McMullan at captbarrett@oifishingcenter.com or 910-575-3474 ext. 4.  We have a high powered team already signed up for this inaugural Traveling Fisherman event so don't miss out on this great opportunity to experience some of the most amazing big game fishing in the world.  Stay tuned for further updates.  The Traveling Fisherman Panama team currently consists of:

Robby Dial
Yorke Pharr
Tommy Lytton
Rube McMullan
Larry Terrell
Robert Hughes
Todd Helf
Todd Schadd
Brian Richard
Forest Taylor
Brant McMullan
Barrett McMullan


- Capt. Barrett McMullan
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"Spots are Filling" | Carolina Contender- 36 | 04/10/08
 

We have our first traveling fishermen signed up for the Panama trip.  Traveling Fisherman #1 is York Pharr of the Pharr Fishing Team.  Traveling Fisherman #2 is Robbie Dial of the Force 5 fishing team both are Ocean Isle fishing pros and promise to do damage on the species abroad.  We now have 10 slots available.  I am getting many emails with questions and interest in the trip.  The next 10 deposits will reserve the final slots on the Panama Coral Star Expeditions fishing excursion.  Feel free to email or call with any questions. 


- Capt. Barrett McMullan
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"Details Are In Place" | Carolina Contender- 36 | 04/10/08
 

Alright guys, we have been working with the folks at the Coral Star operation in Panama to set up the final details for the 1st Annual OIFC Hannibal Bank Excursion.  The trip will commence with everyone from our group meeting in Panama on Friday February 8th, 2008.  We will stay the night in Panama City and then take a short in-country flight the next morning where we will meet the mothership and head for the fishing grounds.  The Coral Star folks have organized a package for us to include all accomodations, transportation, and customs from the time we touch down in Panama City and then again when we return from fishing and head back to Panama City.  The fishing expedition will include 4 full days of fishing and 2 half days.  We will be fishing the pristine waters surrounding the Hannibal Banks where we are likely to encounter a multitude of billfish, giant yellowfin tuna, huge grouper and snapper, roosterfish, wahoo and many others.  The last day of fishing is a half day on Thursday February 14th, 2008.  We will return to the marina that afternoon and by that night be back in Panama City.  The next morning, February 15th, 2008 we will fly back to the States. 

The costs associated with this trip are as follows:
*Coral Star Trip $4,500 per person- Includes 4 full days fishing, 2 half days fishing, (3 to a boat) accomodations during those days, meals, and boat food and beverages.
*Starlite Travel $435 per person-  Includes greeting at airport and customs arrangements, 2 nights in a local hotel in Panama City (1 on the front end of the trip and 1 on the back end), transporation to and from airports on both ends of the trip, and a roundtrip in-country flight from Panama City to David where we meet the mothership.
*WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED- Travel to Panama City, gratuity for the staff and crew aboard the Coral Star, and meals in Panama City. 

In order for this trip to be an OIFC exclusive trip, we must have our commitments in as soon as possible.  To reserve a slot we will be taking a deposit of $1,125 which is 25% of the trip amount of $4500.

I know it is hard to make plans for February 08 in August 07 but this is a trip of a lifetime and in order to keep the trip OIFC exclusive we must act promptly.  If you plan to make this trip or need additional information please contact me via email- captbarrett@oifishingcenter.com or phone 910-575-3474 ext.4.  Thanks.


- Capt. Barrett McMullan
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"Taking Reservations for Panama Trip" | Carolina Contender- 36 | 04/10/08
 

Greetings fishermen!  I wanted to remind those who might be interested in joining with fellow OIFC fishermen for the Panama trip that we are currently taking reservations.  We've had a lot of interest over the past month and spaces are filling.  We have 10-12 slots remaining so if you're planning on making this fishing excursion please don't wait to contact us.  I can be reached via email- captbarrett@oifishingcenter.com or by phone 910-575-3474 ext.4.  The trip details can be seen by clicking above on upcoming expeditions.  Below is a fishing report from this past winter's trips from the folks aboard the Coral Star in Panama.  Stay tuned for further updates.

So let’s talk fishing in Panama!!!  In fact, let’s just talk about fishing!!!  Where have you been?  What have been catching???  What is on “your catch list” that you have not caught yet???
 
I hope you and your family are well……..
 
Below are some recent highlights over the past few months of fishing in Panama.  Check it out!!!  Are you up for it, or are you going to “miss the boat”???  DON’T DO THAT!!!!
 
 
February 10-15 gave us a double hook-up on Black Marlin, one scrappy high flying 350 pounder and one nice fat 500 pounder, also this week would land over 40 big Pacific Sailfish, among other things!! 
 
February 24-March 1 brought in an amazing 1,000 pound Black Marlin, along with another well rounded 800 pounder.  Oh Yeah, among other things!!
 
Overall, in the last two months, over 24 Black Marlin have been landed, along with 2 Blue Marlin and 2 Striped Marlin.  132 Pacific Sailfish and at least that many more teased up, largest Yellowfin weighed in at 270 pounds and the Dorado numbered well over 103, largest bull weighed over 60 pounds.  Roosterfish are strong with over 52 landed, largest weighing in at 78 pounds and Wahoo, which typically prefer overcast skies, are still producing good numbers under clear, sunny skies!  22 nice Wahoo have been landed in February and March, largest 35 pounds.  Cubera “Dog-toothed” Snapper have been outstanding, over 190 have been landed, the largest weighing in at a whopping 70 pounds!  Amberjacks, Blue Jacks, Mullet Snappers, Groupers (one nice 178 pound), Pargo, Bull and White Tip Sharks, Barracudas, Pacific Black Snook and many other species numbering 170 plus…….landed!
FYI – La Nina is upon us…….so no matter where you go fishing next year????  You will not JUST BE FISHING…..YOU WILL BE CATCHING!!!!

- Capt. Barrett McMullan
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"My Panama Experience" | Carolina Contender- 36 | 04/10/08
 

Capt. Barrett McMullan-
I can testify that the fishing adventure I took to Panama with the crew of the Coral Star was without a doubt a truly unique and unforgettable experience.  If I had to describe the fishery to someone who has never been to the Hannibal Banks and the nearby islands in one word I would say 'unimaginable'.  I have been on this trip once back in the mid 1990's with my father Rube, and though I probably can't do the description justice in words I'll try to convey my experience the best I can.

Our adventure started in Atlanta where we hopped a plane to Miami.  From Miami the next stop was Panama City, Panama in Central America.  We arrived in Panama City early afternoon and did some quick sightseeing and experienced the local cuisine that evening before crashing that night at a nice hotel in the heart of the city.  The next morning we were guided by a travel agent to the airport where we took a short flight from Panama City to a small coastal town called David pronounced Daveed.  At David we were greeted by representatives of the Coral Star and we packed our luggage into their vehicles and headed down to the docks where we met the boat.  At the docks we transferred our gear onto to the 28' sportfish boat and headed off to meet the mothership the Coral Star.  My geography and memory is a little hazy at this point, but I believe we ran down an inland river for a while before getting to open water where we intercepted the Coral Star.  I believe the itenerary has changed a bit now, but back then once on the Coral Star while we got aquainted with the boat and unpacked, the mothership was already making ground towards the fishing grounds.  It was a 6 day trip and it was obvious the crew was ready to make sure we got the most out of every minute.  We had incredible meals every night that consisted of the catch that day or if you preferred more turf than surf that was also available.  Anyway, after a night where excitement blocked any hope of sleep we stepped out of our individual cabins to the outside deck to find we had traveled through the night and were now anchored about 2 miles from a mountainous island in the middle of the ocean.  Finally, it was time to go fishing.  Back then the Coral Star operation and recreation sport fishing the Hannibal Banks was still in the early stages of discovery.  We had fished Costa Rica many times and had great days on sailfish, but we had no clue what we were about to find.  The mountainous island provided a lee where the mothership was anchored in calm water.  From there we boarded one of the sportfishing boats and traveled about 6 miles offshore until we reached the Hannibal Banks.  It felt like we had arrived to a place on Earth where man had never been.  In broken English the Captain descibed the method of fishing we would be employing and the mate quickly tossed over two small bucktail rigs on 20lb tackle while we trolled the area.  We were working the Hannibal Bank area which is basically a serious of mountains and a plateau that rises from the extremely deep waters of the Pacific to about 300 feet beneath surface.  About 5 minutes after putting the lines in both rods with three bucktail rigs on each bent over and line starts screaming off the reel.  Dad and I are chomping at the bit at this point and quickly take action thinking 'man that was quick'!  After short battles on both sides of the boat we're thinking 'ok not a bad way to start off the day two double header bonitas on each rod in the 8-10lb range for a total of 4 bonitas'.  Just as we expect the mate to release the bonitas we see him and the Captain quickly scurry around the deck and say 'now we're ready'.  They expertly rigged two of the bonitas on bridle rigs and deployed them in seconds so they were good and lively.  Holy smokes, we are about to use these things as bait.  That's when the nerves set in.  It wasn't 15 minutes later when both baits started shaking the rods violently.  The Captain says, 'get ready'.  At that time two 120lb sailfish simultaneously engulf the monster baits and take off in opposite directions.  That was just the beginning of our incredible fishing expedition to Panama.  During the week we trolled huge live bonitas over the bank and had some of the most extraordinary sportfishing action imaginable.  We never trolled more than 30 minutes without action.  During a 3 1/2 day span of fishing the bank I caught and released a blue marlin about 350lbs, a black marlin about 250lbs, a striped marlin about 150lbs, countless sailfish in the 80 to 140lb range.  For the dinner table we also caught two enormous yellowfin tuna between 180 and 220lbs.  My dad also caught numerous sailfish, mahi, and a couple marlin.  The top water fishing was off the charts, but maybe the most impressive thing I saw was when the Captain became frustrated after trolling the live bonitas for about 30 minutes without a bite.  He tried to piece together some directions for me but just ended up putting the fighting harness on me and handed me the rod.  I noticed the mate positioning himself behind me with a two handed grip on my belt.  I didn't understand what we were doing at the time, but the boat was in neutral and was told to freespool the reel.  After about 45 seconds the Captain and mate in unison said 'ok go'! as the mate threw the Penn International into gear.  At that point I was nearly pulled out of my shoes as the rod doubled and I lunged forward and caught myself on the gunnel with my chin.  After a 10 minute all out war of up and down battling, from the depth rose the biggest snapper I had ever seen.  It was called a dog snapper and had to weigh over 60lbs.  After witnessing my ordeal my dad had to get a piece of the action and he busted another snapper of a different species about 45lbs.  So that was their version of bailing out when the top water action wasn't  fast and furious.  Very impressive!  One morning we opted to spend the first half of the day trying out the inshore fishery around the island near where we had anchored the Coral Star.  In that half day of trolling top water plugs within a 100 yards of shore we caught huge snapper, grouper in the 20-40lb range, several roosterfish between 25 and 45lbs, mackerel, and some kind of jack.  In the evenings we would return to the Coral Star and tell fish stories on the upper deck where drinks and snacks were served.  From the upper deck we watched the sun sink down while you could actually see sailfish busting bait and tailwalking off in the distance.  While this fishing report sounds like we hit the jackpot on our trip, we were assured by the crew that we had just an average catch.  From a pure fishing perspective the Panama trip aboard the Coral Star is at the top of my list. 


- Capt. Barrett McMullan
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"More pics" | OIFC World Cat / Carolina Cat | 04/10/08
 

So far I have been posting pictures from the Panama trip that I had taken with my camera and also pictures from Yorke Pharr's camera.  I just got in a whole new set with pictures from Brian Richard. Brian fished with Todd Helf and Robert Hughes all week and had a variety of catches.  I'll continue to post pictures as I receive them.
- Capt. Rickey Beck
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