2016 Panama Yellowfin Tuna Trip

Last fall my old college room mate and spearfishing buddy Chris asked me if I would be interested in joining him on a trip to tuna to try and spear some yellowfin tuna. This was something we had been talking about for years so it was an invite I could not pass up. The dates were tough because I was set to return from a month long assignment in Alaska the day before our Panama flight. We were able to pull it off and as the last of our gear came off the carousel in the small Panamanian airport it sank in that we were really doing this. After a long ride down bumpy dirt roads through villages and pastoral scenery we arrived at the lodge and met the rest of the guys we would be sharing the seas with for the next few days. That night we drank rum listening to the howler monkeys as we told spearfishing stories and double checkout our gear, too excited to sleep. Before dawn we began the two hour journey to the tuna grounds and once there immediately got to work. Over the next few days we saw plenty of tuna and learned a lot about them and their behavior. The first time you see one swim by is hard to forget, with those giant yellow sickles coming off their sleek and starkly colored bodies they are incredible animals. We each had multiple buoys attached to our spears and once a tuna was shot all hell would break loose. The force they are able to exert and the speed they can tow those floats makes you appreciate how dangerous they could be. It was always a team effort fighting them to the surface and we would dive down and shoot each others fish to further secure them and then hauled them up to the boat. The tuna would often be following giant pods of spinner dolphins and their acrobatics provided constant entertainment and watching them swim by with a wall of tuna below them was stunning. It is difficult to articulate the feeling of being sixty feet below the surface and seeing dolphins above, below and to your left and right almost as far as you can see. Every night we ate like kings and had tuna every way I could think to prepare it. When it was time to pack up and bid farewell to our new friends it was a strange mixture of emotions, we were sun burned and exhausted but did not want to leave this magical place. The whole ride back to the airport we were planning our return.  I brought home about 50lbs of tuna and every time I make some poke or sear some of the steaks I day dream of Panama and know it won't be long before I slide back into those waters, speargun in hand in search of fresh ahi.