Testimonials

March 14, 2014

"We had a great trip. The island and the structures are breathtaking. Housing, for me, was exotic since we were in a cabin in a jungle setting. We had air conditioning and a comfortable bed - I did not expect the Ritz Carlton. There was no need for hot water since we arrived from fishing all day, we fished until 7 PM, we were so hot that the cold water was refreshing. The only noise at night was the sound of the air conditioner and one of my buddies snoring.

The food was excellent, breakfast was a meal of itself and for dinner we would be asked what we wanted that night. Usually we wanted fresh fish caught by us. I have lactose intolerance and they made everything for me dairy free and the dessert were made especially for me. The accommodation were not Ritz Carlton but the food was. Fishing inshore was excellent. Catching multiple variety of fish. We were 4 fisherman and each of us caught a trophy fish, blue marlin of about 600 lbs, cubera snapper of about 50 lbs, amberjack of about 45 pounds and a roosterfish of about 65 lbs.

Every day Captain Tom would ask us what we wanted to fish for and was very accommodating. His knowledge of the area was supreme, it showed his over 20 yrs. of fishing that area. He was in no hurry to end the day. We would return, everyday, at 7 PM. We sure got our hours of fishing and our money worth. The mates were top notch particularly Juan, the 1st mate. He is very knowledgeable and interacts with the fisherman and is eager to teach. Kevin is a young mate that is a fast learner and eager to learn and teach. They make a wonderful duo of mates, complementing each other.

I highly recommend this panama sport fishing trip without any reservations."

~ Jorge Garcia, Iowa

January 18 - 20, 2014

Four Anglers and Three Days of Fishing

We ended up with approximately 73 fish made up of 18 different species.

Roosterfish, African, Pompano, Jack Crevalle, Sierra, Rainbow Runner, Mangrove Snapper, Houndfish, Almaco Jack, Frigate Mackerel (Bonito), Mahi-Mahi (Dorado), Barr Snapper, White tip Shark, Trigger Fish, Blue Runner (Green Jack), Great Barracuda, Bluefin Trevally, Yellowfin Tuna, Oriental Bonito

I will say that our group has been fishing together for years and this was the best fishing we have experienced to date. The diversity of species, amazing location and the knowledge and work ethic of the Captain and mate made this a trip we will not soon forget. Additionally the staff was top notch, the food was five star and the unspoiled environment made this a true fishing experience.

~ Jay (Ontario, Canada)

Rob Hammer Miami, Florida July 2013

I don't do many "attaboy" reports after a fishing trip as most trips are set up to merely take the customer's money and "get em off the boat". That was not the case here. I did my homework and found an outfit that specializes in trips off the coast of Panama "Coiba Adventure Sportfishing". I had my concerns as to "safety" but again, after doing research found that Panama is a very safe place. I sent an email inquiry and immediately had a response from "Jessica". She called me and we spoke about the details for probably a half hour. Since I was in charge of setting up the trip for a group of anglers, I didn't want any surprises to fall in my lap. She gave us a few choices and we came up with the one that we liked. Fast forward. We were greeted at the airport by an english speaking agent that took us to our hotel for the same price as a taxi and it was a shuttle bus with a/c. The taxi's are tiny.

The next morning we were down in the lobby at 5:30 am where once again we were greeted by the same pleasant lady. She took us to another airport where we boarded an 8 seat, twin engine airplane. We flew an hour over Panama and landed at a prison runway on the island of Coiba. The police there were pleasant and while they didn't speak much english, they were anxious to help us with our bags and show us the infamous prison. The other police officers helped with loading our luggage onto Capt. Tom's 31' Bertram.

10 minutes later the mate deployed some live bait around some rocks and the rods were bent over with rooster fish, jack crevalle, african pompano and horse eyed jacks. We motored around the South side of the island and were greeted by breaching whales... lots of them. We trolled some lures and caught a pair of wahoo. The scenery was breath taking. It looks like Fantasy Island with it's steep cliffs and secluded beaches. After catch a bunch of fish, the Capt ran to where we would be staying. We literally stayed 40' from the water. We were greeted with hor' deurves and the drinks of our choice. The cook was not a cook, he was a chef. For dinner, he made us fresh fish with a mango chutney sauce to die for. The rooms were clean and air conditioned via a generator. There is no hot water but the water they use comes off a mountain so it is clean and cool and refreshing. There is a "pet" crocodile that the rangers feed daily. While they don't get too close, they know that he likes eating fish scraps. We set up a Go Pro next to a fish head and the monster came and ate the head in one giant bite.

I could go on and on about the fishing but unless you are there, words just can't describe it. We caught cubera snapper up to 50 lbs. Rooster fish to 60 lbs and yellowfin tuna up to 200 lbs. I've done a lot of exotic trips but there wasn't one thing on this trip that I thought was over sold or under provided. I'd go again tomorrow! The captain fished as hard as we the customers wanted to. The mate never stopped working. He was on the boat catching live bait before daylight and never left the boat until long after sunset. Without question the best mate that I've ever had.

What would I change about the trip? That's easy, I'd stay longer. We only fished 4 days and it was gone in the blink of an eye.
BTW, I wrote a full report including pictures that was on the Florida Sportsmans website

Rayno Zlatarov - Bulgaria - November 2010

"Already shown the pictures /about 1000 pcs./ to the relatives.
It was a nice trip with Tom. There was really a lot of fish - many species, many pcs. of each, Tom is great - we had a lot of fun.
The nature was really amazing , shore-line, waterfalls, caves and most important thing - NO PEOPLE , NO HOTELS, NO CARS, just silence, and some sounds by birds and the ocean....great...I would be glad to come again."

Wray and Jennifer Wagner - Galveston,TX - August 2010

"My husband is the great researcher when it comes to excursions and he outdid himself this time, with a lot of help from Jessica. We knew we were getting on a big boat, going to an island, and hoping to catch big fish. The ride there is uneventful as you leave from a not so pretty river, however the banks are gorgeous and the weather was a little overcast so I must say there was a bit of trepidation. There was enough food loaded on for a much bigger group than the four of us, so I began to see a party forming. They had a little bit of everything so rest assure you are not going to starve. My husband made sure they knew that he is a serious fisherman and equally serious beer drinker, this man has never seen a wave that would make him sick. There was plenty of provisions for libations. As we neared Coiba, pronounced Qwiba, I couldn’t help but notice the amazing scenery and spectacular water. We taxied to the dock to unload just a few things and went in search of live bait. As people who have only been on boats where the captains preferred lures this was a thrill. Not 15 minutes into this my husband caught his first rooster, this fish has eluded him for years – we were ecstatic. Not 20 minutes after this celebration my husband was pulling in bait that weighed way too much for bait. He caught another rooster trying to eat the bait, this one Captain Tom assured us was trophy size of 65lbs. Needless to say we could’ve ended the trip right there, but there was still too much to see. Captain Tom and his mate were constantly working at making us happy, whatever that needed to be at the time. An easy camaraderie soon developed and friendships have been made. Captain Tom is definitely fulfilling his life’s work, if we were all so lucky. The accommodations on the island are very homey, thanks to Jessica and Tom’s personal touch. It is very Robinson Crusoe, as it should be. We ate the fish we caught each night which made the meals even more special, the drinks were swiftly poured as we were all exhausted. Slumber came quick and easy, thanks to the ocean waves mere feet away. Day two promised barracuda, black marlin, shark, whale, porpoise, dorado, manta ray, wahoo, cabrerra, and a host of bait. Happy hour was truly delirious, what a glorious day. My husband could only talk about going back in January with the fellas and which couple did I think could do this again with us, we were sold. As a woman I dearly loved this boat as I could hang out on the front and watch for ocean life while sunning, climb up to the tip top and pretend I was surfing while under cover, hang with serious fishing in the back, or nap on the cozy “beds” just underneath, plenty of air flow (which Captain Tom made sure of). My husband loved the boat because I did, it takes so little to make them happy. I was actually sad on the trip back to that dirty little river knowing I wouldn’t see this creation for some time. The whales must have known because they gave me quite a show. Captain Tom is now an unofficial member of the family and we can’t wait for our return. Thanks for the memories!"

Mickey Goldfine - Connecticut - August 2013

"I have fished in many places but nothing like this. The Capt always put us on fish. That is his job...he can't make them bite
but Captain Tom always found the action. We also caught Roosterfish, Black Tip Shark, Blue Trevally, Wahoo and more.
The scenery was incredible and Humpback Whales were frequently breaching (like the Pacific Life commercials). If we wanted
a break we went snorkeling. One day at about 5:30 I told the Captain we have to go back....I just can't reel in another fish!
Amazing fishing, amazing Captain and crew."

Morten Svendsen - UK - June 2009

"We had great action on Roosterfish and caught a total of 7 roosters, one on fly rod plus lots of snappers, jacks, sharks and trevally – all mostly on light tackle spinning gear and fly rod. I have fished for Roosters before, but NEVER in a place like this where they would charge popper flies and surface lures without hesitation –simply amazing. I caught my first Rooster on fly rod and it wasn’t even teased up or anything like you need to do other places like Baja or Costa Rica, no I just caught it blind casting towards rocks. We also caught many bonito and skipjacks on fly rod and spinning plus one juvenile Yellowfin tuna on a Rapala. Again thanks to You, Giovanni and Tom we had a great and very unforgettable trip."

The Island - March 20009 Reboot Testimonial PDF

Isla Coiba Offshore Report - Panama February 1st-9th, 2008

Report by Gabe Goodman/Scott Nelson

The idea of fishing The Hannibal Bank came as a result of monthly “dream trip” emails that I usually send out trying to convince friends to plan a trip to various global fishing locations. I sent Cole an email proposing such a trip and to my surprise, he said he was in. That was a tough sell, this might be easier than I thought. Apparently the thoughts of #500 Black Marlin feasting on acres of tuna was too tempting to pass up. So, we made a short list of who we should invite on such an adventure. Right off the bat we get confirmations from Scott and YT….and Team Coiba was established. After almost a year of waiting, our trip to “Jurassic Park” was upon us. YT, Scott, and myself, flew out of Corpus with plans to meet Cole in Houston, before the second leg of our trip to Panama City. After getting settled in our hotel, we hit up an Argentine Steakhouse before making our way to the casino that adjoined our hotel. With profits made by all parties involved, we hit the sack in anticipation of our trip to Coiba in the morning.

The events leading up to takeoff made it an interesting hour flight to the offshore islands. Shoeless airline workers, mechanics drinking on the job, and a pilot that could not have been out of high school added to the anticipation. As we came in for landing we were awed by the natural beauty of this place. With the exception of a few concrete prison cells and an uphill grass landing strip, the island is the same as it was when God created it.

As we disembarked our plane, Capt. Tom and a couple prisoners met us to help carry our luggage down the airstrip to the freshly renovated 31’ Bertram. The 20 minute boat ride around the other side of the island was as idyllic a landscape as I have ever seen, things were perfect….until the boat came to a shuddering halt. We were suddenly all in a panic with thoughts of our trip ending before it had a chance to begin. Did one of the coral heads stick up higher than the rest? Did we wrap a floating rope in the props? Capt. Tom jumped in and discovered we sheared one of the blades off one of the props. No biggie, he had a spare at the camp.

While mates Giovanni and Burro changed the prop, we spent the day freediving the waters within a mile of camp. One couldn’t believe the amount of life right off our cove. We dove one particular point where the bottom dropped from 6’ to about 30’ very sharply. On our first dive we found an immense variety of fish, including Blue Fin Trevallys, Horse Eye Jacks, #40 Cubera Snappers prowling the outcroppings, White Tip Reef Sharks searching for prey, Parrotfish, Eels, and even had a Spotted Eagle Ray glide by. This place really is the “Lost World”.

With darkness approaching, we swam back to shore completely engulfed in what we just witnessed 200 yards from the beach. Before we had a chance to sit down, we were greeted with Calamari, Octopus, ceviche and ice cold beverages. After a dinner you would expect to find at a 5 Star restaurant and a couple Panamanian beers, we hit the sack in anticipation of the upcoming adventure.

Day 1 - 5:30am and we were up eating breakfast as the mates loaded the boat. The bank is only 10 miles offshore, but since we are on the leeward side of the island, we had to make the 1 ½ hr run to the bank each morning. As soon as we reached our destination we found acres of bonita, Yellow-Fin Tuna, and Porpoise chasing bait. At 8:00am we dropped our squid chains to catch some live bonito for bait and within seconds, we had all 4 bait rods get slammed, 2-3 bonito on each rod. With the plentiful supply, we drop back 3 live baits and place the rest into the tuna tubes.

8:20am- One of the surface baits gets slammed, and since we are fishing circle hooks, we let it eat for a while. As soon as I came tight on the drag, the fish began to tear off the #80 mono. After a 20 minute standup battle and 2 burning calfs, we had our first fish in the boat, a #125 Yellowfin Tuna. What a great way to start the day, we had been fishing less than half an hour and we already had a bruiser YFT on the deck.


Baits back out and 30 minutes go by before another livey gets drilled, this time Scott is on the rod. A quick 5 minute fight and Scott has a #35 YFT subdued and boatside- we quickly established the size of the fish and decided to try and bridle it up live on the Tiagra 80 in hopes of a grander Black. Well, after several tries to bridle it in the water, the hook pulls and the fish gains its freedom.


Another 20 minutes goes by and something takes the deep bait- heavy and fast! Then the starboard rigger bait gets slammed….30 yards off the side of the boat a Big black comes thrashing to the surface. In its hunger, it had taken 2 baits and was now greyhounding across the surface ripping heavy drag off an 80W and 50VSW as if they were a pair of Barbie and Snoopy reels. Cole jumped on the 80W while YT grabbed the 50W. This fish put on an aerial display unlike any marlin I have ever seen, trying valiantly to free itself from the 20/0 circle hooks lodged in its jaw. With the line quickly decreasing from the reels, Captain Tom jams the throttles in reverse and we start backing down on her. After a good 20 minute fight, we get her within wiring range where she puts on another aerial clinic, almost coming in the boat as Giovanni hangs on to the leader while Cole and YT get a great release on an estimated #500+ Black Marlin. High Fives all around, check the clock- 10:20am, we have been fishing a little over 2 hours and already have two nice YellowFin and a Trophy Black.

After taking a beating all morning, we take some time to eat lunch and scour the horizon for activity. Around noon we run out of live bait and put out a spread to see if we can pick anything up. A few minutes after lines in and YT comes tight on a #30 Dorado, which earned itself a date with our Peruvian chef back on the island.

A couple more missed shots and we are out of live bait…so on the Captains suggestion, we put out a couple of skipbaits and continue to comb the high spots on the bank. 2:45- The short rigger pops and there is a hole where the bonito used to be….freespool!.....10sec….15sec…..I ease the drag up and we are tight on a heavy fish. Immediately the marlin goes airborn and the fight is on. Luckily we were set up for the chair on this fish and after a solid 30 minute battle, we have a #400 Blue Marlin boatside ready for the release. More high fives and we find ourselves in the middle of an epic day. Cole starts talking about trolling some belly baits or lures to try and secure a Grand Slam, but in our Marlin Mania, we decide to keep after the Marlin. In hindsight, had we know how many sails were in the area, there is good evidence that we would have most likely been able to attain the Slam had we tried. The day would conclude with a couple more missed strikes and quick freedive before dinner.


Day 2 - started off pretty similar to Day 1, tons of bait and tons of fish. With the tuna tubes full of liveys, we began our week long mission- “Troll live baits all day, every day”. With YT, Cole, and myself all catching marlin the day before, it was Scotts turn to get his black. 8:50am and the downrigger gets a solid hit. Scott gets in the chair but knows immediately it is not the bill we are looking for. To our surprise, it turned out to be a #35 Cubera Snapper that was promptly released. Twenty minutes later and Scott connects, this time with a #20 dorado that was also released….then a #20 Mullet Snapper. We couldn’t keep baits out, they were getting demolished by a myriad of different species. Around 11:45 a bait gets smacked a couple of times and we see a dorado from the bridge. He finally managed to find the hook and I swiftly land a #20 mahi. Scott finishes the day off with a nice #50 AJ before heading back to the cove. More of the same come dinner time- Fried Mahi appetizers, USDA Steaks, Calamari, Tuna sashimi and potatoes.

Day 3 - That action picked up where we left if off. Just as baits were in the water, Cole connects with a #25 Cubera Snapper. As the mates bring the Cubera into the boat in preparation for Cigautera Soup, I hook up and release a #15 Mullet Snapper. At 8:30 Scott picks off a #10 Dorado that was quickly released. After the last dorado came in, we decided to rig up a belly bait to have standby on my spinner. Well, a little more than an hour later a nice mahi makes its way into the spread. Cole tossed him a belly and after an aerobatic fight, we were about to release another #30 dorado. Twenty minutes doesn’t go by before Scott nails a heavy #50 Cubera Snapper.

10:45- After a couple of missed strikes, YT connects with a slightly heavier fish on a 50W. Within minutes we have a #120 Pacific Sail dancing behind the boat. YT was able to get the beautifully lit up sail to the boat in just a few minutes. After a couple quick pics, she was released to go terrorize more marlin baits.

Fifteen minutes later, I manage to toss a strip bait in front of a hungry #15 Mahi.

Within minutes of my dorado release Scott hooks up to another estimated #120 Sail and brought her to the boat in short order.

Just before we head in, we decide to drop some jigs to see what lurks below. Within seconds, Cole is hooked up to a #35 AJ while I bring in a #15 Mullet Snapper. Back to the cove for more diving, eating, eating, and eating.


As told by Scott Nelson

Day 4 - Up again early to hit the Bank, with howler monkeys screaming in the distance. Captain Tom asked us if we wanted to try for roosterfish or something else, but we wanted to stick with the Marlin plan. A little before 9:00, two outrigger bonita go off, resulting in 20# mullet snapper caught by Gabe and I. About 30 minutes later, Gabe lands a 15-20# dolphin on a Panama Strip bait with his new spinning rod, expertly built by Oz.

At noon, one of the surface baits gets blasted, so I hop in the chair. After 20 minutes of a very heavy fish staying deep, we wonder if it’s a marlin or a big yellowfin. Finally, the fish greyhounds to the surface–a solid 350# Black Marlin. After a few more minutes, I bring the fish to the boat, where Giovanni leaders her up for release.

The hot afternoon slows the bite down, with only a 20# dolphin in 4 hours. About 4:45, a big bonita gets blasted. We look up and see a big Black Marlin greyhounding 300 yards off the stern. Cole jumps into the chair and endures a 45 minute fight. Giovanni grabs the leader ensuring the release, however, the big black stays deep, finally cutting the leader with vicious swipes of its bill. Although we never got a close look at her on the surface, we estimate her to be well over 500#--probably even 600#. Back to the island and beers all around.

Day 5 - We get out to the Bank about 9:00, seeing several free jumping marlin and sails. One marlin free jumped over a dozen times, which Captain Tom said was really rare (usually black marlin only jump once, while sails jump like crackheads). At 9:15, a sailfish ate Gabe’s bonita off the bait rods at the back of the boat, so he put another one out and promptly brings in another 120# sailfish.

A few minutes later, Cole catches a 25-30# cubera which had snagged the downrigger bonita. At 11:00, Gabe hooks up yet again with another solid 100-120# Pacific sailfish, which did some amazing acrobatics.

As the day progresses, we see more sailfish jumping all around us. Had we downsized our baits or used more strip baits, we could have caught them all day, but we decided to stick with the Marlin plan. No marlin showed, so we headed back to the island.

On the way in, we passed a nice beach on the island, so Captain Tom gave us a history lesson. Several years ago, 5 prisoners from the same gang escaped their cells and were living on the island before trying to escape to the mainland. The guards were unable to recapture them, so they released a bunch of prisoners from a rival prison gang and told them to track them down. Long story short, they found the 5 prisoners, chopped their heads off, and put them on stakes on the beach.

Day 6- We had heard reports of a good marlin bite at Montuosa Island, about an hour and a half from Coiba, so we decided to skip Hannibal Bank. As we arrive, we see several boats, including the Go Fisch and her mothership. The Go Fisch and her crew are featured on a great fishing show-Offshore Adventures-- on ESPN 2. Essentially they cruise around the world on a primo yacht and mothership catching monster fish. Tough life.

As the day progresses, we see several boats hooked up with Black Marlin and sailfish. We also see lots of sea snakes on the surface.

About 1:00, one of the big bonita on an outrigger gets absolutely blasted, leaving a massive hole in the water. Gabe hops in the chair, but the fish keeps taking line and taking line. Big fish. After 30 minutes or so of back and forth struggle, the line stops moving and there is dead weight at the bottom (only 120 feet of water). We think that the big Black Marlin got tailwrapped and died at the bottom. We bring some line end hand over hand, but eventually the hook pulls. It is possible that the fish got wrapped up in some bottom structure, but the bottom was flat. Who knows, but one thing is clear, it was a huge fish.

About 3:15, we hook up on a solid fish. YT jumps on it and quickly brings in a 50# Amberjack. Although not the marlin we were hoping for, nevertheless a good fish.

About 5:30, we decide to bottom fish before going in. Cole quickly catches a 35# Cubera on a Grouper jig. Gabe and I then catch a couple mullet snapper before heading in.

The next day, we fly out to Panama City. One of the prisoners said he was being released that week after 10 years on the island. That night it’s back to the casino tables. One of our group (who wishes to remain unnamed) was up $1600 at the tables, before Lady Luck turned. Glad he bought us sushi while still having some cash.

Altogether an incredible trip to a pristine environment. Captain Tom Yust and his crew are top notch in every way. Thanks guys for putting such an incredible trip together.

Fishing in Panama

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