With the engine roaring, the Parranda is heading back north towards Panama after four days of fishing near Piñas Bay. My skin is sun-burned, lips chapped, and my heart is completely full. The fishing has been nothing shy of incredible; in four days of fishing, we caught 44 sailfish, four blue marlins, one black marlin, five mahi mahi, and one tuna.
1 mahi mahi
1 blue marlin
1 black marlin
1 mahi mahi
2 blue marlins
1 mahi mahi
1 blue marlin
2 mahi mahi
Let me admit something first – I’m no angler. However, I luckily was able to fish with some of the best out there, the WildLIfers Crew: Dan and Stephanie Braman, Captain Andy Flood, Johan Pete, and Co Co. Each person has been so patient with me. I started out on, what I would imagine, the kindergarten level of offshore fishing, but I was eager to learn and improve throughout the week. Now, I’m clearly not a graduate of the course, but I will say, I’ve learned a lot and certainly improved over the last few days. Also, I’ve learned that I’m poorly out of shape – these fish are incredibly powerful, and at times, I felt for certain I was going overboard. So, before I board the Parranda again, I will be sure to enroll in Sportfishing Fit first. . . no, there is no workout built specifically for Sportfishing, but there should be!
My Role Model
Through all of my experiences, certain ones stand out over others. Watching Stephanie fish is truly remarkable. She’s strong and incredibly knowledgeable. In 18 days of deep sea fishing this season, Stephanie has caught 138 marlin total – no, that is not a typo. She has caught one hundred and thirty-eight marlin in roughly eighteen days. I’m not afraid to say that Stephanie is probably one of the best – if not the best – anglers in the Pacific Ocean. Stephanie is so humble, and she will probably kill me for bragging on her, but she deserves credit. She’s also an incredible teacher; patient, kind, honest, understanding, and a little tough-love mixed in, Stephanie certainly makes me feel capable. Sure, she could easily get frustrated, but instead, she encourages me through her teaching moments. I think that’s a special quality, indeed.
Luckily, I was able to double with Stephanie multiple times. A few times with sailfish, but I think she would agree, the one that sticks out the most was when we doubled on two mahi mahi – a male and female. Stephanie and I definitely had to do some dancing on the boat because they crossed over a time or two, and let me tell you, those jokers fight hard. My arms honestly hurt to type – embarrassing but true.
Paradise Found – Pinas Bay
From an epic teacher to an epic place, another experience that stands out for me is the beauty of Piñas Bay, which means Pineapple Bay. On September 10, we spent the first part of the morning rooster fishing around the coast, and I swear to everything I thought I was on set of Jurassic Park. The mountains are huge with luscious, green trees, hidden caves, pristine beaches and incredible waterfalls. It’s beautiful, and most of the parts are completely uninhabited. At one point, a group of pelicans flew by, and for a brief moment, I wondered if they could potentially be pterodactyls. While the fishing was somewhat slow, the views were truly magnificent.
While sitting on the rail of the boat, dangling my feet overboard, and looking up at all the mountains’ grandeur, I couldn’t help but feel so incredibly small. All of life’s problems, worries, and heartaches, slowly eased to the back of my mind, and in that moment, I found nothing but pure gratitude for existing – to experience beauty like that is life-changing. I wish I could explain it in words; I wish I could hand you a picture that perfectly depicted what my eyes had the opportunity to see. But unfortunately, I can’t do it justice. A picture can’t do it justice. A video can’t do it justice. One must simply be surrounded by all its beauty to truly understand it and appreciate it.
Another experience that stands out is a unique one – it’s certainly a contrast to the beautiful depiction I shared above. The same day we experienced paradise while rooster fishing, we then ventured over to Piñas Village to visit with some of the indigenous people who visited our boat on a regular basis while docked at Piñas Bay. While I wasn’t able to communicate well with them, I did share many smiles and laughs aboard the Parranda with our friends. The people are so kind, and they have a beautiful spirit about themselves. They seem to radiate happiness. From old to young, they all are remarkably happy and seem to be unaffected by their lack of fortunes – and by lack of fortunes, I mean what most people would consider a necessity.
Upon walking up to the village, I was somewhat aghast at the living conditions. Most of their homes were merely made of cinderblocks and where a door or window should be was just open. I felt like an intruder even though I was standing outside looking in, but nonetheless, the people smiled, waved, and said, “hola!” When walking through the streets – mostly dirt paths – we met Children wearing shoes that seemed to be six sizes too big. Most didn’t even wear clothes. Animals live peacefully together; dogs, cats, chickens, and even pet parrots co-exist within the village – not one single fight, snarl, hiss, or bark was heard while we were there.
ñAlso, the village has a zero-crime rate, which is likely due to the fact that they only have the bare necessities, and sometimes, I wonder if they even have those things. In saying this, I hope I’m not coming across harshly; I sincerely admire the people of Piñas Village, especially for their good spirits and kindness. But they do, indeed, live in extreme poverty. Walking through the village was certainly a humbling experience, and I will think twice before complaining again in the future. I know I take too much for granted, so this experience, while perhaps not beautiful compared to other portions of the coast, was one that I will learn the most from, even when I look back years down the road.
This trip is one that I will never forget. I’ve learned so much and seen so much over the past eight days, and I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything. Once I return back to the states, my first purchase will be aloe vera.
Thank you to Dan and Stephanie Braman for a trip of a lifetime.
Photography Credit : Dan Braman and Sydney Broadaway
Hey y'all! I'm Sydney Broadaway, and I hope you choose to follow along in my outdoors journey. The most important thing you could know about me is my love for God. He has given me the skills to pursue my passion of being a conservationist and hunter. If anything, I hope I can inspire others to grow closer to God and to the outdoors.