Some Beginner’s Advice on Saltwater Fishing
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Author’s note: Originally published over at TheMonocular.com

Despite growing up in eastern Canada only two hours from the Atlantic coast, I made it to the grand old age of 50 before going saltwater fishing. Even more unusual is that my first ever saltwater fishing trip began in Arizona and took place in the pacific waters of Panama. I thought there may be some benefit on posting my observations, as a rookie, in case other fishermen and women were ready to make the leap to saltwater.

This trip was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity, made possible when a dear friend invited me along to what is an annual excursion for him. The price was right, my family was supportive so away I went. This trip was a full five days of fishing multiple species both inshore and offshore, with Pesca Panama – an amazing outfit.

Scale

It kind of goes without saying, but my first big observation was scale. I had grown up fishing brook trout and smallmouth bass and yellow perch, etc., and I had caught a ton. That being said, I don’t think I’d ever caught anything over five or six pounds. In Panama, other than baitfish, I don’t think I caught anything under 25 pounds. Ocean fish are big. The first fish I boated was a 120-pound tuna caught on a spinning reel. Before I was done, I would also boat a tuna estimated to weigh 275 pounds. Next, the ocean is big. “Well, duh” you’re probably thinking… but it’s humbling to be offshore with no land in sight. Further, big fish mean big tackle. Bigger than anything you’ve ever handled. That means more effort, and I’m going to talk about that too. Whe you’re casting a lure that is 10″ long, your arm gets tired quick; and if you hook up, it’s probably going to be a big one.

Fitness

Without a doubt, this was my biggest takeaway. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m no fitness fanatic, and I’m not in good shape. That being said I kept thinking “This would be even more fun if I was in better shape”. Ten minutes of casting huge poppers and I thought my forearms were worn out. When I hooked my first tuna (120 pounder) on a spinning reel, I literally thought my arms were going to fall off about 15 minutes into the fight. We all took a turn fighting it, then I ultimately landed it. On Day One my friend and I boated five tuna – the most of our five boats. By lunch on Day Two I had fought and landed a 275-pounder and Tim had fought a behemoth calculated at 316 pounds. After that guy was in the boat, Tim and I told the crew “No more tuna. Let’s go get something smaller”. I never thought I’d tap out on fishing! I loved catching those tuna, and I think if I was in better shape, I would’ve wanted to keep hammering them. I’m not sure how you get in shape for a fishing trip, but I intend to find out. Stamina is a big part of it, from casting poppers to “Reel, reel, reel!!!” when you’re beat – I think it is more about stamina than brute strength or even cardio.

Guides and Outfitters

I joined a group that had been coming on the same trip for 8 or 9 years. They knew the operation well and it quickly became apparent to me that Captain Mike Augat runs a highly proficient operation in Pesca Panama. Every single part of the trip from food to quarters to transportation to the boats and their crews was of the highest order. Mike’s operation is flawless from start to finish. Mike runs such a good operation and it is readily apparent that if one were to use a less capable operation, the trip of a lifetime could turn into a nightmare pretty quickly. Our crews knew where and how to fish. The boats and tackle were in tiptop shape. The food was amazing, the beds were comfy and every step of the journey went like clockwork. I shudder to think what a trip would be like if even one component was off – great food, but poor crews; shiny new boats but hassles getting to them from the airport; great fishing but bad food. When you’re that far away from home and spending that kind of money, everything has to be just right. Pick a good outfitter. Check references and check them again. Research them, Google them and research some more. Having a good outfitter will ensure an amazing trip, even if the fish aren’t biting like they normally do. Our crews were constantly working – adjusting tackle, checking bait, offering water and soda, cleaning the boat. The lodge (barge in Pesca Panama’s case) staff were constantly checking on us. An empty plate or cup barely would barely hit the table before they were scooping it up and asking what else they could get for you.

Miscellaneous Thoughts

Equipment – like any trip, I asked a lot of questions. “Did I need a jacket? Did I need rain gear”. I asked about bug spray and sun block and what to wear for shoes. Remember, this was all new to me. My coworker bought me a floppy brimmed hat which was invaluable. I bought a fishing “neck gaiter” and I am glad I did. It kept the wind off my face when barreling across the open water and the sun off of my neck when we were fishing. I bought a long-sleeved “performance” shirt, which I scoffed at in the store, due mostly to the cost. I’ll have more with me next time. They keep you cool, and keep you from getting burned. Finally, on someone’s recommendation I brought along kneepads. I would recommend them as well, although I didn’t use them the entire trip. For the first couple of days, until I got my “sea legs”, I spent a lot of time bracing my knees against the gunwales and the kneepads definitely helped. Later however, I found that the Black Magic Fighting Belt they used actually pushed into my kneepads and the result was the kneepads ending up all askew anyway. Eventually I ditched them but I’m glad I had them to start.

Species – I spent a lot of time researching the varying species I might catch. Between photos and reviews and YouTube, I had a pretty good idea of what I might catch, how big different species typically were, and knew some basics regarding tackle and technique. It also allowed me to arrive with a “wish list” in mind; as I caught different species I knew which ones I wanted to go after next.

Language – This may surprise some readers but I thought I would throw it out there for consideration. If you’re planning to fish somewhere where “their” language is not “your” language – take the time to learn some basics. In my case, I had taken several Spanish classes over the past few years, but to say my Spanish was “rusty” would be an understatement. Don’t get me wrong – the Pesca Panama crew members spoke great English but I was hungry to learn and I think if I could have spoken some Spanish with them, I would’ve learned even more than I did. Plus, it’s just fun to be able to communicate with folks in another language. Next time I will definitely be brushing up before I go.

For my first saltwater fishing trip, I couldn’t have been more happy. It was amazing and truly the trip of a lifetime. When I learned I would be going, I had intended all along to write about my observations as a newbie. Maybe not about the “how to’s” like you might expect – but all of the other stuff. If you’ve never fished saltwater, don’t wait 50 years like I did. Seriously. You’ll be amazed.

Weatherby Conservation Partners: We Are The Mule Deer Foundation
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The Mule Deer Foundation does great work and Weatherby is an amazing partner.

MDF is dedicated to the following goals:

• To restore, improve and protect mule deer habitat (including land and easement acquisitions) resulting in self-sustaining, healthy, free ranging and huntable deer populations.
• To encourage and support responsible wildlife management with government agencies, private organizations and landowners.
• To promote public education and scientific research related to mule deer and wildlife management.
• To support and encourage responsible and ethical behavior and awareness of issues among those whose actions affect mule deer.
• To support regulated hunting as a viable component of mule deer and black-tailed deer conservation.
• To develop programs that focus on recruitment and retention of youth into the shooting sports and conservation

If you support these goals, or the strike a chord with you, consider getting involved

See what MDF is doing in your State

Fishing in Panama, Part 2
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I’m hoping you had a chance to read Part 1 of my once in a lifetime fishing adventure in Panama. When I left off, my friend Tim and I had spent a day and a half boating big tuna – from 120 to 316 pounds – and we were beat. It was late morning on Tuesday and we asked the crew if we could go catch something smaller after lunch. Happily, they obliged, agreeing to head back and do some inshore fishing.

In our fishing grounds there are lots of small islands, Coiba (a large island), little lagoons, breakwaters and deep pools, reefs and other structures offering a bunch of different fishing opportunities employing different techniques for different species. Often, we were trolling live bait; when we got to certain spots we would cast huge topwater lures (poppers), and a variety of other lures as well. Casting those big poppers is a technique in and of itself – a few minutes and your arms start to tire!

Near Coiba Island, Panama

Tuesday afternoon, Tim pulled in a really nice rooster fish and then we headed back to the barge for afternoon snacks, cocktails and an amazing evening meal. Wednesday had us inshore fishing again. As a nice surprise treat, the other boats decided to meet at a secluded lagoon for lunch – a part of Coiba National Park.These places were beautiful – literally like a scene from a movie. At one spot there was a small backwater and there were fresh crocodile tracks heading out to the shore

Coiba National Park, Panama

We had a swim, a cold beverage, a great lunch prepared by the crew and we were back at it again. Wednesday I boated an amber jack and also a blue jack (as they were called locally). The blue jack was the prettiest fish of my trip.It never ceased to amaze me how the crew could find fish so consistently, and the diversity of species found in these waters.

Blue Jack, Panama

When we headed out Thursday morning, I told Tim I was on a mission. I had yet to catch a rooster fish, or a dorado (mahi mahi). I wanted to catch at lest one of those guys. Thursday ended up being a busy day on the water! Not only did I catch a nice roosterfish and a great dorado, but I caught a cubera snapper and a red snapper as well. Both snapper were well over 25 pounds, the rooster was 40 ish and the dorado was around 50. Rooster fish fight like a giant smallmouth bass, and are a real challenge to get in. The dorado was caught in a small tidal pool (which they said was unusual) and fought a bit like an Atlantic Salmon – doing nice runs, and even tail-walking up out of the water a time or two. Rooster fish aren’t great eating, but dorado are, and that guy ended up being filleted for later.

Dorado, Panama

Cubera snapper, Panama

Friday was only a half day of fishing, since we had to get on the Air Panama flight back to Panama City that afternoon. Tradition with our group dictates that the anglers all kick some money into the pot, and we have a rooster fish contest. Bragging rights go to the winning angler, cash goes to the winning crew. We fished hard, and I landed a nice rooster. My competitive nature was stirring, and I was really hoping he would be the winner. We were supposed to take measurements but somewhere along the way it turned into photos, and the honor system. We headed back to the amazing cove for one last lunch, swim and beverage. Friend Sean on another boat had also landed a nice rooster. After mulling over the photos, he and I declared the contest a tie. 2 crews would split the bounty!

Rooster fish

We got back to the barge which had made the trip inland ahead of us and was waiting at the marina. There we showered and packed, and the staff from Pesca Panama transported us to the terminal in David, and got our flights all squared away. That night in Panama City, we partook of another group tradition – an amazing meal at a local steakhouse. From there the group splintered and went off according to their interests (energy levels?) We chose a niceplace with a piano bar downstairs and a Spanish guitar player upstairs. It was a great ending to a very, very cool adventure.

Great Video from #PROJECTMULEDEER – “Fawns”
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I’m a Volunteer with the Mule Deer Foundation and must say that they do great work. Here is a cool video that highlights the new life of Mule Deer across the West. From what the does need to insure a successful birth, to critical fawning grounds, you will learn not only what the Mule Deer need to survive, but thrive in today’s fast paced and ever changing world!

SPOT SATELLITE DEVICE REACHES MAJOR MILESTONE WITH 5000 RESCUES WORLDWIDE
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Covington, LA (April 19, 2017) – SPOT, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Globalstar, Inc. (NYSE: GSAT) and a leader in satellite messaging and emergency notification technologies, announced today that its SPOT family of products has surpassed a milestone of initiating 5,000 rescues around the world since its launch in 2007. These rescues have taken place on six continents and in over 89 countries.

Recent rescue Connor Gallagher was solo hiking in Colorado at an elevation of 11,000’ and activated the S.O.S. button on his SPOT Gen3 device when he began to see the early signs of hypothermia.
“Without the SPOT Gen3, I’m not sure if I would be here today and I am extremely thankful for the West Elk Mountain Rescue team that helped me,” said Connor Gallagher. “I highly recommend SPOT to anyone who is planning to head out on a long trail. I am forever thankful for the little orange block that saved my life.”
Other rescues include a lone worker who pressed his S.O.S. after suffering from a seizure while on a logging job site; a man who was transported to a hospital via helicopter after a skiing accident in Switzerland; and a woman who was in a snowmobile accident in Canada and was airlifted after suffering severe injuries.

“For nearly a decade, we have dedicated ourselves to offering affordable, lifesaving technology that people can rely on,” said Jay Monroe, Chief Executive Officer of Globalstar. “We are proud that SPOT has been universally accepted as the leader in satellite messaging and that we have been able to provide peace of mind to families, co-workers and loved ones worldwide. This 5000 rescue milestone is a result of the hard work put in by the entire team at Globalstar, our partners at GEOS and the Search and Rescue community.”

SPOT products work virtually everywhere in the world offering peace of mind through satellite-based connectivity to hundreds of thousands of people including hunters, hikers, fishermen, snowmobilers, motorcyclist and many others who enjoy the outdoors and travelling off-the-grid. SPOT users have the ability to track assets, use location-based messaging and get help when beyond cellular coverage.

“We are happy to be a part of such a large number of rescues and to continue to provide such an important service for owners of SPOT devices as well as their family and friends,” commented Mark Garver, CEO of GEOS Safety and Response. “People should be able to focus on their travels and adventures when off the grid. Our 24/7 emergency response center and certified team at the International Emergency Response Coordination Center (IERCC) ensures that should an emergency occur, we’ll get you out quickly and safely.”

SPOT customers are currently initiating nearly two rescues a day. SPOT excludes test messages, false alarms, lost or stolen units and duplicate messages from rescue count.

SPOT Gen3® gives you a critical, life-saving line of communication when you travel beyond the boundaries of cell service. The latest generation of award-winning SPOT devices, SPOT GEN3 lets family and friends know you’re okay, or if the worst should happen, sends emergency responders your GPS location – all with the push of a button. Features include: custom tracking (2 ½, 5, 10, 30, or 60 minute tracking intervals available), motion-activated tracking, continuous tracking and extended battery life.

SPOT Trace® helps customers keep tabs on their high-value assets like boats, ATV’s, off-road bikes and RV’s. Users can receive theft-alert SMS texts or emails when movement is detected. Customized tracking intervals and notification features, such as power off and daily status messages are included with Basic Service. SPOT Trace’s battery life of up to 18 months and available line power option lets users confidently monitor assets on and off the grid, in near real-time via the SPOT App. fin

GEOS Search and Rescue is an additional membership offered for as low as $17.95 per year, providing financial relief of possible expenditures occurred during a Search and Rescue incident. The additional membership can cover up to $100,000 of incurred expenses in a given membership year.

SPOT Rescue Infographic
To view rescue information in more detail, download this infographic which breaks down incidents by region and activity.

About SPOT LLC
SPOT LLC, a subsidiary of Globalstar, Inc., provides affordable satellite communication and tracking devices for recreational use. SPOT Global Phone uses the Globalstar network to transmit two-way voice and data communications. SPOT messaging devices use both the GPS satellite network and the Globalstar network to transmit text messages and GPS coordinates. Since 2007, SPOT has provided peace of mind by allowing customers to remain in contact completely independent of cellular coverage, having initiated over 5,000 rescues worldwide. For more information, visit FindMeSPOT.com.

This summer, SPOT is making it easier than ever for customers to own affordable piece of mind when traveling outside of cellular range. Now through September 4th, SPOT Gen3 and SPOT Trace devices are 50%. Go here to learn more: SPOT Summer Sale