THREE GENERATIONS IN PANAMA
Fishing has been very important in our family over the past 40 years. Back in the 1970s, a close friend invited me on a trip offshore, and soon I started organizing groups to go fishing because none of us had our own boats. We would fish out of the Balboa Yacht Club, located in Panama at the Pacific entrance of the Panama Canal. But due to my growing professional obligations, I never owned a boat of my own.
During the 1980s, I continued planning trips, now including my wife, children and other family friends. We all have many fond memories of catching lots of mahi, snapper and Pacific sailfish, as well as short visits to the solitary, beautiful beaches of the Pearl Islands. One of the most memorable moments on one of those trips was when my son, Luis—born in 1983 and then 7 years old—caught two Spanish mackerel at one time on a double-hooked lure.
Luis was soon hooked on fishing. As he grew older, we went on many trips together during the 1990s: to the Pearl Islands, Tropic Star Lodge in Piñas Bay, Cancún, Mexico, Aruba and especially to Coiba Island, where Luis was now able to handle the sails and marlin at the Hannibal
Bank. I clearly remember when he caught a 70-pound wahoo, then landed a 90-pounder just 15 minutes later.
A few years after my son had completed his undergraduate studies, he bought his first boat, Edmar, a refurbished 25-foot Bertram. In partnership with his close friend—who was also one of the most competent captains in Panama— named Aquilino Vallarino, Luis learned and shared many techniques about offshore fishing in Panamanian waters. During one trip to Piñas Bay with these two, I tagged a blue marlin that was later recaptured off Ecuador about a year later.
In 2012, my grandson came into this world, and soon he was joining my son and me. After Edmar was sold, Luis decided to purchase a larger boat, a 32-foot Blackfin he named Bypass.
For me, a cardiologist by profession, to have my son name his boat that was something to cherish. Luis and his cousin completely rebuilt the boat, a process that was slow and sometimes painful, but the result was simply splendid.
Earlier this year, I received an invitation to go fishing on Bypass. We departed at 6:30 a.m. for the 60-mile run to a spot about 30 miles southwest of the Pearl Islands. We started with a little bad luck, missing a doubleheader of sailfish, but around 10 a.m., our fortunes changed, and we had an uninterrupted dorado bite for the next four hours. Then I caught the first sailfish of the trip. At age 77 and with an unsteady knee, I was able to repeat the feat with a second sailfish a few minutes later. We ended the day with a double hookup, where Luis hooked the third sail of the day. We released all three.
It was an unforgettable trip with a very deep emotional attachment for all three of us, especially for my son and my proud 8-year-old grandson, who will ensure that this beautiful sport continues to run in our family for many decades to come.
Dr. Percy Nuñez Via email