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Fishing in Gatun Lake

Fishing in Gatun Lake

Fishing in Gatun Lake, Panama. I am not going to sit here and tell you that fishing is my thing, it's not!  However, I do enjoy fishing every now and then, and fishing in Gatun Lake is one of my favorite things to do when I go back home. Why? Well, I find it extremely relaxing and peaceful out there and there is plenty to see. Once you start exploring the lake and it's waterways it's pretty much you and wildlife out there. For you guys that love fishing I would definitely recommend a day out on Gatun Lake while visiting Panama.

Gatun Lake

A little background on Gatun Lake.  Gatun Lake is an artificial lake that was created back in the early 1900's.  At that time it was the largest man-made lake in the world. Gatun Lake is part of the Panama Canal system and all ships pass through this lake as they transit the Isthmus (for more info Google it).


To go fishing on Gatun Lake you can either go through a tourism agency and they will hook you up with a fishing/boat tour package or you can simply show up at the Gamboa public dock and pay the locals to take you out on the lake. If you want to save some money;  I recommend you go to the public dock. Make sure to check out my video on YouTube, PANAMA: Fishing at Gatún Lake. In this video I show you guys around and go over why I prefer the public dock. Either way head out to Gamboa and from there you can easily get to the lake.

There are a few different types of fish in the lake, but the Sargentos (Peacock Bass) are the dominant species in the lake and you will not have any issues catching a few of them. At the dock you can buy live bait or minnows, we bought about fifty minnows for about $3.00 USD. They usually charge about a $1.00 for 10 minnows or so, but you can negotiate with them. Also, when you get back to the dock they can filet your catch for ¢.10 per fish.

Peacock Bass - Sargentos

There is an abundance of wildlife, birdlife and marine life in the Chagres River/Gatun Lake area. On any given day you're able to see a caimans, crocodiles, Toucans, caracoleros (Snail Kites), Howler Monkeys, Capuchin Monkeys, sloths and iguanas among other types of animals. On my most recent visit I got to see the Snail Kites for the very first time. Trust me there is plenty to see!

Caiman on the bank of the canal.

According to my guide, swimming in the lake is not recommended. You have to know where you can and can't swim in this lake. Otherwise you can have a very bad encounter with an caiman or crocodile and things can get ugly very fast. However, growing up I used to do it all the time!  I am not sure if it was ignorance on my part or what, but we did it all the time. Then again we used to play outside all the time too, but we really don't see kids playing outside anymore. The bottom line is... be careful and use common sense!

Monkey Tour

Capuchin Monkey right he jumped onto our boat.

If you're interested in seeing the monkeys while you're out on the lake ask your guide for a quick tour of Monkey Island. Once you're there, make sure to secure all of your personal items because they'll jump down on to the boat and they tend to grab your things and take off e.g., shades, cel phones, hats, drinks (Yes! One of them snatched my juice box out of my hand!).  Our guide brought along some bananas so we could feed them. Don't be fooled though! Although they may seem friendly, they are wild animals in their habitat so be careful, don't try to pet them and don't get too comfortable while you're around them.

Another great thing about fishing out on Gatun Lake is that you it gives you the opportunity to see the massive container ships cruising through the fresh waters of the Panama Canal.

I hope you guys found this post somewhat informative, if so give it a "Like"! Thanks for checking out my blog!

Here's a quick video from my last visit!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YyRUGfTwui4&w=640&h=360]

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