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Rocky Point in Panama

By Dave Masterson, a writer and member of the Texas Outdoor Writer's Association (TOWA)

My story begins as I board a gutted out Fed-X plane on the outskirts of Panama City, Panama. The plane holds 3 across and is really quite nice for a gutted prop plane.

As we start to take off, Panamanian men to the left and right of me did the cross and forehead number as we lifted from the runway. I said a few words of my own. The jungles below gave way only to the mountains that seemed to engulf Panama City. We rose to a cruising altitude of 31,000 feet.

One hour later I land, marking the end of my air travel. Flights that took me from Dallas to Miami to Panama to David by lunch.

It's Saturday, a little after noon, overcast and about 85 degrees when I arrive at the marina just outside of town. From here, a mere hours drive and you would hit Costa Rica to the west and all the remote islands of the Pacific and coast of Panama lay to the East. The marina was in a perfect location.

Chasing a high tide as soon as I hit the docks, we headed to sea. The tides work every 12 hours as sure as the sun will rise in the east and we were pushing it, so Capt. Gustin set sail.

Chasing a high tide as soon as I hit the docks, we headed to sea. The tides work every 12 hours as sure as the sun will rise in the east and we were pushing it, so Capt. Gustin set sail.

A bit about the crew and the 55' Hatterrass.

When I walked down that ramp and saw this boat,{they named her "The Angler"} I was very impressed. It looked like something right out of a James Bond movie. A Sleek, powerful {twin 650s} boat and rigged to the hilt right down to satellite hook ups. This baby was hot.

Measuring 55' from bow to stern, with a 16' Zodiac for inshore fishing and, sporting a 155 square foot fighting deck, this beautiful sport fishing boat was also a sleep aboard.

With three states rooms {one them with a queen king size bed} and a completely air-conditioned solon, kitchen and dinning area with panoramic views, this boat was an anglers dream.

Captain Jay Gustin:
Owner and sometimes operator of the angler, Jay also owns and runs a larger rig in Alaska. Super nice guy and loves to fish….for big fish!

Capt. Che Che Gonzales:
What can I say about this guy? Currently holds over 40 world records, a 30 year veteran Captain and angler on the Pacific, landed world record Marlin on rod & reel…over 1000lbs…Now this is another a story I will tell you one day…an incredible story…. He is the best there is, bar none.

Capt. Travis "Roberto" Peterson:
Capt. / Rigger

One of the best riggers I have ever seen. Travis also runs the boat and keeps her in tiptop shape. His vast knowledge of the "business at hand" was impeccable and when it came to dealing with the fish and the equipment, he was good.

Jr. Degracia {The Cook}
A great cook. We had the fresh Tuna salad, Amberjack soup that was killer and fresh lobster that you would die for. From the fresh fruits to the frozen margaritas, every spoonful was top flight.

So the adventure begins

I will be fishing for the next 6 days, dark to dark.

We catch the high tide out through the to the Pacific and head toward an island called La Groanias. We raise 6 Sailfish but never hook up. It takes us 5 hours to reach the first island we plan to anchor at for the night.

We caught Wahoo to 45 pounds and an awesome Amberjack I landed that weighed close to 50 pounds.

The in-shore fishing was incredible too. We anchored off a smaller island that afternoon and I asked Jay if he had ever fished the surf off this one point. He said more than likely we were the first to even set foot on this island much less fish the points.

Che Che had told me earlier that roster fish liked the big surf and rocks so I thought I would try it. Using a 9wt. All Star Rod and a floating line with a popper I braved the rocks and the powerful waves.

This end of the point and the surrounding rocks were obviously the best place for casting but I had to be careful. Razor sharp lava, a very strong tide, and these deep holes around this area could kill a man in a heart beat…not to mention a deadly viper called the Fer De Lance, a 20 foot anaconda or an hungry Jaguar…. this was truly High Adventure in my book.

As I walked down this beautiful beach, the jungle to the left me was impenetrable. The sounds of exotic birds came from deep within. Monkeys could be heard barking at each other high in the canopy, and the sound of the crashing surf, was ever present.

The white sand went right up next to the coconut tress and ferns, and even with a chain saw, it would take hours to cut through just a few meters. This place was amazing.

At the end of the beach, massive rocks lead out to the point. Ferns and plants grew up a sheer rock and soil wall that towered 200 foot above me. Exotic trees and plants were everywhere. Rocks leading to the point had some cuts that were exposed during low tide, and I could walk right through them.

Big Fish On

Thousands of small crabs scurried away as I made my trek towards the point. I wanted to be able to get on a rock formation that would enable me to make my casts as long as possible and still remain dry. I had to be careful; I didn't want a wave to knock me down, which would have meant certain disaster.

I took a minute to survey the area and pick my casting location. The waves were in sets of three and between each wave I had a 30 -40 second window to retrieve a cast.

Elevated off the water about 8 feet and I figured the water depth was 3-4 feet around the rocks with a big drop off into what looked to be about 30 feet. Finding my footing, I begin with some false casting to check my distance and then a retrieve down.

I remember thinking what Jay had said about this point and that it had probable never seen an angler and how I was quite possible the first person to ever even stand there.

And here I was, fishing for the famed Red Cubera Snapper or the battling Roster fish. I watched my bait, darting behind each set of the emerald green waves as I stripped the line.

A 50' cast set the popper between the next set of waves, I immediately dropped the rod tip and started ripping line in 3-foot strips. The bait sliced through the water just inches under the surface.

Now understand something, from this point on, time seemed to stand still, race by and go in slow motion all at once. I think I had ripped the popper three times when I saw the dark shape engulf it from out of nowhere.

The strike was something I had never experienced before, it was intense, the swirl alone was 4-5 feet across, the vortex it left, the splash, the fish……. was on……!

Bob Segar once said in a song that memories are what give a man a wealthy soul, and as anglers, we are blessed, sometimes, with very special memories. This was a rich one for sure.

The fish ran hard to the left on the strike for maybe 2-3 seconds,…my 9 foot All Star fly rod was holding its own when my drag begin to sing. All I could do was hold on, palm the reel, and let her go….I could not turn this fish.

Within a second the monster turned, and raced straight down the edge of the rocks skirting the deep water…it was a huge Roster Fish. I saw the long fin that arches off a big Rosters back slice through the water at lighting speed….she was dumping my reel, as they say.

When she turned for deep water, I hastily tightened my drag and tried to "Horse" her around, that's when she nearly pulled the rod right out of my darn hands.

I slipped and fell to the rocks.

Now this is where it seemed everything was happening in slow motion. I kept trying to keep the rod back, holding tension, the spool was screaming as she went for deep and all I could do was hold on!

I scrambled to regain my footing and stand up…there's blood on my left shin…..the sight of the red blood running down my wading boot shot adrenalin through my veins….
The power of this fish was absolutely amazing,….. this fish was trying to take the rod & reel right out of my hands!

One last hard pull and the line broke…… I stumbled backwards and half fell, half sat-down on the rocks…..I looked at my leg, the cut was not bad, just looked good with all the saltwater, the boots…the environment…it's a man thing I guess….this was what I later referred to as "Full Contact Sport Fishing".

Within a few minutes I had another set up tied on and a new popper. I stood back up and gathered my wits.

In the next 5 minutes, I proceed to have 8 consecutive casts and had 8 consecutive explosions resulting in another break off!

These massive blow ups, and I mean massive, would rival the largest peacocks ever seen….my adrenaline levels were as high as I had ever experienced while fishing…

All alone on this jungle island in Central America…. fishing a rocky point, darkness was approaching.

I saw the zodiac headed my way. I did not have time to re gear, the fight was over, the rocky point had won.

Davies Pointe

The next day, Travis, Pete and myself returned to the dangerous rocks and surf in the zodiac. This would turn out to be a fleeting attempt to fish this spot ….

Trimming the swells, we would go in and out. Hitting the spot a few dozen times before giving up, we still had a repeat of yesterday.

Massive blowups, break offs, and action like we have never seen before. Pete and I landed a few Blue Trevally and Rainbow Runners, but the rest must have been Rosters in the 40-60 pound class we guess, as they ate our lunch in a big way.

That night the captain logged in the computer and officially named the place "Davies Pointe", we all did a high five, drank frozen margaritas and marveled at the day and what I had experienced the evening before.


That afternoon is with me even now, an experience that has been engraved forever in my mind & my soul….a wealthy soul.

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