Portrait of a True Waterman
by Monte Richardson
On the 10th of February 1970, a panga departed the western shores of Colombia and pointed its bow northward from the small village of Coco Pacifico. Like it’s passenger that manned the small outboard, this place remains one of those that exist in relative obscurity. Shadowed by endless miles of verdant jungle canopy and jagged coastline, the voyage bucking a north breeze was not one taken lightly, or for any means of fishing pleasure for that matter. It was a voyage of necessity, driven by the carnal forces that come from some deep level rarely seen in modern society: those of hunger, survival and the intimate desire to move one rung farther up on a long ladder. This trip in particular brought a young man named Isauro Urrutia from Columbia to Pinas Bay, Panama and Tropic Star Lodge.
Isauro is as much of a fixture in Pinas Bay as Tropic Star’s fleet of Bertram 31s. I first fished with him in the early 1990s aboard the Miss England, known simply as “the blue boat” to the many hundreds of fishermen that have graced Tropic Star’s dock. Just like his guttural voice, Isauro fishes with gravitas. His weathered face is the only part that shows his true age of 75 years, holding deepset, wise eyes and a kind smile, like a knowing grandfather. “Of all the fishes, the black marlin remains my favorite,” he says. “Here in Pinas, they seem to sound less and jump more, which makes a great show for the customers and makes them very excited. I also like wahoo because they are rarer than dorado and taste better.”
During the early months of the year, our boats Mama Nido, Hooker and Picaflor make the trek south to fish the outside waters of Pinas Bay. Having known Isauro for many years, he often comes by the anchorage in his panga for an evening visit and to spin a yarn or two. As an offering in trade for a cold beer, he normally brings a smattering of various fruits from his garden. We were able to catch up with him and pick his brain for a while.
His lack of formal education and literacy are not of concern, as he can spout a melee of dates, memorable catches and weights. For all intents and purposes, he is as close to nature as anyone I have ever met and a true product of his wild, untamed environment.
“I first came to work at Tropic Star as a training mate, and that was on the 2nd of January, 1973,” he relates. “They kept me as a training mate for one day, so I guess I did…………………. (To continue reading this article click here) You can also subscribe to InTheBite The Magazine to enjoy more industry leading editorial.