Horacio “Chicho” Clare

Alias…. Mr. Popper

Everything started about 45 years ago, in a tiny lake in Panama called Lago Las Cumbres. My grandfather, George, who we called “Tito”, used to own a house by that lake.

Every two months or so, we used to gather at the lake house for a family outing. It was in this lake where my fishing skills began. With only just a bamboo poll, a line and a hook, we used to catch small Peacock bass in great quantities but always putting them back into the lake as my grandpa always taught us to “catch and release”.

I guess those were the first steps on becoming the fishing addict that I am today. At 50 years of age, I have been all over the world and in the wildest places that I can recall.

From fishing in a small pond in the city, to going in the middle of the Amazon Jungle and a small river outside the city to the Middle of the Pacific Ocean fishing for a GRANDER.

In these 45 years in the water, I’ve been granted the opportunity to catch and release some of the world toughest contenders.

The mighty Black and Blue Marlin, the amazing Tarpon, the fabulous Yellow Fin Tuna, the Terror of the Tropics the Peacock Bass, the Devil Fish Payara, the strong Alligator Gar, the famous Dorado in Argentina and up to the weirdest Alligator Snapping Turtle in the South of the United States of America.  

God has giving me the chance and privilege of becoming a World Record Holder and to be featured in many TV shows all around the world.

Magazine covers have also been a big part of my life. But more importantly, winning almost every major fishing tournament on fresh and salt water has also giving me memories to share for many years to come.

I can only hope that my experiences can be passed to the younger generations for them to continue this amazing journey that I started 45 years ago.

The Terror of the TROPICS

The following story is about a memorable day at the lake.

It all started on a one day competition named the Rotary International Tournament. This tournament was held on Lake Gatun in a small fishing town named La Represa in Mendoza.

The Gatun Lake covers an area of 163.32 Square Miles or 423 Square Kilometers and is currently the most important lake for the international commerce in the world. At this lake we can find many species of fish.

Amount these we can find El Sargento (Cichla Pleizona) as commonly named here in Panama, Oscars, Manatees, the Snook and the world famous Tarpon (The Silver King) these two species are mainly species from the ocean but, do to the Panama Canal they have found their way inside the lake an stay in.

This is the only part of the world that you can find Silver Kings in the Pacific Ocean. This lake is an amazing natural resource for universities around the world and the Smithzonian Research Institute that currently have an island in the lake where they study and continue searching for cures and other vaccines that can help cure fatal diseases.

It was early Sunday morning, at La Represa.

All the boats where sitting in the calm waters of the Gatun Lake waiting for the sound of the gun. The breeze from the north made the weather kind of cold.

You could feel it was going to be a good day or let put it in a different perspective it was going to be my day for a world record catch.

At exactly 6:15am the whistle blew and all the boats started their own journeys to their private spots. Well, what I can say I too ran for about an hour or so to a place call El Guavo, this place is at the mouth of one of the important rivers of the Panama Canal, lake Gatun.

The place is full with Hydrilla and Lilipads all over. It was very hard to maneuver do to the constant bumping on the logs. My trolling motor was doing exactly what it was made for.

OK, I say……I told my brother Ivan that it was time to start fishing. My brother from the back of the boat started casting and popping with a BIG Yozury Mag Popper, White/Red Head.

The action in this lure is phenomenal for big Sargentos. Me in the other hand was trying to figure out what type of lure this animals where looking for. I started rigging my five outfits with 5 totally different lures.

I place a Heddon Torpedo, a Rebel Jointed Minnow, a Tournament Frog, a crystal minnow by Yozury and the one that I really didn’t though that it was going to be making the difference the famous Storm Chug Bug.

Boy this lure made the difference. We started fishing about 7:30 am and we went on for about 30 minutes with out any strikes. My brother and I had a couple of strikes but like we say in this king of sport nothing to get impressed with.

The next a couple of hours I caught three keepers totaling about 7 pounds. I knew I need it about 15 pounds total to be fighting for the tournament.

At about 11:00 am my brother had a nice strike that lead us to our four keepers it was a nice 4.3 pounds.

We felt very good and at the same time very worry because the weighting time at the marina was at 1:30 pm and we didn’t have enough time to fish, maybe an hour or less, but nothing we can do it was a competition and rules exist.

At exactly 12:10 pm I was popping my Chug Bug that I have to say it sounded very nice; something like this BLOOPPP, BLOOPPP, WRROOOOP, BLOOP, BLOOP an their it was BLAAAAAA!!!!!!! Just like that you could see the entire lake been suck inside the monster mouth.

Those are the moments that any angler can relate on. For about 2 minutes I fought but, I personally thought that was about 2 hours.

I had my Shimano Casting Rod and my Calcutta 250 reel working at its best. The beast as I call this enormous SARGENTO fought like a KING.

He jump, push, ran and even look at my eyes like a Champion to another champion. After about 2 minutes he came to the boat and believes me though immediately I had the daddy of the lake.

At that moment my only concern was to get back to the marina as fast as I could. As you can already imagine what happen after that. Yes, we ended winning with more than 20 pounds total and of-course an All Tackle World Record.