PUERTO VALLARTA — WON readers will no doubt recall last April when the custom 60-foot sportfish yacht Journeyman, owned by Robert Pedigo and captained by Russell O'Neil, returned to port in Puerto Vallarta with 4 fish over 200 pounds, 2 over 300 and that monster 427.9-pound tuna.
Although not a record fish as the rod was touched, it was the largest known yellowfin tuna ever caught on a rod and reel. Recently WON reader and angler Matt Gerns (aka Gernsey) had the opportunity to experience the thrill of fishing on such a prestigious boat and filed this report.
“We had some great fishing 80 miles north of Puerto Vallarta on the Journeyman with Capt. O’Neil at the helm,” Gerns said. “The day started at 5 a.m. making perfect 16-inch squid to fill the bow tank. As soon as the sun cracked the horizon Capt. Russell had our first school on the sonar and it broke wide open. We would hook 4 to 5 tuna ranging between 120 to 250 pounds and then the school would move on. But there were numerous bird piles on the horizon where the tuna were pushing red crab to the surface and O’Neil would simply reposition the boat and it was game on again.”
LIVING THE DREAM — WON reader and angler Matt Gerns on a trip aboard the Journeyman with two of his cows-a trip most of us can only dream about. PHOTO COURTESY OF MATT GERNS
“We were using 16-ounce weights at 100 to 150 feet down to hook a majority of the fish but the kite was working well and the flylined baits did some damage as well,” Gerns said. “On two occasions the double trouble rig on the kite got hit by 2 tuna at the same time, straightening both hooks and snapping one of the lead lines.”
“The weather was nice with a 12-knot breeze all day that kept the kite in the air, the water was 74.5 degrees and slightly off color,” Gerns added. “The last fish came on a big squid that got exploded by a nice 190-pound fish that heated up the side of my Avet 30 wide and dumped a good 300 yards off the reel to start the 20-minute fight before the fat fish came through the door.”
“We ended the trip with 20 plus fish for our efforts,” Gerns said. “The anglers onboard the Journeyman besides me included Matt Harbour, Steve D., Dave Fender and the owner of the boat Robert Pedigo. Deck hands Tommy and Tigre did a great job handling the fish and Pedigo was a great host on what I think is the best laid out fishing platform on the Mainland.”
Closer to home — Stan Gabruk of Master Baiter’s Sportfishing and Tackle said summer time fishing conditions made fishing a real dream at the Marietta Islands, where dorado running 25 to 35 pounds are still hanging in the warm currents. “Water temperatures are still in the mid 70s with blue water conditions everywhere reachable in a day trip,” he said.
“Snapper in the 30-pound range are more abundant daily at the Marietta Islands and the roosterfish are still there but for some reason have slowed down,” Gabruk said. “You may come in empty handed if targeting roosters but the jack crevalle will more than make up for their absence. Skipjack tuna are in the 30-pound range and even needlefish are taking baits in the cooler than normal water for this species.”
Gabruk said yellowfin tuna can still be had at Corbeteña and El Banco but not in the 150-pound range like last week. “It’s been a full moon the last few days and that of course means super early bites and late afternoon for the tuna,” he said. “Not a bad thing unless you don’t want to get up early or your wife doesn’t want you out too late, those dinner reservations with friends are fish day killers.”
Gabruk said wahoo have been in the area and are running to 80 pounds. “Most have not been running wire leaders and have essentially just gotten lucky,” he said. “With razor teeth they can cut even wire leaders that are too thin. Dorado are still in the warm currents, but smaller at 25 pounds. The striped marlin here at Corbeteña and El Banco are in the 125- to 275-pound range, they do like cooler water and these are perfect conditions for them. They are also jigging up some cubera snapper in the 50-pound range here.”
“Inside the bay it’s Sierra Mackerel City, running to 35 pounds, you will see why these are favorites of light tackle and fly fishing types,” Gabruk said. “Needlefish, also known as false marlin are strong fighters and will attack bait but they are a strange, long fish that tastes only fair. But the crews feed their families with them so they won’t go to waste.”
In other Mexico fishing action:
— SAN CARLOS (SONORA): No report this past week.
— IXTAPA-ZIHUATANEJO: The cooling trend seems to have been put on hold for a while longer here as the 83-degree surface temperature average is all up and down the coast and from the beach to way out beyond 80 miles. And, the blue water is nearly on the beach again, with only a small area of slightly discolored water down near Puerto Vicente Guerrero.
“While not as fantastic as the last few weeks dark of the moon phase for sailfish and dorado, offshore fishing is still holding up with some respective numbers coming in for a few boats,” Ed Kunze the local IGFA representative and a fly fishing guide here said. “However, the fleet average is about 1 to 2 sailfish and at least one dorado per boat per day.”
“Plus a few boats are finding the yellowfin tuna,” Kunze said. “They are scattered but they are out there. On the same day Santiago went 26 miles in the Gitana and got 7 smaller tuna from 15 to 20 pounds, Martin went 40 miles in the panga Spuma for a 100-pound yellowfin, a 60 pounder and two at 20 pounds.”
Kunze said the inshore action is still holding well with a few roosters, large jack crevalle and lots of sierra.
Larry Edwards of Cortez Yacht Charters said the Mark Kordus husband and wife team from Rawlins, WY, fished aboard the Bloody Hook with Capt. Chiro Barrigan and had three awesome fishing days and incredible catches. “Their first offshore fishing day resulted with 11 sailfish released,” Edwards said. “Their second day started slow inshore at Los Morros de Potosi looking for roosterfish but as they had no luck they decided to return offshore for the remainder of the day, where they landed a big 25- to 30-pound dorado and released another 4 sailfish. Their final fishing day resulted in 12 sailfish released and another big dorado, all adding up to 27 sailfish released and 2 dorado for their 3 fishing days from Zihuatanejo.”
— MAZATLAN: It was all about the whales here this past week.
“According to our on-the-spot reporter, Ms. Kitcia Ceja, most of the boats were used for whale watch tours this past week,” Larry Edwards of Cortez Yacht Charters said. “There were only four offshore fishing days reported and the total catch included 2 striped marlin with 1 released and 1 dorado.”
“The inshore fishing for six fishing days resulted in 2 red snapper and 41 triggerfish,” Edwards said. “The catching was unusually slow this past week and for no apparent reason, especially given the good water temperatures and overall conditions. According to Ceja the best action for the week was in whale watching tours with nine trips reported.”
— CANCUN TO COZUMEL: Only from Puerto Morelos can every fish caught during the day be a different fish The variety on a daily basis is just amazing and while not all of the fish caught are considered game fish, most are fun to catch fish and enormously entertaining for family fishing groups and novice anglers.
This past week's fishing offered a wide variety of mixed bag catches that included a few sailfish, 7 dorado, 10 king mackerel, 72 bonito, the fish of the week, 10 giant Atlantic barracuda, 7 blackfin tuna, 2 wahoo, 1 porgy fish, 5 amberjack, 8 soapfish, 9 bananafish, 35 strawberryfish, 13 triggerfish, 7 snapper and 37 grouper, a total of 16 species of fish caught for 36 charters.
PUERTO VALLARTA — The fishing scene this summer here in Puerto Vallarta was not about Mexico, but rather southern California. Warm water, plenty of bait and currents that swept our world class gamefish to points north of the Mexican border were very welcome indeed to the Southern Cal boys for sure. But now, it’s time to come back, as The Bank or El Banco, finally started firing on all eight cylinders.
“El Banco, normally our biggest producer of yellowfin tuna has been dismal at best until now,” Stan Gabruk, owner Master Baiters Sportfishing & Tackle said. “Yellowfin tuna are finally here, even though they seem to be in and out. You can find them in sizes from 30 pounds to over 200 pounds, with monsters in the 300-pound range if you have any luck at all! Animal House with Capt. Luis and First Mate David Chorra came in with a 300-pound yellowfin monster this past week.”
“Marlin are now running now between 400 and 800 pounds, dorado are in the 40- to 60-pound range and sailfish are everywhere,” Gabruk said. “Bait is more than abundant and varied in the form of baby tuna called bullets, chorra (bonito/skipjack tuna), google eyes, sardine; you name it, it´s a fish smorgasbord at El Banco.”
Gabruk said Corbeteña has been the place to be all season and so far and things have not changed in that regard. “Yellowfin tuna have been hanging out all around The Rock and the tuna fishing has been consistent for the last few weeks,” he said. “Even if they were small by comparison from what we normally see this time of the year, they are there.”
“For the moment, if you are heading out on a full day trip, I would be hitting Corbeteña first,” Gabruk said. “Many 200-plus-pound yellowfin tuna are circling The Rock. Bait is off the hook which can be an issue. Sailfish are fighting for your presented bait, and it doesn’t have to be fancy; shinny works. Large dorado to 60 pounds are a welcome sight, big blue and black marlin are also fighting for your baits as well here. Cubera snapper are also still here as well in the 45- to 70-pound range.”
Gabruk said the Marietta Islands have sprung to life again as well. “Sailfish have literally taken over all the fishing grounds and can be had on shorter day trips,” he said. “So if you are targeting sailfish, then there is no need to hit he deep water locations. Dorado running 20 to about 35 pounds are more abundant by the day. Skipjack tuna, bonito and snapper, all the regular players are here again. Eight hours on a super panga will be the most affordable option in this case and won’t break the family vacation budget.”
— SAN CARLOS (SONORA): There is some excellent fishing going on in San Carlos at the moment.
“We’ve caught and released 3 marlin and 16 sailfish in the last four days,” Bryan Replogle of Team Margarita Sport Fishing said. “There have not been too many dorado, but it sounds like they are starting to show up in closer range. We tried San Pedro Nolasco for yellowtail, but I think it's still too early. The seas have been relatively nice, blue and 85 to 87 degrees. There is lots of bait showing up and the inshore fishing is getting good. Most all of the billfish have been around the reef coming off of San Pedro.”
Replogle said 22 boats showed up to fish the 8th Annual Cantina Cup on Oct. 6 and 7. “There were 69 fish caught and released, with the majority being sailfish,” Replogle said. “Maybe only one 36-pound dorado made the 15-pound minimum weight. “Not everyone had success, but we've been nailing them on naked rigged ballyhoo. The bite was a little finicky on Saturday, but now they are sucking them down.”
“Our ratio with circle hooks is awesome and I'm sure I've saved over $1,000 this year in fuel costs since I troll them slower,” Replogle said. “I don't think I've suffered a scratch and every fish has swam away healthy. It's also won us nearly every tournament here for a second year-in-a-row. Fishing with 30-pound line also has led to some great battles. Thankfully we haven't hooked anything too big yet! I heard of a couple 350-pound marlin caught. It's that time of year!”
— IXTAPA-ZIHUATANEJO: According to Capt. Temo Verboonen, there is still no real fish report for the area due to a lack of sportfishers and anglers during the past week.
Temo said he stopped by the commercial fishing area and talked with the skippers and they reported pretty good catches of yellowfin tuna but were not too interested in providing location information. However, since the commercial fleet is primarily super pangas, it is likely they were not too far away from the harbor, perhaps 20 to 40 miles or so. What did come out of the conversations was the improvement of overall water conditions throughout the area.
— MAZATLAN: It has been a difficult summer fishing season from Mazatlan with very little angler activity for the various sportfishers throughout the area and this past week was not much different from the entire summer fishing reports.
“The Aries Sportfishing Fleet reported a total of nine charters this past week with seven offshore days and two super panga days and the results were hardly enough to create a report,” Larry Edwards of Cortez Yacht Charters said. “For the seven offshore fishing days the skippers reported 2 sailfish, 2 shark and 17 dorado for the week and for the two inshore fishing days the catch consisted of 4 corvina and 2 black snook.”
— CANCUN TO COZUMEL: Larry Edwards of Cortez Yacht Charters reported a rather upbeat fishing report from the Puerto Morelos area that included 3 sailfish in the mixed bag catch and resulted in a 5.6 fish per day average for the boats.
“The wide spectrum of fish reported consisted of 13 species that included 3 sailfish, 5 dorado, 12 giant Atlantic barracuda, 24 bonito, 1 wahoo, 2 king mackerel and 1 blackfin tuna for the surface action and 1 banana fish, 1 strawberry fish, 3 grouper, 12 mixed red and mutton snapper, 4 amberjack and 10 triggerfish.
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