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Mexico Fishing Report

Puerto Vallarta: Long hauls but big hauls on yellowfin

BY ROBIN WADE/WON Staff WriterPublished: Feb 09, 2012

PUERTO VALLARTA — Anglers come to Puerto Vallarta to find monster-sized yellowfin tuna during the summer around El Banco and Corbeteña for the most part. But lately, anglers venturing out 80 to 130 miles one way have had a chance at world record class yellowfin tuna simply by taking the longer trips and staying out for a few days.

“Anglers choosing to do so, fishing either on private charters or taking ‘rail trips’ on the multi-day boats are of course heading to the Tres Maria Islands, aka The Prison Islands,” Stan Gabruk of Master Baiter’s Sportfishing and Tackle said. “If you follow the laws, you can boat a world record sized yellowfin tuna on any given day but they can also turn out to be 40 pounders as well. So you have to ask yourself if the risk is worth the time and money. The answer is that it depends on just how badly you want the strongest, world class, and possibly a world record tuna. To many the answer is yes!”

“Fishing right now is good, not summer great but not just winter game fish fishing either, we’re somewhere in between right now,” Gabruk said. “But the Tres Marias are the place to go for yellowfin tuna cows, so if that’s what you are after, kites have been the way to go for many. Warm currents mingling with cold water is what we’re dealing with presently. Believe it or not this is not a bad thing, we need the seasons and this being the second part of a back to back La Niña year, we knew this season was going to be strange from the beginning and we have no problem seeing summer game fish here in the winter.”

Gabruk said yellowfin tuna (smaller versions) are also in the bay, at El Banco and of course the Tres Maria Islands. “I was thinking that this was a temporary condition and refused to get too excited about it, but now I am thinking that we will be seeing an early summer for both temperatures and fishing,” he said.

“Water temperatures drive the climate and the cold water will soon start getting warmer with the longer tropical days coming,” Gabruk said. “Planning an early summer or late spring trip here may also find you into an early showing of monster yellowfin tuna at El Banco and Corbeteña as well, so keep an eye out for cheap air fares.”

“By now everyone knows that the Tres Marias are the place to go for yellowfin tuna cows, but the surprise again this past week was the presence of yellowfin footballs to larger sized fish, found just before the high spots and this is only a 12-hour day not a 16-hour day,” Gabruk said.

“Corbeteña this past week was less than spectacular though,” Gabruk said. “The dark green water was enough to generally keep the fish out of the area. But if you are at the Rock and find these conditions, many times it is only a few feet thick and there will still be fish in the area if you’re not surface trolling. Planers on baits and lures can make the difference if you find yourself in this situation. There are also striped marlin possibilities, sailfish and cubera snapper worth your time here.”

“The Marietta Islands have slowed down for roosterfish, which for some reason are less abundant and smaller,” Gabruk said. “Sierra mackerel, snapper, dorado in various sizes, bonito, pompano, and the list goes on. You’ll need an 8-hour day for the Marietta Islands and the same goes for Punta Mita but there hasn’t been much news from Punta Mita.”

Inside the bay, Gabruk said fishing has been fun, but can be frustrating. “Four hour trips this past week were well worth it but things have been changing a little,” he said. “A 6-hour trip is a better option for the bay since it takes a little time to find fish. Remember fish move, so where they were is more than likely not where they are now. But they are somewhere out there, so give yourself time to find them. There are 30-pound yellowfin tuna hovering around the area between Yelapa and Los Arcos, with dorado in the 25-pound range. Fair sized sierra and the ever present jack crevalle round out the picture here.”    

monsters at the prison

MONSTERS AT THE PRISON GATES — The Tres Maria Islands (Prison Islands) have been producing monster tuna like crazy and here is one example. A 250-pound yellowfin tuna boated off the North Island. Using a kite and a double trouble rig, this yellowfin tuna was boated about 130 miles out of Puerto Vallarta Marina. Pictured here is First Mate Juan of Animal House with Capt. Luis at the helm. PHOTO COURTESY OF MASTER BAITER’S SPORTFISHING AND TACKLE

In other Mexico fishing action:   

— CANCUN TO COZUMEL: The Marina El Cid Sportfishing Fleet from Puerto Morelos continues to produce a wide variety mixed bag catch for their anglers, week after week, and this past week was no different.  

Reporting for the fleet, Larry Edwards of Cortez Yacht Charters said the report reflected another 12 species catch for the boats that fished some 25 charters in the area and reflected good action for the anglers that included 2 sailfish, 21 dorado, 38 Atlantic barracuda, 4 Spanish mackerel, 29 bonito, 8 blackfin tuna, 1 shark, 4 soapfish, 3 snapper, 5 amberjack, 18 triggerfish and 11 grouper.  

“There is something exciting and special about fishing in the Caribbean that attracts anglers from all parts of the globe and especially from the East Coast areas,” Edwards said. “We believe it is the incredible variety of catch opportunities that begin within ¼ of a mile from the entrance to the Marina El Cid.”

— IXTAPA-ZIHUATANEJO: The 80-degree blue water is still only about 7 miles off the coast and basically hugging the 100-Fathom line, but the warm sun enriching surface temperatures, belies a colder current beneath the top 3 or 4 feet of the water column. Because of this, the sailfish bite basically shut off, with boats averaging less than a fish per day each.

As an example, fly fishing guide Ed Kunze said that while having dinner the other night, Adan and his clients came in and they talked about their day of fishing. “Adan had taken the panga Gitana II out almost 20 miles, and after a fruitless day headed back,” Kunze said. “The day was over, and they were only a half an hour from the dock. It was tough; they hadn’t had a strike all day. And then at 1:00 p.m., they got lucky with a double hookup on a pair of dorado. I saw the photos, and the fish were huge, with the bull being as tall as Adan. It was at least 55 pounds, with the hen almost pushing 40 pounds.”

“But, the jack crevalle action has been good,” Kunze said. “Two anglers fished offshore with Leonardo on the Fish On, and then two days inshore with Cheva on the Dos Hermanos II. They only got one, very nice bull dorado in the blue water, but did well on jack crevalle, black skipjack tuna (barrilete), rainbow runners, cabrilla, and sierra with Cheva.”

“Earlier in the week Adolfo, on the panga Dos Hermanos called me saying he caught 3 roosters and several jack crevalle after making a very long trip down to Vicente Guerrero,” Kunze said. “We were both surprised, and figured they must have been fish coming from the north to warmer water in the south. So, with a fly fishing client in tow, Adolfo took us back down there.”

“The birds and bait were exactly as he had told me, but the roosters had moved on,” Kunze said. “We worked our way back up the coast, and Adolfo, being the professional he is, found the jack crevalle in several locations. We also got several barrilete and a chula, (pronounced kawa-kawa) a good eating tuna with teeth and white meat. It was a great day on the water.”  

“According to Capt. Temo Verboonen, reporting to me from the Independent Sportfishing Fleet, said the waters have rolled over and changed from the deep blue to a greenish, off-color, and moved offshore to 20 miles and beyond, discouraging the fish from biting the baits,” Larry Edwards of Cortez Yacht Charters said.  

“He said the fish bite has slowed throughout the area for both, inshore and offshore action,” Edwards said. “The overall catches for the boats reflected a few marlin, a few sailfish and a few dorado, and until the water cleans up, it's likely to be difficult fishing for all of the boats.”  

“There are still lots of fish showing up for the inshore boats but even those fish are being skittish and tend to spook to the deep after feeling approaching boats,” Edwards said.  “Capt. Temo said you get one or two chances at the inshore fish before they spook and then, you have to wait for them to re-surface and try again. Most of the inshore fish are still bonito, sierra and jack crevalle, with only an occasional roosterfish.”

— MAZATLAN: According to Tadeo Hernández Kelly from the Flota Bibi Fleet, the fishing continues to be excellent inshore for Gulf coney, jack crevalle, grunt, snapper, triggerfish, mojarra and grouper. Fishing from the Marina Mazatlan to Marmol, out 4 miles offshore, he said shrimp has been the key.

“Offshore has also been excellent for striped marlin, and good for shortfin mako shark and dorado,” Hernández said. Best baits included lures and mullet.

Reporting for the Aries Sportfishing Fleet, Larry Edwards said Mazatlan is having some excellent billfish action with the Pacific striped marlin. “Most of the boats are reporting multiple opportunities for the billfish on a daily basis,” he said. “Fleet Manager Geronimo Cevallos said boats are getting 4 or 5 shots at billfish everyday but only about 20 percent of the billfish are interested in chasing the rigged baits, with most of the fish just sinking out on the presentations.”  

“Still, it appears that the action will continue for awhile and it probably reflects some billfish movement from the Cabo San Lucas side, across to the mainland side,” Edwards said. “Charters have been considerably slow this past week and only reflected 4 offshore fishing days that resulted in 7 stripers and 1 mako shark for anglers efforts. Inshore fishing produced some good small game action that included 14 jack crevalle, 1 corvina, 1 striper, 25 white snapper, 16 red snapper and 35 perch for their five charters.”

Overall, sea conditions were very good and the area had nearly flat calm conditions, with inshore temperatures at 70 degrees, rising to 74 degrees offshore, at about 20 miles or so and bluing up to good billfish waters. The bait supply remained very good throughout the week for both, live bait and fresh dead baits for rigging.

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