Puerto Vallarta, Mexico



Aug. 19, 2005, Josh Temple, Prime Time Adventures, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico Fishing Report:

The hardcore group of Puerto Vallarta sportfishing charter captains down here, like Manny of the Yolaray, Danny and Scott of the Marla 1 and 2s, and myself are operating out there like a well oiled machine.

It's pretty heart warming for me this year especially, because I can remember a time a few years ago when these boys were looking the other way when I said "hi," and they were all laughing behind my back when a pale skinned Canadian showed up in town with kites and balloons. But now I am extremely stoked to have those Puerto Vallarta guys as bros, on and off the water.

We launched the Grady at Puerto Vallarta on Friday afternoon and by sundown the first match of the 2005/06 Caballito Cup was well under way. Shrek held up well, but in the end I absolutely demolished him with a margin of over 20 baits. In his defense however, Shrek was plagued with some serious fouls like hooking the coaming pads, his knee cap, and just about anything else he could bury a size 8 sabiki rig into. What can I say? We were literally vibrating at the thought of Puerto Vallarta fishing this season and it was all we could do to get a few short hours of sleep that night.

Puerto Vallarta fishing day one dawns early. Actually we're heading to cow town long before sunrise as usual, and it's Shrek, David, and me for day one and two. The boat is running awesome and we can all feel the mojo flowing strong.

We pull into the high spot and just as we drop the boat off of plane a 300 pound black marlin explodes on the bait ball we've stopped at. The beast jumped a half-dozen times just detonating on the bait as if to say, "WELCOME HOME BOYS."

As we're scrambling to get the bait sticks out, I look around and the entire area is vibrating with life. There's at least a dozen bait balls foaming on the surface and 50 to 100 pound tuna are everywhere. We decide to go with the big baits right away and as luck would have it we get 4 on the first pass through the bait. It didn't take long.

Just as Shrek and David finish positioning the baits in the riggers, a 500 pound Puerto Vallarta black marlin skyrockets out of the water and crashes sideways on the right rigger bait, stunning it instantly before the marlin turns around and demolishes it again, this time taking it right down. Zzzzz goes the right rigger and it's chaos as we're thrown into the fire once again not 5 minutes after getting to the spot. HERE WE GO.

The marlin goes ballistic and eventually throws the 12/0 circle hook but who cares? We are pumped, and it's a flurry of action as the bait sticks go out again.

This time we get 2 big ones, and out they go in the riggers and by now the meter is lit up with huge tuna meter marks and as we make our first run down the ridge a massive fish DETONATES on the long rigger this time and leaves a frothing, boiling mass of white water where the bait had just been. Zzzzz and David waits patiently to set up on the fish, and when he did that fish felt 35 pounds of drag and melted line off the T-REX AVET like it was in free spool. This is a real one. David straps in and it's off to the races with the fish just dumping line as we scramble to get in the other bait and turn to chase the fish.

David does a great job but once again, malo suerte and the 12/0 circle pulls shortly thereafter. THAT'S OKAY THOUGH. We've come out of the gate running and it's just a matter of time before one sticks for good.

We put the bait sticks back out and blast through the bait schools again and set out 3 huge baits this time around. We turn to make our run down the spot and 30 feet off the right corner an absolutely giant tuna detonates through a bait ball feeding off the stern. The fish came out 3 times crashing through the bait and it was MINIMUM 300 pounds. The right rigger got violently nervous when it got pulled by but the fish must have filled it's gut because we didn't get bit. That was a big fish.

That's it for the rest of the fishing day, and the next day we head back out of Puerto Vallarta to the same spot, but it's considerably slower and we don't touch a fish on the big baits all day. We could have done considerable damage with a live well plugged with healthy caballito's on the 50 to 100 pounders boiling around us both days, but we had the big fish blinders on and stuck with the big baits. David's caught some giants with me at Puerto Vallarta over the years and his persistence was about to pay off.

Steve Danziger and his crew showed up for fishing on Monday and Tuesday, and we opted to head out to another Puerto Vallarta high spot early. We get there and there's considerably bigger fish boiling around in the 100 to 250 pound range and it doesn't take long to get 2 tunas around 150 and a nice sailfish for Brian, his first, and we lose another sail.

Brian has had trouble getting a personal tuna over 100 pounds. That is to say Brian has not fished down here at Puerto Vallarta for tuna until Monday. On Tuesday his luck would change as we're drifting down the ridge with cabies out and I'm tossing a topwater plug at schools of boiling 100 pounders when a massive eruption occurs under the balloon bait. Brian scrambles for the rod and cranks the hook into his first cow, and our first 200 plus pounder of the season, 223 pounds and a big congratulations to Brian.

Throughout the fishing day we whack away at 50 to 150 pounders on bait and iron. We see meter marks waaaaay deep and drop down 200 plus feet with the iron and start whacking tunas one after another. Pretty cool stuff.

Shrek and I need to restock on bait, so we head into Puerto Vallarta after Tuesday and spend probably the most miserable 4 hours of my life in torrential rain, lightning, and heavy wind trying desperately to catch 50 baits for yesterday. We're Canadian, sure, but Jiminny Christmas we were cold, sick, and tired when we finally crawled into the cuddy of the boat in soaking wet clothes for a few short hours of sleep. Gotta take the good with the bad.

We hit the fishing water yesterday with David once again who was super gracious in inviting one of our amigos here in Punta de Mita, Hector, who some of you know from El Dorado restaurant which his family owns. Hector now has his own restaurant two doors down from El Dorado called Margaritas and Hector is about as nice a human being as you can hope to meet in your lifetime. We've also been asking him to join us out there for over 3 yrs and he's never taken us up on it so it was awesome to see him take the leap.

Hector shows up with Cacho, his panga driver, and enough shrimp, beer, and ceviche to feed an army. Hector doesn't fool around when it comes to food, so he's definitely in the right business. We head out of Puerto Vallarta to the high spot again and get 3 nice baits on the first pass. As Shrek, David, and I are letting them out, 2 giant tuna DETONATE on the baits. Zzzzz... We miss one but I get the hook in mine and before Hector knows what hit him David insists he gets strapped in. Talk about learning to run before you walk. The largest fish Hector has fought before yesterday morning was a 20 pound football he caught with Cacho 3 yrs ago. Cacho is freaking out. Shrek, David, and I are freaking out and Hector is contorting his body into the fight of his lifetime.

Hector's fish melts line of the reel towards deep water and we're racing along at 7 knots to keep up. I will remember the look on Hector's face during the next 1.5 hours for the rest of my life. He fought a fish in the 250 pound range with every ounce of determination he had in his heart, but unfortunately 30 feet from the boat the behemoth shook the circle hook and swam off. Strangely, no one cared. Hector looked relieved, and although Shrek and I would have liked to kill the fish for Hector, somehow the inadvertent release on the fish just seemed to work as a better ending. We all got a real good look at the fish as it circled up from colour for 30 minutes and I think that, and the fight, was the most exciting part of the adventure for Hector and something he will never forget.

What happened though in hindsight, was that we just got waaaaay too eager on that fish and buttoned up the T-REX 50W drag to over 55 pounds. The fish was pulling poor Hector off his feet and I know now we should have been more patient and not tried to muscle the fish in the last 50 yards. We were in a hurry to go and get another one and it probably cost Hector his fish, but it's the old conundrum. There's a fine line between too much drag and not enough.

What's there to do when you lose a big fish but go out and hook another one? We score two big baits this time and 1 minute into our first pass, zzzzz and zzzzz, as two massive fish explode on the rigger baits.

David misses his but I've got mine good so we strap David into it and it's off to the races again.

For the first 45 minutes, the fish acted extremely calm, taking line slowly and deliberately and making us think we had a nice fish in the low 200 range.

Just over an hour into the fight, the fish has evidently had enough and shakes it's head violently several times, pulling David against the rail and then vaporizes into a searing run that has us thinking a 1,000 pound mako or tiger or something just ate our tuna.

Now David and I have had our share of big fish battles together. He caught the 369.8 pounder with me 3 years ago, and we've shared several other big fish moments together over the years. But on this particular fish, David was about to find out what the Torture Chamber is all about. We'd hooked a devil tuna.

To say David took a beating would be an understatement. With over 45 pounds of drag on the fish, David held on while the fish ran for another 2 hours. That's right, 2 hours. It didn't start to circle until we had it on for just over 3 hours. I know there's some who think this is impossible, but when you hook fish on circle hooks and they aren't hurt, and have unusually big hearts, they can dole out the abuse.

The whole time this fight is going on, Manny on the Yolaray, Danny on the Marla, and I are screaming at each other in excitement as they're hooking marlin, tunas, you name it, and we're all so fired up it's sickening. I mean, this kind of fishing is epic to begin with, but when you have that kind of camaraderie out there with fellow captains all cheering each other on and helping each other out, guys, that's just about as good as it gets. What an unbelievable situation the 4 or 5 of us share together down here at Puerto Vallarta. We are all grateful to the fish gods beyond words.

Anyway, back to the TORTURE CHAMBER, which is the unofficial new name of my boat. David is working with everything he's got to lift the fish, clamping down on the spool and trying everything he can to lift the fish, and it's working, albeit slowly, literally inch by inch.

The fishing water out there right now is deep purple and when that fish finally came to colour it must have been 100 feet down...and it looked huge...HUGE.

As the fish inched it's way up it kept growing, and growing, and growing and growing and growing, until pretty much everyone on the boat was shaking with excitement. When the flier went in and the beast hit the deck, it was hard to hear the screaming over the ear drum blowing volume on the stereo but it was there.

Congratulations once again to David Connell who beat a 291 pound giant yellowfin in over 4 hours, and thanks to Manny and the crew of the Yolaray for helping weigh the fish with us back at the Puerto Vallarta dock. And thanks to Hector and Cacho for finally joining us and to all the bros out there on the water. We're shooting for 50 over 200 pounds this year, and 10 over 300 pounds, and with extreme humility I'd say we're off to a fairly good start.

(See "Mexico Fishing News" online for current fishing reports, photos, weather, and water temperatures from Puerto Vallarta and other major Mexican sportfishing areas. Vacation travel articles, fishing maps and seasonal calendars, and fishing related information for Puerto Vallarta may be found at Mexfish.com's main Puerto Vallarta page.