TOUGH FISHING FOR BIG TUNA AND MARLIN
Aug. 21-23, 2006, Merle Erickson, Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico:
This is a fishing report for Aug. 21-23, 2006, fishing off Puerto Vallarta on the boats Torture Chamber and Prime Time with Capt. Josh Temple.
Puerto Vallarta, Aug. 20, 2006:
Doug Hanna and I arrived in Puerto Vallarta from DFW and caught a cab to Punta Mita where we stayed for this trip. We checked in with Hector at Margaritas and he got us set up in our condo that was booked through luxurysurf.com. Everything went off without a hitch and we were on the beach having a beer before we knew it. Capt. Josh Temple arrived Sunday night for dinner about 8 p.m. and he brought his new deckhand Dillon with him. Dillon caught a corvina that day and Hector cooked it up for us a couple of ways. Great dinner and we made plans for fishing on Monday, Aug. 21, 2006.
Puerto Vallarta, Aug. 21, 2006:
We caught a ride to the Torture Chamber, a 35 foot Cabo Express, on a panga in front of Josh Temple’s place on the beach in Puerto Vallarta. After a quick search of our bags at 6 a.m. on the beach by a Mexican Marine with an AK-47, we were aboard the "Torture Chamber." A guy standing in the shadows holding an AK-47 as you walk onto the beach eliminates any need for coffee as a wake-up device.
We climbed aboard the Torture Chamber, and it was sweet, gorgeous, and comfortable. The mates are Largo and Dillon.
Dillon is new on Josh’s team and attends to food, drinks, and other client needs. He’s also an ace with the camera, as he would prove as the trip wore on.
Largo is a skilled deckie and there is no mistaking that. We headed offshore to Roca Corbeteña and got there in a little more than an hour as the dawn broke.
We filled the tuna tubes with skippies in about 5 minutes and started trolling. We trolled for nada until about 10 a.m. Josh checked with the other Puerto Vallarta charter boats fishing near us, Pacifico, Top Gun, Marla II, etc., and found out that nobody is doing much.
Josh decided to fish west of Roca Corbeteña on “the flats,” based on his belief that the fish may be holding off of the Rock during the day. The fish seem to pop up late afternoon around Roca Corbeteña, so they must be somewhere nearby. Why not west?
We trolled west of Roca Corbeteña about 5 miles under beautiful blue skies, light wind, and with gorgeous blue water. I handed Josh a Gatorade and told him that I liked his strategy of breaking away from the other boats fishing near the Rock. Just as I do, the right rigger got slammed and Josh screamed “Huge Boil!” Doug Hanna was up this morning and ran to the rod, putting the reel in free spool. Josh was screaming “Let him eat, Let him eat,” and Doug continued to feed the fish line. After about 7 or 8 seconds, and when it was clear the fish was swimming off with the skippie, Josh said, “Okay, lock it up.”
Doug left the rod in the holder, pushed the reel to “strike” and started cranking. Josh slowly put the boat in gear and the line popped from the rigger clip and came tight. The hook found its mark and the fish took off like a shot. The reel screamed, the rod got a deep bend, and the smoke billowed from the Cabo’s diesels. “ZZZZZZZ” You know the sound and the feeling it sends through everyone on the boat. Hook Up.
Josh screamed at me to clear the other lines and pandemonium descended over the cockpit. I cleared the other outrigger and Dillon cleared the downrigger in a matter of moments. I went to check on Doug who was now in his Smitty harness and plate. I looked down at the Avet 30 2-speed and realized that Doug was almost spooled. The fish’s first run was not over and Josh started to back down hard in pursuit of the fish to keep the remaining 150 yards of Spectra on the reel.
Doug gained back some line quickly and settled in for the dogfight that was to come. There was a lot of back and forth, and the fish went deep suggesting it was a tuna. Doug is Canadian, as is Josh, so during the fight, we were treated to music from various Canadian bands.
Doug pushed the drag to full after about 45 minutes and started to make progress on the tuna. At an hour, we had color. I climbed up on the tower of the Cabo to get some photos, and as the fish circled, we could see it was well over 200 pounds. This monster yellowfin tuna had the giant sickle fins that are so spectacular in the water. Josh was shouting, “Look at those Alison fins!” Doug got a good look at the big yellowfin tuna and blurted out some combination of commonly used expletives.
Largo got the leader and Josh yelled at Dillon to stick the tuna with the flying gaff. On his second chance, Dillon stuck the fish right under the gill plate and Largo hit the fish with a second gaff. Largo and Dillon had the tuna through the door before I could get down the tower ladder. Doug stood over the big tuna triumphantly.
Josh yelled down, “So much for that slow tuna bite.”
It was a big fat tuna fish. I was not sure what it weighed, but would have guessed 270 pounds. Doug asked Josh how big and Josh said, “275.” We thought about taping it, but Josh said, “It’s 275, you don’t need to tape it.”
The Avet 30 and the Rogue rod performed beautifully. The rod has a fast action, but was forgiving enough so that Doug didn’t get slammed to the rail when the tuna made a big surge, a very nice combination of graphite and glass. Both Doug and I were very impressed with the gear.
Dillon and Largo cleaned the fish within minutes and put the tuna loins in the Torture Chamber’s fish boxes for vacuum packing on shore. Dillon also prepared some sashimi for us after the tuna had chilled for a few hours. Fresh sashimi west of Roca Corbeteña in the afternoon, nice.
We ran back to Roca Corbeteña to make fresh baits, and that took us about two minutes after we got back to the Rock. We got baits and moved off west of Roca Corbeteña before we got back to trolling. In the meantime, Josh called his amigos on the other Puerto Vallarta charter boats and told them about the tuna and our location.
We trolled for another couple hours before we got another take down, this time on the downrigger. I ran to the reel, the Avet 30 again, and Josh shouted “Let him eat. Let him eat.” I free spooled the reel until Josh told me to lock it up. I did so, and the line came tight as Josh put the Cabo in gear.
The 11/0 circle hook found its mark, and line peeled from the Avet 30. We were not sure what it was initially, but after a few minutes, a black marlin went airborne. The fish was not big, but put on a great show for us. I brought it boat side in 15 minutes for the release. Josh put the black marlin, my first black, at 225 pounds.
That was it for the day, and we fished until about 6:30 p.m. before heading back to Punta Mita. Cold Modelos were the happy hour fare for the run to Mita, and we passed one up to Josh in the tower. He called down, “Thank you.” Doug and I shout back to him, “Thank you!” and he got a big smile on his face and yelled back, “Three more days!” He took a chance by fishing west of Roca Corbeteña and it paid off for us.
We ate dinner at Margaritas again, which everyone seems to call Hector’s, with Josh and the crew and had the tuna sashimi style and grilled. Awesome dinner, good company, light breeze off the water on the beach. Great first day.
Puerto Vallarta, Aug. 22, 2006:
We were back on the Torture Chamber, and with same drill, but there was no one with an AK-47 on the beach to talk to that morning.
It was another beautiful ride to Roca Corbeteña, and another day of perfect weather at the Rock. We made bait quickly and started trolling. Capt. Josh again headed west of the Rock onto “the flats,” where we trolled without event until about 10:30 a.m., except that we had some rat sailfish try to eat our baits now and then, but that was only a nuisance.
Doug is up again this morning and Josh yelled, “Watch the downrigger.” Suddenly the reel sang and Josh screamed, “Huge boil, huge boil.”
Doug put the downrigger reel, the Avet 30 2-speed again, into free spool. Josh was screaming, “Let him eat, let him eat. That was a huge boil!”
Doug let the fish run, which it did slowly at first before taking off in earnest. Josh said, “Okay, lock it up,” and Doug did so immediately.
Again, the line came tight quickly and we were hooked up. This time however, an explosion erupted behind the boat as a big black marlin went airborne right to left. At a distance of 50 feet off the transom, 13 to 14 feet of angry black marlin made two amazing jumps, moving right to left.
The second jump was one of those in which the fish only clears the water by a foot or two, but the jump covered a great distance and at a rapid speed. The black left a huge bubble trail as it hit the water on top of a swell in the 87 degree blue water and there was a chorus of shouts from the Torture Chamber.
Doug was concentrating on working the reel and missed these jumps, but I told him he was hooked up to a big black marlin. Doug had wanted a big marlin for many years, and had fished Cabo in pursuit of such a fish, and had hoped to catch one on our prior trips to Puerto Vallarta. This was his first solid hook up on a fish over 500 pounds, and he was determined and focused. Doug often tells me he is not “into fishing” the way I am, but he could have fooled anyone watching him that day.
The marlin hit the water and took off away from the boat back toward Roca Corbeteña.
Josh backed down hard and water poured into the cockpit. Doug stood in 14 inches of water during most of the fight because Josh continually had to chase this fish. After another 20 minutes or so, the fish came up and jumped again going away from us. We were looking at its back from above as it came straight up and out of the water, then back down. It did this two or three times. Fat fish across the back. It again went deep, peeling line from the Avet 30. Doug pushed the drag to full, but could not slow the big marlin down. He lost several hundred yards of line, and Josh continued to give chase.
After another 20 minutes, the fish came up again, and jumped about 40 feet behind the boat. When it came up, Josh backed down hard. This time it made jumps completely out of the water, again moving right to left. The second in the series of jumps was remarkable. The fish was straight off the transom, and in full profile. It’s stomach was at least 5 feet above the water and it was gliding effortlessly in midair. The jump was like the one in the Guy Harvey photo of the grander from Madeira. The black’s colors were highlighted against the cobalt blue water, and the sun reflected the golds and blues of its back and shoulders perfectly, just an amazing scene.
Doug continued to pressure the fish at sunset drag, and was thumbing the spool on each run by the fish. He just could not stop the fish. After about an hour an a half, Josh indicated that he thought the fish had died. Largo started hand lining the fish up, and this was going well, but ultimately, the spectra broke.
I'm not sure how big this black was, but Josh put it somewhere between 650 to over 750 pounds. It was a long fish, but it was not clear exactly how fat it was. I don’t think it was as big as the black marlin caught on the Top Gun on the same day.
We went back to fishing after getting fresh bait, and I hooked a 300 pound blue marlin on the downrigger, Avet 30 again, about 4 p.m. The marlin tore off on a vicious run, and came out of the water behind the boat three or four times before throwing the hook after about 45 seconds. I asked Josh what I’d done wrong and he said jokingly, “You didn’t hook the fish properly.” That is the kind of insightful comment that demonstrates Josh’s commitment to angler education. Ha Ha. That was it for the day, and the run to Punta Mita was again a nice one. Dinner at Hector’s was great, this time with most of us choosing Mexican food. The Crab Volcanos are a must.
Puerto Vallarta, Aug. 23, 2006:
Doug had to fly home today, so I was fishing alone with Josh and Maro today on the Prime Time, a 30 foot Grady White. We left Puerto Vallarta and went back to Roca Corbeteña, made bait, and started trolling near the rock.
The first few hours of the day were nice, with a mild northwest wind. About 9 a.m., the wind laid down, then switched around from the south. It started to pick up, then gust. Before you know it, there were big swells from the south and plenty of chop on top of that. We trolled around for hours, west of Corbeteña, south, north, for nothing.
Most of the other Puerto Vallarta boats pulled the plug by 2 p.m. or so, but we kept at it.
Danny Osuna on the Puerto Vallarta charter boat Marla II got the only fish of the day that we heard of, a 200-pound class black marlin.
We had waves break over the bow of the Prime Time and took a little water over the side, etc. It was unpleasant out there, but Josh didn’t give up. He said that sometimes the tuna come up in these conditions and we were both hoping for a monster tuna to bring back to the dock.
But it didn’t happen and finally about 5:30 p.m., Josh said, “Enough of this, let’s go.” I was glad he called it because I was not feeling too great. We got pounded on the ride to Punta Mita and all three of us were drenched and had our fillings loosened a little by the time we hit the beach.
Dinner at Hector's was great. The guys who fished on the boat Wildcat joined us. They were skunked that day and had not had good luck on their trip. At dinner on the beach, the wind was howling and Josh said that the forecast for August 24th was for more of the same, if not worse. He said we would not fish as I’d originally planned. That was fine with me. I was not anxious to get pounded around out at Roca Corbeteña again, especially for not a single bite.
Puerto Vallarta, Aug. 24, 2006:
I changed my flight on American Airlines and flew home a day early. I picked up the vacuum packed tuna Doug caught on the way to the airport at Carnes Del Mundo and the fish looked to be in great shape.
It was a great trip to Puerto Vallarta, with disappointing weather on the back end. We did well above average for the boats fishing on Aug. 21-22. Josh worked his butt off for us, and he obviously knows his stuff. We got the only tuna over 200 pounds during the days we fished, to my knowledge. It was tough fishing, with many Puerto Vallarta boats getting only one good bite a day, if that. A fair number of boats were skunked. Almost everyone was skunked on Aug. 23. No one seems to know why the tuna have not shown in force yet, but the strong north current, which is unusual this time of year, seems to be a possible culprit.
(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.