FISHING HARD FOR TUNA AT CORBETEÑA AND EL BANCO ON THE MARLA II
Oct. 23-25, 2006, Merle Erickson, Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico:
Danny Osuna of Marla's Sportfishing's Puerto Vallarta charter boat Marla II came through again for us on this fishing trip. Although we caught no giant tuna this time, it was a great trip.
For the three fishing days, we caught 11 tuna, with many of those over 100 pounds, a dorado, a pargo, and a handful of rainbow runners.
Capt. Danny and first mate Alveno of the Marla II worked their butts off for us, and that was the difference between what would have been a slow trip and what turned out to be a great trip. I can’t say enough about these guys’ skill and determination to put their anglers on fish. I’ve already booked several fishing trips to Puerto Vallarta with them for the 2007 season. You can reach them at www.marlasportfishing.com, or you can email Danny at email@example.com.
I arrived in Puerto Vallarta at midnight on Oct. 22, 2006. I stayed at Paradise Village for this trip and was fishing with my friends Ed Maydew from North Carolina and Doug Hanna from Dallas.
At 6:30 a.m. on Monday Oct. 23rd and I and my friends met Danny and mate Alveno on the Marla II.
We made caballito baits in the predawn darkness out in Puerto Vallarta bay, filling the live well in about 45 minutes with 70 cabbies. It was lots of fun catching these baits and they were very lively and strong all day.
We had a beautiful sunrise over the mountains with the Puerto Vallarta city lights in the foreground.
We arrived at El Banco about 9:30 a.m. or so, and we quickly made some skipjack and bullet tuna for baits and then started drifting with them over one of the pinnacles.
I got a bite on a skippie within about 45 seconds, but farmed the fish. The hook had turned into the bait on the bite, and based on the way the skipped was mangled, Danny said it was a good sized tuna.
Danny hooked up a yellowfin tuna on a fly-lined skippie bait and handed the tuna off to Ed who was in Puerto Vallarta for the first time. Ed has caught wahoo and tuna in the Gulf of Mexico and striped marlin in Cabo San Lucas, but never a big tuna. This 100 pound class Puerto Vallarta yellowfin tuna put the hurt on him for about 15 minutes when Ed handed off to me. We gaffed the fish about five minutes later dragging a 100-plus pound tuna into the boat.
Puerto Vallarta offshore fishing water was clear and calm at the Banco. He smiled and said, “They are biting this morning.” Danny wanted to catch more bait given that the tuna were biting. We caught another 10 or 12 skipjack, putting some in the boat’s spare tank for chunking.
We got hooked up on a fly-lined bullet tuna bait, with Danny or Alveno on the hookup. Ed took the fish again for round two with a Puerto Vallarta tuna. This time he used the harness and the tackle rather than fighting the gear and brought the 100 pound class tuna to the boat in about 15 minutes. Danny gaffed this fish in the head.
Danny decided to throw a few chunk baits into the water while we continued drifting with our skippies and bullet tuna. A rainbow runner showed in the slick, then a football tuna, then a 100 pound tuna, then a 150 pound tuna. Danny starts shouting and a chunk bait is immediately bit and Alveno lands a big rainbow runner. Danny throws a few more chunks and we see some bigger tuna circling in the blue water 10 to 15 feet below. Doug gets a football tuna, we get a couple more rainbow runners, Alveno gets another football tuna, and I catch a 25 pound pargo on a small skippie that I’m drifting. This all takes place over a 30 minute period of time with multiple hookups, lots of shouting, and the billy club bouncing off the skulls of fish. It was crazy fishing action and we were loving it.
Ed got bit. We all yell at Ed to put it in gear. The circle hook finds the corner of the 120 pound tuna’s mouth. Ed fights this fish for about 20 minutes, handles the tackle better, and ultimately brings the fish boat side where it is gaffed and dragged aboard.
We had a light wind, clear blue water. The deck of the Marla II was covered with rainbow runners, pargo and five tuna on the deck. We drifted over the pinnacles a few more times while chunking, and at about 1:30 p.m. Danny said that it was time to go to Roca Corbeteña. Some bigger tuna had been caught there by the Top Gun and the Pacifico.
We made the run to Roca Corbeteña. On the way. Alveno started cleaning the fish so we’ll have top quality tuna to take back to the States. The tuna went into the Marla II’s coolers where they were covered in ice.
At Roca Corbeteña, fished west of the rock with our live skippies. After a couple of hours without much action the downrigger bait got slammed.
Doug put the reel in gear, but the circle hook didn’t find its mark. The five pound skipjack came back mangled and Danny said “big tuna.” Danny decided to put one of our cabbies out way behind the boat while we slow trolled the skippies.
Danny trolls toward a melee of birds and tuna skyrocketing out of the water. As we got near the area, Danny jumped up from his captain’s chair and puts the Avet 30 with the cabbie in gear and the line comes tight.
I start to crank on the tuna as we continue to troll our other live baits. As the fight progresses, the tuna pulls harder, and I ask for my Smitty spyder harness and plate. After about 10 minutes, the fish is straight up and down, and is pulling hard. I get strapped in and start to slowly work the fish up. The Avet 30 is a sweet reel and is a nice match to the Shimano rod with which it is paired. Danny says he’ll be getting several more Avets in the near future. We caught a bunch of fish on this one rod and reel combo and all three of us were very impressed with it. When we get color, Alveno leads the fish into gaffing range and Danny sticks the tuna. Alveno grabs another gaff and hits the fish again. The yellowfin is much bigger than we all initially thought. Danny says it is 160 to 170 pounds and that guestimate is exactly what I was thinking. Nice fish. Can’t believe I whipped it in 15 minutes on the Avet when we didn’t back down or chase the fish, but instead continued to slow troll. Nice reel, very powerful and smooth.
We fished until about 5:45 p.m. before heading for the Puerto Vallarta marina. We were back at the dock by about 8 p.m. with 4 tuna estimated at 100, 100, 120, and 165-plus pounds, and a couple of 20 pounders to round things out. We also got several rainbow runners and a nice pargo.
Danny’s brother Capt. Scott Osuna on the Marla III got into the tuna late in the day at Corbeteña also landing three tuna at 90, 130 and 180 pounds. The Top Gun got a 180 pound tuna today and the Pacifico got a tuna between 260 and 280 pounds.
Fishing on Oct. 24, 2006:
We fished at Roca Corbeteña, after making about 70 cabbies for live bait in the bay before dawn. I had the touch on the cabbies. When it comes to catching small fish, I really seem to have that down. Ed, Doug and I had fun making bait, as we did each day. It's a great way to start the fishing day.
When we got to Roca Corbeteña, it was a different place, windy with big swells. We trolled live skipjacks most of the day around Corbeteña and various pods of bait, as did the other boats in the area.
Danny tried the kite. We caught a 20 pound yellowfin tuna on a caballito bait fished way behind the boat, but that was pretty much it for us. The panga Jennifer caught a 320 pound tuna late in the day not more than a quarter-mile from us. Our baits got scared several times, but we didn’t get a strike. Danny and Alveno worked hard all day, but it was just tough fishing. We had good baits in the water all day, but it was not our day.
We headed into Puerto Vallarta at about 3:15 p.m. when the wind really picked up. We were all glad to make it back to the marina after getting bounced around out there all day. A few boats caught marlin at Roca Corbeteña, but it was generally very slow fishing today.
Fishing on Oct. 25, 2006:
This was the last fishing day of the trip, and we again made bait in the bay as the sun rose over the mountains east of Puerto Vallarta. We quickly had 70 live caballito baits in the Marla II’s tanks.
We arrived at Roca Corbeteña with half-a-dozen other boats also there, at about 9 a.m. and make some live skipjack baits. It is windy and pretty rough again.
We slow trolled, changing baits periodically, and making fresh bait as the day went on, but we didn't get any knockdowns.
As the afternoon wore on, a few tuna popped up feeding on flying fish. Danny said, “The wind is dying down. We may have to stay until dark when the tuna come up.”
At about 4:30 Danny decided to fly the kite and fish caballito baits for tuna feeding on flying fish. We saw a couple of tuna at 150 pounds plus blow up on flying fish, coming completely out of the water, a lot of white water and tuna boils everywhere. A couple big tuna boiled on the live chum baits 20 yards behind the boat, but they didn’t hit our fly-lined cabbies.
The wind was from the south, while the current was running north.
Our kite flew north of the boat, while our fly-lined baits drifted south with the current.
Danny positioned the Marla II south of the breaking tuna and working birds and let out the double caballito kite baits, with two cabbies attached to separate leaders on a three-way swivel, on the Avet 30 reel that we all are impressed with.
The cabbies splashed enticingly as they neared the bait ball and boiling tuna. After about 2 minutes, there was a blow up on the kite bait and Alveno cranked until the line came tight.
Ed worked the 95 pound yellowfin tuna to the boat in 20 minutes while we continued to drift. Danny worked the rod under and around the boat to avoid the props and Danny gaffed the fish.
The tuna are busting around us. Danny and Alveno worked feverishly to get the kite out again. We reeled in the fly-lined baits and repositioned the boat, and the kite baits went out again.
Within a few minutes, we were hooked up. Doug brought the 15 pound dorado to the boat.
We repositioned, chummed a few cabbies, and put the kite out again. The blow up happens about 30 seconds after the baits get in the zone. We shout at the eruption of foam where the cabbies used to be. Danny cranks furiously until the line comes tight.
Doug battled the fish for about 20 minutes and Danny decked a 120 to 130 pound class tuna. One of the two kite bait leaders is broken off and Danny says, “Two tuna hit the baits at the same time and one broke off.” Doug raves about the Avet and says he might have to buy one of them for next season.
As Alveno bounces the billy club off the big tuna’s head, the clicker on the fly-lined bait in the rod holder goes off. Danny yells, “You are bit! Put it in gear.”
I put the Penn 50SW in gear. Danny brought over my plate and harness after about 5 minutes. Alveno gaffed the 100 pound class tuna, our third tuna of the afternoon.
Danny repositioned the boat and the kite baits went back out, and within a minute, we had a big blow up, but then the hook pulled.
The kite when back out and it was not more than 3 minutes before we had another tuna. Ed fought this fish about 20 minutes in the heavy chop west of Corbeteña and Danny gaffed the 110 pound tuna on the first try. We had four nice tuna in the boat.
Alveno and Danny scrambled to get us back into position and we put the kite out one more time. The sun was edging close to the horizon and we were only about 20 minutes from sunset. We fished these kite baits for about 5 minutes, but we had no takers. Danny said it was time to go.
We cleared the baits, and high fived all around. It had been two hours of insane fishing action on the kite and we had incredible sights all around us with birds crashing into the water and 100-plus pound tuna coming completely out of the water and boiling on flying fish.
Danny and Alveno had huge smiles on their faces, as did we. Danny fired up the Marla II for the run back to Paradise Village at Puerto Vallarta.
Doug, Ed and I shared a few cold Coronas on the run into the marina while we watched the sunset behind Roca Corbeteña.
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