Puerto Vallarta, Mexico



Nov. 22-24, 2006, Merle Erickson, Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico:

Fishing on the charter boats Prime Time and Bad Influence with Capt. Josh Temple:

I arrived in Puerto Vallarta on November 21st with my family. We stayed at Paradise Village, a great place to stay with young kids. This was my final Puerto Vallarta trip of the 2006 season, and my expectations were low. We were in town for a Thanksgiving vacation. I had booked two days of fishing with Josh Temple of Prime Time Adventures at Puerto Vallarta. Rich Janowski of Denver was scheduled to fish with me for two days.

On the night of November 21st Josh Temple’s wife Catherine emailed that fishing was “great.” If Catherine said fishing was great, we were in for something outstanding.

Fishing on Nov. 22, 2006:

Rich emailed me that he was bailing out on fishing today. I caught a cab from Paradise Village to Punta Mita. I got to Josh’s place on the beach at 7:20 a.m., which made me 20 minutes late. I am never late for fishing. Josh greeted me warmly when he saw me, “YOU’RE LATE!” I told him that it was nice to see him again too. Largo and Lora, who were there, both laughed at my retort and we piled in the panga to head for the Prime Time. Josh told me that he’d caught 3 tuna over 200 pounds on November 21st, and that I was in for a butt kicking.

We headed out to Roca Corbeteña and made bait and went through the standard drill.

We got our first bite at around 8:30 a.m. on a good size skipjack. Josh yelled at me to “Let him eat, let him eat,” as the Avet clicker screeched with the reel in free spool. I did as instructed while thumbing the spool to avoid any potential backlash. We put it in gear after about 15 seconds. A small blue marlin went airborne behind the boat and I scrambled to get in the Braid harness. The blue took off like a rocket and got along side the boat doing a series of 20 to 25 jumps. Josh raced after the fish while I tried to keep the line tight. This fish put on a fantastic show tearing all over the ocean in the morning sun. Josh did a masterful job of handling the boat. We brought it alongside the boat and Largo removed the hook and released the 150 pound blue marlin unharmed.

Around 11 a.m. Josh's radio got Manny Osuna on the boat Pacifico. They had 5 tuna on the deck with 3 over 200 pounds and two in the mid to high-100s. Wow. Another guy fishing out there solo said it was nuts. I think he said that he got a 180 pound tuna fishing all by himself at El Banco. That is impressive.

Josh talked about how the strong south current had turned the Puerto Vallarta bite on during the last few days.

Sometime in the early afternoon we got another knockdown, another small blue, released in about 10 minutes.

We had a tuna bite and a final knockdown at about 3:30 p.m., but I missed the marlin, making us 2-for-3 on the day on billfish and 0-for-1 on tuna.

Josh said that the day before, the big tuna were skyrocketing outside of Corbeteña in the afternoon and early evening. About 5 p.m., Josh said things didn’t look like they had, but you can never tell.

I said let’s head in. Josh was ready to fish until dark, but he said he was fine heading in with 2 blues for the day.

Fishing on Nov. 24, 2006:

Rich Janowski was waiting in the lobby for me. We met Greg Warnick who was dropping off his son Josh to go with us as an observer and angler in the event of double or triple headers.

We headed out to fish aboard the boat Bad Influence. Oscar was the mate. We saw a beautiful sunrise on the run out, and made it to El Banco around 7:45 a.m. We quickly put the bait rigs out and caught half a dozen skipjack and bullet tuna. The clicker screeched and Josh Temple fed the fish line waiting for about five seconds before putting it in gear. Hook up!

Poor Rich. Never caught a fish in his life, and on his first fishing trip, 30 seconds into it, he’s hooked up to a 140 pound tuna. Rich is a big guy, a good 215 or so, and in pretty good shape. The fish was on the deck 25 minutes after we arrived at El Banco. We posed Rich’s fish for a few pictures. We got about four shots before Rich started to look green. He then leaned over and vomited into the ocean. A sensitive and quick thinking Josh caught that moment on film.

Within about 90 seconds, we got bit on the flat line. The other two baits got slammed at that moment. I hooked my fish, and brought it boat side in about 15 minutes. Josh pulled the circle hook through the fish’s jaw and cut the line, then pulled the line back through the tuna’s jaw, but without the hook. The 140-150 pound tuna swam off unharmed.

We got bit again within about 5 minutes.

By 9:30 a.m., we had three 100-plus pound tuna, with two released. We caught some more bait after about 20 minutes, then trolled for another 45 minutes. The bite had shut down and it had gotten quiet at El Banco. There were probably 11 or 12 boats out there.

We started heading to Corbeteña and about 5 miles south of El Banco, Josh spotted a bird pile. We saw a 300 pound blue marlin free jumping just south of the bait ball, and Josh was marking a bunch of tuna under and around the bait ball. One of our skipjack got wahooed, and that was it. So, we headed off to Corbeteña.

We got to Corbeteña about noon. Beautiful weather, light wind, clear blue water, birds working, several bait balls.

We trolled primarily west of the rock and a little bit south. Josh was marking a lot of tuna under the skipjack schools, but they were not coming up to bite our baits.

The baits got very nervous every time we got near the bait ball and the big meter marks, but we had no takers.

Finally about 3:30 p.m., the short corner line goes off. Josh yells at me “Let him eat, let him eat!” The fish swims off, slows for a second, then takes off again. I put the Avet in gear, and the line comes tight. The Black Marlin immediately goes airborne behind the boat heading straight away from us. The Avet screams under 30 pounds of drag. By the time I get in the harness, the black is 400 yards away from us. By the time I get clipped into the harness, the big black is on the horizon jumping away. “Big Marlin,” Josh shouts, “500 maybe 600.”

Josh turns the Bad Influence and we start to chase the fish. We’ve lost a good 600 yards of line. The marlin is still ripping line off the reel. I crank as fast as I can to get line on the reel as we start chasing the fish down. Eventually, we get within 75 yards of the fish, and it goes ballistic again. The fish makes several spectacular jumps behind the transom coming completely out of the water.

After about 15 minutes, I ask Josh if I can go to full drag. He says with 250 pound leader, we should stick at strike. We finally release the fish unharmed. Josh estimates the fish at 500 pounds. Great fish, and an amazing fight.

Josh said he thought the 200-plus pound tuna that he got here on Monday would start to chew as the afternoon wore on.

About 45 minutes later, a black marlin dorsal fin popped up behind a little skippy bait and it jumped to get away. Josh yelled, “Get ready." The clicker screeched as the marlin inhaled our little skippy and we were hooked up again. I got in the harness but something was not right. Josh said, “You have this on backward.” That’s embarrassing, but things get crazy in the heat of the moment.

The fish then took off on a series of jumps that were incredible. Within about 45 seconds, it was ahead of the boat greyhounding. This black marlin did not make one long run, but instead jumped three or four times. The jumps were incredible full profile shots either the tail walking type or the graceful greyhounding jumps that striped marlin make so many of. Josh was spinning the boat around like a top to try to keep us in position.

Josh said that this marlin was actually bigger than the first fish and larger than he had first thought. Josh instructed Oscar on where and how to position the boat and we got the marlin off the corner quickly. Josh got the leader and brought the big black marlin just a few feet from the surface before yanking on the leader to break the fish off. She swam away unharmed and lit up. Beautiful fish. Josh said this black marlin was somewhere around 500 pounds.

I was doing a lot of shouting. Unbelievable, two big black marlin in 90 minutes. Unreal. I still can’t believe it happened. My biggest marlin prior to this trip was a 500 pound blue released in Cabo San Lucas in November 2000.

Most captains would head for the barn at this point, but it never even crossed Josh’s mind to call it a day. I love it.

We troll around the bait ball west of Corbeteña for another hour as sunset approaches for nada.

The tuna start to come up and are chasing flyers.

Josh motors the Bad Influence toward the breaking tuna and before long we are right in the middle of dozens of tuna jumping and crashing around the boat, some blowing up within 15 feet of us. Most of these fish were not big, in the 30 to 60 pound class, but a few 100 pounders were in the mix.

Josh grabs a 30 pound Avet reel with a matching Rogue rod and searches for a popper to pitch to the breaking tuna. You gotta love it when the captain can’t wait to throw the popper to the tuna after already putting in a 12 hour day.

Josh starts to throw a jig from the bow of the Bad Influence while we troll one dead bullet tuna and the one small skipjack. We are sure the skipjack is going to get drilled in the middle of the tuna melee, but it never does. Go figure.

Josh is pitching the jig and racing it back so it looks like a fleeing flying fish, and we are watching and waiting for the strike. He pitches the jig way out there and starts zipping the lure back. As it is skipping back toward us, about half way back to the boat, a tuna comes up behind the lure at high speed. The big yellowfin is coming hard for the jig and has its back up out of the water and we can see its eyes and its black back. There is about one-quarter of an inch of water pouring over the fish's head and back as it closes in on the jig. We can see its silver dollar sized eyes, and the clear blue water creates a thin jacket over the black, gold, and blue running down the fish’s back and sides in the pre-sunset light. Incredible.

The fish has to kick hard to catch up to the jig and shakes its shoulders and head slightly a couple time as it accelerates. There is a huge explosion as it opens its mouth and swallows the lure heading straight down.

This tuna looks to be in the 150 pound class and we watched it racing for maybe 7 to 10 yards before it annihilated the skip jig. Josh says, “$#@@!!, this thing is going to spool me.” Josh tries to stop the tuna, but it is smoking the drag on the little Avet. Josh tries to break the fish off, but he straight tied the spectra, so that is not going to happen.

Josh lets Josh Warnick pull on the fish for a while. After about 15 minutes, the hook pulls, thankfully, and we call it a day at about 6:30 p.m. We made it back to Punta Mita about 7:20 p.m., after dark.

It was an incredible day with three 100-plus tuna, two released, a 150 pound tuna on the topwater plug, and 2 big 500-pound class black marlin released. Unbelievable. Thanks to Josh for a killer trip.

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