NIGHTTIME MARINA FISHING FOR SNOOK ABOARD BIG KAHUNA
Nov. 30, 2006, Mark Rein, boat Big Kahuna, Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico:
Nov. 26, 2006 (Sunday):
Puerto Vallarta conditions were flat, with frequently glassy water and much cooler weather that allowed us to have the flybridge windows open for the first time since arriving in July. Finally no air conditioning required!. The humidity has dropped noticeably too. Partly cloudy skies helped calm the intense sun. There were a couple rain squalls on radar on the way out but that dissipated quickly. The water temperature was 84-85 degrees and a clean blue.
Tony Ocaranza and I were out of the slip in the dark at 5:15 a.m. with intentions of picking up Bogart "Tigerlily" and Steve "Boomer" at Punta Mita on our way out. We arrived there around 6:20 and waited until 7:10 before declaring them a no-show. While waiting in the anchorage area, I got a chance to see the underwater lights attract small flying fish and needlefish. The sapphire blue water looked cool all lit up.
We headed straight to El Banco where it had been hot the previous three days. We made bait pretty fast, catching skipjacks two and a three on a line at a time. My little bucktail bait jigs that I made are working pretty well
We filled the tubes, some with doubles and put the last two skippies caught right back out.
We slow-trolled all around the high spots for a couple hours for nada but we knew we were in the right place. We watched 15 to 20 Puerto Vallarta boats crowding the peaks catching marlin, sailfish and dorado that were putting on aerial shows. We could also see big puffs of diesel smoke as captains punched it when they hooked up.
About noon we headed west of the spot to where boat Frantic Pace had done well the day before, and to avoid the crowd. About a mile and a half away we hooked a tuna that we first thought was a marlin because it exploded on the bait and made a big splash. When it headed straight down we figured it was probably a tuna though. I put on the harness and made a lot of progress as the fish mistakenly swam toward the boat. At deep color the fish looked pretty big but turned out to be one of the 150 pounders that we heard had been hanging around lately. It taped out at 145.6 pounds.
The rest of the day was a series of short bites and pulled hooks.
We had another tuna on that pulled the hook when I bumped up the drag when the fish was close to the boat. We had a sailfish following a splashy jig for a while while we were trying to make more bait. The sailfish kept playing with the jig and finally bit it but the hook did not stick. We lost a nice dorado at the swim step just as Tony grabbed the leader.
Bait was harder to make in the afternoon and boats would fly over to any spot where fish came up and birds tipped off their location. At one point, we were four boats wide through a bait boil with birds everywhere, but we still could not get a skippy to bite.
Herk on boat Frantic Pace later told me that when they saw spinner dolphin come up in this area, they dropped in baits and instantly caught three 150-pound tunas. We had a couple other baits picked up and let go of later in the day. The bite marks on the baits looked like tuna marks.
This was by far the most active fishing day I have experienced since arriving at Puerto Vallarta in July. There clearly were lots of fish in the area and all the boats got their shot at at least several fish of various species. It was a spectacle to watch all the boats with marlin, sailfish and dorado hooked up and jumping out of the water. Plus the weather and water were awesome and the totally red sky sunset that looked like it was on fire was phenomenal.
Nov. 27, 2006 (Monday night):
I turned on the underwater lights in the slip and within minutes a school of foot long barracuda were circling at my transom. About a half hour after that I heard the 'cudas jumping out of the water like they were evading a predator. I decided to drop a line in with a 2 inch rubber swimbait to see if I could catch whatever was harassing the barracuda.
About ten minutes later I hooked something that took off and shortly thereafter didn't just bend the hook straight, it completely broke it off from the leadhead! I swapped out to a bigger bait and hook and tried it again. Soon afterwards I hooked up again and a big old snook that was at least 30 inches long comes splashing up to the amazement of me and the other boat owners nearby. We all could not believe you could catch a fish this big off your swim step. Welcome to Puerto Vallarta! This was at about 8:30 p.m. I finally packed it in at a little after 1 a.m. after continuous action on a couple species of snapper and small catfish.
About 10 p.m. Fernando from a killer 85 foot Hatteras sportfisher nearby came over to join the fun and told me to switch from swim baits to chunks of tuna on a 4/0 circle hook. The snappers loved this. However, one time something picked up the bait and slowly moved off but I could tell it had not swallowed it yet. Fernando is yelling at me to hit it and I said not yet. Finally I start to feel pressure and reel tight on it. Whatever it was takes off like a rocket and then the line breaks. When I pull the line in and look at it, it is shredded for two feet up from the break. The line looked like it had been shaved with long shards hanging off of it.
Fernando calmly looks over and says, "Crocodile." He was serious. I don't know if he was right but it was funny that he thought it was possible. He had seen a big one in the lagoon next to the marina earlier in the day so I just think that was on his mind.
Many times I have seen fish hitting the surface in the marina in San Diego and could not catch one. Needless to say this was a lot of fun, and I did not have to think about the fuel bill.
(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.