Puerto Vallarta, Mexico



Jan. 10, 2007, Merle Erickson, Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico:

I snuck down to Puerto Vallarta the last minute and fished on Jan. 7-8 with Danny Osuna of Marla's Sportfishing. On the 8th, the fishing was wide open. Danny was superb and relentless as usual.

I had been reading about the hot yellowfin tuna bite in Puerto Vallarta for a couple weeks, and decided to see if I could sneak in a quick trip. I got to Puerto Vallarta at midnight on January 6th and met Danny the next morning at 6 a.m.

Fishing on Sunday, January 7th:

It was a little windy on the run out and Danny decided to fish Roca Corbeteña instead of El Banco. We picked up about 80 caballito baits from a bait guy halfway between Paradise Village and Punta Mita. We arrived at Roca Corbeteña about 8:45 am. We immediately tried to catch some skippies and took a good hour and a half to catch 7 baits.

We moved west of Roca Corbeteña and started trolling. It only took about 15 minutes and the rod I was fishing got bit. I let the fish run for a short count of 3 and put it in gear with the fish taking 100-plus yards of line.

Danny was fishing a skipjack bait from the bridge and got hammered, but no hookup. Alonso, Danny’s brother who was the mate also got bit, but he did not hookup.

We worked my fish for about 20 minutes we drag the 175 pound tuna into the back of the Marla II. Great start.

Alonso rigs 3 fresh skipjack baits. In about 5 minutes, my rod starts to get really nervous. There was an explosion of white water where my skippy had been. The Avet 50 screamed as the tuna took off on blistering run.

This fish is one of those nasty 180 to 220 pound fish that fight incredibly hard and generally just inflict pain on the angler. We got this fish just out of gaffing range about 10 times, but we just could not get those last few feet using 150 pound wind on leaders. Finally, Alonso hits the tuna with the gaff, but the tuna pulls the gaff out of his hand and rips 30 yards of line off the reel at full drag. I am now soaked in sweat after getting worked by this tuna for about 30 minutes. We are bouncing around in the wind and swells.

We get the fish close to the boat again. It has a gaping hole in its shoulder from the first gaff shot. Finally, Alonso sticks it. Danny jumps down and gets a second gaff in the fish. High fives all around. Danny says it looks about 210 pounds.

I am hurting and the trip is just starting. We all sat down and rested. I went and got the tape measure I brought from home and measured the fish, 69 and change inches by 50 inches approximately, which put it at 215 pounds.

It was quiet for several hours, thankfully.

There were about 15 Puerto Vallarta boats fishing at the Roca Corbeteña, but the other boats were not getting bit.

In mid-afternoon, Danny decided to drift with the caballito baits. He put the kite out and Alonso and I flylined a couple. On the second or third drift, I hooked up. Alonso gaffed the 90 pound tuna without incident.

We repositioned and started another drift. Danny had two cabbies splashing downwind about 40 yards. Danny yelled "look at that!" I turned to see a huge boil where the cabbies had been. Danny put the Avet 30 in gear and cranked like there was no tomorrow. The line came tight and we were hooked up.

Danny and Alonso helped me get in my Smitty harness.

We fought this one for 30 minutes. I went to full but still did not make much progress. Finally, the hook pulled. Danny said 2 fish blew up on the cabbies.

It was 5 p.m. and time to make the run home to Puerto Vallarta in the chop. We made it back to the dock at about 7:15, after dark. Danny suggested that I get some sleep. I might need a full tank for the following day's fishing. He was right.

Fishing on Monday, January 8th:

I felt ready to go this morning.

We headed out. The wind off the Mexican central Pacific coast at Puerto Vallarta was light this morning and Danny thought the fishing would be better. We picked up 60 cabbies and made it to Corbeteña about 45 minutes earlier due to the improved sea conditions.

We made 6 skipjack baits and one big bullet tuna in less than 15 minutes.

Danny put the bullet tuna out and said, "You will get a bite right away on this one." Within a couple minutes I got bit. I did not hook up though.

Alonso rigged a skippy for me and within ten minutes, I got bit again and hooked up. Danny had a huge boil on his skippy at the same time, but did not connect.

I fought this tuna for about 25 minutes before the hooks pulled.

We rigged fresh baits, and within 10 minutes, I am bit. Another nice tuna, and another 100 plus run. I went to full drag early in the fight. We got color in about 25 minutes. Alonso nearly went over the side as this tuna took off yanking the gaff out of his hand. We backed up and got the gaff and got the tuna back boat side in 5 minutes. This time the gaff held. Good start, with a 175 pound tuna on the deck.

We get back to trolling. We did not get a bite for about 20 minutes. I noticed that a few of the Puerto Vallarta fishing boats around us were hooked up.

Alonso’s bait got slammed and he hooked up. In about two seconds, there was a Jacuzzi size boil on my skippy. We had a double. My Avet 50 was screaming as the unknown size tuna peeled 150 yards of line off the reel. I heard Danny shout and looked up. He puts his reel in gear, and another hook up. We have a triple header. Unbelievable. Alonso got in the Marla II's harness and Danny helped get me in my harness. We can hear the Avet on the bridge rod holder screeching. Pandemonium.

Alonso gets his tuna to the transom in about 15 minutes. When it is within gaff range, Alonso yells, “Another tuna, get a bait!” I look down and see a 200 plus tuna free-swimming right behind Alonso’s tuna only 5 or 6 feet off the swim step.

Danny hooks a cabbie and throws it in the water but the free swimmer vanishes and Danny gaffs Alonso’s tuna. Alonso helps Danny drag the 170 pound tuna into the boat.

I am still pulling on my fish.

Danny now brings his rod down from the bridge and gets in the harness. He punishes the tuna and brings it to the swim step quickly. Alonso gaffs it and they drag the 140 pound tuna into the boat while Danny is still in harness.

We work on getting my tuna in the boat. Alonso hits the fish and there is an explosion. Alonso hangs on and takes a beating. Danny slams a gaff into the tunas chest and and the two brothers drag the 185 pound tuna into the boat.

There are now 4 big tuna on the deck.

We are out of skippies. We caught five more and went back to trolling.

In about ten minutes, I hooked up. A tuna boiled on Alonso’s bait, but did not stick. Danny’s skippy hooked up. Double header. Wide open!

Danny puts the hurt on his tuna and brings it to the transom in about 10 minutes. Alonso gaffs the 120 pound tuna. I am pulling hard on my fish without much progress. After another 15 minutes, we get color on my fish, 150-160 pound class, and get it gaffed and on board.

Now there is hardly room on the deck of the Marla II to walk.

We troll for another 10 minutes before my bait starts to freak out. I tell Danny I think I am bit and the fish takes off with the skippy. I put it in gear and nothing happens for about 5 seconds and then a 300 pound black marlin goes airborne. Maybe 15 jumps, all completely out of the water. This happens over the course of about 90 seconds and then the hook pulls.

We tried to make a few more skipjack for bait, but could not. So Danny decided to fish the cabbies. We didn't get bit.

The tuna started to come up and they were busting around us.

Alonso hooked a 15 pound Dorado on a cabbie.

We get repositioned and the tuna are really starting to go off around us. Danny gets the balloon working again and Alonso and I flyline a couple cabbies.

Danny gets a huge blow up on the balloon and hooks up. I grab the rod and the fight is on. The fish tries to get under the boat and Danny and Alonso each walk the rod around the bow to keep the line out of the props. We gaff the 150 pound tuna after about 20 minutes.

Its warm and the breeze is light. The water off Puerto Vallarta is bluish green and full of life.

I catch a 10 pound Dorado on a flylined cabbie. Alonso has a 150 plus tuna come out of the water but no hook up.

Danny sees some birds and guns the Marla II. I see 150 to 200 pound tuna crashing and boiling. Danny starts chumming live cabbies. Some 150 to 200 pound tuna start exploding on the cabbies with some tuna coming completely out of the water.

I yell, "Hookup!" And Danny and Alonso both laugh. This tuna is only about 105 and comes to gaff pretty quickly.

We clear the rods and head for Puerto Vallarta.

There are 8 tuna on the deck going 105, 120, 140, several between 150 and 175, and one at 185. I farmed another tuna that was probably at least 175 or better and also farmed a 300 pound black marlin. We got 3 Dorado and missed another 6 or 7 tuna bites. Every single skippy we put out got bit today.

We seemed to have much better luck today than the boats fishing around us. I don't know what it is that Danny did that was different than the other boats, but it worked. He is simply relentless and worked all day to keep putting me on fish.

I can't add any more superlatives about Danny. He's a great fisherman and works his butt off and is never satisfied no matter how epic the fishing. Thanks to Danny and Alonso for a phenomenal trip. You can e-mail Danny at info@marlasportfishing.com, or check out the web page at marlasportfishing.com

For this two-day Puerto Vallarta fishing trip with Marla's Sportfishing, we got 11 tuna to the boat, and pulled the hooks on 2 others. I have caught bigger tuna before, but Monday was the best tuna fishing I've ever experienced.

On Tuesday morning my hands were swollen and my hamstrings, quads and back were killing me. What a great two days of fishing.