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Vallarta Fishing Experience: Up Side Down Sportfishing Season
email this pageprint this pageemail usStan Gabruk - PVNN
February 12, 2010

Captain Armando's 35 lb Dorado, caught on a Feb 2, 2010 rainy day trip to Punta Mita on El Amo
The states are feeling the effects of what El Niño can do. Freezing temperatures in Florida killing Tarpon is just one example of the weather extremes the world is seeing right now. Puerto Vallarta Sportfishing is no stranger to these global abnormalities.

Right now we are seeing water temperatures bordering on spring time equivalents. Seventy-eight to 81° F water temperatures are creating a vortex of sorts.

The warm water fish, like Black Marlin, Monster Yellowfin Tuna, and Large Dorado have headed south for the winter like they do every year. The cold water fish are uncomfortable so they're either deep or heading north in search of more comfortable temperatures.

This all creates a challenge for the local Captains, but as usual, there is always a solution to any problem. The only question is: Are you willing to pay the price to get to the fishing grounds?

Those rare and lucky few who can actually afford to Hunt Yellowfin Tuna have been heading out to the Prison Islands, also known as the Tres Marias. Now these fishing grounds are nothing new, they have been there for millions and zillions of years. But with the strange water temperatures, Yellowfin Tuna running in the 100 lb range has been boated.

To truly understand the personal investment in time and fuel, this is 3.5 hours. That's one-way, amigo. A 1,200 lt tank will get you there and back on fumes. If you had to pay for this, that shoots the daylights out of $1000 USD in fuel alone, so it can be pricey - with no guarantee. For those with less of a budget and less interested in catching Moby Dick, you may not want to go this route.

Corbeteña and El Banco have been quiet, but not dead. With very few boats heading out these days it is very hard to get a feel for what is waiting for vacationing anglers. The warm water is definitely not a deterrent to Cubera Snappers in the bottom structure areas. Amber Jacks (40 to 50 lbs), Rainbow Runners (35 lbs), Smaller Sailfish and the occasional Striped Marlin. Plenty of bullet Bonito for bait, so no issues there. For the time and money, other places are more promising. But like always, I better cover my butt, things can change in a heartbeat and usually do!

With the rains we´ve been having with the El Niño weather, we have seen water spouts, some hurricane force winds in some areas and periods of rain. On those rainy days, it may seem like a vacation disaster, but these fish get excited when the rain drops hit the water surface. They think it's bait coming back into the water, when you cast a bait and it hits the water, they can't help themselves

If you were at the point of Punta Mita, you had an excellent shot at Rooster Fish. Now the Dorado are running from younglings to mature males. Eight hour trips are producing strange options. This week clients also hit Sailfish (youngling) and Striped Marlin just off the point five miles to ten miles on a 330 heading. The Roosters have been running in the 35 to 50 lb range with the occasional 70 pounder! Dorado are in and out, targeting Roosters will be more successful.

If you wanted to give yourself the best chance of coming in with something, the place to be was north in the San Pancho area. Figure a ten / twelve hour day with time to look around a bit. Finding fish this time of the year is not automatic.

This is where an experienced captain is worth his weight in gold. Capt Armando (pictured above with a rainy day Dorado) of El Duende is one of those guys. His family raised him in Bucerías, just north of Puerto Vallarta. The family had eleven pangas and were commercial fisherman. When his father turned to sport fishing with "rich" clients and discovered it paid much better, Armando was his deck hand and First Mate.

Now, as an adult Captain, I don´t know anyone who knows the Bay of Banderas better than him. An experienced captain like him will come in with fish when others come in skunked! Experience is a big factor in a successful day of fishing at this time of year. Oops, got off the track there...

Back to San Pancho, The water in the area is deep blue and full of bait. Those looking for a trophy sized fish would be well suited to travel north and hit some un-visited, old timer fishing grounds. 15 to 25 miles off shore should be productive before the New Moon Phase.

If you are heading out to fishing grounds full of Dorado, remember we are in breeding season. With the drop in predicted Dorado populations in the very near future, we need to make sure young and female Dorado go back in! Just because you caught the fish, does not mean you have to bring that fish in. For those interested, Rooster fish are edible, it´s a pink red meat that lightens in color when cooked. Great Sashimi also, so be adventurous!

One last thing, remember to support our advertisers who make this publication possible! It doesn't hurt to let them know you read their advertisement!

Until next week, don't forget to kiss your fish!

Stan Gabruk is the owner of Master Baiters Sportfishing and Tackle in Marina Vallarta. He came to Puerto Vallarta for a brief, three-week vacation and never left. You can find Stan at his Master Baiters Sportfishing shop in Marina Vallarta, located on the boardwalk down from the lighthouse next to Tikul Restaurant. For more information about fishing in Puerto Vallarta, visit or email Stan at Catchfish(at)

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the included information for research and educational purposes • m3 © 2009 BanderasNews ® all rights reserved • carpe aestus