El Banco Comes To Life, Water Temps Cool

Welcome to my first fishing report of the New Year! And how better to start a new year with a new beginning at El Banco, so to speak. Yes, folks, El Banco or The Bank is showing signs of life, and it has a strong heartbeat for the moment.

Also, Sailfish and Striped Marlin are still running our world-class fishing grounds when talking about fishing in Puerto Vallarta.

It’s also Whale Season, meaning there are just tons of Krill or Whale food in the bay. So there are challenges, but nothing the local captains can’t figure out.

What’s really news is the drastic drop in water temperatures due to El Nino. Now, you’d think water temperatures would be going up, but that logic is flawed as we see the winter fishing season coming on strong and early. A month early, so start thinking ‘winter species.’

For the last couple of years, El Banco has been ignored by both fishing captains and myself as well. Years ago, when the Seiners or production fishing ships raped El Banco illegally, they broke a net off on the high spots.

These high spots are spikes from underwater mountains that reach up to 68 feet below the surface. These peaks were why El Banco was famous for massive bait circling the high spots that Yellowfin Tuna couldn’t resist.

After years of this net ‘blowing in the currents’ naturally scared the bait fish away, and thus Yellowfin Tuna fishing became difficult at best.

But all of a sudden, ten miles north of these peaks, Yellowfin Tuna from 60 to 180 lbs are attacking the super-abundant Skip Jack Tunas (bait)!

You looking for Dorado; they’re running with the Tuna. The Dorado are in excess of 25 lbs and also abundant. Throw in Striped Marlin at 250 lbs along with Sailfish, and you’ve got world-class action at Puerto Vallarta’s Fishing grounds!

Corbetena, on the other hand, has some Yellowfin Tuna starting at 40 lbs; there could be some larger, with El Banco sporting larger Yellowfin Tuna, remember fish move.

Sailfish, Dorado at 25 lbs and up, Striped Marlin as well, and with water temperatures at 74 degrees, yes, I said 74 degrees, Cubera Snappers may start taking trolled baits.

For now, I’d put my bets on El Banco for the next few days. But be warned, cold water is coming, and if you’re targeting Yellowfin Tuna, you better get your butt in gear amigos!

Moving into the area between El Morro and Punta Nayarit (aka Punta Mita), the action has picked up considerably and is well worth an eight-hour fishing trip.

Things have been hot and cold. One day it’s incredible, the next is ‘iffy’ at best. On the good days, there are Sailfish, Dorado off the point, Striped Marlin, and a host of local species like Bonito and Jack Crevalles.

One interesting thing is this: there have been some Wahoo running the area. Now, Wahoos aren’t a schooling species; they swim alone but are the best-eating species out there.

Wahoo don’t just happen; you have to target them when you know conditions are right. They are now, but remember they require faster trolling speeds, and you need wire leaders! Wahoo have teeth that can cut through even this wire leader, but they usually don’t.

Wahoo don’t seem to be ‘line shy.’ Another thing to remember is they hit different lures than Dorado, Tuna, and Sailfish. When chartering a boat and heading out this way, make sure your captain understands you want to target Wahoo! But be warned, targeting Wahoo, with the faster trolling speeds required, you’ll be cutting Dorado and Sailfish off the list of available species you’ll catch. So you need to make a decision. Me, I’d target the Wahoo for half the day and Dorado the other half.

One last thing: Striped Marlin are a touch farther out, but if the Skip Jack Tuna moves closer to the Marietta Islands, it could turn into a fisherman’s paradise.

Inside the bay, we still have the Krill to contend with. But even with the dropping water temperatures, we still see Dorado in the bay.

Sailfish are still running around Los Arcos for the super lucky. With all that Whale food, the Krill are the primary food of the Dorado, Bonito, Skip Jack Tuna, you name it; they’re eating Krill.

It’s a challenge, but these species will still take baits and lures for some reason. Amazing, isn’t it?

The south end of the bay is preferable, but if heading out for four hours, you’ll most likely head in the other direction as Nuevo Vallarta has turned into Jack City.

Sailfish like the La Cruz Marina area as well. The simple fact is if you’re looking for a shorter day and plenty of action, the bay can provide that easily. I hate to say it, but some days, you’ll find the Krill will win out, and your baits can be ignored.

Be mentally prepared for any possibility. Having said that, you’ll catch fish in the bay, but you’ll need more than four hours as fish are moving around the bay like they own it or something!

The big news this week is the drastic drop in water temperatures from 78 to 74 in the last week and a half. It won’t be long before Dorado have moved south, as well as Sailfish and Tuna.

But for now, it’s happening like it used to. The bite is over once you get past 11:00 in the bay. But in locations like El Banco and Corbetena, the bite happens all day. And when it comes to baits, I say, “throw the kitchen sink” at them. Lures, live bait, dead bait, whatever they hit, use that!

Be warned, many times, they’ll just smash the bait. To ‘smash the bait’ means they’ll give it a kiss and turn their heads and leave. Fickle fish will drive you crazy! Me? I’m already there!

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


  • Stan Gobruk

    Master Baiter's Sportfishing & Tackle has been the premier sportfishing company in Marina Vallarta since 2000. As a World Billfishing Series (WBS) 2-time Marlin World Champion (2000 and 2001), we uniquely understand our client's needs with accurate fishing facts, creating realistic expectations of your day on the water. That's why our logo is: At Master Baiter's, "We Won't Jerk You Around!" Phone: +52-322-209-1128

    View all posts

Most Popular