Puerto Vallarta Fishing: Spring has Sprung!

El Niño has given us all here fishing in Puerto Vallarta a real gift. We’ve seen Dorado into late April, we’re still seeing Striped Marlin, and up until just a few days ago, we’ve had great Yellowfin Tuna action. 

Water temperatures have remained relatively high throughout the entire winter fishing season as we continued to see summer species in normally off-season months for Yellowfin Tuna and Marlin. But it’s now late April, and we can’t get around the annual ‘spring has sprung’ slowdown. 

For a few weeks now we’ve seen fishing being on and off. There are many possible reasons for this, massive amounts of bait are one. But the most likely is mating season has begun for many species.

Fish that are not taking baits in the morning will in the afternoon. Yes amigos, love is in the air or water in the fish world of the Bay of Banderas. Right now the biggest question is: Who will get lucky, you or the fish?

Since February, Corbetena has been ‘flat,’ as is normal at the end of the summer fishing season. But this year, it was different, with El Niño and Corbetena having action until early March. After that, Corbetena is pretty much ‘done’ until July. 

At the same time, we saw Spinner Dolphin move into the El Banco area to points north of the high spots. For several weeks, we had 30 to 100 lb Yellowfin Tuna. But things are changing now. 

You’ll still find Sailfish, Striped Marlin, and Yellowfin Tuna at 30 lbs running with the Spinners, but their numbers are dropping by the day.

Now this is a twelve-hour day and not exactly what many are looking to do. But the long day is still worth the expense if you’re looking for action. The question is for how long? 

The biggest reason the Spinners are at the high spots or mostly north of this area is bait. Massive amounts of bait in this area, as is customary. Why leave a place where the food is free and easy while running with your best friends, the family of Charlie Tuna?

Sadly, this will all be coming to an abrupt end as we’re in the spring breeding season. So expect things to be ‘on and off ‘for the next few weeks in all the fishing grounds. This isn’t exclusive to El Banco.

The area from El Morro to the point off Punta Mita has shown some action, but not enough to justify an eight-hour trip for tourists and locals alike. Jack Crevalles have pretty much taken over fishing in this area. If you’re feeling lucky, there are Striped Marlin and possible Sailfish off the point. Starting four miles out from the point and no more than ten miles is the area you want to be in if targeting these sparse species. 

I suggest taking advantage of the natural conditions off El Morro and behind the Marietta Islands. We’re seeing multilevel water temperature ‘breaks.’ At the surface, the water temperatures have been in the 77-degree range. Very warm for this time of the year, but we’ve got to give the longer days credit for this.

But below the sun-warmed surface are much cooler water temperatures, below 68 degrees, which means our ‘jigging’ season has finally arrived. 

We’ve expected these lower temperatures and, thus, the winter bottom fishing season to begin weeks ago. Right now we’re seeing Grouper to 40 lbs, but averaging in the 20 lb range. Pompano, commonly called ‘cookies,’ are great tasting and in the 25 lb range. 

Sea Bass, a favorite for many locals, are also in their ‘hidey holes.’ So, for the next six to eight weeks, we’ll look at bottom fishing as our best option for less than twelve-hour trips. 

One suggestion is to stay away from the Ameca River mouth. The hordes will go there, and you could be one of thirty boats trying to catch the same fish; this is a bad plan. Your experienced Captain will have their secret spots and avoid the Ameca River. 

Now if you’re the only boat there, then this is a great location and it’s close to Marina Vallarta. Also, if you are bottom fishing in this area, I’d suggest using Squid for bait; it will improve your chances. Feeling lucky?

Inside the bay is your best bang for your fishing dollar. I know that may seem weird, but with the cold water below the surface, there are many locations in the bay for Grouper and Sea Bass. We’re still seeing some Bonito, but they are thinning in numbers and are getting harder to find. 

Of course, Jack Crevalles are the primary player in the bay, but they’re on and off as well. At 10 lbs., Sierra Mackerels are great tasting and an early bite. I suggest hitting up the Sierra Mackerels, then turning your attention to the Jack Crevalles, which are up to 50 lbs, or try for some Sea Bass and Grouper. The point is that you have varied fishing options in the bay, and they’re all priced to be family-friendly.

Again, the unpredictable conditions of a weak El Niño and layered water temperatures have created some interesting situations. The bite hasn’t changed; the early bite is about 08:30, but there is also an afternoon bite around 3 p.m. 

If you choose the afternoon bite, be ready to deal with some choppy water as the wind picks up at about 2 p.m. and it could be a little rough. Something to consider. 

As mentioned, water temperatures are in layers right now. Surface water temperatures are at 77 degrees. But once you’re down about 30 feet, the water gets cold and comfortable for the Sea Bass, Grouper, etc. So plan wisely, Grasshopper.

I’d run lures and live bait if trolling. Even if you aren’t getting hits on your bait, there are still fish in the area. It just means the fish nearby aren’t interested in your presentation. The fish ‘spring fling’ will distract them from eating at times. So keep this in mind when planning a day on the water. 

Frankly, you can expect these ‘spring fling’ conditions to last for about a month before they start focusing on trolled bait again. So have patience, take advantage of the positive aspects of fishing in the bay, and remember, if you have any questions, I’m as close as a phone call or an email, amigos!

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

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