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Roll the Dice Fishing in Puerto Vallarta

You know, we’ve been in this El Niño rollercoaster for many months now. Which, by the way, followed a La Niña stretch of about two years. To say that the present current situations, water temperatures, and species specifics are confusing would be an understatement.

To be boating (catching) schooling Yellowfin Tuna or chasing Spinner Dolphin in March is the sort of thing that only happens in an El Niño World.

Now, when fishing in Puerto Vallarta’s world-famous fishing grounds, you welcome this ‘weirdness.’ Extending the summer fishing season into late winter fishing excitement in the form of Dorado, Sailfish, and Striped Marlin is welcome, to say the least.

Now, you’ll need to push a fair amount of water, but the simple fact you have 60 to 80 lb Yellowfin Tuna at your disposal should push the fuel cost, mentally at least, aside.

While the fish may be spread out, meaning thin, in most fishing grounds, we should thank our lucky stars for the great fishing Puerto Vallarta is experiencing right now!

When it comes to our deep-water fishing grounds, primarily Corbetena and El Banco, fishing is a moving target. Corbetena has been strangely quiet for the past three weeks, but now we’re seeing some schooling Yellowfin Tuna chasing bait balls. There are still Dorado in the 25 lb range, Sailfish, and of course, Striped Marlin here at the rock.

But we won’t say anything about fishing in the area is easy. For the moment, Corbetena has blue water, plenty of bait, and sparse fish. Looking toward El Banco or The Bank, this is where it’s all been happening.

For the last three weeks, Spinner Dolphins, aka Spinners, have been running the whole broad area around the high spots and beyond. Anywhere from eight miles off the point of Punta Mita to 15 miles north of El Banco is active with Yellowfin Tuna in the 60 to 80 lb range. So I’m sure you can imagine most people heading out focus on this area for obvious reasons!

For now, a 12-hour trip will put you on about 6 to 8 Yellowfin Tuna like in the title picture. Sailfish are also running, and so are Striped Marlin; you’ve got about a 30% shot at them. Dorado are also running the entire area, but there is something you should be aware of. Bonita and Yellowfin Tuna, both in the same family, believe it or not, are breeding. Yep, some days, Yellowfin Tuna won’t take bait even if you find them.

So, there are some frustrating situations, but that’s the name of the game. If you head out to this area, you’ll be bringing fish back, but again, it’s going to be work, amigos!

As I mentioned earlier, the fishing is spread out and Punta Nayarit is no different. If you head out for an eight-hour fishing trip, you could reasonably expect two Dorado with a possible Sailfish.

Now, there are plenty of Bonita in the area, so there’s action to be had. You’ll need to start dropping baits about five miles off the point, then take a heading of about 300 and start trolling.

Striped Marlin are still running the area, but there are less and less every week, which would be normal. And like everywhere else, it’s a ‘hit and miss’ situation.

With massive amounts of bait in the water, it’s hard to know what the fish are hitting. With cooler water temperatures behind El Morro and the Marietta Islands, there are Grouper and Cubera Snappers for those who like bottom-fishing. And, of course, anywhere between El Morro and Corbetena are Sailfish and Striped Marlin fishing grounds.

Inside the bay, things haven’t changed much since last week. Jack Crevalles are still king of the bay in 20 to 50 lb range. It just depends on what you come across.

Sierra Mackerels, in the 10 lb range, are small but tasty and shouldn’t be ignored. Bonito, at 15 to 20 lbs, are part of the Tuna family; actually Arctic Bonita, and while we use them for bait, they are great tasting as well. I’ve eaten the ‘bait’ many times, amigos.

There is still an outside chance at Dorado. But the interesting news is that we’re finally starting to find Grouper in the bay.

If you’re looking for action, you can pretty much expect 15 Bonito, several Jack Crevalles, throw in some Sierra’s and you’ve had a fun trip. I still suggest six hours since it’s good to have the time to find the fish, otherwise we go where they were yesterday and start there.

You know the bite hasn’t changed, it’s still after 08:30, but now the sun is coming up a bit earlier with the changing of the season, so this should change soon. There are massive amounts of bait everywhere, nothing new, you may think, but Sardines of 1.5 inches are flooding the area, and the Tuna, as well as every other species in the bay, is getting their fill of them. One interesting thing I should mention, Yellowfin Tuna some days take bait, other days they don’t. We snagged one the other day to check what was in their stomach, and nothing.

This means the Tuna, Bonita and a few other species are starting the breeding season as we enter spring. So the Tuna and related species can frustrate the daylights out of you, but that’s fishing.

Water temperatures are still hovering around 73 degrees, but the currents seem to be getting stronger, and the fish are moving around with it. For now, live bait is working well, but dead bait has been working at times as well. As the season winds down, we’ll be looking at winter fishing to the max.

Once we get into April, water temperatures will start inching up, but with a forecasted La Niña coming in immediately after this weak El Niño, things could get interesting.

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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