Tuna and Sailfish, El Niño Surprise

As we enter March, we’re still seeing summer season species in cold water. This is the sort of thing that happens in an El Niño year.

Naturally, if you’re looking at the calendar, you’d be saying, ‘This shouldn’t be happening.’ But strangely enough, it is happening, and we’re not going to cry or complain about great fishing.

With unpredictable currents and fluctuating water temperatures, local angles still see Yellowfin Tuna, Sailfish, Striped Marlin, and more. Fishing in Puerto Vallarta’s world-famous fishing grounds is living up to its reputation.

That’s the upside; the downside is you have to push a lot of water as you’ll need to be about 30 miles off the point of Punta Mita for the best action. For the family that isn’t all that interested in boating, a Sailfish, for example, will still find fun and exciting action for the family closer in and will be satisfied with smaller species in larger numbers.

Those looking for fun action fishing from 7 to 70 will find exactly what you’re looking for. If you’re willing to put in the time, effort and, of course, money!

I was in Guadalajara last week, so this report will cover mostly last week, but little has changed. For those heading to Corbetena, usually our most predictable and active area for fishing, was almost asleep. I should probably say ‘slow,’ but in reality, those targeting Sailfish, Stripers, Dorado, etc., were having a hard time of it.

After saying that, there are the occasional Striped Marlin and Sailfish, but they’re so spread out and sparse that your chances are in the 30% range. To be fair, there were Bonito and Jack Crevalles, but you don’t go 35 miles out in one direction for the same species you can get in the bay.

So, what’s your option? If you’re focused on Corbetena, you have to adjust focus in a different direction, and you’ll be in fish heaven. For now, your best plan of attack is to head to the Punta Mita point. Set a heading anywhere from 285 to 310 and head out about 20 miles. You’ll find Spinner Dolphin running with 60 lb Yellowfin Tuna’ footballs.’ They’ve been in this area now for two weeks; I couldn’t tell you why, but at this point, who cares. If you’re in March with these species available, you should thank the fish gods!

With water temperatures warming a tick when they should be dropping means, this situation could continue for a while longer. With the present conditions, this area is your best bang for your fishing dollar!

For the week previous to this, we were seeing some strange things in the 8-hour duration locations; for the better, I might add. For a time there, and this changes daily, there was no action closer in off the point. Now some days the fishing is better closer in, around Punta Nayarit for example. Then, the next day, who knows?

For now, if you’re heading this way, I’d suggest setting a heading of 300, dropping baits about 8 miles off the point, and heading out at trolling speed. You’ll find fish; just make sure you’re at the ‘party’ during the bite, and you’ll have the time of your life. But be warned, it’s late-season fishing, and nothing is automatic. Be prepared to work for your catch, amigo.

Dorado are also in the area, but less by the day. But be warned, you may wind up 25 miles out before you get any action.

We still see plenty of great fishing inside the bay, albeit smaller fish. Jack Crevalles to 50 lbs are our bread and butter species at this time of the year. While not the best-tasting fish, they are strong fighters and super fun to catch. You’ll never understand their strength until you’ve caught a Jack Crevalle!

Bonito, which are part of the Tuna family, are great tasting and abundant, but again smaller in size. Dorado are hard to find, but if you’re around the Los Arcos area or off Punta Negra, where the Garza Blanca Resort is, Dorado in the 20 lb range are still hanging out. For some reason, Dorado has also been around the La Cruz area.

Many people scoff at Sierra Mackerels, but these Mackerels are the ones they can and do send to Norway. So they may be small, but they’re delicious and super-abundant close in. Perfect for family fishing and for the younger members of the family. A six hour trip in the bay will be the ‘stuff’ memories of a lifetime are made.

If you’ve been reading my articles, you know we always have a long list of different baits in the area. Last week, we had these six to eight-inch Squids, and then there were the massive areas of Krill, where people were asking me if it was Red Tide.

The point is that it’s a fish smorgasbord out there, and you never know which bait is preferred. But for some reason, one universal bait works almost all the time. It’s readily available here in the bay, but for some reason, they’re ignored. What bait is this? They’re Ballyhoos!! Yep, Ballyhoo’s, we have them in the bay, but you can’t purchase them. Why? Frankly, I don’t know. I think the bait guys are lazy, but sometimes they’re abundant in the area and easily catchable. On days when other baits aren’t working, a Ballyhoo will.

When rigged, they’ll last longer trolled, and when you have them, you’ll be the only one trolling this magical bait. You can purchase this ‘magic’ bait from me; I have a stock in my freezer.

When Ballyhoos are in the bay, I put some on the boats, and it pays off in returning clients who catch fish. Also, strangely enough, dead bait and a particular lure called a ‘catfish,’ which is green and gray. Strange colors, I know. To continue, the bite is the same as it has been for more than a month now, about 08:30. Water temperatures have ticked up, but under the surface, the water is warmer, and this is El Niño at work. You’ll need to wait a bit longer, all you Sea Bass guys waiting for cold water!

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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