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Marina Vallarta Las Palmas I Local 3

Sailfish are thinning in numbers, but they’re still in the neighborhood!

El Nino 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 fairly high throughout the entire winter fishing season as we continued to see summer species in what is 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 rather water in the fish world of the Bay of Banderas. Right now the biggest question is: Who’s going to get lucky, you or the fish?

Since February, Corbetena has been pretty much ‘flat’, as is normal come the end of the summer fishing season. But this year it was different with El Nino and Corbetena had 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 are still running with the Spinners but dropping in numbers by the day. Now this is a twelve hour day and not exactly what many are looking to do. But if you’re looking for action, the long day is still worth the expense. 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 normal. Why leave a place where the food is free and easy while running with your best friends, the family of Charley 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 whole area from El Morro to the point off Punta Mita has shown some action, but not enough to justify an eight hour trip for tourist and locals alike. Jack Crevalles have pretty much taken over fishing in this area. Having said that 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. My suggestion is to take 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 and that 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 be looking at bottom fishing as our best option if looking at 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 for the same fish, this of course is a bad plan. Your experienced Captain will have their secret spots and will 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 bottom fishing in this area I’d suggest using Squid for bait, it will improve your chances. Feeling lucky?

Inside the bay, I would venture to say 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. Jack Crevalles are of course the primary player in the bay, but they’re on and off as well. Sierra Mackerels at 10 lbs. are great tasting and an early bite. I suggest hitting up the Sierra Mackerels then turn your attention to either the Jack Crevalls which are up to 50 lbs or try for some Sea Bass and Grouper. The point being, you have varied fishing options in the bay and they’re all priced to be family friendly.   

Again with the unpredictable conditions of a weak El Nino and layered water temperatures have created some interesting situations. The bite hasn’t changed, the early bite is about 08:30 but there is an afternoon bite as well 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. I should say comfortable for the Sea Bass, Grouper, etc. So plan wisely grasshopper. I’d run lures and live bait if trolling. Just because you aren’t getting hits on your bait doesn’t mean there aren’t any 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!

Written by Stan Gabruk

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