Puerto Vallarta – the one that got away :)

Well, fisherman always say “you should have seen how it battled, it must have been the biggest I would have caught, but I lost it!”. Yes, unfortunately it happened to three of us. But that’s how it goes since it’s called fishing not catching.

Bill invited me once again to go on his yearly trip to La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Mexico which is next door to Puerto Vallarta but closer to the fishing grounds. On this trip we were to fish with the Osuna brothers of the Marlas Sport Fishing charters. Fishing with me were Bill, his wife LB and Neil. They got to the Bed & Breakfast a day earlier so when I got there it was enough time for me to get comfortable, walk the streets of La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, eat good local food and share some stories.

streets of la cruz de hanacaxtle

Cudaman Adventures , fishing report, fishing photos

The following morning we had time to eat breakfast and relax a bit.Cudaman Adventures , fishing report, fishing photos

After, it was time to setup our gear. Cudaman Adventures , fishing report, fishing photosCudaman Adventures , fishing report, fishing photos

I added my 50 lb flouro leader to the 50 lb test main line on my Valiant 400 and secured it with a PR Knot.Cudaman Adventures , fishing report, fishing photos

Next was adding the 100 lb flourocarbon leader to the 80 lb test main line on my Gorilla 12 reel.Cudaman Adventures , fishing report, fishing photos

Below is my gear ready to go fishing. Stella 8,000 on a 7 foot popping rod for small tunas and other fish if present. The Alutecnos on a 400 gram jigging rod to be used as a jigging/bait rod for the tunas. The last two are 7 foot slow jigging rods for the snappers and groupers that may be lurking the waters in the 200 to 25 foot depths we were fishing.Cudaman Adventures , fishing report, fishing photos

After setting up our gear we went for a nice lunch at a local restaurant called La Glorieta de Don Enrique. Very well recommended to all. From the clam sushi to the shrimp on avocado bed to the local beer and the different hot sauces, everything was tasty and excellent on that day.

Once filled to my limits we went back to the Bed & Breakfast and gather our equipment to load in the boat.

 

As the mates finished preparing we just watched the pangas come in and out of the marina.

 

On the way we were.

Cudaman Adventures , fishing report, fishing photosCudaman Adventures , fishing report, fishing photos

We did stop to get some bait called Caballitos, these are what we call goggle eyes.

The bait commercial fisherman showed us his hand made sabiki rig, which was a long line of hooks with fish skin and what looked like feathers added to them. It was very interesting to see.

Cudaman Adventures , fishing report, fishing photos

We continued our adventure into the sunset and to the fishing grounds.

We got there at night and caught some squid to be used as part of the live bait in the morning. As morning came we decided to do some slow vertical jigging and slowpitch jigging while there were baits on the flat lines and the kites. Below I hooked up with a Pacific Almaco Jack.

Cudaman Adventures , fishing report, fishing photosCudaman Adventures , fishing report, fishing photos

Later it was a nice size Hachinago Pargo, wich is a kind of red snapper.Cudaman Adventures , fishing report, fishing photos

Next up I decided to try a new jig on the market, it looks like lobster and to my surprise it was a favorite to skip jacks and pacific bonitos. Both of which were needed as bait for the big tunas. Unfortunately I lost the $25 jig to a rock at the bottom of the sea.Cudaman Adventures , fishing report, fishing photosCudaman Adventures , fishing report, fishing photos

Bill closed the morning slowpitch vertical jigging with a Cabrilla also known as broomtail grouper.Cudaman Adventures , fishing report, fishing photos

The flat lines and kites were not producing so the captain decided to start trolling live skipjacks. It was my turn as one of the lines got hit. I really wasn’t ready as I did not have my fighting belt on so I had to rail the rod a bit until Bill let me borrow his belt. I fought the fish and tough I was gaining line when the line went slack and then I started reeling real fast fearing the the fish was actually swimming southeastward the boat, then again I felt the pressure and started to reel but to our dismay it was no longer a fish I was pulling but the buoy of a commercial long liner, AAARRRRRGGGG!!!!, I lost the first big fish of the day.

Cudaman Adventures , fishing report, fishing photos

We started trolling again. We had about 5 baits to start with so we were good for a bit.Cudaman Adventures , fishing report, fishing photosCudaman Adventures , fishing report, fishing photos

As we kept trolling we saw some commercial fishermen pulling their long lines filled with yellowfin tuna.Cudaman Adventures , fishing report, fishing photosCudaman Adventures , fishing report, fishing photos

Then the lines started singing and it was LB’s turn, she fought the fish for about half hour or perhaps even 45 minutes but got fatigued and had to hand the rod to her husband Bill whom fought the fish for about another hour and fifteen minutes. The fish was up a good three time as we saw it’s fins skimming the waters. The leader came in the rod;s guides and as soon as it would do so it would find energy and make another run for it’s life. Unfortunately for Bill and fortunate for the fish the hook came off about 15 feet from the boat. We now lost a second fish. This one was a big fish over 250 pounds without a doubt.Cudaman Adventures , fishing report, fishing photos

They always say three times a charm and it sure was. On Neil’s turn bill set him up with his fighting belt. Neil started the fight on the transom and when the fight started to be a tug of war between Neil and the fish, the Captain recommended the fighting position be moved to the bow where a few minutes later the fish was gaffed and sent to the transom to be hauled in the boat.

Cudaman Adventures , fishing report, fishing photosCudaman Adventures , fishing report, fishing photosCudaman Adventures , fishing report, fishing photos

Below is Neil and his catch of a lifetime. By the measurement the fish was around 237 pounds.Cudaman Adventures , fishing report, fishing photosCudaman Adventures , fishing report, fishing photos

Once that fish was caught the sunset came upon us and with high winds and rough seas decision was made to take refuge in the bay of the island and spend the night there.Cudaman Adventures , fishing report, fishing photosCudaman Adventures , fishing report, fishing photos

It was dinner time now so the captain decided to surprise us wit a delicacy prepared by his own hands, Yellowfin Tuna Belly cooked on the grilled with spices and seasoned with a mayo, ketchup and mustard base sauce. I must say it was delicious. Cudaman Adventures , fishing report, fishing photos

Adding to that was chicken and beef fajitas.Cudaman Adventures , fishing report, fishing photos

Below is the captain grilling the tuna bellies and corn tortillas.Cudaman Adventures , fishing report, fishing photos

The ending plate of deliciousness. Cudaman Adventures , fishing report, fishing photos

As morning came we started jigging again. A few Huachinangos snappers and chicken groupers were caught.Cudaman Adventures , fishing report, fishing photosCudaman Adventures , fishing report, fishing photos

Once the bite slowed down it was time for first breakfast; fresh fruits and yogurt.Cudaman Adventures , fishing report, fishing photos

We trolled and trolled without success so second breakfast came in handy 🙂Cudaman Adventures , fishing report, fishing photos

Then it was lunch time when we ate delicious tuna rolls, sushi and sashimi. Cudaman Adventures , fishing report, fishing photos

We had plenty bait and this day we lost at least three hook ups. Then a nice hookup ended being a porpoise that was released. Night time came and bottom fish and flat lines were the order. We got no hits on the flat lines but bottom fishing ended with plenty of Perro Jacks (horse eye jacks) and a couple of yellowfin snappers.Cudaman Adventures , fishing report, fishing photosCudaman Adventures , fishing report, fishing photos

At dinner time we had a nice plate of seared tuna, spaghetti and salad.Cudaman Adventures , fishing report, fishing photos

The trip was a bust for me as I was not able to land a yellowfin tuna this time, buy hey it’s fishing not catching. All in all next time I will request the use of the kite and flat lines more often to give us a chance to do some slow vertical jigging and slowpitch jigging. At the airport I had nice meal ad one drink, then I was on my way back home.Cudaman Adventures , fishing report, fishing photos

Good by La Cruz de Huanacaxtle and Puerto Vallarta! Cudaman Adventures , fishing report, fishing photos

 

Until next time, tight lines!

Herbert

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Puerto Vallarta Tuna Fishing and Jigging

Some people say this is a trip of a lifetime and they are not wrong. To get to the giant Yellowfin Tunas you need to go on Long range fishing trips. There are several options to fish the waters we fished for giant yellowfin tunas. Some come out of San Diego California but those can cost you upwards US$5,000.00 and the trips take 5 to 15 days to complete. On our search we decided to fish with the Osuna brothers from Marlas Sports Fishing in La Cruz De Huanacaxtle. They got famous with a world breaking record yellowfin tuna, a 400 plus pound fish that in the end did not make the record books of the IGFA simply because of technicalities in the rigging of the leader. Still, it’s probably one of the biggest publicly recorded yellow fin tuna caught with rod and reel. We were confident they would find the fish we were looking for.

 I took my flight off Fort Lauder dale Florida with United Airlines which is supposed to be fishing tackle friendly.  I was concerned with the rod case and oversized luggage fees which one of the persons at the counter questioned a supervisor about. But the supervisor didn’t say anything other than take the tube with the cart instead of placing it on the luggage belt. I was prepared with a copy of their website explanations on allowed measurements. My tube measured 64 inches and their site said 80 was oversized. When I got to the checking machine that was now a 62″ maximum. I still had to pay $65 to check two bags (1 luggage and my rod tube). I had a stop in Houston where I boarded a small plane to Puerto Vallarta. Around 10 am I woke up to the Mexican terrain and their housing.

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Upon arrival I met with Larry and took a Taxi to our rental unit in La Cruz. The Taxi service from the airport was very decent and priced right for our pockets. It was almost an hour drive for a cost of US$60. Below is the rental unit where I stayed at Villa Magnolia, a very nice place.11-2016-puerto-vallarta03

The entire property was nice. It used to be occupied by the owners who now own a house somewhere else. One of the workers told me that it was a venture between one of the instrument players of Los Lobos band that owned a restaurant at a near by city. Below are pictures of the property for your enjoyment. The BBQ pit used to be a well, where they actually got their water from but now there are public water pipe lines. It’s a good thing!

We had arrived early and with nothing to do we visited the Ocean Side Fish Market. They had fresh Snook, Huachinango Pargos (Red Snappers), and Coconaco Pargos (looked closely to a Mutton Snapper crossed with a Cubera Snapper). It was interesting to see the Snooks and the super sized shrimps. The shrimps made for a delicious cocktail like soup.11-2016-puerto-vallarta0411-2016-puerto-vallarta05

We then walked around the marina where I found out that the pangueros where charging around US$240 to $300 for a 6 to 8 hour fishing trip. This would have given us a chance at small Dolphin, Snappers, Groupers, and a hopeful Roosterfish. They told us to come back early next year for Roosterfish. We were undecided and continued to get familiar with our surroundings. 11-2016-puerto-vallarta0611-2016-puerto-vallarta07Yeap, don’t do yoga under the birds, not a good idea!11-2016-puerto-vallarta08

As we walked around 5 miles around the  marina we also looked to see where we could go fishing from the beach as a second option to the pangas. There were several family oriented beaches near by and we decided we might just come back and fish from them.11-2016-puerto-vallarta0911-2016-puerto-vallarta10

The next day Bill and LB arrived and shortly after we were surf fishing which did not turn so great. Larry managed to get a baby grouper and we went blank. Later on we discovered that there was a Red Tide problem. Oh well, we tried.

We got hungry and went to a small mom and pops restaurant near the marina. This is a fishing town, there are no big hotels and brand name restaurants nearby but the food in the restaurants we tried was good and reasonably priced for us tourists. Below is a plate of Chilaquiles (fried corn tortillas with sauce over it)

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We went back to the rental property and the next morning ate our continental breakfast Mexican style, a nice plate of fresh fruits with yogurt and granola. And a very nice pot of coffee.

On our way to our adventure we passed by the seafood market and on to the boat we went.

On the water we stopped near Punta Mita to pickup the famous Caballitos (goggle eyes).

Bait in the tank and on the way we went to the Tres Marias Islands. In a misty morning we were greeted by Piedra el Morro (I think)  a rock or known as La Mona and I can see why.

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The plan was to reef fish for snappers and skipjacks in the morning so I took the opportunity to fish with my slow jigging rod, a Shark and Cudaman SJ7 High speed and slow speed 7 foot jigging rod rated for 80 gram to 450 gram jigs. I used 40 lb test braid line and 40 lb test fluorocarbon leader. My jigs were Jigging Depot jigs like the SA220 jig below. Bill and Larry used speed jigging rods and other jigs like inchiku type jigs and butterfly jigs.                                                                p1040333p1040338

After a few snappers I got a pair of African Pompanos back to back and on the same SA220 jig plus the SC220 jig.p1040340

I must say African Pompano Ceviche served in a tostada (fried corn tortilla) was great!

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Bill and I also caught Huachinango Pargos on jigs, not in the pictures. The fish did not hit the Caballitos but did hit the jigs without a problem. As the afternoon came we trolled for skipjacks and got a few plus a bonita. There were no hits from the tunas so we went back to the shallower reef and jigged for snappers again. There was another boat near us. That boat lost two Yellowfin Tunas. One was lost on a kite and one while trolling. This was a sign that the fish were there. We kept seeing the sonar marking them at over 400 feet of water, but they would not come up. We even had a bait at 95 feet deep on the down rigger. Later on we saw a few Yellowfin Tuna jump but when we got near them they were gone. Unfortunately there was no luck on Tuna this day.                                                                    p1040341

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The sun went down and as night came we tried jigging. Night was not productive so went to sleep for a  bit. We moved and we jigged for squids. Larry, Bill and LB caught quite a few then I woke up and took their place. I only caught 4 squids while the Captain had already caught at least 10.11-2016-puerto-vallarta76

The next day we woke up near the Maria Cleofas Island. 11-2016-puerto-vallarta78

Below are Larry, Bill, and LB getting ready to do some jigging.11-2016-puerto-vallarta28

Captain Scotty Osuna decided to give my toys a try. He saw it was a productive way to catch snappers. When he tried it he was also able to catch a nice couple of Huachinango Pargos and Bacalao Groupers (these look like Snowie groupers). He used my Jigging Master 200 gram rod paired with a Maxel Transformer F50CH and 65 pound braid/80lb fluorocarbon to pull the groupers out of their hole.                                                                                                              11-2016-puerto-vallarta7711-2016-puerto-vallarta80

LB also got into the action catching a Bacalao Grouper on an inchiku style jig.11-2016-puerto-vallarta79

I got a couple of Huachinango Pargos which we ate along with Coconaco Pargos. Delicious tacos!11-2016-puerto-vallarta82

Below is Roberto, our chef, mate and co captain.11-2016-puerto-vallarta32

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Luck was about to change after lunch. We trolled for skip jacks and got a couple adding to the one I got jigging. Bill got hit really hard on his trolled flying fish but we never got to know what it was.                                                                                   11-2016-puerto-vallarta2911-2016-puerto-vallarta3011-2016-puerto-vallarta31

We started trolling the skipjacks very slowly and as we were doing so Larry and I were popping the surface at the bow. Larry went to the transom and shortly after I heard the screaming Herbert! Herbert! when I got there the mate had given the rod to Larry, he continued on as the fish would come up to 125 feet and then would run back down.

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Larry was having issues with the Braid harness digging on his legs but he continued trying to reel and then the rod was taken to the bow. He was reeling in a big tuna and was exhausted, the bow presented a better chance to reel in the fish because he could use the rail to assist so the mates moved it. We saw color and soon after the fish took another run to deep waters and then deeper.

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With Larry being exhausted I took over. The fish did two dashes to the deep but I was fresh and was able to bring it in a few minutes. Total time to bring the fish in was about 1 hour.herbert-on-the-tuna-puerto-vallarta

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Below is Rex the mate, the man worked hard.11-2016-puerto-vallarta94

A nice size puffer and a squid came out of the tuna’s mouth. Ir’s belly was full of squid. 11-2016-puerto-vallarta34

We then took a few pics with the Yellowfin Tuna.11-2016-puerto-vallarta9511-2016-puerto-vallarta9611-2016-puerto-vallarta97

After this cow of over 200 pounds there were more jumping around the boat but none hit our baits. At one point we had 6 rods with baits but none hit. The kite was out, the balloon was out, free lining Caballitos was done, Caballitos and squid on knockers rigs were also used but nothing hit.

The Captain decide to make a move but before we did he gave the Pangueros a bottle and some Caballitos. We then headed to some humps on the way to port.

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After laying on the deck a bit the Yellowfin Tuna was filleted and surprisingly we were served a nice plate of sashimi which we enjoyed with soy sauce and the chef’s own Serrano peppers and soy sauce mix. We did add some wasabi. I got to tell you if you do this watch out! Your lips will be like a catchers baseball glove and your face will be on fire! But it was delicious.                                                  11-2016-puerto-vallarta99

Then again, and again we tried all areas of the fish.  Delicious!11-2016-puerto-vallarta35

At night we gave it a try for some tuna but to no avail. We moved a couple of times only finding  bottom fish like these Ojodeperros jacks and a few snappers in between. All these fish were caught jigging and were to go to the community in La Cruz.

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Having relaxed and eaten well we headed back home.11-2016-puerto-vallarta33

Bill and Larry packed up three coolers with Yellowfin Tuna for the trip back home, I imagine they enjoyed it very much. The Red bag and the carry on next to it in the picture below are two of them. Also next to it all are our rod tubes. A PVC pipe that carried 6 rods. A Sportstube that was crushed in the airline causing one of Bill’s rod to loose a couple of guides. And I used a Plano Airliner Tube which carried 4 rods.

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I hope you all enjoyed, if you have any questions about the trip please do so in the comments.

A great thanks to Bill for setting this trip up. It was fun to meet with him and LB again and it was fun to meet Larry in person for the first time. I enjoyed fishing and sharing time and stories with all of you. Definitively a trip for the books. And thank God for letting me get home to my family safe and sound. I missed them as I always do when I go on fishing trips no matter how small or long these are.

Until next time! Tight Lines!