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!

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