Dec 10

Nature is a trip – Vallarta

I’m down in Vallarta for a long anticipated family trip.  We love playing in the pools, lounging about and having some good quality time together.  I, as you might expect, bring a fly rod or two along (in this case, two loaners from Orvis, the Hydros and their Access in an 8).  In years past I’ve come to have some pretty good fishing at the river mouth that separates Puerto Vallarta from Nuevo Vallarta.  I’ve caught dinner there a couple of times and really had started to get it dialed.

This year… not so much.

Some storms came though during the summer and my guess is a few million cubic yards of sand got moved around.  What I used to know is now a total mystery again.  There is a little bay, where once there was open water.  The river now has two mouths and I can’t even get to the place where I had had such good luck for the past couple of years.

Amazing how much nature can alter things in the span of a few months.

Now, I can’t find the big fish. The little fish?  Oh yeah… I have those DIALED.  I’ve caught dozens of little Jacks… little… ounces, not pounds.

After my 25 pound Jack in Belize... this is a little underwhelming.

I repeated an old mistake and asked the concierge if they had any information on fly fishing.  No… I could take a party boat, but no… they don’t know anyone who has a panga who could take me out in the bay to cast for some Jacks. However, I also asked one of the doormen, Jorge.  He knows.  He knows a bunch of folks and he and I, in theory, are going to go fishing with a friend of his on Thursday.  I will need to pay for gas, but that’s it.  We’ll see how that goes.  I’m looking forward to it.

Mar 10

Happy Ending in Vallarta

No, not from a massage parlor… the fishing kind.  Today when the monkey went to sleep I went out for one last round of fishing.  The tide was a little better and the water just looked more… fishy.  I managed my first fish while changing up my retrieve from super fast to super slow… evidently, slow and steady wins more than just the race.  First fish of the day, a Leatherjack, about 12″ or so.  Next, I saw a small log floating 50 feet off shore… fish were attacking it, hitting it over and over again.  I got a cast out, slow retrieve and the smallest fish  of the bunch hammered it… Jack Crevalle, about half a pound, little guy.

So, I stood there, casting, retrieving, casting, retrieving, ya know… “fishing.”  All of a sudden, I saw a tail cut through the murky water in front of me, swimming fast, about 5 feet from where I stood… the forked tail was clearly visible and it was… um… massive… I’d guess 20 pounds… maybe more.  Safe to say my interest was peaked.

Bait were popping, boils were sporadic, butt pretty frequent, but still… cast, retrieve, cast, retrieve.  I was starting to think about heading back, hoping my daughter had slept during her nap and thinking it was a bit of a bummer than my jig clousers had not produced.

Tug, set, bigger tug, line going out, clear the line and it was clear this wasn’t a little guy.  Now, the last nice Jack Crevalle I caught here was on a 7 wt. with a cheap Cabela’s large arbor reel… the reel did not do well (grinding is not a good sound when reeling).  This time I was fishing my TFO Clouser 8 wt., the rod I brought to the Bahamas, and my TFO Large Arbor 357 reel.  This fish didn’t stand a chance.  So nice to have confidence in your gear.

The Jack went about 4 pounds. I kept it, brought it to one of the resort restaurants and it fed 3 adults.  Toro are not known as great eating fish, but this was de-lish.


I release almost all my fish... but a couple become dinner.

Of course, I have no pictures of any of the fish-just-caught, since my waterproof camera took a header yesterday and is not recoverable.

The trip was a good family trip with lots of pool time for the 3 year old.  The fishing mostly s-ucked, but ya know… I didn’t get to fish the best tides, I got to fish the tides when my daughter was sleeping.  The surf was also much rougher this trip than I had seen it before.  As always, I was amazed at how much the river mouth had changed in just a few months.

Now… back to my bonefish fixation.

PS – The “Biggest Doucebag” award goes to the guy I saw this morning walking around in a “The Working Class Can Kiss My Ass” T-Shirt.  If you own one of these you should feel bad about yourself. If you WEAR one of these, you should jump off a really high building.

Dec 09

The bad with the good

For two days I went out and turned up zeros.  The mud flowing from the river was visible, clearly, from the 4th floor deck.  Darn rain.  Today I went out anyway… back to the river mouth.

It was EPIC.  The gulls and pelicanos were crashing bait and the fishing was amazing.  I must have landed 30-40 fish, mostly Jack Crevalle.  This was on my 8/9 Albright with a 7 wt. sink tip… trying to improvise.  I had my 7 wt. with a clear sink on the shore.  I had many fish on back to back casts.  It was just a crazy, crazy day of fishing.  I was out for three hours, longer than I was supposed to be fishing.  I was bringing some fish back for some of the guys working at the resort and when I had “enough” I headed back.

Went to grab that back up rod… missing… stolen, really.  Well… the fishing will remain amazing, but my estimation of the local fisherman took a bit of a nosedive.  Probably not fair, but, the wound is fresh.

About a 2 pound Jack Crevalle (aka Toro), last fish of a great day of fishing.

I guess the bright side is that I get to do some rod shopping now.  This will be my Christmas present from my wife.  I’ll probably try to fill the gap I have in my rod selection with a solid and pure 8 weight, since I have another 7, although it is a 2 piece and not a 4.

UPDATE: Went out the next day, my last fishing day of the trip.  The fishing was almost as good although the biggest fish was a bit smaller.  I have bruises on the right side of my ribcage from the fighting butt.  Those are good bruises to have.  Caught five species of fish.  I had some really good fishing down from the beach with one big fish and lots and lots of smaller fish.  I do have a strange rash now on my legs that I’m about 95% certain is from the river water, but hey… again… gotta take the bad with the good.

Fish Species caught on this trip:

Nov 09

Toro! Toro! Toro!

Another day here in Vallarta, still no bonefish.  However… today I caught a Toro, also known as a Pacific Jack Crevalle, that was 12.8 pounds.  I’ve caught a ton of these down here… but mostly around a pound… this fish was just lovely.  Had me so far in my backing I could see the spool.  Probably broke my 7 wt. reel, actually.  Took about 20 minutes to land. 

I couldn’t be happier at the moment.

Now, normally, I’m a Catch and Release guy all around… but after 20 minutes, I had my doubts if this fish would survive.  I brought it back to the resort and had it prepared for dinner.  It was yummy.  Way more food that we could eat, so we fed many of the staff tonight.  This is my largest saltwater fish to date.

Good times.