Sportfishing Puerto Vallarta or all of Mexico, What you don’t know can hurt you No. 2 in the Series

Sportfishing Puerto Vallarta or all of Mexico, What you don’t know can hurt you No. 2 in the Series.

Recently in the news there have been several accounts of Booze Cruise (etc.) tours in several places in Mexico, Hawaii, Jamaica and other popular tourist destinations. Stories of how people go out on chartered boats (of all types) have some sort of accident, the boat sinks with everyone on it and inevitably people get hurt or worse. The logical assumption is that the boats are insured with liability insurance just in case such a thing should happen. Only to discover that there is no insurance, the people who own the charter or tour company pulled the wool over the eyes of the local officials. Or worse they paid off the “guy”, who of course isn’t there any longer and can’t be found, blah blah blah…. That means you start looking back upstream, to the vendor who sold you the tour or charter or what ever. The person who believes that everything is in order as far as the business and insurance necessities are in place, is the guy who’s held liable for this “accident”. I mean after all, these companies handle anywhere from hundreds of people per year, to hundreds of people per day. This includes every sort of tour from helicopter tours, boat tours and of course Fishing Charters.

As an owner of a Fishing Charter company, and being a “Gringo” in Mexico, I have to make sure that everything is in place on the charter boats and tours I send people out on. Or naturally, I leave myself liable for legal action if something should happen. But things like insurance, certified captains, safety equipment, etc cost money, a lot of money. Of course these expenses are passed down to the customer who gladly pays the price of a ticket assuming these sorts of basics are covered in the price of a ticket. Well friends I’m not here to burst your bubble, but what you don’t know can hurt you, or worse, your family! Having said all that, owning one of the largest charter companies in Puerto Vallarta, (Master Baiter’s Sportfishing and Tackle Est. 2000), we’ve sold hundreds of tours and charters yearly to reputable, safe and experienced companies who are also sold through Hotels in the area. But when a person comes into my shop looking for a fishing charter, they start quoting the guy down the way with the ridiculously low price for a full day charter thinking it’s going to be their leverage to get me to drop my price, after all “They’d rather go with me, but only if the price is right”. The clients only concern is the price, naturally assuming the quality is equal to the service I offer. But they don’t really know what they’re saying when they confront me with competition issue on price. As a Charter Company owner and broker of other boats as well, it’s my responsibility to look out for or protect the clients from themselves.

There is no way the client can know a fraction of what I know when it comes to my area of expertise. People like this will visit some forum on the internet and read about how to get the best deal here or there and what they need to do to get it. So they come in the door thinking they’re armed with knowledge that will make me succumb to their negotiation tactics and that lower my prices. Well folks, that can’t happen because I sell safe charters, with safety equipment the law calls for and then some. Now I’m not saying I won’t budge on price, my prices aren’t fixed so I can. But you just can’t get around the minimum expenses for a charter. Fixed cost means if it cost me more in maintenance, fuel, INSURANCE, than I’m going to make at the end of the month, then I’m out of business. So when I see, or rather hear these people talk these crazy / stupid prices from Pedro down the way or the guy who now is brokering charters when just six months ago went out of business selling broasted chicken, it makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

The obvious things to look for would be quality of the boat, the quality of the equipment and the quality of the people. What isn’t obvious and doesn’t come to mind is how safe is this boat you’re putting yourself and your family on to save a few bucks? You have to ask yourself “What am I not getting for this really cheap price”? I guarantee you they don’t think a bit about their safety or the emergency procedures that exist, or I should say doesn’t exist? You see in Mexico there is no Coast Guard to come to the rescue! The only safety people that will come to you are the people the captain can raise on the radio, if there’s anyone in range when you’re fifty miles out. Even then it will most likely be an hour at best before any help gets out to you!! It will probably be some beat up boat with a captain who will want money from you to cover the expense of fuel and to line his pockets or swim home, it’s your choice! This is the choice you made which goes all the way back to the point of you looking for the cheapest tour provider amigos. At this point, you made the most expensive choice you could have possibly made and you risked you and possibly your families life in the process. The person who booked you on this boat had no concern except for the commission he would get, so he met your price and now if you’re unlucky, you’re swimming in waters where there are animals that will eat you!

I recently saw just this sort of thing happen in Cancun on CNN. There were like sixty people on a Booze Cruise just off shore and the boat started taking on water. Guess who the first people off the boat were, the CREW! No concern for the clients, it was horrible. There was a death and the “rescue” boat was a private boat that went to get the crew, nobody else. There were some injured people, everyone was panicing and guess what, no insurance, nothing. They did have safety jackets though, so at least people could float and the water was warm. But if you know anything about that area of the world, there are sharks and Man o War Jelly fish with 100 ft or longer tentacles that can kill a person.

Another problem when it comes to safe boats are the guys who sell or rather the guys who try and get you into a timeshare presentation. Their only goal is to get you into a presentation and will put you on a cheap boat and tell you that there are Marlin 100 ft off shore. There are those who believe this B.S. and will go out on what they’re told is a safe boat. But these guys in Puerto Vallarta are prohibited from selling anything, let alone a charter.

Many of the third tier or lower boats will work heavily with these guys because that’s the only way they can get business. They’ll tell you all kinds of things and in the end, you’ll discover you were duped and wound up on a fishing nightmare. If there is an emergency, you might as well be on Mars without a space suit amigo. Now I’m not a doom and gloom kinda person, but when you walk in my door and tell me Pedro just offered you a fishing trip for a full day for less than half what I would charge you for the same trip, ask yourself, why would Pedro be so cheap and Master Baiter’s is more expensive. That’s because at Master Baiter’s “We Won’t Jerk You Around” even if you want us to! Be safe, have fun and remember for the same money as a Jet Ski goes for on the beach per hour, you can have a safe half million dollar boat with fifty thousand dollars worth of fishing equipment. You’ll have the time of your life and you’re safety will never be in question! If you have any questions feel free to contact me at Master Baiter’s Sportfishing and Tackle at I’ll do my best to answer any question no matter how simple or complicated…. Because that’s what I do! If you would like to have some questions answered or need information about Puerto Vallarta or Mexico in general, feel free to contact me with what is on your mind. I have a facebook page now, MasterBaiter Stan or you can send me the friend request to: and you will get my weekly fishing reports, photos, Fish of the Day Pic and other interesting things daily on your computer. Master Baiter´s is also selling it’s world famous T-shirts online at: Remember, there are imposters out there using my trade mark protected name of Master Baiter’s Sportfishing and Tackle ®, so don´t be fooled. We are only in Marina Vallarta, on the Malicon or Boardwalk just down from Tikul the restaurant. If you ask where we are, you will hear I am dead and out of business. The last time I checked, I was breathing, so call me or email me before you come in to get the living instructions to me….. Until later, don´t forget to kiss your fish….. Stan

Yellowfin Sportfishing in Puerto Vallarta, Roll the Dice Enough Times and You’ll Win!

Yellowfin Sportfishing in Puerto Vallarta, Roll the Dice Enough Times and You’ll Win!

No matter how many times you roll the dice, you have to come up a winner at some point. Those who headed out to the Tres Maria Islands, also known as the Prison Islands found a few days there where Yellowfin Monsters averaging in the 240 lb range were running wild. Anywhere from the fifteen mile point to the first Island to the north end of the second island can produce arm busting action with very large, Maybe even monster Yellowfin Tuna. That’s right folks, I said Monster Yellowfin Tuna. With the water temperatures hovering in the 80 degree range, it was just a matter of time before we saw this abnormality spring up. With plenty of bait in the water, warm temperatures and of course a few willing Monster Hunters and you’ve got a recipe for one hell of a day! This trip is not for everyone, those with the motivation may catch some out of season species that will send you home in a brace!

The area between El Moro and the Marietta Islands is just boiling with Jack Crevalls, Rooster fish, Needle fish, Bonito, Snapper in the 30 lb range and much more. Now remember to keep clear of the reefs, but around them, now that is another thing amigos. Diamond jigs, live bait, poppers, they seem to be hungry and will take any or all of those options. Eight hour trips are the perfect combination right now for fun, sun, fish and correct price…. Remember, you are paying for experience at this time of the year, buy the captain, not the price.

North of Punta mita is still alive, but with all the action out at the Marietta Islands, for the same fuel, you get three options, and more variety. With the long liners destroying the area, why deal with them if you don’t have to? It is sad to see dead turtles stuck in these multi hundred hook long lines that are not tended and killing endangered species like this…. Anyone have any ideas on how to stop this ??

In the bay there is still action. The surf line has been on fire if you have an open enough mind to even give it a thought. My 25 ft. Panga went surf fishing from the ocean side and cast baits into the surf line. It was four hours of straight ¨hook and reel¨ action. Rooster fish, Jack Crevalls, Bonito, Needle Fish, Snapper, Roballo and other smaller game fish are well worth the effort. Now they’re not going to be a hundred pounds, but they will be abundant. Don’t want to troll all day, there is an option for you.

I have been posting a series of articles meant to inform those interested on the captains issues, fishing conditions, Capt. profiles, Videos and whatever else comes to mind on my blog at: Any one with specific questions for me should directed to this address and I would be more than happy to answer them for the world to review in the future. You will also get up to the minute information there as well. Last week I had up to forty readers in one day, that was 35 more than normal! I will keep writing them, if I can get anyone to read them…   

Remember to support the local advertisers and this publication by spreading the word that you saw them in the PV Mirror.

Until next week, don’t forget to kiss your fish….

Master Baiter’s is now all over the place. Stan Gabruk post articles as a feature writer in publications, web sites, Vallarta Fishing Experience host and member of better known fishing social networking sites. As the Premier Fishing Company in Puerto Vallarta, we pride ourselves on service and value to our customers. All boats are insured and have correct and legal operational licenses. Feel free to contact Stan at: You can also purchase one of my famous shirts online now at:  Blog:   Facebook: www.facebook/ and look for me on Twitter: www.twitter/

The more things change, the more they stay the same

By Stan Gabruk of Master Baiter’s Sportfishing and Tackle

The more things change, the more they stay the same

The inside story of the Puerto Vallarta fishing scene, living in the middle of it gives me a unique view of a world only those in it will ever see.  I see what is happening in Marina Vallarta every day. I see all the boats, I know all the captains one way or another. The things that happen on the docks can affect the charter you reserved six months or six hours ago. There is a sub culture in these Mexican Marinas. Not everyone is a good guy, not everyone is a bad guy. Most have families, children, parents and lots of brothers and sisters. These families live and grow up in the Marinas and on the beaches. Puerto Vallarta is a small town, that may feel big, but is going through some growing pains. Big money problems, small minded solutions, and opportunities you can step into easier than a hot tub. Welcome to the real Marina Vallarta….

When you open the fishing magazines, you see pictures of large fish, Blue water, and expensive boats. This is the fantasy, but these fantasies sell Magazines. Rich guys who have a money machine in the garage can live these fantasies, but what is a real world guy who loves fishing supposed to do? Well unless you have four thousand bucks to blow on the Magazine guys, you better get in touch with what is happening in the Marina you’re visiting on vacation. I am now speaking of Marina Vallarta of course, but the rules are the same in all the Sportfishing Marinas around the world.

Say you’re ¨Joe Average Guy¨, you live in the real world, that means you save your nickels and dimes, go without that little extra that cost stupid money like Latte’s or morning donuts. Save that cash and in three months you will have enough to go out fishing on a Super Panga for 8 hrs, targeting Sailfish, Dorado, and Moby Dick! Get a buddy and hit El Banco for Marlin and Yellowfin Tuna in the Summer Months. That is how the real world, real guy goes out and hunts Monsters.

Now lets assume you have that hard earned cash you hid from your wife for the last year. Now you’re on vacation and ready to go fishing for that Finned Fantasy you´ve been thinking about since the first time you saw a jumping Marlin on the Wide World of Sports! How do you find a company that will deliver the truth, not the crap you want to hear about the fishing conditions and the catch. That guy you will be talking with wants that commission or charter. He is motivated to tell you whatever it takes to get you on that boat. If you catch fish is a secondary concern to him. He wants to sell the boat that gives him the biggest commission! You know you are not going to like the price, but at least you want to be told the truth before you drop a thousand dollars on the barrel head! So you better do some research amigo or you will be fleeced like a baby lamb.   

Now if this is your situation, the last thing you want to do is drop a thousand bucks down on some guy who is referring you to his brother in laws, uncles, cousin who owns this boat somewhere around the marina who will get you fish and get you a great deal. Now you would be amazed at how many times this happens. Disasters every one of them. It’s like they volunteer to be taken advantage of. Can you say Baaaaaaaaa like a sheep being fleeced?

So how are you going to go about finding the right captain, the right boat and the right captain? Well, some go by word of mouth, which is a good way to go. Happy customers are always good for business, this is stupid simple. Go with those guys. If you don´t know anyone, ask the concierge in the hotels, they will direct you to people like me. People who know the guys on the boats and the boats themselves. Everyone knows who’s boats are healthy and which ones are sick… and which ones are terminal. So lets look at this a little deeper….  

Word of mouth can be misleading also. The good captain that caught you or your friend fish last time is probably on another boat now, in maybe another marina. If he is any good at all he could be working now for a private boat owner and pulling down great money, even for an American it would be great money. With the changes that happen around here, if you can´t keep up with things, you can’t operate a business. The captain on your boat can hold its financial success or failure in his hands and as a boat owner. Now that can be scary since there is no perfect captain, no matter what I do, some stupid stuff is going to happen… and I mean stupid stuff! If your word of mouth contact had a day like that, then you got bad information. So you have to get to a person who knows the local boats and who will tell you the truth. That guy would be me, that is if you want to go out fishing. I have this belief that people will appreciate the truth and ultimately tell their friends that I suggested you not go out today or postpone for a few days. I have had this bite me in the back side watching a guy I told the truth to just to find a guy who will give him a stupid price and tell him whatever he wants to hear and bingo.. There he goes. Now I could do that, there are times when things are dead where it would be to my benefit to do so, but as an American I can’t just do that. So I will tell it to you as straight as it can get. Believe me or not, I appreciate your business, but I would rather keep my return clients and not screw up my reputation over a few bucks.

 As a boat owner, the impossible goal is to find a captain that speaks English, is reliable, friendly, of course catches fish, won’t steal, shows up on time, doesn’t call me at three o’clock in the morning to let me know he drank all the fuel money and needs another $350.00 usd before 6:30 a.m. , etc. But yes buckwheat, there are captains that will fill the bill. But back to the question: Who do you go with Captain and Boat wise?

Enter the local talent, the guys who grew up on the docks and have forgotten more than that new guy from Florida will ever know! So lets talk local guys, the Captains and crew ¨Joe Average¨ is looking for. Well as you can imagine, Puerto Vallarta is full of them. Those who know enough about the area, will know the names of the captains before they know the name of the boat the fished on last with this guy. These are the guys you want to hunt down.


So lets talk about one of the local guy grew who grew up in the area. I should say more than grew up in the area, they were breast fed on the docks while the mother was making crevice. Take Capt. Armando, His family had eleven pangas that were commercial fishing boats. They would catch fish like Dorado (aka Mahi Mahi or Dolphin) and sell them at Market. Imagine Tropical settings on the beaches before Buceras had many buildings, a true sleepy little fishing village. Capt. Armando and his family, especially his father saw Sportfishing grow in Puerto Vallarta as one of the early charter captains in Puerto Vallarta. Armando was his deck hand and later first mate.

Now Capt. Armando is not one of those pretty Mexican Captains. He is missing a few teeth, he is kinda portly, but is absolutely one of the best people I have ever had the pleasure to know, let alone have as a Captain in Marina Vallarta. His ship is El Duende and is an older, 31 ft Bertram classic that is not exactly something you’ll find on ESPN. You see,  it´s not exactly pretty, but it is a fine working fishing platform that comes well equipped with top of the line equipment and tackle like Shimano Reels, CalStar Poles and Hi5 lures, etc. There is plenty of shade, a private head, and plenty of ice and bait. The boat is fast and everyone speaks English. More importantly he catches fish! Plain, Simple and uncomplicated. High technology to Capt. Armando would be the simple graphics of his onboard electronics. A guy like Capt. Armando knows what the area has to hold from experience. When you have the electronics, you can see why he has hit a certain spot for years and won’t share this information but with a selective few…. Unlike many captains, he can perform from visual navigation points in the bay.  

With Mondos experience.. that’s what I call him, if you are looking for Rooster fish, Sailfish, Marlin, then he’s your man. I have never seen a better Captain inside the bay and finds fish when nobody else does. Now you will come back happy, and think Capt. Armando is the greatest fisherman you have ever seen. I consider him a friend.

Now I can put Mondo in a beautiful boat and I would have to charge a lot more money since the boat would be new and the insurance is high, etc. But that does not mean he would catch more fish. He would be more comfortable, but we’re looking for real world captians now, not fat daddy/ flashy television clowns.

So the guy(s) in the Magazines are really no better than Capt. Armando. Remember, like I said earlier, The boat does not catch the fish, fish go for the bait, the boat means nothing to the fish at all.

To give you an idea, Capt. Armando has captained El Duende for about four years now. Mondo was one of my best Captains we ever had when it comes to reliability, catching fish, customer support, and supporting the common goals of maintenance and fuel usage. He was great and if you are looking for some real world fishing and not that fancy smancy crap they throw out there, then Mondo is your guy.


I am going to start putting up profiles of the local captains worth their salt who are the unsung fishing heroes of many a vacationing angler to Puerto Vallarta.

So the next time some guy walks up to you on the boardwalk in PV and tells you he has twelve boats and he can beat any deal. Remember, the money you just saved will almost guarantee no fish. You see guys like Capt. Armando work full time on real boats. Not a part time captain who is hired when they ¨get¨ someone who may be interested.

So remember, buy the captain, not the boat. Purchase experience, not B.S….. Catch Fish!

You can purchase Master Baiters T-shirts online at: or you can see my web page at:

Master Baiter´s® is a registered trade mark……      

Picking a Charter Company, What You Don’t know Will Hurt You

Picking a Charter Company, What You Don’t know Will Hurt You Written by Stan Gabruk or Master Baiter’s Sportfishing and Tackle Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Since the year 2000, Master Baiter’s has been in the Sportfishing Charter business. Some call it Deep Sea Fishing, others call it Sportfishing, what ever you choose to call it, it’s expensive and there’s no way around that simple fact of life. I always have potential clients enter my shop on the boardwalk in Marina Vallarta and they naturally ask for prices. When I collect all the information I need from them to make a recommendation, they are seldom happy about the price and that in itself is a deal breaker. Especially for many vacationing Anglers with a “whim” to go fishing for “Moby Dick”. When I do finally figure out the correct or best option for the client, he’s usually grabbing his chest from the heart palpitations he’s experiencing. I can understand that reaction for sure. When you tell a potential client that a ten hour trip on a nice and nicely equipped boat is going to run on average $1,000.00 usd for up to five people, this is normal. After years of this I think it’s finally time to get down in writing why things are the way they are. When you stop and realize that for the same money, you can rent a Jet Ski and pay more for that per hour than you are for a multi-hundred thousand dollar boat! Just to put things in perspective. Lets go into a little more detail on this since it can be a deal breaker. Start-up and Operating Expenses: First, let’s take a look at the expense of the boat itself. If you’re lucky and you buy a three year old Luhrs Express with fresh engines for example, you’d be lucky to get one of these for $180,000.00 usd (it’s a ball park number so don’t beat me up for this over present market conditions). Now the engines on a Charter Boat that’s going out 15 to 20 times a month (which is a lot) will last three years before you’ll need to start thinking about what the engines remaining life span is. Without getting into this too heavily, I use the accounting / business standard three year return on my investment (ROI) formula for this, as do some others in Marina Vallarta. The boat payment alone, without interest attached for 36 months (3 yrs) is a $6,000.00 usd per month payment alone. Most financing a boat like this will extend the terms so their payment is in the neighborhood of $2,000.00 usd per month for multiple years, with a substantial down payment. Tack on Fuel, insurance, water, electricity, cleaning products, oil changes, Equipment, salaries, fishing licenses for a year, Line, Lures, Poles, maintenance, Reels, ADVERTISING, more equipment and you start to get a feel for what the upfront expenses are before you ever see a dime in profit. Don’t forget, you’re a startup company so people won’t know of or about you. With all these expenses and some I didn’t mention, the actual running expenses / cost of the 32 ft. boat will ultimately run approx. $743.00 usd per 12 trip (1/3 to 1/2 being fuel alone, rest being fixed cost). If as an owner you charge $1,000.00 for that trip, the owner saw maybe $257.00 usd over operating expenses in profit. Hit this amount with taxes or Hacienda as they call it here in Mexico, and I’m sure you can see where this is going. I’d also like to emphasize that 15 trips a month is considered a heavy traffic month, so the numbers can go south in a heart beat if demand for your services dry up due to bad economies like in the USA now. Put this all together and you’ve got a dicey situation for the Deep Sea Fishing industry, especially if you’re new in the “neighborhood”. A risky business venture to be sure, yet we get those who want to retire and become Jimmy Buffet Living in Margarita Ville where life is a constant party. Well folks, it doesn’t work like that, it’s not glamorous or a big money maker. Average time in business for start up charter companies is 2.5 yrs in business or less. That’s how long it usually takes people to figure out they’re not having fun or making any money and most likely both. Hell, they’re not even covering their expenses with low charter months and eventually the money will just dry up and there goes the fantasy. The competition doesn’t help when they sell their boats for less than operating cost, but hey, they got few dollars I their pocket today. They worry about tomorrow when they can’t avoid it any longer. Charter Services in Florida, Hawaii, and Cabo all price their charters considerably higher which makes Puerto Vallarta the best value for your Sportfishing dollar as things stand now! With Marine Fuel in the $2.40 a gallon range, it’s less than half what they’re paying for it in the Caribbean, Hawaii or Florida! Recently in PV, Many existing charter companies with good reputations are updating their charter boats with newer boats, yet prices are staying stable because of a noticeable slow down in tourism. With all the financial balls people are juggling in North America the budget fisherman has been hit hard. But the growth in popularity of Puerto Vallarta and the sport is off setting the lower levels in tourism. People with money will always have the money they want to do what they want. Big Game Fishing has never been cheap and it never will be. For those with the necessary cash flow, The World has turned its eyes our way and things are changing accordingly….. One thing to look out for is the guy who says he can take a deposit on a specific boat, he may even have a slip of paper with a number on it, but it doesn’t mean a thing amigo. Last week I placed two different sets of people who gave a person a deposit for a day of fishing, just to find out when it came time to go, the boat was no where to be found. No contact, Nobody. I tried calling the boat that was “chartered” only to find the boat was already booked and confirmed for other people. Those unsuspecting folks were robbed and didn’t find out for three days after they dropped the deposit. Don’t be fooled, Use an established Charter company with an office from which they work from. If you don’t have that, and I don’t mean a mini mart, you’ve got a possible vacation disaster. So beware of who you’re dealing with….. About Captains and Crews: They say there is no substitute for experience and here in Puerto Vallarta (PV) truer words were never spoken. Many, if not most of the Captains here grew up on the docks learning from their Fathers and Grand Fathers. There are many third generation charter Captains that know this area better than the back of their hand. The problem is, this is Mexico and most Mexican Captains and crews don’t speak English (all of ours do). This can make communication difficult for the vacationing Angler. So the Captain with good, maybe not great English skills will be favored over the non-English speaking Captains. Now I can more than understand this since a person coming down from Canada or the States will find a comfort factor in being able to communicate with the Captain….. Imagine that. So when a boat owner chooses a Captain, he has to choose from a limited few that may or may not be the best choice available. Coming down to the Marina or reading articles online will help the decision making process but you never know what you’ve got until you’ve been out with one. Many people come to PV year after year going from one company to another looking for the correct combination of ability, quality, comfort factor, and price! Since people are creatures of habit, if they have fun, you’ve got a locked in return client! They’ll come back year after year, since they already like the boat and crew, why change?? Some Captains come in consistently with fish, while others will tell you they’re the best, yet choke when the chips are down. Now we all know fishing is fishing and on any given day you can come in skunked, it happens to the best of us. But as a charter company owner I’m looking for everything, Perfect English, Experience, reliability, a dash of personality and the ability to come in with a full fish box when others are coming back “empty handed”. For those off days when you come back with an empty fish box, we’ve all heard the horror stories, the very least you want is a Captain and Crew that you feel gave it their all. Changed lure color often, tried different things and had the tools necessary for several fishing methods! Not just trolling the six lures they may have. So how would the general public coming down to Puerto Vallarta know which Captain is best for them? Well amigos, it’s almost impossible to tell if you’re not in the middle of the action. That’s where we come in, making sure we have the best Captains available on our boats so you don’t have to worry about such things. The boat you were on last year may have been great then, but things change rapidly in Marina Vallarta and the captain and crew, hell even the owner may have changed since the last time you went out fishing with them. Everything has changed about that boat, except the name that is. So choose a reputable Fishing Charter Company and you’ll most likely not be disappointed with your day on the water. Now remember, this article is for the average guy hoping to learn a little something from an insiders view. Again the goal of this article is to share information with the average person so “he” can better understand why things are, the way they are! Lets Talk Equipment / Tackle: Sportfishing makes the expense of Golf look like nothing in comparison. When it comes to Big Game or Deep Sea Fishing here in Puerto Vallarta (PV), where it’s very possible to boat a world record fish, you just know it’s going to be expensive. If you compare a rig as I call it, or a fishing pole / reel set-up to that of a bag of golf clubs (about the same cost, balls and all), you could spend between $1,200.00 to $2,000.00 usd dollars in the blink of an eye. Take this number, multiply it by ten to fifteen times and you’ll have a basic idea of the minimum requirements for a professional charter boat when it comes to poles, reels, line and lures. If you’re looking for smaller fish inshore or larger fish at El Banco or Corbetena, you have to have the correct rig for the species targeted and for conditions that day. Mix in hooks, line, Flouro Carbon leader (expensive), gaffs, harnesses, swivels ($15 usd each), Kites, Down Riggers etc. , the list just goes on and on. Nothing is cheap, tack 30% on to the normal USA cost for these items just because you’re buying them in Mexico and you start to see what we’re talking about. You can try sneaking it in, but good luck, they love finding new fishing gear in suitcases as they’re checked in Customs. Now the Charter Boat that doesn’t have the best equipment and tackle, well this will become obvious when you head out and snap the line ten times in one day on a boat who’s using stressed line….. We all lose fish, but not a bunch in a row from broken line. If this happens it’s old, chaffed, and ready for the trash bin. The Angler spending a thousand dollars for a trip to catch Moby Dick deserves much more than the opportunity to lose a fish on a half full spool of stressed line. That’s another point, Getting spooled in this day and age is unacceptable and you should never go on a boat that doesn’t have Spectra Backed reels. Especially when you’re looking at Grander Marlin and Monster Yellowfin tuna from June to Mid January! Once you’ve boated or fought a larger billfish or Yellowfin Monster you’ll be glad you had new line. But even then, the life span of the line is between five and ten big fish, especially billfish. The fishing line these days are designed to perform, but not forever. It stretches and gets chaffed by bills, sun, salt and age. Fresh line on full reels is very easy to see and is an indicator for what you could expect on that charter boat. So the next time you’re out choosing a charter, ask to see the equipment if possible. The whole day will depend on the mere fact that the charter boat owner spends fifty dollars to reline a reel so these things won’t happen for the worse constantly. But remember, like I said earlier, breaking line is part of the game, but not ten times in one day! Everyone wants to save a buck or two, but make sure you get what you think you’re paying for, not what your wallet tells you. You’re better off waiting another year and doing it right with the opportunity to have the time of your life…. Let’s talk about the service end of the business: I’ve talked before on how people look for a charter company. First they may check out the internet at home, but many wait until they come down to Puerto Vallarta to get the “feel” of the area. First they talk with the guy who gets their luggage to the taxi at the airport when you first arrive. Then he’ll talk with the taxi driver, Next comes the concierge at the hotel, the waiter in the restaurant, people around the pool and finally he’ll find his way to Marina Vallarta and walk the gauntlet. There are companies in Marina Vallarta that are the flavor of the month. One guy or company which just sprung up this past summer went out of business selling Roasted Chicken and now books really cheap boats out of Los Penas Marina. They’ve got a nice, cheap office with pretty furniture and a nice logo to impress you. Then also got a guy who’s standing on the board walk (or walking the boardwalk) asking you if you need anything from a tour to a fishing charter. Now this guy can’t tell you what kind of baits are working right now, but he’s quick to talk of his twelve boats. Of course he can’t remember the names of but two, but he’s got twelve! Check out internet travel forum sites about the area or sites like Trip Adviser, World Wide Fishing Guide or Fodor’s travel guide, where slouch companies can’t afford the price of participation. Look for recommendations from travel agencies, articles, travel guides again like Fodor’s, the hotel concierge, but locals that live in the area are always the best. Word of mouth is still the best advertising. Vacationers and travelers in general are always more than willing to share their experiences, mostly bad. I’ve always found that flattering words may go unsaid, but a bad time will get plenty of volume when it’s time to speak of horrible experiences Service is first and foremost, no matter how much you paid for your day on the water. Naturally lower cost providers should come with lowered expectations. Having said that, I don’t care if you live in Mexico or on Mars, service is a basic fact of life in any business. Service doesn’t cost the operator or Owner a thin dime more than he’s already spending. It all comes down to getting the most from your people and making sure clients are not only having fun, but are being provided the service they don’t know they need. Do they meet you on time at an agreed to meeting place? Is the boat fueled up with bait and ice, ready to go? Are there any money issues that you’re unaware of until that moment of departure (This happens all the time)? Do you have your contact persons phone number if need be? Do you know your boats name / location? All important stuff that should not be a mystery! Was the crew courteous and pleasant? Do they interact with you? Do they listen to your request? Do they release when informed of this desire or not? Did they tell you they speak English, just to later discover they know ten words of English? This and the list could go on for ever. All very important things to consider when choosing a charter company….. I have another article I Have written for other publications like Western Outdoor News and World Wide Fishing Guide to name a few. I will post that article after I get this up…. If you should have any questions, feel free to ask: or Facebook: MasterBaiter Stan Twitter: handle. Masterbaiters

Experienced Captains the Secret to Sportfishing in Puerto Vallarta

Experienced Captains the Secret to Sportfishing in Puerto Vallarta

For the last eight years I have seen every guy with a line of credit and a thirty foot Gradey White center console put out a shingle and declare his superior quality and performance. They will have nice, shinny newer boats, of course they want to be the star, so you’ve got yourself a ¨hot-shot¨ owner / operator running his own little circus. After all, if this guy can catch fish in (fill in the blank), then he can fish anywhere. They have the new shinny Black Barts.. and can talk a good game. They may or may not catch fish. Lets face it, in PV there are times that if you just show up, you will look good and come in with lots of fish! Me, give me the guy with  experience, not the prettiest boat, and not running one single Black Bart Lure. These are the guys who grew up in the area, know the bay like the back of their hands and well, to be frank, for a price will teach that new guy with the new boat where to find fish and what they need to do! But they don’t teach the instincts a good, local captain will have.  You can build a reputation on those guys, and around those types. Now managing them can be another thing… Hahahaha…..

This week, the experienced captains like Jose Luis, our captain on our 25 ft panga, he took clients and fished the surf line, not trolling the middle of the bay. Came in with several nice sized Rooster fish, Jack Crevalls, Snapper and Bonito. Chris Ramsey from Campassas Texas came in with tired arms and a sore face from smiling. I can’t remember the last time I had a client this happy. When you’re looking for action, you don’t have to pay to see where Moby Dick ¨was´.

The Hot spots right now are El Morro, the Marietta Islands and the Rocks or Islands off the point of Punta Mita. The locals call them islands, so we will too. Rooster Fish, Dorado in the 25 lb to 35 lb range, Bonito around 30 lbs, Some Needle fish, Snappers from 10 to 20 lbs, even Sailfish if you’re lucky. Lures of purple are working well, Google Eyes and silver diamond jig baits will get you results. These areas are for the time being the place to be if you are interested in Action and not boating a monster. At this time of the year most of the fisherman in the area is here on vacation, not looking for that trophy billfish.

Those who still want to take a shot at Marlin, Sailfish and Yellowfin will have to be prepared mentally and financially to meet this desire. Ten hours minimum, maybe even sixteen to eighteen hours for Yellowfin Tuna. But that’s the bad news, the good news: if you’re truly serious about boating something along these lines, then going out for one day is like visiting a world class ski area, and skiing one day. Of course with one key difference, you can always find the slopes, not always true with gamefish! Make sure you have a kite, fluorocarbon leaders, and a multiday trip. If you take a shot at these beauties, you need to do what it takes, and that is at least an overnight trip. Maybe even a three day trip if you can find a boat captain that will do that. Do this, you´ll get your trophy, go on the less expensive side, and roll the dice.

Remember guys, these papers don’t come cheap and advertisers are still getting their feet under them after the last seasons tourism issues. Remember to let the advertisers supporting this publication that you are supporting their businesses and keep the paper in print!

One last thing, if you have had a bad fishing experience with any company in PV, you can post your comments on the Vallarta. Net site ( You can also post positive comments to help those companies doing what they can to provide service, smiles and fish! Help the good guys, hurt the bad guys!

Until next week, don’t forget to kiss your fish….

Master Baiter’s is now all over the place. Stan Gabruk post articles as a feature writer in publications, web sites, Vallarta Fishing Experience host and member of better known fishing social networking sites. As the Premier Fishing Company in Puerto Vallarta, we pride ourselves on service and value to our customers. All boats are insured and have correct and legal operational licenses. Feel free to contact Stan at: You can also purchase one of my famous shirts online now at:  Blog:   Facebook: www.facebook/ and look for me on Twitter: www.twitter/MasterBaiters

We’re recommended in Fodor’s Travel guide, Trip Advisor and others for Sportfishing in Puerto Vallarta. For T-shirts, Tours and plain information Phone from Canada / USA: 011 52 322 209 11 28.. In P.V.: (322) 209 11 28

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Fish Pics from Puerto Vallarta, Master Baiter’s Sportfishing and Tackle

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, well there are about three thousand unsaid words… Fish Pic from Puerto Vallarta…. You can find me on Facebook under the name MasterBaiter Stan … come invite me to be your friends….. Enjoy the fish… More to come.

PV Fishing Report 2/6/10: uP sIdE DoWn SeAsOn, Yellowfin 4 U if Willing to Pay the Price

uP sIdE DoWn SeAsOn, Yellowfin 4 U if Willing to Pay the Price

The states are feeling the effects of what El Nino Can do. Freezing Temperatures in Florida killing Tarpin is just one example of the weather extremes the world is seeing right now. Puerto Vallarta Sportfishing is no stranger to these global abnormalities. Right now we are seeing water temperatures bordering on spring time equivalents. Seventy Eight to eighty one degree water temperatures are creating a vortex of sorts. The warm water fish like Black Marlin, Monster Yellowfin Tuna, and Large Dorado have headed south for the winter like they do every year. The cold water fish are uncomfortable so they´re either deep or heading north in search of more comfortable temperatures. This all creates a challenge for the local Captains, but as usual, there is always a solution to any problem. The only question is: Are you willing to pay the price to get to the fishing grounds?

Those rare and lucky few who can actually afford to Hunt Yellowfin Tuna have been heading out to the Prison Islands, also known as the Tres Marias. Now these fishing grounds are nothing new, they have been there for millions and zillions of years. But with the strange water temperatures, Yellowfin Tuna running in the 100 lb range has been boated. To truly understand the personal investment in time and fuel, this is 3.5 hours one way amigo. A 1,200 lt tank will get you there and back on fumes. If you had to pay for this, that shoots the day-lights out of $1,000.00 usd in fuel alone, so it can be pricy with no guarantee. For those with less of a budget and less interested in catching Moby Dick, you may not want to go this route.

Corbeteña and El Banco have been quiet, but not dead. With very few boats heading out these days it is very hard to get a feel for what is waiting for vacationing anglers. The warm water is definitely not a deterrent to Cubera Snappers in the bottom structure areas. Amber Jacks (40 to 50 lbs), Rainbow Runners (35 lbs), Smaller Sailfish and the occasional Striped Marlin. Plenty of bullet Bonito for bait, so no issues there. For the time and money, other places are more promising. But like always, I better cover my butt, things can change in a heartbeat and usually does!

With the rains we´ve been having with the El Nino Weather, we have seen water spouts, some hurricane force winds in some areas and periods of rain. On those rainy days, it may seem like a vacation disaster, but these fish get excited when the rain drops hit the water surface. They think it’s bait coming back into the water, when you cast a bait and it hits the water, they can’t help themselves! If you were at the point of Punta Mita, you had an excellent shot at Rooster Fish. Now the Dorado are running from younglings to mature males. Eight hour trips are producing strange options. This week clients also hit Sailfish (youngling) and Striped Marlin just off the point five miles to ten miles on a 330 heading. The Roosters have been running in the 35 to 50 lb range with the occasional 70 pounder! Dorado are in and out, targeting Roosters will be more successful.

If you wanted to give yourself the best chance of coming in with something, the place to be was north in the San Pancho area. Figure a ten / twelve hour day with time to look around a bit. Finding fish this time of the year is not automatic. This is where an experienced captain is worth his weight in gold. Capt Armando (pictured with a rainy day Dorado) of El Duende is one of those guys. His family raised him in Buceras, just north of Puerto Vallarta. The family had eleven pangas and were commercial fisherman. When his father turned to sport fishing with ¨rich¨ clients and discovered it paid much better, Armando was his deck hand and First Mate. Now as an adult Captain I don´t know anyone who knows the bay of Banderas better than him. An experienced captain like him will come in with fish when others come in skunked! Experience is a big factor in a successful day of fishing at this time of year. Oops, got off the track there…

Back to San Pancho, The water in the area is deep blue and full of bait. Those looking for a trophy sized fish would be well suited to travel north and hit some un-visited, old timer fishing grounds. 15 to 25 miles off shore should be productive before the New Moon Phase.

If you are heading out to fishing grounds full of Dorado, remember we are in breeding season. With the drop in predicted Dorado populations in the very near future, we need to make sure young and female Dorado go back in! Just because you caught the fish, does not mean you have to bring that fish in. For those interested, Rooster fish are edible, it´s a pink red meat that lightens in color when cooked. Great Sashimi also, so be adventurous!

One last thing, remember to support our advertisers who make this publication possible! It doesn’t hurt to let them know you read their advertisement!

Until next week, don’t forget to kiss your fish….

We are now selling our world famous T-Shirts online at … We only have two designs up for the time being, but if things go well, we’ll increase the products offered. Come be my Facebook ¨Friend¨. You can contact me at MasterBaiter Stan (username). I blog also: for the local inside information on what is happening in Marina Vallarta…..

Well that’s about it for now, until next week, don’t forget to kiss your fish!

Remember, if you have any questions or suggestions you can reach me at: or