By Leon Pennings
A team of big game fishing went in June to Mexico to fish the beautiful waters of Puerto Avonturas. The team, Bart Alders, Thijs Risseeuw, David van Putten and myself (Leon Pennings) hired a boat via Tight Lines fishing travels. This boat, a 38 lures called “The Obsession”, was chosen because it was the only one where you can sit with 3 up to 4 people at the first floor, together with the captain. Here you can watch the baits splashing through the surface and maybe, when we’re lucky, see some bills attacking them. In Puerto Avonturas May, June and July are the prime months to catch blue marlin, white marlin and the lovely sails! Also the other game fish such as mahi mahi, tuna and Wahoo should be there. Trough the internet we agreed with the fishing company ( captain Rick’s fishing charters) that we would bring our own fishing rods and artificial trolling lures for marlin and sailfish. In these waters the marlin won’t be that big, so you can fight them stand up and don’t have to use the heavy tackle. So we brought our 20 and 50 lbs stand up fishing rods. All the lures ( 40 to be precise) were rigged ourselves to be sure everything was perfect. ( I’m convinced this really can upgrade your hook up rate!!)
The 2nd of June we left to Mexico from Amsterdam airport and after a comfortable 11 hours flight with Martinair we arrived at Cancun. The transfer to our hotel in Puerto Avonturas was another 2 hours, but it was worth the effort. We stayed in hotel Catalonia Riviera Maya, which is directly near the Caribbean sea and at walking distance of our fishing boat. We enjoyed our well deserved first bear in the nice Mexican sunshine!
We would fish 4/5 and 7/8 of June towards full moon and each day we’ll fish from 9.00 a.m. till 17.00 p.m. Perfect I would say! So the day after we arrived we also had a day off and we agreed we would check out the environment and the boats, when they came back at 17.00 p.m. When the boats came back we saw a lot of mahi mahi and only two boats out of 12 caught a sail and a blue marlin. The Obsession was one of them! We met the captain and the crew and they told us the fishing was a little bit slow, but one week before it was great ( They even had a grand slam: blue marlin, white marlin and sailfish! ). As always with fishing I would say!
We got up at 8.00, had a nice breakfast and walked to the harbour. First we had to see captain Rick and listen to his speech, where he thought big game fishing was all about. He told us it would be difficult to get a strike, because the sea was very calm this day. Then we had to toss who might have the first fish. Bart was the lucky one. We headed to our boat and the crew welcomed us aboard. Except the captain who had lost his tongue. 10 minutes later we arrived at the holy fishing grounds! With the deckies we had decided we were going to use one of my lures at the short right flat, a 80 lbs stand up rod. The other 4 rods were rigged with ballyhoos together with a little plastic squid( 2x 20lbs and 2x 50lbs stand up rods). So we were fishing with five rods, four at the lower deck and one used as a shooter handled by our speechless captain. We also trolled 3 big teaser chains in the colours pink, blue and purple. They all had a dead mullet at the end of it. The deckies had chosen 2 big trolling lures for marlin in the coalers pink and deep purple. They both have the same trolling action and are called greasy lures. They move very fast from right to left and leave a large bubble trail !! First they used the pink one, because pink was their favourite colour and also very good for the sails. All the rods went out and we could get used to the sea. We searched for birds together with our speechless captain but nothing happened for the first 2 ½ hours. Then out of the blue a marlin hit the short right flat and was bouncing the pink lure. He then switched to the far left ballyhoo but lost interest in this one. Then he attacked the shooter and our captain could definitely speak!. Except the marlin lost interest in this ballyhoo, as well as in our captain. The marlin disappeared and we made a big circle. After 5 minutes the marlin showed up again at our left teaser! He was going for the dead mullet but it was quickly pulled in.( really exciting to see the marlin come this close to the boat!!) He then quickly switched to the pink lure again and the reel made that lovely sound we were all waiting for!. The deckie did the right thing and Bart was hooked up with a nice white marlin. The marlin jumped all over the place and after a nice fight for 10 minutes the deckie could grab the leader. We made some nice pictures from Bart and his120 lbs white marlin before releasing him. ( As they do with almost all the bill fish! ) The lines went in again and after 45 minutes astrike at the far right. Thijs caught a nice barracuda. At this time the sea became a little bit rougher because the wind was coming up. We saw two birds circling above some bait fish and 30 minutes later we raised a sail. He only chased the far right but didn’t took the bait. The deckies changed the ballyhoos and my pink lure was changed for the purple one. Once in a while we had some strange bites at the shooter but only the bait was bitten in two. The deckies told us this were probably rainbow runners. Some 30 minutes later the far left clicked out of the outrigger and a very big sail was chasing the bait. The deckies started teasing him again and now he took the ballyhoo. The hook was set and Thijs could start fighting the fish. He jumped several times and managed to get rid of the hook. Leaving Thijs looking very disappointed to his slack line. But that’s fishing and lets hope he’ll get another change! After trolling for maybe one hour a marlin showed up at our left teaser and quickly changed to the purple lure. We saw his bill splashing trough the surface and off he went. The real was screaming and the deckies set the hook. This time it was my turn and after spectacular jumps and a nice fight a beautiful 120 lbs white marlin came along the boat. The deckies professionally grabbed the leader and the marlin was pulled in. We took some pictures and released him. Lines and teasers went back in again and 45 minutes later a sail showed up at the far right. The line was pulled out of the outrigger but he let go of the bait. He then chased the short right for a while before he changed to the short left. This ballyhoo was probably good enough and disappeared in his mouth. He took some line of the reel before the hook was set and David could begin his first ever fight with one of the big game species. He did well and after lots of jumps and a fight of 15 minutes the 70 lbs sail was pulled in. We made some pictures and also released this beautiful fish. Later on we managed to raise another sail but this one didn’t show any interest and disappeared again. Time was up and we went back to the harbour. We heard we were the only boat out of 12 who caught billfish. The others caught mahi mahi which we funny enough didn’t see at all. Strange how fishing can be while we fished the same area!
David with his 70 lbs sail
Same morning routine and got on the boat without the morning speech off captain Rick. But I strongly believe once is enough! Started fishing in the same way as yesterday because we did very well! The sea was very calm in the morning and we didn’t see a lot of activity. After 2 hours of trolling a sail showed up at the far left. He chased it but left it alone. He turned to the shooter and our tongueless captain started to tease him by pulling the rod heavily down and upwards. This didn’t work and we thought the fish disappeared. But he came back trying to get the pink short right, who was splashing trough the surface. He hit it very hard and the hook was set! This sail was jumping sky high and after a while he came along the boat. Beautiful blue colours and the deckie grabbed the leader. Strangely enough the hook came out and off he went. Officially this fish was a catch but this always leaves a funny feeling. But on the other hand it’s good to know a fish also has a change to win the fight. Lines went in again and lunch was prepared by the youngest deckie. Nice sandwiches which were very welcome! We were enjoying this proper meal when the far right got out of the outrigger clip. With our mouths full we watched the marlin leave this ballyhoo alone and started changing the far left. This ballyhoo also wasn’t good enough and he tuned to the shooter. He smashed it with his bill and our captain started to tease him by pulling the rod up and down. The marlin became very aggressive and made different attempts to eat the lure. And finally the reel made his dissolving sound! The marlin really went greasy and made countless jumps before going deep. Bart was fighting this fish at first stand up but after a while he had to sit down at the cooling box because this boat hadn’t a fighting chair! This fish was really fighting hard and time after time he took the line of the reel when Bart thought he was going to bring the fish along the boat. We had to reanimate Bart once and he was sweating badly. But after a 30 minutes fight the fish finally came along the boat and we saw what had happened. This 130 lbs white marlin was hooked in the back! We took some pictures before releasing it and he swam away if nothing had happened. After al this commotion lines went in again and the wind was coming up. The sea really became much rougher and we saw a few birds chasing whatever!? Suddenly the far right and 10 seconds later the far left both went off. Two nice mahi mahi had grabbed the ballyhoos and were now jumping all over the place. Thijs took the first one and I took the second one. Badly enough the mahi mahi’s got messed up and the deckie had to cut one line. Thijs could fight his fish but mine was lost. A nice cow mahi mahi was caught by Thijs and our captain was swearing to his crew for loosing the other mahi mahi. What a nice fine way of choosing your spareless words. This guy really knows how to communicate! Lines went back in again and in the end of the day David got a strike at the shooter and caught a nice rainbow runner. Not really much of a fight at a 50 lbs rod but who cares. We went back to the harbour at 17.00. Once more a nice day of fishing!
Bart with his 130 lbs white marlin
Yesterday we had a day off and mostly stayed at the beach, just relaxing. This day David would stay at the hotel because of some physical problems. When we arrived at the boat we saw the Obsession had the remains of a 40 pound yellow fin hanging on the deck. They would drop it in the ocean when we were there. We would love to catch one as well! Yesterday the fishing wasn’t that great they told us. Only one yellow fin caught and a sail raised. That was all. Our strategy would be different in the morning. We only trolled 4 lures and at a faster speed. So no ballyhoos. We also started fishing in a different area. The deckies had chosen the pink one (off course!) and another big marlin lure which had a different action. They were fished at the short right and short left. We also used 2 smaller tuna lures and they were put at the far right and far left. The teasers were used as well. Instead of trolling 5/6 knots, we now were trolling at 7/8 knots. We saw bird activity and bait fish, so the fish must be there! After 30 minutes we saw a bird circling above some bait fish and we trolled towards this hopeful place. When we arrived at the hotspot we saw a big shark attacking the bait fish. Beautiful to see and remarkable how close we could get before he was spooked! Badly enough nothing happened after 2 hours of trolling, so we decided to use the old method again. Lures were changed by ballyhoos and the big pink was put at the 80lbs again at the short right. The shooter went in and we reduced our speed to 5/6 knots. After 30 minutes strike at the far left and Bart could fight a nice cow mahi mahi which was gaffed by Thijs. Lines went back in again and after one hour a sail showed up at the far left and the line was pulled out of the outrigger ( always a good sound to hear!). But we didn’t hook the fish. He then turned to the far right causing Thijs almost a heart attack. ( He really wants the sail to eat one of the baits because it’s his turn for a hook up! ) But he also lost interest in this one and disappeared. But suddenly he showed up again at the short right baiting pinkie. Now the reel made its music and was put in the hands of a shaking Thijs! ( We told him if he was loosing this one as well, he himself was to be used as a trolling bait for a nice white shark or something else with big teeth). The sail didn’t like the hook and was jumping as crazy. Thijs kept his head as cool as possible and 10 minutes later the fish came along the boat .It was pulled in and quickly released after taken some nice pictures. Thijs was glad we had to use a different bait for the sharks and could smile again. Lines went back in again and 30 minutes later strike at the far right. It was my turn the pull in this nice barracuda. When the deckie tried to unhook the fish he sliced his finger and we learned he could swear as well. The barracuda was released, but I cannot say in a soft way! Time was up and we returned to the harbour were we enjoyed a nice cold beer. The harbour itself is a nice place. There are lots of restaurant and bars and also a pool were dolphins are swimming.
Thijs with his 60 lbs sail
Last day of fishing. Today all four of us are back on the “Obsession” while David had recovered well. He of course could fight the first fish! We would fish in the same way as the days before and of course pinkie was put at the short right. This day the weather was different. Very cloudy and once in a while it even started raining. But we had high hopes as we saw lots of activity. After one hour of trolling strike at the far right. David could pull in a nice barracuda. 30 minutes later a sail raised at the far left just chasing the bait and nothing else. The deckies changed this ballyhoo as they always did if a fish was raised but didn’t took the bait. Some time later strike at the far left. Bart could fight a nice mahi mahi and was professionally gaffed by Thijs. It was a little cow but it is always good to hear a real going of! Once in a while we had again those strange strikes where only a half ballyhoo could be pulled in. So we know the rainbow runners were active as well. But we didn’t manage to hook one! Then strike at the far left again. Thijs could fight a nice barracuda. Then strike at the far right 30 minutes later. For myself also a nice barracuda. Plenty of action but it looks like this day only the little game fish were there. Then a strike at far right. Now we could see a rainbow runner jumping at the end of the line and David brought it save to the boat. Beautiful coloured fish! Lines went back in again and nothing happened for one hour. Then the line was pulled out of the outrigger from the far left. A sail had grabbed the bait but wasn’t hooked. He switched to the far left, chasing it for a while but then quickly changed to pinkie again. He couldn’t resist this one, grabbed it from the surface and made a great run. After some nice jumps, Bart brought his first ever sail near the boat! The fish was properly released after we had taken some pictures! Lines went back in again and all went quiet for a while 30 minutes before we had to go back again Thijs asked me what I would like to happen the most. I told him I would really like to catch a big mahi mahi at a 20 lbs rod. Believe it or not 5 minutes later both the far right as the far left went of. Thijs and myself could fight some nice mahi mahi’s! Mine in the 40 lbs range and on one of the 20 lbs stand-up rods! What a fight and what a way to end a fishing trip!
Thijs and myself with two nice mahi mahi’s