Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Size: Typical "schoolies" here are 80 to 100 pounds. Yellowfin exceeding 200 pounds are not uncommon; 250-plus fish are hooked with surprising regularity; and quite a few cows breaking the 300-pound mark come in annually.
Odds: While there will be periods when it seems like a decent yellowfin can't be found, at other times they seem to be everywhere. On the average, anglers probably have at least a 50 percent chance of bringing to the boat a tuna of at least 150 pounds.
Season: For tuna large enough to dwarf a man, plan your trip anytime from August through December. That's when the behemoths hang in these seasonally warm waters, gorging on the usually abundant baitfish.
Run to the Fish: Serious tuna efforts mean heading out to Corbetania Rock or offshore banks. While this means a run of 30 to 50 miles from the harbor at Puerto Vallarta, the run from Riviera Nayarit, the next major marina to the north, is considerably closer; Capt. Josh Temple says his anglers are often dropping lines within 30 minutes of leaving the dock at Nayarit.
Conditions: During most of prime tuna season, the byword is "hot," says Temple. Very hot. The Pacific tends to be calm most often, though this is also the time when tropical depressions form and may make for several unfishable days. But generally, weather should be a problem no more than a few days in a month, if that.
Charters: Following several years of growth in this fishery, some two-dozen offshore charter boats offer the angler considerable choice, from center-consoles and offshore pangas to mega-convertibles. Accordingly, rates may range from $700 to $800 per day up to $3,500.
Methods: All the usual methods produce in these waters - kites, chunking, spreader bars and lures - "but nothing, and I do mean nothing, has caught more giant tuna off PV than slow-trolled skipjack or, if unavailable, bullet tuna," says Temple.
Accommodations: No one is likely to accuse the PV area of lacking hotels, resorts and condos to fit all budgets. From fifty bucks to five stars, you'll find it in Puerto Vallarta and north in the growing Riviera Nayarit area. You can also book the vast Casa de Casas, which Temple manages, near the new Marina Nayarit where his boats are docked - but that will set back your party a few thousand (yes, dollars) per night. It's named the "house of houses" for a reason.
Other Opportunities: While these waters have become known as a hot spot for giant yellowfin, they offer great opportunities for other big-game pelagics, notably black marlin and big blues as well. Touristy pursuits other than fishing abound in this cruise-ship mecca, with its omnipresent eateries from upscale to down-home, well-populated beaches, shopping ops and more.
Travel Costs: About $500 to $700 from Miami Puerto Vallarta, and just $300 to $400 from L.A.
Source: Capt. Josh Temple has become one of the eastern Pacific's hottest skippers when it comes to giant yellowfin, landing many well over 300 pounds and as large as 370 off Puerto Vallarta, as well as grander marlin. He now operates several boats up to 64 feet out of Marina Nayarit. For more information, visit www.primetimeadv.com, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.