Mexico's Riviera Maya Offshore Trolling
by Larry Larsen
When we cleared Captain Rick's Fishing Center marina and the Puerto Aventuras Inlet, angling friends John Roberts and Andy Beltran helped the mates set up our spread of 7 rigs off the 48
-foot Viking sportfishing yacht
called "The Big Fish". Both men have residences in the marina area are very familiar with the fishing along the Riviera Maya beaches that stretch from Puerto
Aventuras down the coast to Tulum. The guys have spent several weeks each year for the last 20, catching fish from the productive waters an hour south of Cancun Mexico.
The "Big Fish" with Captain Pasqual Jimenez trolls
the waters starting from 200 feet outside of the marina up to 35 miles south in 800 to 1,000 feet depths where sea mounds exist near Tulum. "I like the mounds because few other boats go that far,
and I use my sonar to locate them," says the captain with 18 years offshore Yucatan experience. "We always catch fish along the beaches and we are looking for wahoo, grouper or
sailfish today, but you never know what you might be reeling in."
The snap holding the planer line popped just then
and John headed for the rod. The mates cleared the four outrigger lines, the shotgun line from the control bridge and the other flat line as my partner put the pressure on a nice 20
-pound wahoo with a fresh scar on its dorsal side from something that tried to eat it on the way in. Soon, it was resting in the cooler and we hadn't even gone 3 miles along the coast yet.
The action pretty much continued that morning as we trolled south along the white sand
beaches from the Barcelo Maya Palace Resort almost down to Tulum. We caught another 5 fish including a couple of grouper, including one big 24 pounder, a Spanish mackerel and two
barracuda, one of which topped 20 pounds. A couple other fish also got off, but our crew was happy with the action. Between strikes, we ate breakfast and lunch prepared by one of
the top cooks in the region.
The boat's consistent catches also often include tuna to 20 pounds with a max of 80 pounds,
dolphin up to 30 pounds with a max of near 70 and sailfish to 65 pounds or so. The white marlin are usually skinny at around 100 pounds and the blue marlin generally are between 120
and 150 pounds. The area record on blues is reportedly 450 pounds. The best time of the year to visit the area waters is May and June when sailfish, white marlin, blue marlin and
dolphin are active. Tuna are caught year around and wahoo catches are usually best in December and January.
Top days aboard the Captain
Pasqual's Big Fish are 26 sails, 60 dolphin and 14 wahoo, respectively. The captain has also caught a blue marlin "double header", a white marlin "triple header" and on another
day, five sailfish at the same time. The Big Fish is one of 14 boats over 31 feet in length that are chartered out of Captain Rick's Fishing Center in Puerto Aventuras but seldom
do they or another 6 in the area fish around each other. They don't have to. In fact, one of the other boats caught a "triple header" on wahoo
right in front of the marina on the morning we were out.
The captain was once in huge school of dolphin that was going crazy chasing ballyhoo and
goggle eyes just off the beach. You could have caught them with a spinning outfit from the resort, according to Pasqual. But on other days, the bite may be off. "I was in Cancun last
year fishing when we saw schools of sailfish all day long, but they wouldn't bite," he says. "Finally, we saw 60 or 70 sails around a ball of baitfish, so we just jumped in and snorkeled
with the fish that weighed around 65 pounds each."
"Getting close to a billed fish is not always safe though," smiled Pasqual as he revealed a
couple of scars he got while doing mate duties. "Both a white marlin and a sailfish have stabbed me. The sailfish jumped right at me, instead of away, and I just felt a little cut on
my face. When I noticed that it was a long cut, we went to the hospital and I ended up with stitches in my tongue."
"One month later, we hooked up with a white marlin and I was behind the rocket launcher after clearing the line," he continued. "The marlin was tail walking, came
straight to the boat and jumped in knocking me down. It was flapping around, and while taking pictures I noticed a hole in my shirt and one in my shorts through my underwear. That was close!"
John Roberts prefers to
find the sails free jumping and claims that he catches many of them every winter, although late spring is better. They are there year around, he points out. You just need to bring an
appetite and plenty of muscle when you are trolling the Riviera Maya aboard the "Big Fish" charter boat!
Editor's Note: For information on the "Big Fish" and other charters at Captain Ricks
Fishing Center in Puerto Aventuras, contact Bob Uecker Sr. at 1-314-308-8238 or e mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out the Boca Paila bonefishing article.