Punta Mita and Sayulita, Mexico Trip Report

Dave Hartman

Strip'n Flywear
I don't contribute to this forum nearly enough, mostly because I don't feel I have much more to contribute than what is already on this board. There's already some threads on here about the Puerto Vallarta area, but not that much, so I thought I'd add what I learned on my recent trip.
My wife and I just got back from a week spent in both Punta Mita and Sayulita. Both are awesome towns, very safe and friendly, and gorgeous. Mita is much more laid back, small, and more of a fishing village, while Sayulita is larger, more tourists, very bohemian, and more of a surf town. Mita has the marina, while Sayulita does not, and this is the key difference between the two in terms of fishing. Both towns have only pangas, but because Mita has a marina, they also have Super Pangas, which are larger, more comfortable, and cannot be launched from a beach like Sayulita. Bottom line, if you are there to fish, stay in Mita. If you are with your girl, either town will do with Sayulita having more non-fish related activities and maybe more romantic. We enjoyed both towns, but Mita was cooler, more laidback, and more authentic.
We stayed in Punta Mita first, at the SurfariMex hotel, which has a website. It's a surfer's hotel, which was perfect because it immediately put us in with a younger crowd. At $55/night for their best room, we were stoked. Susan was the innkeeper and contacted her friends/guides for me asking around about taking me out fishing. My budget was $200/day. Within an hour, she had me hooked up to fish with a guide named Erasmo. He has a website that I had already seen, and charges close to $800 for a full day's fishing offshore. I told her there was no way I could afford him; she said that he had already agreed to the $200. I was stoked! I knew from bloodydecks.com that Erasmo spoke good English, so I couldn't be happier.
I fished with Erasmo the next two days. The first, we went out in a regular panga to a beach north of Punta Mita's point, named Litibu. As he promised, we were into Crevalle right away; first cast right away!

There were several schools of fish racing around after bait all around me, schools of hundreds of large Jacks, and another school of red snapper as well. We both fished, and for about two hours, it was almost too easy. But shortly after we got into them, several other boats zoomed in, and then the fish became much more skittish. I switched from my intermediate to a T14 and started catching again. I think I landed four fish, lost two others, including a snapper which must have been about 15 pounds. And then on my fifth fish, which by then we really had to work hard for, my 10 weight blew up. I was pissed! I built two rods, TFO TiCrX's, just weeks ago, and I chose these particular rods because they were known to be strong. But ultimately, I think I underestimated the strength of these fish, particularly as they plane under the boat in the last leg of the fight. Oh well, I still had my 12, and I caught two more fish, one more crevalle and one skipjack.

I added two more species to my list, so I was stoked, and we kept the tuna. Erasmo caught a corbina that he gave to me as well. That night, Melissa and I took the fish to a restaurant on the beach and they prepared the fish for us for free, and we both agreed it was the best seafood dinner we ever had, the sunset was a nice touch. Oh, and the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders were having a calendar photoshoot on the rocks in front of the restaurant! (No sign of Tony Romo, I think he only does Mexico in between Week 17 and losing his first playoff game).
The next day, Erasmo had a super panga available, and although he thought I was crazy, he agreed to take me out into the open ocean to try for a sailfish. I went over the bait and switch techniques I had read about in Trey Comb’s Bluewater Flyfishing (he wrote a second Bible!). Again, Erasmo thought I was an idiot I am sure, but he was a super good guy and seemed to enjoy a challenge. He cut the hooks off of his teasers and we headed 10 miles out. It didn’t take long before we spotted a sailfish leaping out of the water: five, six times, head high leaps! To me, it was a more spectacular sight than seeing a whale breach. We rushed over to the area and trolled the lures through it, but no luck. Trolling lures didn’t seem to work, so after a few hours we went over to a bouy and caught small mahi mahi. It was another new species for me, so that was cool. But not cool enough to bother with photos, so in retrospect it wasn’t all that cool. Plus, throwing sardines at fish to make them foolish enough to take my fly. . . I don’t know, just not my thing I guess. . . We again trolled the teasers for another hour or two, but nothing. On our way back, we spotted multiple schools of bonita. Erasmo did his best to put me in front of them, but they move fast, and we never hooked up. Still, I was happy to have the opportunity to at least try for a sail. That wouldn’t have happened if we didn’t have the larger boat and he wasn’t cutting the cost down to $200 for the day.
The next day, Erasmo took Melissa and I out to the Marietta Islands for snorkeling and sightseeing. Super fun, but no fishing. That afternoon we headed to Sayulita and met with my next guide, Regis. Like Erasmo, he didn’t seem to think that this was a good time of year for the species I was most interested in: sails, large mahi, and roosters. It seems like June is known as the month to be here for the best fishing. That next day, we started at Litibu again, but the swells were picking up and we had more wind. It was a nightmare in the boat as the swells made it almost impossible to stand in the bow. I took to my knees instead. We found only one school of Crevalle and they were moving fast. I caught two more before we lost the school for good.

We headed out into more open water chasing birds and finding large schools of bonita. With the rough seas and the school constantly moving, I had only a few good casts into the school, but nothing. I tried even my smallest flies, but no luck. It seemed like everytime we put the boat in front of the fish, they had moved elsewhere. It wasn’t exactly fun. I found myself fighting off sea sickness for the first time in my life. We decided to head out to find the bouy for mahi, which we did, and we caught some more small mahi. Unfortunately, my rod brushed up against the steel frame of the panga’s canopy, and that rod was broken, too. Those canopies flat out suck and I’ll avoid them in the future. We trolled our way back along the shoreline, and I hooked up with a pair of sierra mackerel.

All in all, it was a good day of fishing, but I’ll be more careful about jumping in a panga when the seas are rough. Since I had a few more days in town, I could have afforded to wait until calmer seas. I never got fully sick, but I'll remember to bring the pills anyways.
As for flies, 99% of what I tied for this trip was too large. The largest baitfish I saw was about 2 ½ inches tops. I did well on gummy minnows (which should be silver/white) and white glass minnows. I caught the mahi on white crease flies and also gummies. I started each day with an intermediate head, (I don’t really know why. . .) but I quickly changed up to the a head of T 14. I strip shit really fast, as fast as I possible can with the largest sweeps of my stripping arm as I can, and the 14 allows me to stay a foot or two deep as I do it. It’s my feeling that these fish are not “following” the fly, and therefore it’s not like you can strip too fast. Rather, they are buzzing by your fly as you put it in front or to the side of the moving school. They see it, and make an instant reaction to it, moving just a few feet, at most, from their trajectory to grab it. I feel that a fly ripped through there provokes a quick, poor decision on their behalf more than it does a cognitive one. It ain’t trout fishing.
As for fishing from shore, forget about it. This area has large surf and nasty limestone outcroppings. There are some locals there handlining bait/sinker combos (I’ve always wanted to learn this) in the shallower beaches, and they were catching small Crevalle. I did spend one evening on the rock wall of Mita’s marina. I caught a small Crevalle but nothing else, unless having half a dozen pufferfish try and chase my fly counts. However, if I weren’t with the wife and I could fish all day, it would be very realistic to take a sit on top kayak out in the evenings, or to try and find a panga operator to take you out in the evenings. In Punta Mita, every evening we watched thousands of birds working several different baitballs right outside the marina. I’m pretty sure it was Crevalle, (or “Torros”), working under the bait. It would be easy to find a fisherman willing to take you out for an hour or two at sunset, and I bet it wouldn’t cost more than $10/hour to fish right off those rock walls of Mita.
I want to thank Denny and Mingo and Pez Gallo for exchanging emails prior to my trip. You guys were immensely helpful in tackle choices, etc. I love that about this board, in that you can pick a spot on earth that you want to fish, "search button" it here on this board, read enough about it to begin your google searches, and have some people you can PM for their thoughts.

Well, back in Montana now. It's cold and rainy. We miss Mexico already. But I just found out there's a little known lake nearby that they planted with Tiger Muskies several years ago, so it's on to the next fish!

Rob Ast

Active Member
Sweet trip. I was in Sayulita with my wife, 6 mos old daughter, and the in-laws in Jan '07. Fun town with enough things to do for the non-fishers.

Pez Gallo

On the hunt for grandes
Way to go Dave! Looks like you connected with some fast movers. Those Jacks pull pretty damn hard. And a fresh Corvina dinner to boot?...you were livin the dream amigo.

d. rose

Live to fish, fish to live.

That was a fantastic report and great pics. Dreaming of my last trip to Sayulita, warm ocean breezes, and post fishing day shots.... Damn....
Awesome write up Dave, why this board is so good. We (my family) are traveling back to Sayulita for a 2nd visit in about three weeks. I didn't fish at all on our first trip. My rod collection only reaches an 8 wt which is my steelhead rod here in WA. If I can solve my gear search, I'm assuming that's way too light a gear based on your report, I'd like to get out for a day or two in either Sayulita or drive back to Mita. I would appreciate any more contact info you could pass along. Also, if I cobbled together some gear, what would you suggest or rod wt etc? It's tough to jsutify a whole new saltwater setip for a couple of days down there. Thanks again for the great report.

Pez Gallo

On the hunt for grandes
Ross...an 8wt is as light as you'd want to go. Those jacks in Dave's photos pull like hell. I've fished 8wt's a fair bit here in Baja and have caught some good fish on them. They are fine if you use them right. But I'd much, much rather have a solid 10wt in hand. That said, if an 8 is all you've got...take it along. Better to have a rod than none at all. Depending on what you have for reel, you might be able to pick up just a 10wt and a line and just use the reel you have.
Thanks for the tip. The 8 wt is a ZAXIS and the reel a Galvan T8 which always seemed good and solid to me until I read Dave's report and saw his pics. Your idea of a demo or used 10 wt and new line might be a viable solution.


the Menehune stole my beer
Thanks for the tip. The 8 wt is a ZAXIS and the reel a Galvan T8 which always seemed good and solid to me until I read Dave's report and saw his pics. Your idea of a demo or used 10 wt and new line might be a viable solution.
a 10 wt rod and 10 line is a good idea, but your T8 is a very good reel for that application. Just spool 'er up with the 10 wt line, slap it on the 10 wt stick and you are good to go. I use my T8 on 10 wt rods for jacks, trevally, dorado, tuna etc...............no worries. Use 50 lb braid backing and you will have more than enough capacity.