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All Down The Line  
All Down The Line  

914 lb Black Marlin  Corvetania, Puerto Vallarta  
Yellowfin Tuna Off El Banco Puerto Vallarta
 Another great day on the water with perfect conditions, not another boats in site and a wide open bite on big tuna........ IT DOESN'T GET ANY BETTER!
This day was awesome as all five anglers got a fish including one tuna over 300 lbs!!!!
We spent the morning dragging big skipjacks around but were unable to get a fish hooked up. In the early afternoon the tuna were exploding all around the outside of us and it was looking like time to float the balloon. We set up a 1/4 mile above the high spots and set out the balloon and a small bait on a fly line. No sooner did we get the fly line out 
it got inhaled. This was a devil of a small fish that had no intention of coming into the boat. After an hour fight it was finally subdued to end up weighing under 100 lbs. Amazing little fish. Anyway back to the game. Heading up current and getting set up again we spend a 1/2 hr on the drift when we get bit on the balloon. It didn't look like a big fish on the strike but after 2 hrs we were thinking different. Then again some of us were thinking DEVIL FISH again! Coming up on the 2 1/2 hr mark we got a look at the fish and all confirmed it was a real one! In the next 20 minutes we were able to get her to gaff. This was the biggest tuna for us on the boat weighing in at 327 lbs on our certified scale. We topped the day off with a nice dorado and releasing 2 more tuna in the low 200 lb class.

I find it amazing how this sport-fishing throws in just the right amount of mystery and content to keep you coming back again and again.
Here is an example of a fish that we were all sure was a true beast but ended up being all of 100 lbs. This fish put up a fight that rivaled anything in the sea. After all was said and done I was a little disappointed, not in the size but that this tuna should have stayed down there to spawn and make more furious little creatures. Well it's a good sign and safe to say that we have a decent stock 
of healthy fish living here. 

Quote from or angler Jason

This is a clip from the above mentioned DEVIL FISH! 
 I would guess this fish weighs about 90 lbs or so.

           HOLY S%!T!!!!!!!!!

I have certainly tried to do my best to refrain from the NECESSARY expletives required but this one more than called for it! That is me down on the deck getting an in your face view of the situation at hand. I have seen several of these flying marlin in my years but this guy was as close as you will ever want to get!

On the strike this fish never took a run or jumped, it just sat down there planning it's attack I guess. 

After 15 minutes I grabbed the light 200 lb leader and took a couple of wraps. I could feel the leader start to stretch to the point of SNAPPING! This guy would have no part of it what so ever!!! No sooner did the fish turn away was it went totally airborne, upside down and nearly landing in the boat. 

After the smoke cleared we all looked around to be sure everyone was still with us.The fish had bounced off the stern and just sat there. I pulled it close to try and release him but what we discovered next was even more unbelievable..............

The fish impaled itself on the latch to the transom door...................... GAME OVER!
 This was the debut run for the 35' Cabo "CHA-CHING" 
out of Marina Vallarta. Arriving to a big crowd of boats 
at El Banco we worked hard to catch the skipjacks that were needed for the big tuna. After an hour we finally pick one out of the mass of leery specimens. 
I would say not much more than a 1/2 hour of dragging this bait around the area we got hooked up. This was a tough one due to being tail wrapped for most of the fight. In the hot midday sun and glassy conditions the endless circles and in and out of gear went on for three hours until we finally were able to get her to gaff range. This one weighed  296 lbs.
We set up again for bait which was easier than before getting three nice 5 pounders down. It wasn't long until we were on again. This one was another quality fish of 276 lbs. We ended the day with another tuna of 235 and releasing a blue marlin in the 400 lb range.

Believe me people, when this place turns on like it always does you WILL be hard pressed to find a fishery that beats this place in quality. But beware! these grounds take some time to learn. I have fished many spots that hold the same fish but here they just don't react as you think. 
      We could have used some nicer weather! 

But as good as the Marlin fishing was it made dodging 
the water spouts a little less of a concern.........
               BUT ONLY A LITTLE!!!!

 Fishing the famous Zane Grey Reef and a spot just   above the Columbian border we found some FAT         Back Marlin and all the Dorado you could want.

Another productive spot was the FAMOUS Hannibal     Bank area along with Cebeco and Coiba Islands for     some great inshore fishing for big snapper.

 When is this going to end? After someone is killed by these guys!! This is an example of the greed involved in this commercial fishing industry.........
Pay close attention to this people because it's not going to get any better. The fact is that there is too much money involved in this for the governments to step in. The governments get a huge cut after all is said and done so why would they lift a finger to stop it. I'm not sure it can be done but it is worth a try. 


                                   Not many feats in the world of sport-fishing can quite compare to this one. 

                    Just to get a daytime SWORDFISH to even pay attention to your bait let alone take it and remain attached to 
                    the end is an extreme accomplishment. 
                    As luck was on our side this day we managed to make this an all time capture. This was the 9th SWORDIE of
                    Dave Denholm's lengthy fishing career. This fish was hooked on a large Mackerel at 10:40 AM on September 
                    the 30th 2004 while fishing the 267/499 area. Capture time was 2:45 minutes on stand up gear.

                    Although not the largest ever captured in Southern California waters it was the largest SWORDIE in 35+ years. 
                    This fish was cast on by Mr. Denholm using a SHIMANO TLD 50 with IGFA 80 lb. DACRON main line and 400
                    lb flouro carbon wind on leader made by yours truly and a MUSTAD 11/0 7699 HOOK. The ROD was custom 
                    built to the criteria of the prestige's AVALON TUNA CLUB.
After an 8 month stretch of exploring the Los Suenos and Golfito area of Costa Rica we finally took some time to look at all the great photos that we were lucky to have taken. I wish I could post them all. In time they will all make there way onto my site. Here are a few for now that I took during a couple days with some friends.
We were pulling three live skipjacks around the high spot when we got our bite. It was another perfect day with light wind and seas. The area was full of life as well as full of other boats in close proximity. When the right short rigger slammed open we knew it was going to be game on! As Hunter fed the bait to the fish my concern was the six boats including a small charter boat off our left transom and several divers to the right. As Hunter locked up the drag the fish took off like a rocket nearly missing the boat to the left and almost skewering the divers which immediately flew from the water and into their boat. I spoke to the guys later that evening at the scales and they said all they heard was an explosion on the surface and came up to see a big fish on a freight train charge directly at them. Anyway as the uncertainty of fishing goes it was our plan to RELEASE the fish, but an hour into the fight the fish had ran itself into the bottom and was pinned up against the high spot in 100' of water. With a strong current holding her up against the wall of the pinnacle it was a struggle as our only option was to move the boat up current and get the strongest guy on the rod to haul her up. That was our man Mike Oliver who spent the next 1/2 hour grinding against a four knot current and 900+ lbs of Black Marlin. 
Just another EPIC adventure aboard the "NOTORIOUS" while fishing at Corbetania.
The day stared off with heavy rain and lightning and some reservation about even leaving the marina but that soon turned into something special. Our friend Dale got the entire boat for himself for the day and what a day/night it was. After getting to the rock (CORBETANIA) we picked up some nice bait and did the usual routine of rig them and send them out. The fishing was as slow as it could get with little signs of life and almost no current. We spent the day catching skippies with light gear that took the edge off along with several cold cervesas of course. It was getting close to dark when we started to see the bait really come up way inside the reef. We worked our way over and started hooking up some 15 pound yellowfin. During that time my plan was to set out the balloon with a cavallito in hopes of getting a big tuna. At that moment Dale hooked up a snapper that later weighed 58 pounds. During the excitement of the big snapper I saw the balloon get nailed with a big splash but missed the bait. I kept my eyes on it to get another glimpse of a tuna flying through the air and getting the hook! It was hard to believe we were finally hooked up and by now it was completely dark. It was a little eery as the rock was no more that 100 yards from the boat with the fish in every direction. After the hour mark we started to get close when the fish went crazy behind the boat and literally jumped like a marlin. We were all sure it was a tuna but the hook up was in such low light that I started to doubt weather it was a tuna at all. Marlin? shark? tuna? Anyway, an hour and a half into it we get the fish close to the boat and see it's a nice tuna. Steve grabs the leader while Ruben gets the gaff in the fish. Finally !!!!! 
At this time it's 10.30 PM and we are 2 hours out.
To make a long story and long day of fishing shorter, we finally wrapped things up at 4:00 AM. It just goes to show that our never give up routine had paid off.......... AGAIN!
As good as the fishing can get at the "world famous" Mag Bay we were a little unfortunate this year as the Striped Marlin were hard to find. We were fortunate enough to find at least a Striper or two per day as well as some Blue Marlin, Tuna and lots of Dorado. We started off in early November working the 100 Fathom line out in front of the Entrada up to the Thetis and down South to the Pinnacle Rock area. In the 20+ days of fishing we watched the bite slowly increase to seeing multiple Marlin per day. One notable catch was a 250 pound Blue Marlin that was hooked by two anglers while dropping back live Mackerel. The fish was greedy and ate both baits landing two 8/0 circle hooks in each corner of the jaw. Thanks again to the owners,family and friends of the "JERAMAR" for a fun month of fishing and not to go without mentioning the incredible food throughout the entire trip.
 This was just another awesome adventure to a place that is not often fished. The Island chain of REVILLAGIGEDO are over 300 nautical miles offshore of Puerto Vallarta. The Islands have 
recently been declared a reserve by the Mexican Government but there is one particular island of Roca Partida that lies 60 from the largest island of Socorro. With Socorro being patrolled by the Mexican Navy we decided to head out and take a look! With no boats to be seen and keeping a close eye on every sweep of the radar we were able to manage three days of incredible fishing. With the waters infested with "BRONZE WHALER SHARKS" we were able to manage a dozen yellow fin up to 200 lbs, Marlin, Dorado and a couple dozen Wahoo for our efforts. It was however a little challenging as these sharks were VERY aggressive and would eat our catch all the way down to the hook. On the last day boating a fish was near impossible. The sharks would follow the boat and were able to get more than half of our hook ups....... I guess taking a swim was not a good idea!

Check out this rare footage of Humboldt squid. This is a very rare daytime event........and this is not even the good stuff!

                                            A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE 

   I just finished the AVALON BENEFIT / LINEN ONE FISHING TOURNAMENT out of the "AVALON TUNA CLUB" on the island of Santa Catalina off the Southern California coast. What a great opportunity it was to fish with a group of legendary swordfish anglers and the vintage fishing gear from the Avalon hay days that began back in 1898.

 The tackle we were to use was originally made back in the 1950' s. A Pfluger reel, Chinese split bamboo rods and a 24 thread linen line that was the equal to around 60+ lb test wet. 

The “AVALON TUNA CLUB” has a one day per year, linen only event, as a part of the three day benefit tournament.

 At the moment, Southern California is suffering from an abnormally cold summer, with a consistent upwelling of cold water that has basically shut down the Marlin and Swordfish fishery in the area. Despite the slow conditions, the tournament went on…….

 The morning of the first day of the tournament, we were able to catch several mackerel for bait, with one being an extra “FAT” mackerel that likely weighed 2 lbs or more, caught by Mr. Dave Denholm . Dave has been a Tuna Club member for over 40 years and has captured 9 Swordfish in his career, including a 452 ½ pounder that is a California state record and that I was fortunate enough to be his Captain for at the time. So our plan was to fish an area East of Catalina where a few Swordfish were spotted in the last week. We set out from Avalon Harbor but soon were in some snotty water conditions. Trolling in the rough seas and wind made looking through the gyro binoculars a near impossibility as our plan was to spot a Swordfish, more so than a striped marlin (although we were trolling marlin lures just in case!) After seeing very little we finally decided to pick up and make a run to the calmer, lee side of San Clement Island where glassing would be possible in the flatter water. We trolled up from Pyramid to the dome in 250 fathoms. Not much to see, although we did have a defined current line that held some debris and birds. Making our way up the line, with the glasses pinned to the eyes, we managed to run into the wind line again and turned back down to retrace our tracks just outside the 250 fathom line.

I was below at this time, finishing off some lunch and heading up to the helm when I hear “WE GOT ONE” Dave Denholm spotted the Swordie in the glasses circling off our port bow. Marv Garrett, owner of the “JERAMAR” and owner of a local Swordfish himself, headed down the ladder to the cockpit to send out the HORSE MACKEREL to the Swordie. The fish was making counter clockwise circles as they will often do. I made a few passes on the fish trying not to spook the fish or put a wake on him but the fish was moving around so quickly that getting  the perfect pass was going to be tough. After three or four passes we were finally up swell enough and getting into a position that looked as good as it was going to get. Making a pass just above the Swordie, the bait was going to pass within 50 feet of him. I watched the fish come out of his circle, put his head down and tack straight for the mackerel. The fish disappeared just below our wake and it was only seconds before Marv felt the bait get picked up and start to run. With this tackle we only have a little more than 200 yards so we would have to get on the fish ASAP! Marv struck the fish and line started to come off steadily…………. We were hooked up!

The fish made a few runs but nothing that seemed out of control or even threatening. Slow and steady was the order of the fight for these first few hours. During this time, the fish came to the surface 3 times where I could see the fish thrashing below the surface at 100 yards out. The fish even came up brown, belly up, and very sluggish at one time. I’m sure the fish was tail wrapped at that point and we all thought we may be able to get a shot at it soon………this was not to be! I do want to add that during this time we were paid a visit by the DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME while engaged in a once in a lifetime battle. We all had our licenses and handed them over from the bow. At one time during this roust the fish made a move toward the boat. Had I not looked forward I would have most defiantly "T-BONED" the officers boat as they sat cross wise off the bow.

 Coming into the 4th hour we had our last look at the fish. By now it had taken us 8 miles to the East and heading back into the weather. After our last look at the Swordie he made a deep and fast run that was beyond anything we saw during the course of the fight. We are all confident the fish was tail wrapped up through this point. After this the fish was on a 6 to 7 knot run out to the East then working us back up around Pyramid toward the West into wide open water. I really can’t tell you how many moves that were put on that fish in order to get him to make a mistake, but in my 25+ years running boats on marlin, tuna and a few Swordfish, I felt I was out of options and continued to just keep the fish within a decent range. Marv had now been on the fish for 5 hrs. The antique tackle had been doing its part well and better than I had expected as a novice of this type of tackle. Gerry Garret had done an amazing job of rigging this gear to perfection. In his 70 + years, this man is a master of this type of tackle as well as the modern gear that the most of us know. It was impressive to see him with his leader gloves on and ready to take wraps on a 200+ pound HOT swordfish. Gerry holds the world record of an 813 pound swordfish and has captured 16 throughout his 50+ year career.

Here we are coming up just short of the 5 ½ hour mark. Marv had been on this fish straight and on stand up gear, no chair. After spending time trying to trick the fish into coming up we were all a little discouraged as we were sure by now this fish had come “un tail wrapped”, had a fresh FULL head of steam , trucking up swell into a 6 foot sea, 20+ knots of wind and getting close to dark. The antique tackle is only able to produce around 20 lbs of drag pressure at full drag. The rest of the drag has to be increased by a thumb. We had the fish near double line around 4 or 5 times, only to have him peel out more line and the fish dictating the fight rather than us gaining on him. At the last time at double line, Marv gave the Swordie a little extra pressure and the fish obviously didn’t like it, taking off at a full speed run and at that point the hook finally pulled out.

While it was clear the fish was free, and I watched Marv reel in the bare hook, I commented to myself that “I really took something BIG away from this event”….. It gave me a different outlook on some things regarding tackle from then and from now. I was amazed at the durability of this vintage fishing gear......... I was impressed by its ability and its durability, compared to the new tackle, and how this antique gear was once looked at as cutting edge technology...... I mean, who hasn’t pulled hooks on a fish, let alone a Swordfish, even with our awesome modern technology?

 Honestly, I felt privileged to be a part of it.


Anyone who has spent time on these mini battle wagons know two things about the Bertram 31'. These boats are very wet and raise fish.......... LOTS OF FISH!

Rumor had it that the Ahi were running off the backside of Molokai.I was fishing that day with the owner of the boat Dan Shafer who hired me several years back as a Captain. Dan and I had some awesome days of fishing together throughout the years and this day was most defiantly another to remember. Our charter was 6 passengers ranging from 2 young kids of 9 and 12 with the mother and father. We also had 2 more adults who rounded out the group. We set out with our usual 100 lbs of ice hoping to get a tuna or two. After reaching the Molokai weather buoy we were greeted by a million birds of all types diving and swooping on the tuna schools. I set out 6 lines to start with small lures. It was only seconds before every line went off! In the chaos that ensued, we lost 4 of the 6 lines and boated 2 tuna in the 150 lb range. Seeing we had to change tactics, we decided to pull only three lures and see how it went. Through the day we were just getting hammered on these tuna with one that just tipped 220 lbs and ended up as a Lahaina harbor record. I was lucky enough to angle several tuna that day, including another 200 pounder that was partially eaten by sharks. Our group had caught several tuna and were done! By now we had a total of 13 tuna on this boat that ranged from 105 lbs to over 200. Based on the fact that we were 75 miles from home at 7:00 PM, had an insane amount of fish on the boat and 6 tourists that were still in shock we elected to head in. We still had 2 lines in the water though and approaching the weather buoy the left line went off again. This time being a marlin of 250 lbs that I again angled. After boating that fish we set up out 2 lines again at near sunset and made a pass on the buoy. Bam! both lines went off with 2 nice dorado that were also boated. I dropped back some bait and proceeded to catch 10 more. By now it's night time and the charter fleet out of Lahaina were very bare bones day boats with no GPS or radar, so navigating was with a compass and trying to find some lights on the Islands. After making it back to Lahaina at 11:30 PM we loaded up the truck to ship the fish off to the market first thing in the morning.

Needless to say that after boating 16 ahi, 1 blue marlin and 12 mahi mahi it was a day of fishing that will never be forgotten!!
 Fishing "El Banco" off Puerto Vallarta. Wide open fishing this summer with lots of tuna and marlin.              This 52' Viking "REEL ARBAITRAGE" is the newest arrival to the Marina La Cruz. 
 After working hard to get her completed,she was finally able to show off her fish raising abilities. 
Marlin and Yellowfin Tuna Off El Banco Puerto Vallarta  October 2010
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We left Long Beach heading for Avalon on Thursday afternoon aboard the “JERAMAR”. Weather was snotty the entire way across! The plan was to leave at 5:30 the next day for the Mackerel Bank as a few fish had been spotted around the area. Again, weather was snotty all the way across with rain squalls and lightening. We spent a couple hours trolling up and down in the snotty 5 to 8 foot seas and 20 knots with no signs of life and water temp down to 64. It is looking like the warm water off San Clemente Island has moved so we decided to run inside toward the 14. Between the 14 and 267 it looked really good with lots of birds and some bait........... and better water conditions. Anyway, no bites this day.

Saturday we started trolling a 1/2 mile out of Avalon then toward the 152. Still a little bumpy but had some life in that small area with water temp from 66 to 68. Around 2:30 we were trolling up sea. I spotted a marlin swimming under water off our port side. I turned the boat around and got set up just below the fish. Our anglers were able to get 3 baits set out perfectly just off the fishes nose. The  marlin slowly looked at all 3 baits and sunk out.......... ARRRRRRRR!

Anyway, fishing was slow but the Tuna Club awards banquet was great! Glad to have had the opportunity to do it again this year!



THE BITE STARTED AT 9:30 AM - POSITION (25 36 N) (113 11 W) 

BITE SHUT OFF AT 3:30 PM AT POSITION (25 05 N) (112 48 W)


Pretty fun fishing on the way to the cape. Ran the outside 1000 out of Turtle where some warmer water was (65). Found some bottom dwellers on a couple high spots, then some marlin action and nice yellows. Tons of patties all the way to Santa Maria. Every patty had yellows and some dorado. Stayed in Santa Maria and did some skiff fishing in the mangroves for a couple flatfish and bass. The Navy boarded us while in Santa Maria, they were very respectful and very professional. According to the official who boarded us, he claimed they are keeping a file of vessels that check in at Ensenada so boats can transit the country without being regularly stopped again..... we shall see how that works but they did do a drive by the next afternoon without incident. 
Anyway, we had nice water most of the way down but cold on the ridge (57) and (65) way outside. The water really warmed on the finger to 72 but not too fishy and dirty green water. Looked really good off the cape and around toward San Jose though. I have 2 more trips in mid and late June........ CAN’T WAIT!
Captain Jeff Illingworth and angler Dave Denholm


Great Bluefin tuna and marlin fishing in Southern California. Welcome back summer of 2014!
Spectacular fishing for Bluefin and marlin aboard the BIG BLUE. Welcome back fish!                      summer of 2014
Nice rainbow trout at Minidoka Dam, Minidoka Idaho
A short trip to Mexico, but still provided the MADRUGADOR with some excellent quality and some nice varieties of fish. Everythng from striped marlin, stating at Asuncion to Mag Bay, Golden Gate and Gorda Banks. Nice variety of bottom dwellers on the Ranger bank and Cedros Island. The tuna were biting good off Cabo Falso and Vallarta.
A nice break from the ocean to do a week on the Salmon river. Great fishing and beautiful scenery!