fishing in Banderas Bay Mexico

Fishing in Banderas Bay Mexico

Beach Baby Bob and his wife, Sue, are spending the Canadian winter months in Bucerias Mexico, which is located on Banderas Bay Mexico.

About Banderas Bay

Banderas Bay Mexico map

Banderas Bay is on the west coast of Mexico, north of Boca and south of Punta de Mita.  Puerto Vallarta, Bucerias, and La Cruz are 3 popular communities located on Banderas Bay.  To get there, fly into “Licenciado Gustavo Díaz Ordaz International Airport” at Puerto Vallarta.  It takes about 5 hours direct from Canada.  Some say that Banderas Bay is the 3rd largest salt water bay in the world.  Maybe, maybe not, but it is definitely big, and the humpback whales from Canada, come to Banderas Bay every winter to have their babies.  You might want to come to fish because the fishing is great in this bay.

Banderas Bay’s Top 11 Fish Species

  1. Marlin
  2. Snapper
  3. Grouper
  4. Mahi
  5. Tuna
  6. Sailfish
  7. Tarpon
  8. Snook
  9. Wahoo
  10. Rooster fish
  11. Puffer fish

Fishing In Banderas Bay

Legend has it that Banderas Bay was formed from a volcano, and that it is impossible to measure its depth.  Others believe that the bay is just an extension of a canyon running from Banderas valley or Ameca valley near Cabo Corrientes to a depth of about 3000 feet.  It is definitely deep in spots, because the humpback whales use it every winter as their breeding grounds.  There are also many different currents going every which way, and the water changes temperature and clarity on a whim.  If you’re a compulsive fisherman, you know that the water temperature, the currents, the air temperature, the depth, and the wind, are only a few factors affecting the “bite” of the day.

fishing in banderas bay


The Puerto Vallarta area was discovered in 1541 by Don Pedro de Alvarado.  Not long after the discovery, the area was forgotten for about 300 years.  Puerto Vallarta was known as “Perto Las Penas” from 1851 until 1918.  At that time, the area became a municipality, and was renamed, “Puerto Vallarta”, in honour of Don Ignacio L. Vallarta, a representative of the State of Jalisco.  For the next 20  years, it remained a fishing village.

In the 1930’s, the tourists arrived, but it wasn’t until 1964, when Puerto Vallarta became famous.  John Huston’s movie called, “The Night of the Iguana” was filmed in the area.   The beauty of Mismaloya beach was showcased in the movie, and Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, the stars of the film, were having an affair at the time.  Their affair put Puerto Vallarta and Banderas Bay on the world map.  The Puerto Vallarta area began to expand to accommodate all the new visitors.  Fishing became second to tourism, but fishing was still very important to the locals.  The tourists also loved to at least eat the fresh fish from the Bay.

Bucerias is just up the highway from Puerto Vallarta.  It is a smaller Mexican town and Bucerias means, “place of divers”.  The early settlers back in the 1930’s dove deep into the Bay to harvest oysters.  Today, Bucerias has become a favourite holiday location for many “snowbirds” from Canada and the US.

La Cruz is next door to Bucerias on the north shore.  It is a famous marina town and has a great “gringo” market every Sunday, featuring fresh fish.  Many sailors and fishermen use La Cruz as their home base.  The Sunday market down at the marina is a must visit for all new comers.  It starts around 9 and is over at 2 p.m.  Come with your camera and be prepared for delicious organic foods of all kinds.  There is free entertainment and expensive gifts for your friends and family.


Keep in mind that the Sierra Madres mountains envelop Bucerias and Banderas Bay.  They are the highest at the south end of the Bay near Cabo Corrientes and Yelapa, so that is where the water is fairly deep.  Of course, the elevation changes under the water just as it does above the water.  You can go inland by half a mile and find yourself 2,000 feet up in the Sierra Madres looking down at the bay as though you were viewing it from an airplane. It is also a great spot for photography and parasailing.  In a mile distance, you could be on a tropical mountainside at 2000 feet up, or fishing on crystal blue water over 3000 feet deep.

Fishing can be exciting, as well as a very beautiful experience, here in Banderas Bay Mexico.  Think of it as 50 miles of shoreline ranging from cliffs to sandy beaches, with the famous city of Puerto Vallarta in the middle.  You can drive from Boca, south of P.V. all the way up to Punta de Mita.  Stop anywhere and cast from the shore or take a boat and the choices of fish will be that much better.

Tip – ask about the Marietta Islands.  Go to Punta de Mita north of Bucerias and La Cruz, and arrange for a day of fishing, snorkelling and birding at the Marietta Islands.  You won’t regret it.  There are over 100 species of fish just waiting for you.

Let’s Go Fishing

Banderas Bay is one of the best places to fish in the world.  The climate here is perfect.  There are plenty of companies and individuals who will take you fishing, or even tell you where to go.  If you don’t have any fishing gear with you, there are charter companies that will provide you with everything you need, from fishing rods, tackle, live bait, and lures, as well as a knowledgeable crew that will guide you and answer any questions you may have!  They speak English too.  This calendar outlining the fishing seasons in Banderas Bay might be helpful for you.  Thank the people at … …   for putting this calendar together!

Fishing Seasons in Banderas Bay

Different Kinds of Fish/Sea Creatures

Banderas Bay offers lots of different kinds of fish.  Surgeonfish, Bonita, Dorado, Rooster Fish, Skipjack, Jack Crevalle, Sierra Mackerel, Pargo, Red Snapper, Grouper, Mahi Mahi and more.  Very large trophy fish such as Sailfish and Marlin prefer the colder waters of the open Pacific.  But nothing is absolute in this world, so you might snag one of these beauties if you’re lucky in the Bay.  It’s like buying a lottery ticket, you just might win!  The Black Marlin are extremely rare.  The Blue Marlin has been spotted in the Bay.  The tuna, however, are prominent and a very large fish.  On Sunday at the La Cruz “gringo” market, there are several groups selling fresh fish.  It is a great spot to buy fish for dinner and to take photos of giant tuna.

If you like to troll from a boat, use nets, or even cast from the beach, there are many great fishing options anywhere along the Banderas Bay shoreline for you to choose from.


Banderas Bay is special for many reasons, but the quantity of humpbacks that frequent its water from late November to March is paramount.  Also, watch for giant manta rays, dolphins, marlin, and sailfish.  These are all royalty in the oceans of the world and Banderas Bay has them all.  The water temperature, being on the same latitude as Hawaii, is ideal year round for these fish.

Some of the fish and sea creatures that we encountered while living here have been very interesting.

The Blowfish aka Pufferfish aka Toadfish and more


Some people fish with their hands for puffer fish just because they are so unique and beautiful!  There are over a hundred different species, mostly found in the salty oceans, but some live in the fresh waters too.
This fish is famous for its unique ability to blow itself up when in danger.  It does this by expanding its stomach and filling it primarily with water.
The puffer fishes’ deadly toxin is called tetrodotoxin. It’s actually produced by bacteria that live inside the fish found in the pufferfish’s skin, its liver, and its reproductive organs.
I think I would be cautious about holding one with my bare hands in the water or on the beach.
The Japanese love the taste and it takes a professional chef with puffer/blow fish knowledge to make the puffer fish dinner delicious and safe.

Yellowfin Surgeon Fish 

Yellowfin Surgeonfish
We were at the La Cruz Sunday market buying fish for dinner.  The fisherman said that he had just caught some Yellowfin Surgeonfish.  You could tell by looking at its eyes and the color of its gills that it was fresh.  My wife’s father who was an avid fisherman in his day, taught her to open the dead fish up and take a deep breath.  If there is no smell, the fish is very fresh.  She did and we bought some.  We baked it in the oven for about 20 minutes on a high temperature.  We sprinkled some garlic and basil over it first.  We also squeezed some fresh lemon juice on it.
It was delicious!
The Yellowfin Surgeon fish is very prolific.  It changes color as it gets older.  It can dive very deep.  It eats a wide variety of foods.  It is very reluctant to take a fishermen’s bait.  It lives all over the world in warm waters.  The young stay close to shore and the older fish like it deep.

Mahi Mahi

mahi mahi or dorado fish
The dorado fish (Mahi Mahi) is a popular yummy tasting white fish that is a must for dinner while visiting here on Banderas Bay Mexico.  It is usually served baked, and you won’t have to worry about choking on any bones.
Some people refer to this mahi mahi fish as the Dolphinfish.  It loves warm waters.  It is large and about the size of a small dolphin.  It is a slender multi coloured fish weighing about 40 pounds.  The male has a pronounced head while the female’s head is very round. They love to eat crabs and squids.


In mid November, there is an international sports fishing tournament held in the Banderas Bay area of Puerto Vallarta.  This Marlin and Sailfish competition gives away large cash prizes.  Come to the Puerto Vallarta area and start practising for next year’s tournament.
Which is Which?  One of these fish is a really fast swimmer.
OR IS IT…  Marlin

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