Sometimes, you just have to say WTF. Yesterday was one of those days, and instead of sitting at the keyboard I Went Tuna Fishing. Big bluefin have been running strong off of Hatteras, NC, and the weather report was perfect. So I dropped everything at 9:30 the night before last, madly packed and threw my gear into the truck, and drove through the night. At 5:30 we boarded the Succession (www.successionsportfishing.com), a 40Luhrs Express captained by Kevin Bremer, and headed out to the edge of the Gulf Stream dead east of Cape Hatteras. The mission: to catch massive bluefin tuna on jigging gear, which is akin to taking down an elephant with a pea-shooter. And catch, we did. No giants (fish over 73″ long and 300-lbs or more) came to the boat–though we hooked one that had the potential to break this mark, which snapped 80-lb. test braid after an hour and a half long battle–but we did land several fish in the 200-pound range and took one home that tipped the scales at 148 after being dressed (gutted and bled). And as usual, during an active day of tackle-busting fishing many old lessons were reinforced, and some new ones were learned. Care to try your hand at jigging up a giant? Remember these bluefin fishing tips:
1. When tuna are holding at a specific depth and you’re vertical jigging for them, add a stout bottom hook to the jig. After missing multiple strikes with only top hooks on the jigs, we added a thick treble to the bottom and on the very next hit, hooked and landed the day’s first jigged tuna.
2. Minimize engine use when fighting bluefin. Bluefin often go haywire when they hear a transmission clunk in and out of gear, and many savvy captains who specialize in bluefin won’t even back on a fish unless they’re about to be spooled. During that particular hour and a half battle, the fish ran virtually every time the engine rpm changed or the transmission was engaged. Tip: when you’re at an hours-long, dead stand-still with a monster, shut down your engines. Yes, this is a risky manuever, but usually the fish will swim up to the surface and try a few head-shakes. Then the angler can fight it horizontally instead of vertically, limiting the fish’s ability to turn it’s head and dig down. I’ve seen this trick work in several battles that exceeded two hours.
3. Bring and use prepared wind-on leaders of various sizes. The tuna were shy on 130-pound leader but struck quickly on 80. We only had a few wind-ons of that size, and had to rig several by tying Albrights. This connection point failed repeatedly.
4. Sometimes, you’ve just got to say WTF… and whenyou have a shot at big bluefin running off of Cape Hatteras, don’t hesitate to utter those words!