3/17/2011 - Bluefin Tuna Jigging/Popping

    3/17/2011 - Bluefin Tuna Jigging/Popping

    My dad posted this elsewhere and its a good writeup!

    Not sure which muscles aren't sore. Went out of OI yesterday with Bret, Michael, John, and Brian on the Fishin Frenzy with Capt. Greg. Took a little bit for the fleet to find the fish, but when they did, it was on! Had heard this was a bigger class of fish this year and that is no joke! There are some real horses there, with the average in the 70-72 in. range. We went 4 for "not sure how many". Lost fish were mainly due to pulled/bent hooks and broken leaders. Did have the drag cap melt on a Saragosa and the braid get buried in the spool of another. On the other hand, John and Brian brought in an ~70-71" fish on a Trevala with a Cabo Boca reel spooled with 65lb. PowerPro, so go figure! :confused:

    Fairly early on, I hook up using my JM PE6 reel, Tufline 80 lb. metered, my custom acid-wrapped OTI 600g jigging stick (thanks Paul form JPR), and a Cape May Tackle 200g Flutter jig. Bring a 70-71" fish to the boat in about 10 mins. and we have our keeper. Equipment is flawless and I can't say enough about the JM reel. Absolutely no problem and could handle a much bigger fish. I was really impressed!

    Speaking of horses, here was the epic battle. Soon as Capt. Gregg started marking fish around 50-60 ft., Bret broke out the Race Point with a Stella 10000FA spooled with 100lb. Tufline hollowcore, a 100lb. Flouro leader, and the new Burns Living Dead stickbait (it lays on its side as you work it). BIG tuna are exploding on this thing! Capt. Gregg is loving it. Looks like small cars being dropped in the water. Finally hooks up and 5 min. later he's off. Reason? Fish bent both ST-66 hooks! :eek: (Time to move to 76s!). Ok, so switches out to a couple single hooks. Couple more casts and a monster grabs it. Fish starts to run, Capt. Gregg moves the boat to keep up, and then the fish decides to dive. And I mean straight DOWN! How far you ask? Well, take a look at this:

    That's a 20K spool on a 10K and that is straight up and down. :eek: And Bret is fishing with well over 20 lbs. of drag. I mean its crazy! That looks like he has maybe 50 yds. left, so I'm guessing this fish is 900-1000 ft. down. Thats the thing with these NC fish. They know how to use the depth and current to their advantage. Once that fish got down there, he forced Bret to winch him all the way back. Talk about work! And all the while the fish is just sitting in the current breathing and gaining strength. It was like watching someone winch up a concrete block. Finally, he gets the fish to about 100-150 ft. (Capt. can see it on the sounder) and the fish decides its not going any further. Just stops. Now starts the tug of war. Bret locks the drag on his Stella and the fish is still pulling line! Bret gains a few feet, the fish pulls a few feet. Finally, after Bret has been fighting this fish for ~1.5 hrs., he passes the rod to Michael. Michael gets the fish fairly close to the boat, Gregg gets a good view from the tower and says "thats a 300+ fish". At that point, Michael passes the rod back to Bret and the fish decides he doesn't like the bright lights and dogs it down to about 150-200ft. Again, a tug of war. I took a turn on the rod and I can tell you I've never felt anything like it. I can't tell you how powerful this fish was. I caught my 70", 170-180lb. fish earlier and this was no comparison. Fully locked drag on the Stella and I'm losing line! Finally passed the rod to Bret and about 10 min. later the leader breaks! Heartbreak, but what a fish. Total fight time was close to 2 hrs.! I don't know, maybe this was the fish from hell and his initial run down he was trying to go home! Just incredible! As a father, it was exhilarating to watch Bret fight this behemoth for so long, and heart-wrenching to see his disappointment when the leader broke.

    But no complaints on equipment. Race Point rod handled beautifully and the Stella was smooth as silk. Just one of those things, fish won.

    Anyway, he are some more pics from the day:

    Brian fighting his first BFT with the Trevala and Cabo Boca :eek: They made it work.

    First tuna, gotta eat the heart! (Yes, it was my tuna's heart!)

    My tuna (70-71")

    Michael on the monster with the Race Point

    Quite a few folks out there. Besides the Santosh group with Capt. Rick, we saw Sami, Mogi-San, and group on the Sea Breeze

    At the end of the day, a few observations:

    1) Capt. Gregg and mate did a great job with the fish. With the exception of my fish, no fish we brought to the boat ever left the water. They would swim the fish, remove/cut the hook, and let them on their way. Great job!

    2) you could see the tuna cruising down the swells. Hundreds of them, mixed in with hundreds of hammerhead sharks. Incredible sight!

    3) These fish are big, mean, and know what they're doing. We are really testing the limits of jigging and popping gear right now. The ability for the fish to dive deep in the current really tests the gear to their limits. I don't know what we'll do next year. Be prepared for the fish to win, they're that big and mean!

    4) Toward the end of the day, Bret started throwing stickbaits, WITH NO HOOKS. It was an absolute gas watching huge tuna exploding 2,3,4 at a time on the lure. And no hassle having to fight them! We were all tired anyway, and this was a great way to finish the day. I even have one fish hit a hookless shibuki and wouldn't let go! He actually took drag! I would highly recommend if you go down there and there is a topwater bite, at some point just take the hooks off. You can't keep them anyway, and its way fun watching these explosions over and over rather than having to fight a 200+lb fish when you're already dog-tired.

    If you haven't done this, this is the ultimate in extreme fishing! Get yourself out there!
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