Today I took Pat and his sons Greg and CJ out to try for some tuna. Pat had me booked earlier in the season for bass and weather had forced us to reschedule. I'm sure after today they are glad we waited. I met up with them at a leisurely 0830 and we headed out to the ramp. Since this was the guys FIRST trip fishing in saltwater I used the time in the truck to explain to them what we needed to do to catch and fight a tuna. They listened intently and later in the day it showed.
We hit the water and ran out the same are we have been fishing for the past few days. Things were a bit slower and there was a little extra boat traffic in the area, which seem to keep the fish from staying up for long. We got to the area and began to patrol around looking for fish. I spotted a pod of tuna and we eased up on them. Greg was the first on deck to try for the fish and he got his cast right into the surface activity. He reeled in without a touch and just as he was pulling the lure from the water it got slashed by a hungry tuna. Although it was a miss it was a good sign of things to come.
WE worked around the scattered fish and the boats that were on them for about half an hour. Finally I decided to leave the area and find some fish of our own. We ran several miles away from the masses and we found HUGE shoals of surface feeding tuna the likes of which I've NEVER seen before!
Acres and acres of fish not just busting on top, these fish would get into a sort of formation 100 yards across and 50 yards deep and then PUSH at 30 mph across the water spraying bait 5 feet in the air and leaving the water literally foaming behind them. The whooshing sound from the approaching school sounded like an airplane at takeoff. Any lure that found its way into one of these feeding pushes was eating instantly. The aggression shown by these fish was unreal.
The guys all took turns casting to the fish while I worked to get the boat in front of these fast moving shoals. Even with no prior experience the guys all hooked and landed fish. They were all very good at listening to direction on where to cast and once hooked up, how to fight the fish. It was a display none of us will likely forget. I think they may be ruined for life. Eleven-year-old CJ made us all proud when he single handedly worked over a 22# tuna on his own. And lets just say Dad was as proud as a parent could be
Oldest son Greg was nearly spooled by one beast that we could not chase due to being doubled up. With around 35-40 yards left out of 300 it was closer to the core than I like to see. Finally the fish submitted to the drag and Greg worked him like a pro.
When it was all said and done the guys had hook at least a dozen tuna and several big bluefish. We boated about half of the fish hooked and kept one for the grill. The water was 90' deep and the seas were 1-2' with very little whitewater except that made by the tuna. The water temps were low to mid 70's and the skies were clear and sunny. The lures of choice today were Spro jigs, both bucktail and swimming style. The fish surprisingly would not take topwater even though they were frothing on the surface. I bumped the gear up a bit today to help the guys out with there first tuna attempt. We used Penn 5600L's loaded with 20# Trilene XL and 7' St Croix Tidemaster rods.
The slightly heavier gear allowed for a little bit of a learning curve rather than tossing them in over their head with the lighter stuff we've been using.
Overall just a fantastic day OTW. The guys were great to fish with and we all had a great time. Everyone landed fish and we all got to see some truly amazing sights. It doesn't get any better than this!