Get Account    
         Home  |  Magazine  |  Reports  |  Discussion  |  Photos  |  Tides  |  Weather  |  Community  |  Updates  |  Fishing Info  |  Contact

HomeSearchTop PostersToday's Active Topics

Party Boat Tuna Do's and Do-not's

Page  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7  Next

  Discussion Boards > Partyboat Fishing
Author Message

Joined: 05/09/2002
Posts: 2132
Location: Kythera
 posted 09/13/2006 11:56 AM  

Before I start, let me say here that I am not an expert, I don't claim to be, and I only have 5 years party boat tuna experience so there are many many more qualified people here to do this than me. But, since nobody is doing it and I feel it needs to be done, I'm trying to compile a list of "rules" to help educate people about what's OK and what's not OK to do on a party boat tuna trip. I'll do my best to justify everything, and I welcome comments, corrections, criticisms, and most of all, additional "rules". So let me try to start with a little theory, and then get into it for real.

The Basics: Concepts everyone should always keep in mind on tuna boats.

TEAMWORK - everyone on the boat is on the same team.

TUNA SCHOOL - lose the fish and lose the school. Land the fish and the school stays.

LIFE BUILDS - activity in the water attracts more fish. A fish on the line attracts others, the school will GROW.

FISH TURN ON - feeding fish excite other fish to feed. Tuna can be under the boat for a while before turning on, it is critical to turn them on and keep them turned on.

Now for the rules:

1. One bait rod per person.
-more than one is difficult to manage when the bite suddenly turns on. Using two rods compromises the entire boat and reduces everyone's odds of catching, including your own in some cases.
No exceptions on open boat trips. There is no point to fishing multiple rods. You don't need one at every depth and you can't really fish every depth simultaneously anyway. If the fish start to feed they will come up and hit lines at many different depths - it might up your odds of catching a lone straggler when the bite is dead, but not enough to justify the potential disasters it leaves you and the boat open to. That lone straggler could turn into a school, always be prepared for a real bite to turn on - that means always fish ONE ROD.

2. No unattended rods.
-You have to watch your rod. If you need to take a nap, eat dinner in the cabin, take a dump, or anythign else that will compromise your ability to ge to your rod in less than one minute you must reel up and stow your rod somplace away from the rail.
-There are two reasonable exceptions to this: one, the bite is SLOW so you decide to jig in the bow or the other side of the boat. Be close to your rod, stay near the cabin door if you're bait rod is midship, near the bow or stern if your bait rod is at either end of the boat. Two, you go to another part of the boat to catch bait (ling, squid, etc.). Whenever you make one of these exceptions you must follow the following guidelines: Be near your bait rod, have a trusted and capable friend watch your bait rod, be near a mate or friend who can reel up your jig or live bait rig if needed. YOU CAN NEVER DO EITHER OF THESE WHEN THE BITE IS ON - IF THE BITE IS ON YOU HAVE TO REEL UP YOUR BAIT ROD AND STOW IT IF YOU WANT TO JIG OR CATCH BAIT.

3. Get out of the way of someone hooked up.
-When someone hooks up you should immediately be at your bait rod with the saftey line unclipped. If the person who hooked up is within 10 rods of you reel up immediately, do not wait for your runoff. If the fish is more than ten rods away keep an eye out, if it is swimming in your direction reel up BEFORE it gets close.
-there are MANY reasons to follow this rule, but two are paramount: 1) you increase the odds that the fish will be landed, and 2) you will not get tangled so you won't have to re-rig during a good bite. Use the time to put a fresh bait on your hook or maybe jig far away from the hooked fish. If everyone follows this rule, as soon as the fish is landed or close to it everyone will be ready to drop back down into uncluttered water with a fresh bait and hungy tuna waiting below.

4. Stow unused rods.
-ALL rods not actively being used, even for 5 minutes, must be stowed away from the rail.

5. Help others.
-Share. Teach people how to catch squid. Show them how to tend their line. Coordinate with others. The better everyone fishes, the more hookups the boat will get, the more fish they will land and the better YOUR odds are of hooking up - maybe multiple times. Remember it's US vs. THEM (tuna), not US vs. EVERYONE ELSE ON BOARD. Kil is a perfect example of someone who lives by this rule. Nobody I have ever met is more helpful to other anglers on a tuna boat, and nobody I know catches so many tuna so consistently on party boats.

6. Don't be "that guy"
-Don't be a jerk. Don't argue with the mates or captain, they know better than you. Don't do something completely different if a bite is on (like send out a balloon, shark rig, freeline midship, etc.) - odds are you're going to be the guy that wipes everyone out and tangles the fish. Don't get wasted drunk.

7. Communicate
-Ask questions. Ask people to show you how to do things if you're unsure yourself. Tell people what's working. Talk to the mates and captain, and always follow their suggestions and instructions. Yell loudly when you have a fish on and people need to get out of your way. Alter others to hookups.

8. Be ready to sacrifice.
-Be ready to clip your line if you get tangled with a fish. If someone wants to clip your line don't get mad. Better to lose a rig than a school of tuna. Be ready to have your line out of the water for a while if someone's got a big fish on - use the time to catch bait, have a snack, or do whatever you gotta do.

9. Give up the rod.
-Recognize when you're too tired or lack the skill to land a difficult fish. If the captain tells you to hand it over to a mate - do it.

10. Don't mess around.
-Don't mess with fighting belts, reel speeds, or saftey lines on the initial hookup. Leave the rod in the launcher and crank like hell til you come tight. Take your time, if the fish is big enough to need a belt or low gear you're going to have PLENTY of time to do what you have to in a calm, controlled way.

11. Don't panic or get overly excited.
-Be calm, take your time, and be thurough. There are infinte dangerous objects (and hopefully fish) on the decks of tuna boats. There are just as many little mistakes you can make that will cost you a fish (bad knot cause you rushed, forgot to loosen your drag when you lightened up the leader, etc).

12. Fish a manageable drag.
-Ask a mate to check it for you if you're not 100% positive that you have it set correctly. Tight drags are one of the most common causes of breakoffs. You can usually tighten up mid fight if you need to. Once you know the size of your fish you can determine if you can horse it in or not, but wait until you know what's going on before you push your drag into the heavy range. Tight drags and tangles are the trip killers.


#13 - Follow your fish. Run, don't walk!

-Follow your fish and be loud, make sure everyone gets out of your way. Go over, under, and around all the gaffs, rods, etc and NEVER STOP REELING. Even in a tangle, keep reeling. It can be difficult, but make an effort to keep your ears open while this is goign on. A mate will most likely be at your side coaching you along - listen to what he says and follow his instructions as best you can.


Most Tuna PBs steam 6+ hours. GET SOME SLEEP!

15. Slack Off
-when you get in a tangle with someone else's fish DO NOT REEL UP!!! Put your reel in freespool and turn on the clicker. Also, don't think you have a fish on. You know when you have a fish on, there is no "I think" in canyon fishing (unless the fish is racing straight for the boat, in which case you won't feel a thing, certainly nothing that can be confused with the gentle bumps and pulls of a line with a fish on it) - you do or you don't, and either way you should know.

16. Listen to the crew.
-This one's been mentioned several times in the other rules, but it deserves its own rule. Do what the crew tells you to do, especially during a hookup, even if you're not the one hooked up. And if you're lucky enough to get a tip from a mate (like "you should try flatlining a sardine off the back" or "here's a ling, try it for bait") DO IT!!!!

17. Watch your line.
-If everybody's line is going out at a 45 degree angle and yours is not you could tangle others. Too much weigh is alot safer than too little. If a mate or another fare suggests using more weight you should heed their advice in most cases. If you see you're crossing lines with your neighbor, do the under-over with him, or trade rail positions for a little while.

Ok, that's about all I can come up with now. Feel free to add anythign I missed or correct me where you think I'm wrong. The fact that I'm posting these as rules is a little rediculous - they're just common sense, but experience tells me otherwise. If I'm dead wrong about something, please say so and say why.

Tight lines,


This post edited by jtzannes 02:14 PM 09/13/2006
Billy40 Club Member

Joined: 12/16/2001
Posts: 9681
Location: Staten Island
 posted 09/13/2006 12:15 PM  

I'll do my best to keep this thread on track. Good topic worth reading, and adding to.

The HNIC of Teh NERBs

Co-Designer of the Seeker Hercules line of blanks & factory rods

Billy Vivona's XL Rods website

Joined: 10/13/2003
Posts: 4993
 posted 09/13/2006 12:27 PM  

Excellent, excellent post, man! I would add a

#13 - Follow your fish. Run, don't walk!

And I would suggest an edit to #12. Replace the word "light" with "manageble". You really want to boat the fish asap. The longer you fight it, the better the odds of something going wrong. Heavy drags make for shorter fights, but fishing a drag that's too heavy for you to handle is obviously just as bad as fishing the drag that doesn't hurt the fish.

Edit: Let me temper my enthusiasm a bit. It's a great post, but it's going to completely miss its target audience. You see, the people who could benefit the most from reading the above, aren't actually going to read it. Because they already know everything. And because their teh suk.

Remember: I don't take any of this seriously.

This post edited by FishWisher 12:46 PM 09/13/2006

Joined: 04/08/2002
Posts: 1315
Location: Key West FL
 posted 09/13/2006 12:43 PM  

Very good John and right on target.

That should be printed and passed out before every trip.


Joined: 03/07/2003
Posts: 1697
Location: Brooklyn, NY
 posted 09/13/2006 01:03 PM  

My 2 cents

Most Tuna PBs steam 6+ hours. GET SOME SLEEP!

I get a kick out of guys who booze it up on a tuna trip only to sleep ALL NIGHT! WTF!ConfusedConfusedConfused

Save your money and stay home!

Joined: 07/10/2003
Posts: 2848
 posted 09/13/2006 01:26 PM  

Great thread!!! I also like the alcohol rule that I saw on one of the NJ's boat websites. Consumption is not allowed until the boat is heading home. Hate to say it, but I've seen more than one instance where alcohol abuse has contributed to many of the errors already noted. This is true on both inshore and offshore trips.

Ling is King and Cusk are Deluxe!

Joined: 05/09/2002
Posts: 2132
Location: Kythera
 posted 09/13/2006 01:41 PM  

thanks for the kind words guys. MisterX, I added your suggestion "GET SOME SLEEP", but reluctantly... those are the guys I count on to provide the extra space at the rail on the boats that take a lot of people.... them and the guys who think they don't get seasick so they skip the dramamine, only to realize too late that just because you don't get sick drifting fluke in the bay it doesn't mean you're immune to seasickness.

Mike, unfortunately you're right - the worst offenders aren't going to read this and even if they do they probably won't agree with me, but regardless, the more people who know the better.

Joined: 07/02/2005
Posts: 1301
 posted 09/13/2006 01:53 PM  

Good Post

I would add if you do, for any reason, become involved in a tangle with a hooked fish, by all means SLACK OFF don't be the guy who pulls like hell and saws the other fares fish off. More times than not your just wrapped afew times and the mate can get you out. I would also emphasize the "follow your fish" rule. try to remember, no angles,no tangles. Another thing, we all like to kick back and have agood time, but the group of tools who get torn up on the ride out have no business being on a tuna boat, save the libations for the ride in there is NO way that a fish of a life time should be lost do to drunken stupidity, and more over it shouldn't be tolerated. Lastly LISTEN TO THE CREW Smart money would say that these guys have done this a few times more than you, hence they are not going to give adviced that doesn't benefit you, so stow the pride and learn.....

This post edited by walkingontime 01:58 PM 09/13/2006

Joined: 08/10/2006
Posts: 67
 posted 09/13/2006 02:03 PM  



Joined: 10/24/2005
Posts: 32
 posted 09/13/2006 03:51 PM  

make sure you tie up a few rigs on the way out.
maybe 3 or 4 of 60lb fluoro
2 or 3 of 40lb
2 or 3 of 80lb

this way, if and when you get cut off, you just go inside and grab a ready to go leader.

if you have a camera, have it in a handy place so the mates arent standing around for ten minutes during a hot bite waiting for you to find your camera to take a pic. or worse, your tuna is flipping out on the deck and injures someone. most boats like to get em in and get em out of the way.

dont make a mess...use the garbage cans...its not that hard.

flat line if you want, but do it somewhere that the current will take it away from the boat and weighted lines....usually one of the back corners. sometimes up near the bow. jig and catch bait on the opposite side of the boat that everyone is bait fishing on or up in the bow.

bring hot pockets.

bring toilet paper in a zip lock bag.


Joined: 02/22/2005
Posts: 1663
Location: Montauk, NY
 posted 09/13/2006 03:53 PM  


bring hot pockets.

LOL.Thats my favorite 2:30 am and im getting hungry and tired food!!!

Capt. Carl Forsberg
The largest and most diversified fleet in the US!
#1 catching fish since 1936!
reelfisher Club Member

Posted Reports
Partyboat Fishing
Fisheries Management

Joined: 07/21/2003
Posts: 11265
Location: Jamesport
 posted 09/13/2006 04:08 PM  

Great idea John and some excellent infoup

This is sort of covered in #3 but just in case as its my personal pet peeve. When an angler hooks up on bait or jig do not run next to him and drop down a jig or bait setup hoping to cash in on the bite. If you're close by and in the water already.

For those anglers listed in #1 who fish more than one rod to hit different depths. Consider instead being active and working your bait up and down the water column.

"If you can read this, thank a teacher....and
since it's in English, thank a soldier."

Joined: 05/09/2002
Posts: 2132
Location: Kythera
 posted 09/13/2006 04:30 PM  

Reelfisher -

I refuse to make "no mugging" a rule - mugging on a tuna boat is just plain idiotic. If anything, the rule should be "If someone drops a jig on your fish have a friend cut his line immediately" ormaybe something more violent, I don't know.


For those anglers listed in #1 who fish more than one rod to hit different depths. Consider instead being active and working your bait up and down the water column.

I was debating putting that in there, but that's not a rule really, it's just a good technique. I'm not trying to teach people how to catch tuna (because I'm far from qualifiied for that) - but rather just trying to tell them how not to blow the whole trip for a lot of people.

Hemp3 - same goes for you - those are good tips, but not rules of conduct. good tips though, people should listen up - especially about hot pockets (or some microwavable food)

Joined: 10/04/2004
Posts: 222
Location: Edison New Jersey
 posted 09/13/2006 05:25 PM  



Great Topic and Post ! 5 stars * * * * *

Where were you back in my days working the deck ! All those questions no one wants to ask, looks like you covered them.

I love the TEAM remarks, very true for the Captain, Crew and Fares.

Go get'um guys !

"Summer Cod, and some are not"

Joined: 10/07/2002
Posts: 21753
Location: Henderson, Nevada
 posted 09/13/2006 05:37 PM  


Way to go John.
Last year I did a 3 day Tuna trip with the Frances Fleet and I can tell you I violated rule # 11 big time

3 days.
25 guys.
5 fish the entire time.
6 hook-ups.

Of course I'm the only one that totally ruined his hook up cause I went NUTS and did everything the wrong way.

That's not gonna happen again.
Partially due to this most informative thread.

  Discussion Boards > Partyboat Fishing Page  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7  Next  
Jump to:  

2022 Noreast Media, LLC.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.