NorEast Fishing Forum banner
1 - 1 of 1 Posts

· Registered
3,953 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Another great fishing season is almost upon us, and everyday, anglers are committing the cardinal sin of stepping aboard a open party tuna boats without knowing the basic rules of the game. Even on "limited load" boats, practicing proper technique is key to making a trip enjoyable and productive for all involved. Although veteran San Diego skippers like Kevin Ward of the Champ do their best to educate tuna fishermen once they are onboard, a large percentage of anglers just don't seem to get it. As Ward is quick to point out, learning positioning, movement, teamwork and other important concepts for tuna fishing are not that difficult to master. After all, we're not talking about rocket science here. According to Ward, following these ten pointers will enable everyone on board to hook and land more fish.

1. Learn How to Properly "Fish the Drift."

"After pitching a lively bait off the stern corner, allow your bait to swim out in free spool as you follow your line around to the side of the boat, he said. "Make sure you're fishing on the side of the boat with the wind in your face, typically the starboard side, and move along with your line, keeping it straight in front of you at a right angle as you sidestep to your left." If you start out on the other side of the boat with the wind at your back, your bait will swim under the boat, leading to tangle ups, broken lines and lost fish," added Ward. "Remember to keep pace with your line by moving up the rail toward the bow whenever necessary. If your line is moving away from the boat at an angle, you'll need to take a few steps to catch up -- known affectionately as the "tuna shuffle."

2. Always Remember to Follow Your Fish.

When your line starts peeling off the reel in free spool, and you click into gear, don't think you can stay stationary somewhere along the rail for the duration of the fight. Many novice tuna fishermen make this mistake! Ward reminds anglers to get the cement out of their boots and get ready to move quickly and follow their fish.

"Common sense should tell you that if you stay in one place while your fish swims rapidly in one direction or another, you'll find yourself in big trouble, said Ward. "Just as you kept the line in front of you as your bait moved out, you'll want to do the same with your hooked tuna. In doing so, don't think you can just plow through other anglers fishing up and down the rail in pursuit of your fish. Stay calm, breathe through your nose, and work together. You'll need to go over and under the lines of other anglers to avoid tangle-ups If you are not sure which way to go at any given time, ask for crew assistance."

According to Ward, with so many anglers on board, (generally 30-35 anglers on a "limited load trip), teamwork is essential. When a tuna bite breaks wide open, it becomes even more important for anglers to follow these rules instead during the ensuing feeding frenzy. "On tuna trips, tangles are inevitable," notes Ward. "But we can definitely take steps to limit them and increase our catch ratio."

3. Keep Your Cool!
On any given trip, Ward and many other skippers and deckhands tend to yell out verbal instructions to anglers during the heat of a feeding frenzy. One such reminder is "breathe through your nose." When they say this, they're not being sarcastic -- panic is a primary reason for the loss of a large percentage of hooked fish.

"Even the best fisherman experience crossed lines as they fight their fish," said Ward. "The difference is in the way they handle the situation." Ward reminds anglers to call for "professional help," if they are unsure how to resolve a tangle up. "Don't let foolish pride get in the way, the crew members are experts at fixing these problems in a timely manner -- and time is of the essence when you're talking about multiple hook-ups and crossed lines. Stay calm, continue to follow your fish, and work together until the deckhand gets there to provide further directions.

4. Don't Pull Your Fish Out of the Water at Gaff.

Want to drive a skipper or deckhand crazy? Try breaking this crucial tuna commandment! When you have gone to great strides to hook-up, follow your fish and work with other anglers along a "hot rail" during the fight, some anglers commit the unforgivable sin of pulling the tuna's head out of the water when the fish has finally come to gaff. While more inexperienced fisherman may think they're doing the deckhand a favor, they are actually making a major blunder.

"Once you have deep color, a tuna will usually go into its "death spin," said Ward. "Now is the time to stay more stationary and gain whatever line you can, working the fish up to the surface." When its within gaffing range, keep tension but don't pull your fish into a vertical position with its head out of the water. Nothing but bad things can happen. Your already stretched and possibly frayed line can break under the strain, or you can cause the deckhand to mishandle the gaff job."

Ward also points out the importance of the angler staying alert throughout the gaffing process. "Sure you're tired from fighting a big fish, but you need to stay focused on what's going on as you bring your fish to gaff," he said. "A lot of anglers back away from the side of the boat when a fish is at gaff, and stop paying attention to what the fish is doing at this point. Remember the battle is not over until the fat tuna hits the deck. Stay close to the rail, stay focused on what's happening and listen carefully to the deckhand until your fish has actually been gaffed and brought aboard."

5. Avoid Using Braided Lines on Party Boats.

Most skippers, including Ward, feel that the new braided lines have no place on an open party tuna boat. While they may provide advantages on a private sportfisher, these more abrasive lines can lead to problems when fished aboard more crowded boats.

"An angler using braided line can saw-off many other anglers fishing with monofilament, " noted Ward. " We may land the one fish on the braided line, but we'll lose a multitude of other, possibly larger fish, as a result. Our experience has been that the braids cut through monofilament like butter, added Ward. With monofilament, when we do have crossed lines, there is more time to respond and resolve the tangle, allowing us to save all or most of the fish involved."

6. Be Careful About Where You Cast.

When tuna start boiling behind the boat, many anglers can't resist casting to what they feel is the "hot corner," even though in doing so they may be crossing other lines. Although the temptation is great, Ward warns anglers to pay attention to where they cast.

"Even if there seems to be a small space in between the lines of two other anglers, casting between them will almost always lead to crossed lines," said Ward. If you start out this way, you'll be in trouble before you even hook up, and the problems will multiply once you have a fish on. Instead, start off by casting or pitching a bait on the downwind side of the anglers that already have their lines out. Then, if everyone is doing the tuna shuffle correctly, you'll make your way around to the where the action is soon enough, without crossed lines or tangle-ups.

7. Use an Effective Trolling Technique and Lure.

When trolling lures, such as feathers and cedar plugs, to attract jig strikes and locate schools of feeding tuna, some anglers seem to think the more line let out, the better. This is definitely not the case. Ward tells his trollers to set their lines no further than 100 feet off the stern. He also points out the importance of landing the "jig strike" tuna. "Hooking the lead tuna of school relatively close to the stern and landing that fish is often a key factor for drawing in the rest of the school," he said. "That's why we tell our anglers to use heavier trolling set-ups, at least 50-60 pound-test line and a fairly tight drag, so these lead fish can be brought in quickly and the others will follow. If all goes right, an effective chumline will then keep the main body of fish around the boat.

Ward also reminds anglers not to be afraid to change trolling lures every hour or so, especially if there has been no or little action. "If you've been trolling with a certain type of lure, and it's not producing jig strikes, keep making changes and mixing things up until you find a color or pattern that works," he said.

In addition to selecting the right lures and setting the lines properly behind the boat, your trolling speed can also make a difference. According to Ward, a good general trolling speed for tuna is about 7 to 8 1/2 knots.

8. Select the Right Tackle for the Job.

Consult a good local tackle shop for recommendations on what size rods and reels to use in accordance to the size of the fish being caught. Using undersized tackle can be a nightmare for everyone onboard during a wide open tuna bite. Likewise, using tackle that's too heavy or mismatched can result in less action and fewer boated fish. If you are fishing for smaller longfin, a reel like a Penn 545GS, 555GS or 500L Jigmaster should be fine, with a matched and balanced medium-action Sabre or Power Stick. But if you're taking on larger yellowfin or bluefin, you may want to use a Penn 45GLS Lever Drag or Senator 113H with at least 40-pound test and a medium-heavy to heavy Sabre or Tuna Stick.

Once you've determined the right rigs to bring along, most good tuna skippers will advise you to select and match your terminal tackle wisely as well. Ward tells his anglers to use smaller hooks with lighter line and larger hooks with heavier test. A good rule of thumb is to use a size 2/0 hook when fishing with 20-pound test, a 3/0 hook with 30-pound test, a 4/0 with 40-pound line and so on. Of course, if the bait tank is filled with "pinner" anchovies, you'll need to go down to much smaller hooks, like a size 1 or 2.

9. Use Quality Monofilament and and a Strong Knot.

Ward has seen more than his share of anglers lose quality tuna due to poor knot selection and tying. According to Ward, the worst knots you can use are fisherman's clinch knot or the "improved fisherman's clinch knot." He advises anglers to go with a proven knot such as the Palomar, which is easy to tie and provides superior breaking strength. "Be sure to fish with quality monofilament too," says Ward. "Stick with quality brands and never purchase 'bargain basement' spools of line just because of the high volume you get for the price. When you have so much invested in your trip, it's foolish to risk losing a big fish in order to save just a few bucks at the tackle store."

10. Choose Your Bait Wisely and Change it Often.

To maximize your catch, select your baits according to the size and species of the tuna school around the boat. For instance, if you're dealing with smaller school-size tuna, especially albacore, you'll typically have better results baiting up with smaller baits as opposed to large sardines or mackerel. "Albies, for instance, love to inhale smaller anchovies," says Ward. "This kind of bait is easy for them to grab on the run, and they'll usually take a "pinner" on a small hook at times when they shun the larger baits."

If you are dealing with the larger tuna (yellowfin, bluefin or bigeye) a bigger bait can be the ticket. But Ward reminds anglers to always select the liveliest baits in the well, regardless of size. "Anglers also need to change their baits often -- every couple of minutes or so," said Ward. "Some anglers just don't realize how important this simple step is when it comes to getting bit more often."

This was great article so I posted it for all you guys who have never or have been Tuna fishing on a open boat. Somethings won't apply here but most do enjoy
1 - 1 of 1 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.