Finicky Tuna Demand Subtle Presentation – Or Not

Continue reading “Finicky Tuna Demand Subtle Presentation – Or Not”

The Dog Days of Winter

  • Got out last week and hit the rigs in search of Wahoo and Tuna. ¬†This was the first time I have ever had a dog along for an overnighter, but it turns out he is an avid angler.

That is Milo, he is Frenchy’s pup, and he was full on fishing the entire trip. Every time he heard a reel clicker he was on it. In this video he shows his technique for subduing uncooperative tuna!

I especially like the way he takes a bite and spits it out on the deck ūüôā Reminded me of Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield.

We did not tear ’em up, but we found some fish and turned a bit of success into a new recipe we dubbed¬†At√ļn del Mediterr√°neo. ¬†It was good!

The tuna is just seared in a bit of olive oil with a dash of salt, pepper and cardamon.  Served over brown rice with a cold sauce of fresh diced tomatoes, lemon, olive oil, salt, parsley, green onions, capers, and olives. On the side, big juicy grapes and fresh steamed broccoli.  Yum!

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Weather looked good last week and when Frenchy proposed we head for the rigs, I jumped at the chance. ¬†It’s not often you get a forecast like this in February.

The crew was me, Frenchy, Allen, Manfred, Chris and, of course, Milo.

We headed to the fixed platforms on the shelf looking for wahoo.  We had one nice strike on the large Yo Zuri, but all we had to show for it was some missing paint and a nice impression of some very sharp wahoo teeth.

We bounced south by Marlin and Ram Powell checking there for Tuna and Wahoo, but no love.  Water was ugly and had river weeds floating in it.  67 degrees.  We moved south to Horn and picked up a decent blackfin bite, but no yellowfin activity and the water was cold and green.  We moved south to Ensco DS 8505 and the water there was a balmy 74 and we picked up several smaller yellowfin in short order.

Manfred is a lean mean jiggin’ machine. ¬†Like the Energizer Bunny he just keeps on going. ¬†I don’t know how he does it, but he supplied us with a bunch of blackfin that we converted into chunk bait trying to trade up to yellowfin. ¬†He also jigged up at least one yellowfin, maybe more. Chris took first shift at the chunk duty.

While we were finding some fish, the size was not what we were hoping for.  Our friend Nick was in another boat working Nakika and some of the other ships and rigs in the area and they were having the same challenge.

We tried Q5000, a rig I had never seen before.  Milo was on duty inspecting operations.

We had lots of fun and it was great to have a chance to do an overnighter this time of year, but with fuel low we decided to head for the hill.

Hope you enjoyed the report. ¬†Until next time, Catch ’em Up!

Deep Drop Rig

The other day I blogged about a recent trip we took to do deep drop.  You can read that here and check out the grouper, tile fish and bass we caught:

I was asked about the rigs we were using to catch those fish so I created a short video to show you how to make them up. ¬†They are pretty simple and while you can buy them already made up, it’s a lot cheaper to do yourself.

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Here is the video of building the deep drop rig. ¬†I had a little help from my K9 buddy. ¬†He didn’t seem very impressed.

For deep drop, you really need an electric reel.  Cranking up five to eight pounds of weight 800 feet to check your bait would get old really fast. These used to be particularly expensive, but they have come down in price significantly in the last couple of years.  You can get some really nice ones, but you can also go budget.  I have a Diawa Tanacum Bull 1000 that is really nice but relatively lower priced.  I also have a Fish Winch that is at the low end of the price spectrum, but that I have found to be like the turtle, slow and steady.

The rod on the Fish Winch is just a trolling rod with roller guides. ¬†Works fine and I switch it back and forth between trolling and deep drop so I don’t need two separate rods. ¬†The one on the Tanacum is a really nice dedicated deep drop rod my wife bought me and you can also see in the picture a kite rod (also a gift from my wife. She keeps me well outfitted!). This allows me to switch the Tanacum over for kite fishing duty rather than having two separate reels.

Hope that all helps you to get out there and catch ’em up.

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A Day Late and Short Tuna

Well, we were all geared up to fish the Ft. Walton Beach Sailfish Club Offshore Tournament, but the wrong engine parts showing up on the last day had us bowing out and going to Plan B. Legendary worked hard to get us back on the water, but we ended up being a day behind the tournament boats and just decided not to come back for the Saturday weigh in so that we could still get two nights on the water.

Crew this week was Me, Allen, The Wrench, and Cody, who drove in from Dalton GA. (Carpet Town USA!) We made the long run to the rigs Friday afternoon getting there in time for the evening bite.

Ensco Rig

The ride out was smooth and fast and our elation at finally being back on the water was matched only by the that of the Dolphin greeting us as we crossed the steps. ¬†It’s pretty cool to see them fly 8-10 feet out of the water next to the boat like they are putting on a show at Sea World. ¬†In the words of Herman Melville: “Huzza Porpoise!

Cody got his first real YFT on the evening bite.

Cody Tuna

The Blackfin bite was slow so it was tough to make chunk, but we were marking fish and working them with a combination of baits.  As the sun began to rise things picked up a bit and we put a few more in the boat.

Logan Tuna

Allen Tuna3

The clip is only 3 seconds, but here it is doing the death circle.

And one more!

John Tuna

What kills me is we were fishing light fluorocarbon leader and small hooks carefully concealed to entice the bite and one of these fish came to the boat with something like a 14/0 circle hook with 4-6 feet of perhaps 400# mono leader. Longliner?   We have been seeing them operating in the area.

Weather was slick calm each day, but breezy each night.  We moved around to several rigs looking for the bite, but had no more luck.


We did find a nice weed line, but I think every boat in the ECBMC had fished up and down it twice so all they left us was some triple tail (which tasted great!) and some small mahi.


So the best part on that line was catching the triple tail. ¬†There were so many jacks and other bait fish the triple tail did not have a chance to eat the bait. ¬†We are sneaky though. ¬†When the triple tail went back under the grass mat we tossed a light jig right onto the mat over its head and let the jig slip through quietly right in front of it. ¬†The jacks did not notice, but the triple tail was sold and ate it right off. ¬† That’s the patented “fish under cover” approach ūüôā

We did all agree that when we win the PowerBall, we are buying this to be our new mother ship.  I think we could fish anywhere with impunity.

Work Boat (2)

All in all a good trip with good people. ¬†Boat is back on the water and we are catchin’ em up!

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Chunk for Chunky Tuna

There are lots of techniques for catching tuna in the northern Gulf of Mexico, but one of the most effective is to chunk.  We do this regularly when fishing out of Destin and it has been one of our best producers of Yellowwfin Tuna like this one:

Happy Allen and YFT 70Lb

The Rig

The rig is simple, in fact, the key to a good chunk rig is the simpler it is the better.  You want a low profile because those big tuna can see a mosquito floating on the surface from a hundred feet down.  They have those big eyes for a reason.

The terminal tackle consists solely of a small but heavy guage live bait or circle hook and a long shot of flourocarbon leader.  Tie a Bimini Twist into your mainline so that you have a double line connection from the reel.  We typically use a double Uni-Knot to connect the mainline to the flouro, but you could use other knots such as a blood knot.  The key here is using a straight line to leader connection with no swivels or other hardware. Any hardware in your setup will impair the presentation of the bait and create opportunities to discourage bites from keen eyed and warry fish.

Flourocarbon leader should be 8-12 feet long and typically 80 pound or less.  The competing objectives are use of enough leader strength to hold a larger fish and protect against break offs versus the lowest leader weight you can get away with to make a stealthier presentation.  Generally we start with 60 pound and adjust down if we are not getting bites, up if we are getting broken off.

We typically use small, but heavy guage circle hooks.  Something like an Owner 6/0 Tournament Circle Hook.  Again, we generally connect to the leader with a Uni-Knot, but snelling would be the better choice.

The Bait

The best chunk bait is fresh.  We typically jig up blackfin and then use them for bait, but you cn use bonita or other baits too.  Fresh is better.

Prep the bait by cutting off the bone and into chunks of about 2 inches square. ¬†We try to make nice clean chunks without bone. ¬†I take less care with what I feed myself. ¬†Prep a bunch in a bucket or on the cutting board so you don’t have to keep cutting while you should be focused on fishing. We take turns on chunk cutting duty. ¬†It’s a dirty job. ¬†Here is my big tip, clean the boat frequently as you go. ¬†That blood comes right off with salt water while it’s wet. ¬†Tomorrow morning at the slip, not so much.

The Presentation

Start by setting the boat up to make the drift you want. ¬†Then start dropping some chunks over the side to see how they are flowing away from the boat. ¬†Keep a pretty steady stream going, but don’t dump a ton of chunks in all at once. ¬†The idea is to create a long steady drift with enough chunk to keep the fish interested, but keep them working up the chunk line toward the boat.

Embed your hook completely in your tuna chunk so that it is essentially just a piece of flourocarbon sticking out of a chunk of tuna.  The tuna chunks are so soft you do not need to leave the hook point protruding from the bait.

Put the reel in freespool and drop the chunk in the water.  Start feeding line off the tip of the rod using your fingers.  The idea is for your hooked chunk bait to drift in the water at exactly the same rate as the unhooked chunks.  You want zero resistance on the line for a nice smooth drift.

You should be comfortable paying line out for a long time.  The more line off the reel the deeper your chunk is drifting (as long as there is no resistance).  When you get a strike, the fish will pick up the bait and start moving away pulling line off the reel.  Again, you want the reel in freespool with no resistance.  Give the fish a moment to turn with the bait and begin to move off before you engage the drag and start slowly reeling until the line comes tight.

Now you are on!  The rest is up to you and the gaff man, so catch em up!