Date: August 19th, 2015
Time: 5 am
Fish: 3 mahi/ 1 big ass bluefin..LOL
We find ourselves roughly 12 miles from our destination. We stop the boat because we have spotted bait on top along with some whales and dolphins. Rand takes the wheel while I deploy an eight rod spread. We make several passes however there are no signs of tuna. After talking to another boat on the radio who fished the area all night without a bite, my positive attitude began to dwindle. However, we did see something very positive, we spotted a dragger several miles away. It’s funny how things work out..the dragger was heading in the opposite direction in which I wanted to head. We decided to pursue the dragger. On the way we would get derailed a couple of times catching mahi that we found under some floating debris. As we scanned the horizon once again looking for that dragger we spot some whale spouts. The dragger would have to wait. I pointed the bow towards the whales. As we got closer the area seemed to come alive. Whales, dolphins and birds were all around us.
As we made our way into the middle of the frenzy I started to mark bait. I knew that we had found tons of sand eels. I turn the boat and head back into the middle and point out to Rand that those are tuna under the sand eels (see screen shot). Just as I hit the screen save button the battle begins.
As we look back a huge school of dolphin are right behind the boat in our spread. The smallest rod that I troll gets slammed, and it also happens to be the way back rod.
Whatever is on the end is quickly dumping the spool. I had no choice but to put the boat in neutral. As I'm running around trying to reel the other lines in just in case we need to back down on this fish, Rand is able to slow the fish down. We still don't know what it is, in fact we won't find out for another hour.
We quickly realize that we are severely under powered with the gear that we are fighting this fish with. Rand lasted about 20 minutes on the rod, I lasted about 15 minutes. Rand’s turn again for another 15 minutes. The sun is beating down on us and this fish is kicking our rears. At this point I realize that I need to put my belt (bought a week ago) on if we have any chance at catching this fish. So I take the rod from Rand one last time and I go to work. This belt allows me to clip the reel to the belt and lean back. It also allows me to keep my hand on the reel instead of the rod. Bottom line it gives me tremendous amount of leverage.
After about 20 minutes we finally have color. It’s a big tuna. We actually got him up on the surface only to see him dive back down. At this point I'm running on fumes. The longer we have this tuna on the greater the chance we stand to lose him. I keep thinking about how miserable the ride home is going to be if we don't land this fish. It turns out Rand was thinking the same thing. It's all or nothing at this point, we are emotionally and physically drained. Whether we land this fish or lose this fish, our day is over.
Rand is doing a great job at the wheel. I would guess that during the tuna's death spiral Rand probably had to turn the boat between 40-50 times. I could tell that Rand was nervous about gaffing this fish. He didn't want to lose this fish because of a gaffing mistake. I tried to calm him down because it was time for him to leave the wheel and stick this fish.
It was over in a blink of an eye. Rand's gaff shot was perfect! I quickly put the rod down and grabbed another gaff. On the count of three we heaved a 180 pound bluefin tuna over the gunnel.
A tremendous feat for a two man crew. A tremendous feat for the gear which we caught the fish on. My best guess from start to finish the fight lasted close to 2 hours.
As I prepped the fish, about 5 pounds of sand eels slid out of its belly. At this point I was overheating. We managed to get the tuna into the fish box and quickly grabbed some liquids. The boat was a mess but I pointed the boat north as we tried to clean up. I was really struggling. I needed to get the boat on plane and use the boat's speed to help cool me down. Even with my outriggers all tangled I secured all that we could and I hit the throttle and off we went. Doing 35 mph helps a whole lot to cool a man down. About an hour and twenty minutes later it was over.
I will remember this day forever, for me this is what life is about. Thank you Rand for being there. The only thing missing was Gina.
The picture of the hook was not ours. That hook was pulled from the tuna’s mouth after we got back to the dock
I wanted to show you just how under powered the gear was compared to what you should use. The gold reel is the proper reel, the silver is what he hit on.
The outriggers was tangled in two different spreading bars.