May 17th 2021
What a great way to start off the tuna season,
Here is the tale of two fat guys and a tall skinny 13 year old out looking for tuna.
I decided to push off a little later than usual. I didn't want to spend too much time in the dark with ocean temps being in the mid-50s. We ran through the bay with ease. The inlet was a little snotty with low tide and a SW wind. Once outside I set my course and off we went. By 4:30 the purple glow from the sun below the horizon put a smile on my face. An hour later without a cloud in the sky, the sun appeared. With ocean temps being so cold we were deprived of the sun’s warmth. So I settled in for a quiet ride on a flat ocean.
We arrived to find tuna chicks and some slick greasy looking water. We began to troll. Immediately I started marking bait. We spent about an hour in the area with nothing to show for it. I heard a few rumblings about Whales to the south of us. So we picked up and made a run. I didn't see anything. Things weren't looking good. By now the ocean was glass. Terrible trolling conditions. I like a nice ripple on the water which helps disguise the artificial lures. I had to make a decision on where to go. I opted to head back to the bait and hope that the tuna showed up.
Here comes the wind, here comes the tuna!
As small white caps begin to form, tuna begin to appear on my fishfinder. At this point it's noon and my confindence is beginning to build. Sure enough Our way, way, way back line gets smoked. This is a good fish! The problem is it seems too good. As recreational fisherman we are not allowed to retain a fish 73 inches and above. The fittest crew member on board would get first shot. 13 year old Sean wants this fish real bad. With only three of us on board we were in a tough position. Sean's father Brian had no choice but to hold the back of Sean's harness to make sure he didn't get pulled over. This fish was angry. I never saw a tuna do what it was doing. On 3 separate occasions we had the swivel out of the water. We were only about 40 feet from getting a good look at the fish. All that we could see was a HUGE shadow. I was constantly turning the wheel trying to keep this fish from the engines. If we had one more person we could've had some great underwater footage. At this point an hour and a half into the fight Sean was toast. With legs wobbling and arms throbbing it was time for a change. Enter big fish Brain. We call him big fish because every time he hooks up with fish he thinks it's big. 99.99% of the time it's not. However this was a big fish. After a successful exchange Brian starts fighting this fish. Sadly to say 10 minutes later the fish won. It just happens sometimes, the fish spit the hook. The fish most likely wasn't coming home with us due to its size but I just wish we could have gotten just one photo or a few seconds of video of it.
At this point it was 2pm. The morale on the boat was bad. I figured we had about 2 hours left in our day, so with the wind continuing to build we put the spread back out. We went back and sure enough we started marking fish. The fish we lost hit while we were heading east so I turned the boat around and headed in that direction, Without a boat in sight and us on autopilot the three of us watched the spread. Sean and I saw it, a tuna came up and missed one of our close-in wide-trackers. With my hands going through my hair in disgust as if I was going to rip some out we got a sign from up above. No not the big man but our reel above us in the rocket launcher once again started to scream!
Lines were cleared and it was on. This time I suited up and settled in for the fight. With 200 yards already out in the spread I estimate he peeled off another 200 yards. I couldn't get this fish behind the boat. This fish came up along side of us. As I turned the handle and pumped the rod the fish continued to come closer on the starboard side of the boat. I'm well aware of our situation. No way Sean will be able to gaff this fish. I'm on the rod and Brian is behind the wheel. As the fish draws near it decides that he has had enough. Like a submarine the fish dives deep. I'm not going to lie. I'm starting to doubt whether we will land this fish. Unlike Sean's fish this tuna is acting like most tuna. I have the tuna under control and in a pinwheel. Every pump of the rod and turn of the handle brings the tuna higher and higher. I'm running on empty but its go time. Its strange what goes through your mind in certain situations. I thought of Ed Harris in the movie Apollo 13 when he said to his boss " with all do respect I believe this is going to be our finest moment." This is it, the fish is just a few feet under the boat, Brian leaves the wheel. I scream at Brian one more circle, him and Sean lean over the gunnel and sink the gaffs into the fish. I wish I had our reaction on film when that fish hit the deck. A fat 65 inch fish was coming home with us. I'm exhausted. Its 4pm and its time to head home. I put the autopilot on and we begin to clean up. After I cooled down the wind that I was happy to see was making me miserable. It was a long cold bumpy ride home. If we would have lost that second fish the ride home would have been a lot worse.
I know Sean was bummed that he lost that fish. However at the age of 13 he is well on his way to being a great fisherman. He is a very important part of my crew. It says a lot that I let him put lines out in the spread without me guiding him. Like I have said in the past, This offshore game is about the team. Not an individual person. We lose fish together and we catch fish together. The entire crew shares in the emotion. If you don't I don't want want you on my boat!
Thank you to Brian and Sean for working their butts off. I'm already looking forward to our next adventure together.