Never seen anything quite like this in my 30 years of canyon fishing where a Big Eye ate a jig down 450 feet in the middle of the afternoon in the Wilmington Canyon Friday. I know last summer plenty of Big Eyes were hooked up by anglers jigging around the whales but never down that deep that I knew of. We ended up losing the tuna after about an hour when the hook pulled. The angler that jigged up the Big Eye had fought Bluefin’s up 150 lbs. on the same tackle he was using and had no problem landing the Bluefin’s but he had his hands full with the Big Eye on his jigging tackle. We did have it up close to the boat a few times where everyone got a good look at it but never quite close enough to stick it with our harpoon. This was only the second Big Eye we have ever lost on the Hooked Up II and given the strength and power of these tuna our success record is pretty good. We only use 30 and 50 class tackle on Big Eyes all have been caught using stand-up tackle.
We put all the information we see on our fishfinder onto our flat screen TV in the salon and you can actually see the jigs go down and literally hit the target species in the head when jigging. Great advantages as you do not have to try to figure out the exact depth of your jigs since you can track them in the water column. That is what happened when one of our dedicated jig customers saw the Big Eyes at 450 feet and immediately dropped down a heavy Ronz lure he uses for jigging Bluefin’s up in New England and within seconds he was tight on the Big Eye. Later, just before sundown we marked nice 60-90 lb. Yellowfins right under the boat in 25-100 feet of water and dropped metal jigs down to them and it took less than 30 seconds to hook one up. Overall we had plenty of action on both jigs and chunks in the late afternoon until dark but fought the light leader problem with lots of break offs as many of the tuna were just too big and powerful for the light leaders we had on. Even with the lost tuna we still had plenty of action and this is to be expected on some trips due to the size of these tuna.
While we had some great tuna fishing late last week, I did get an update from a commercial friend greensticking who said after Friday the bite that was so strong last week seems to have died. He was out in the storms on Saturday with nothing to show for it. There have been some reports on some longfin tuna caught by a friend of mine and hopefully that water moves into more local canyons to Cape May! If it does, the Hooked Up II will be ready to get on the fish. With the fall approaching and the cooler temps, the fall tuna season really can be as good as any to head offshore. With a boat like ours, the comfort offshore is second to none as we have comfortable sleeping for all anglers on board and can keep the boat at a nice comfortable temperature inside if the weather gets cool outside.
We will be at the dock for the next few days but will be running an open boat trip as soon as the weather allows us to get back out.