Tuesday October 19, 2010
A last minute trip planned around an opening in the weather is about to get underway. The day begins at Taylor Marine 6:15am, we prepare the gear for the trip. You take what you can get this time of year so we are preparing for all scenarios. Spinning reels to target any surface action we run into, trolling reels for dragging around plastics, and electric reels for bottom fishing if all else fails. With everything ready to go we leave the dock at 6:30am before the sun has broken the horizon.
The 14 mile ride across Massachusetts Bay to the SWC (south west corner of Stellwagen Bank) through moderate chop (in the 1-3 foot range) was uneventful. We didn’t see much bird activity or many encouraging marks on the sounder upon our arrival but that didn’t deter us from deploying a 4 line spread. We set out spreader bars on the port and starboard outriggers running just off the wash and un-weighted 12” Slug-go’s way back down the middle left and right. We have caught Bluefin tuna using both Slug-go’s and squid bars in the past but we generally wouldn’t run them at the same time. However, today the water conditions seemed perfect for both. It was rough enough to disguise our gear, but not so much so that that trolling was made difficult by the conditions, and with little or no weeds in the water, trolling was looking like a good first option.
It’s now 9:15am and we are about 4 miles into the troll, we have been maintaining an easterly course along the south corner of the bank in about 160ft of water and we are beginning to see some signs of life. Sporadic birds are working the surface around us and the sounder begins to show some encouraging marks in the top of the water column. Not long after we see our first jumper, a 100lb schoolie bluefin tuna breaks the surface clean out of the water right in front of us only 100 yards off the bow. Now with my eyes fixed on our spread, time begins to go by in super slow-mo. As I am watching it happens, the Squid bar on the starboard outrigger gets nailed and the fish comes almost entirely out of the water. The enormous splash is followed by the singing of the reel dumping line, fish on, we are tight, let the Chinese fire drill begin (no disrespect to my Chinese friends). While we work to clear the other three lines from the water, and gear from the deck, the Penn 80VSW continues to sing still peeling off line with the drag set at 25lbs. The fish hit a 36” Carlson Offshore Squid Bar with 13” Green Squid and un-weighted Hot Tomato stinger (third fish for this spreader bar). With everything out of the water and the deck clear we begin to take some line back. The fish is no match for the power of the Penn 80VSW and for the next 20 minutes we methodically take back line and bring this fish to the surface. The last 30-50 feet of line didn’t come easy as the fish was still pretty green. Not wanting to prolong the battle any longer than necessary for fear of the fish coming undone we muscled the remaining line onto the spool. A few quick death circles later we had a measurement; it’s a keeper, game over. October Tuna makes for a great ending to the 2010 season! We never did end up going ground fishing. In October you take what you get with regards to offshore fishing, and on this day it’s sashimi :).