From The Helm

Tuna 101 – Getting Started

With Wicked Tuna being a hit… and the fact that the Tuna bite has been incredible over the past few years… Everyone wants to Go for the Gold and Try their hand at Tuna… So the question is: What do you need to get started? (Assuming that you are smart enough to have already gone fishing for Tuna on someone else’s boat first… LOL)
    1. You need a reliable boat. You don’t need a HUGE boat, but you surely need a reliable boat that also provides you with enough gas to get to the Tuna grounds and BACK. As for the size of the boat, well I personally wouldn’t feel overly comfortable in anything smaller than a 25′ if I’m traveling 25+ miles offshore. But I can tell you, I’ve seen several smaller boats over the years trolling the tuna grounds 30-40 miles offshore. The sea conditions are critical. SAFETY must come first. The tuna will be there another day. If you doubt the conditions, don’t go.
  • Where to go? There are plenty of groups that will speak about where the bite is happening. Tuna fishermen are pretty private people so any information that they give up is usually at least a week old. But the good news is that in many cases Tuna will hang around an area for two or more weeks, so old news…just may turn out to be good news. I’d suggest participating in Tuna Groups and The Hull Truth. If you pull up the Coimbra Wreck in Google Earth and the Bacardi, and draw a line, you can bet that at some point the tuna will be at or between both of these areas. Yes, its true that each year there will be a few days, maybe even a week where the Bluefin will come nearshore, within 4-10 miles, but you’ll have to be either lucky or on top of your game to be there when that bite is on.
  • Rods & Reels: You don’t initially have to go crazy and buy $700 reels and $700 rods. Yes, in most cases quality and cost do go hand in hand, but for the newbie, for someone who wants to get on the water and give it a try there are 2-speed Penns, like the Squall 30 (cost around $300) and Penn Tuna Rods ($150-$200) that can get the job done for those on a budget. Go to your local tackle shop that specializes in offshore fishing and they can set you up with the proper line and top shot to use.
  • Lures: When you are starting out we would suggest to be prepared for 2 types of fishing. 1. Trolling 2. Throwing Plugs/Plastics at an active feeding frenzy. Today there are some great products on the market. The Side Tracker Bars are perfect for just about everyone, ESPECIALLY for those who are new to the game. We personally love and They both make very good quality products that are reliable and most importantly CATCH FISH. We would start out with 5 line spread. When you get more comfortable with your trolling skills, you can add more lines. The worse thing to do is get tangled. It usually happens at the WORST time, kills time fishing and occasionally will eliminate the use of a setup. So troll what you can control. As for colors, listen and learn from others. The usually go to colors are Rainbow, Zucchini, Black/Purple, Pink, Green. All of these colors should be in your repetare. There are also different types of squids you can troll such as machined squids or bulb squids. We will touch on this topic in another topic. When I’m trolling I’m usually using an 8-10 line spread. On days that the sea conditions are behaving, I may even go to 12 lines. I live to use at least 4 bars (2 on each side) and a deep bar down the center or a daisy chain down the center. Inside of the bars, I would usually either smaller bars or daisy chains. But there are TWO lures that I will never leave out of a spread. I will always use a Cedar Plug within the 2nd wake and a Deep Diver Lure (20+ feet). Tuna are not afraid of your boat, in fact, in some cases your boat will actually attract them. More often or not they will hit that plain ole unpainted Cedar plus that is set up in the wash. I love to use the Deep Diver under the set up because more times than not when there is a timid bite, that Deep Diver will get slammed.
So these are the BASICS. Each of these 4 sub topics can be expanded for days. The ONLY RIGHT WAY is the way you catch fish. I hope others will share their thoughts on the BASICS.

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