With the latest episode of National Geographic’s new “Wicked Tuna” show set to air tonight, I thought I would offer a comment or two. First the rhetoric being casually thrown about on this show as “endangered” is incorrect and like most media hype is being used to incite attitudes designed to enhance contributions to “green” based non governmental organizations. In addition, not all commercial fishermen are as selectively depicted in the show. That said, it is entertaining, even though the unknowing watcher is being misled by much of what is being said. So I will again be critically watching if I can, and as my season gets closer, focusing on the real “Wicked Pissa Tuna”, which feeds heavily just east of my harbor all summer and fall ! As soon as I post this, I’m going to go pick up some hook baits of nice fat big Mackeral !
The outer edge of Cape Cod sticks into the Atlantic Ocean, and waves upon waves of sand eels, menhaden and herring schools dart into and around the eddies, weed lines and ocean currents around the structures located on the bottom just east of Cape Cod’s land mass. Attracted by this plethora of teeming, swimming food source is the majestic Bluefin tuna. Commonly reaching weights of over 1000 pounds these remarkable fish feed heavily in the nutrient rich waters to the east and north of Cape Cod. Although heavily overfished in the European countries, recent improvements in Bluefin Tuna management are having good results. US fishermen are restricted by artisanal methods of either hook and line, or harpoon to harvest and for over 25 years have been the most conservative harvesters of any tuna fishers on the planet. Any overage to established US annual quotas are subtracted from the next years quota. We catch these fish by trolling, vertical jigging, live bait, chumming and casting. Wherever you find the bait, you will find bluefin. These fish are here for one purpose and that is to eat. Live bluefish, cod, whiting, mackerel, herring, etc all work well for enticing a finicky bluefin to crash the bait. When chumming we use mostly herring, but whatever we can get in bulk to attract the fish under the boat works. I have heard of tuna following sea scallop boats to feed on the shucked guts. My favorite bait is a live herring just jigged up off the bottom, swimming in herring chum slick! Our recreational charters are usually trolling trips, with some vertical jigging thrown in when conditions are right. We use a “squid rig”, a thin stainless or titanium bar with a tapering pattern of vinyl squids tied onto it, that has one hook in the last squid in line. This “rig” splashes along on the surface and attracts the tuna up from below. We commonly see the tuna “crash” the rig as the fish explodes out of the water to hit the lure. Tuna are aggressive, instinctive and live a long time. The bigger and older ones have seen some of our tricks and have likely been hooked before. Presentation is key to be consistently successful. I believe early or late in the day will produce better results than when the sun is high in the sky. If you decide you want to try a tuna charter, plan to get to bed early and leaving a couple hours before dawn, bringing a big lunch, and a big cooler to put your sashimi in for the ride home.
Capt. Bruce & “Marilyn S”