by Roby Holland (aka the Old Man in the Sea)
For those of you who don't know I have an obsession for fishing. In the last couple of years I have honed my skills targeting Stripers and Bluefish in and around Duxbury MA. This year a friend and I decided to make a go at some Bluefin Tuna on Stellwagon Bank which is about 17 nm from Duxbury Bay.
We headed out at 5:30am towards the grounds with some iffy weather. The total trip took us 35 mins and the seas were between 2 to 3 ft. Once at the location we hooked up the bait and let them swim. It was only about 5 minutes till the first fish took the bait. It was a very large and strong Bluefish, that once brought boat side, broke thru the 80lbs floro leader and took off. Next two fish were Stripers and were both between 25 and 30lbs respectively. We hung around for a while longer with some hits but not the type of hits we were looking for, so we moved into deeper water.
Once we made it to deeper water our luck changed. The bird activity picked up to a frantic pace and the water began to come alive. Baits in the water, it was time to wait for a hook up and we did not have to wait long. My friend's bait disappeared in a wash of white foam and his line began to peel off his reel faster than anything I had ever witnessed before. We had hooked a Tuna!!! I put the boat in gear and began to chase down the fish, with my buddy reeling as fast as he could, but it wasn't long before we realized that this was a large Tuna. Once we were on the Tuna my friend began to try to muscle it in with no luck. The fish pinned him to the rail of the boat and only let him stand up to get some line when it wanted him to. After about 20 minutes of fighting, the rod was passed over to me. It wasn't until I had full control or thought I had full control of the rod that I realized how powerful these fish are. I consider myself to be in fairly good shape and this fish would not let me gain any ground on him at the beginning of the battle. I would try to stand and lean into the rod to get some line only to be pulled back down to the rail with authority. It was thrilling to say the least, until our luck began to change. I noticed that the reel began to move to the side of the rod as I reeled and I tried to tighten up the seat with no luck. The fish had started to break the rod and so the fight became more difficult. We began to gain some ground on the fish and knew we were getting close to getting this fish boat side, or so we thought. The fish began to give me a tour of my boat (literally) pinned to the rail he it went starboard aft, I went starboard aft and then back up to the bow of the boat. It made a quick dart around the bow as I lifted the rod, the line caught on the bow eye and SNAPPED!!!!! That's it….. as fast as it started it was gone. The ride back was a nasty painful hour and half ride into 4ft+ swells. It gave us plenty of time to understand what had just happen. We had hooked on to the freight train of the Atlantic.
Here are three pic from my adventure. First one is where I think I have the upper hand, second is where I know I don't and third is where I'm wondering if it was a wise choice to go after a fish that potentially weighs 1/3 of my boats capacity! Good times had by all…even the tuna.
P.S. Bluefin are a highly fished species. Please do your part to only harvest fish you need and return the rest for another day.