Catching Early and Late Season Big Eye
Fishing in November and December is a nice thought from the humid confines of August and July. However, finding the weather window, the participants, and generating success are something different entirely. We were lucky enough to have a combination of all 3 this past week and it paid off with the results we were looking for. Below is a quick run down and recap of the trip and some tips that I think helped us get a fish of a lifetime.
With the closure of the Giant Tuna quota came a small canyon weather opening that we decided to take advantage. Why not just a mere 130 miles??? Here’s what we did to get ready.
- 10 flats of butterfish or herring chopped at the dock
- 10 leaders pre made between 130lb test to 80lb test fluorocarbon
- Leaders blacked, crimped/tied all ahead of time
- 4 designated rods with fresh wet packed top shots
With the lonnnnng cold nights and short days, you want to limit the amount of work you do while the bite is happening. In this case, the fish were feeding between 6am to 6pm. As 6am came and went, 4 lines were baited and set out. It wasn’t long before us and the rest of the fleet were tight to small school bluefin between 50 and 90 pounds. With birds circling, squid boats dragging, mammal life everywhere we were feeling confident that the east wall of Hudson Canyon would keep producing throughout the day.
After several small bluefin releases, we decided to regroup while we daytime for Swords. This way we could chop the rest of our bait, redo leaders, stretch them and clean up for the final 5 to 6 hours of the day bite. As luck would have it our good friends on REVENANT boated an absolute monster of a Big Eye as soon as we sent down for our first drop. Later they said the fish was OVER 300 lbs. and taped out at 77’’!
Needless to say, we quickly finished our deep drop (even though we hooked and fought a fish for a half hour) and immediately reset on the drift where the tunas were. Signified by high flying/circling birds and frequent passes by squid draggers we knew we were in the right spot. As they descended along with our hook baits, it didn’t take long before the BIG half-moons showed up on the screen right at 200-300 ft depth. One important fact is when fishing dead baits at this depth you MUST be sure to hide the hooks and sew the mouth and gills shut! Like deep dropping this stops baits from spinning and presents it naturally. If they don’t look absolutely perfect, they aren’t even worth sending down.
With 4 pristine baits dangling in the water column we felt confident our number would be called. Promptly at 2:45 our battle began as 900 ft of line was ripped from our LP that was fishing deeper in the water column. The speed on the take and line that was dumped clearly indicated a 200+ lb. tuna. As the deep color of the fish pinwheeled higher up, the bright blue turned to a dull bronze evident of big eye. The boys were lined up in their places as the end game unfolded. One quick kill shot on the harpoon and a tail gaff and our prize was tied off on the cleat. Amidst the mayhem it took us all a moment to grasp the true size of this big eye – 75’’ long and 60” around. Plugging out at 211 lbs. Enjoy the pictures!