Georges Bank Tuna

Well boys the last few days have been very interesting to say the least. I am sure you all have heard, and maybe even seen some of the video, of the Georges Bank tuna bite that has been going on the last month and half. I have been so busy with charters that I did not get a chance to get in on this bite until this week. On Monday I headed out with my good friend Capt. Eddie Carreiro, who owns “Reel Attitude” out of Allens Harbor. We steamed out the 130 miles and got there in the late afternoon. We set up and made several drifts and the bite was very slow. The radio gave the news of the slow bite from the morning but we were here so we had to fish through it and hoped that we could get it done. I worked the pit and Capt. Eddie was on the controls and the fish finder. We never marked much of anything but we kept fishing hard. It was getting late and we heard about a few boats getting tight so we moved up through the fleet and found some bent rods. We started to get the baits out and we started to chum hard. The sun was setting and I knew we needed to get a bite. We set out the deep bait and as we were attaching the balloon a tuna grabbed the bait and ripped the line out of Pat’s hands. We were On!!! Eddie said he had marked them and as he turned to tell us we went tight. I got on the rod and Eddie powered the boat around and away from the fish. He made a short run and I had 46lbs of drag on him from the git go. The lights were going out and we were going to fight him into the dark. Capt. Eddie had his hands full because two other boats were fighting fish around us so this wasn’t going to be easy. We got the fish under control and had him up and down quickly but we couldn’t get him up. We spun and fought and started to gain some line. At the 30 minute mark we had the swivel hit the surface and I could see color in the spreader lights, nice fish for sure! I had the harpoon ready and told the guys that I would get off the rod and one of them would get on the reel. I really needed to get this fish. The pressure is always on when you are giant fishing but to come all this way and go home with nothing would be hard to take. I had the fish doing circles and the swivel came up again but he went down. I made up my mind that the next time he came up I would kick up the drag and get off the rod and stick him. On the next circle we got the swivel up again and I bumped up the drag to over 55lbs and I grabbed the poon. The fish was right there, all lit up in the spreader lights, but he was still deep. Two more cranks on the rod and the swivel was now two feet from the rod tip and the fish was straight up and down. I threw the poon at him and drilled him up high in his shoulder. The fish was ours! A 45 min. fight that seemed like 10 mins. My good friend Capt. Eddie did an awesome job on the wheel in the dark and in the fleet and it felt sooo good to get this fish. After all the years of tuna fishing this was my first fish as the angler. I have caught around 35 giants in my career but I always drive the boat and throw the harpoon, but today I got to have a little fun. I had brought a couple of my rods from the “Tammy Rose” and it was awesome to catch this fish on one of my rods. We got the tail rope on him, and swam him and went back to fishing. At 9:30 pm we got the fish up on the deck and he taped out at 85 inches even. Not huge but a nice fish and he looked good with a nice shape. We got the bite on a whole dead herring and I fished a Gamakatsu Gruoper hook with a 220lb test fluorocarbon leader. I love this hook and it was hammered home right in the corner hinge of the fish’s jaw. He weighed at the dock with no guts and gills but still had the head on at 340lbs. We had a minor issue with the boat so we decided to jog in at a slow speed through the night. It was a tough decision but when you are out that far and you have a problem you need to make the good call. I iced the fish up and we headed for home. We got back to Allen’s harbor around 1 pm on Tuesday. Let me tell you that is along ride brother. The buyer came down and said the fish looked good and it would ship. Hopefully we will do well on it.
After we got in I got a call from another boat captain who was looking for a mate. He was leaving at 8 pm, I said I would go and back out I went. Back to back trips. What was I thinking?!?!? I headed out at 8:30 pm with Capt. Ray Ransom on the “Lyndsy Liz” out of Bass River. The ride out was loooong. We took turns on the wheel and switched every two hours. We had the heat cranked up and the night seemed to drag on and on. It took forever to get there and my butt was already dragging. We hit the grounds at sun up and started fishing hard. Not a big morning bite but as we moved towards the slack you got the feeling that it was going to happen. Then like it always happens… nothing then …. something! Bang we went off! Ray yells, “Here we go!” And the rod just doubles over! We cleared the other lines and I got on the rod. The fish had made a good strong run into the Dacron and I started the process of reeling him back in. I got the fish back to the boat after 40 mins. and Ray and I switched off and I got on the controls and in about 15 mins we had color and I got on the leader and Ray drilled him threw the gill plates and he was ours. Man we were feeling good to get the first one on the boat. It’s such along ride out there to Georges Bank and the commitment of time and bait, and fuel is huge. One fish covers the expenses and a little for the bank. You need to catch at least two to make the trip work and of course you really want three. But hey, you can’t catch three until you catch one and we just did that. The fish was 104 inches so I would put him around 575 lbs. So back to the chum bucket I went and Ray got us back up on the numbers and we went back to fishing. We worked it hard and our spirits were high. About an hour later bang we go off again. As we were clearing our other lines the boat right behind us doubles up! The bite is on. We get on our fish hard and try and steer him away from the other boat. Ray chases him and we get him moving in the right direction. This fish had made a blistering run and took us way deep into the Dacron and I worked hard to get the line back. We got the fish away from the other boat and they had passed one of the rods to another boat so things were settling down nicely. I got the fish back to the boat and we had him straight up and down with nice steady drag. I was thinking this is great we can get our second fish and it’s only around 10:30 in the morning with lots of time left to catch our third. I was so pumped. Things were looking so good. The emotions you feel are indescribable. It was all coming together. Then it happened, Bwang!!! We broke him off. Just chaffed through the leader, probably gut hooked. Oh, that hurts. Oh you just want to die!!!! So back to the chum table I go. When that happens there is nothing to say or do except get back on the numbers and get it done again. We fished hard all the way until 7:30pm, well into the darkness but not another bite.
Normally coming home with a giant bluefin tuna on the deck is an awesome feeling, but when the ride home is 140 miles and 10 hours and 230 gallons of fuel, and you lost one, the feeling is just OK. I know you may not understand that but this was strictly a commercial trip and that is what Ray does so it was a little bit disappointing for both of us. The ride home was way loooong and the fatigue factor was very high for both of us. To make matters worse the heater went out and it was cold. I took the first tour on the wheel for three hours and then I got three hours of rest and then we went back into the two hour shifts. When you are running that far and you are staring at Radar and gps screens and a black, dark ocean, you have nothing to do but think. Man I wished we had caught that second fish, that would have made this trip a successful one. But hey the fish Gods gave and then they take. That is the game. I just spent 4 days fishing the Bank, something I have never done before and we caught fish so for me it was good and it was a great experience. It has been tough to listen to the stories from my buddies hand feeding these big fish and catching their 3 fish limit in 2 hours but hey, I was booked and fishing too. That is what I do, charter fish, and I was happy to have the charters and to have been busy. But it was still something that I wanted to have seen. Oh well.
We pulled into Bass River at 5:30am and had to wait our turn to unload. I was beat beyond beat and have a new appreciation for what these guys do. Ray fueled up, got bait and ice from his buyer and turned around and headed back out with another mate. He is hardcore and lives for this. I am glad to have been staying ashore. So that is my story and I have been to the Banks. It’s along way to go. I had some fun and fished my ass off and drove boats for hours upon hours. But that is what you do to chase the mighty bluefin tuna. “I will become one with the migration.” Have you seen that on Facebook? It’s a cartoon where a guy tells his wife that he has a Duffy and he is going to chase the mighty bluefin tuna and catch a 1000 pounder. Funny stuff. Hopefully we will get some closer action in the next few weeks and I will have a shot at some giants on my boat. Time will tell. Good luck. Capt. Eric

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