4th Annual Nantucket Bluefin Blast Tournament

Well once again the crew and clients on board the “Tammy Rose” had another awesome weekend fishing the 4th Annual Nantucket Bluefin Blast Tournament. We had returning clients that fished last year’s event on board who took second place and won for the biggest slot fish so expectations were high for this year’s event. Once again I had brother Matt and my son Corey as crew so things were on track. Two years ago we caught a 775lb bluefin but missed the wieght in after a 5 hour battle on a 70vs so we have had some good luck\badluck at this event. Matt and I steamed the “Tammy Rose” over to Nantucket on Friday with a big NE wind on our tail. At the beginning of the week the forecast for the weekend looked kind of tough but it had diminished so we were all feeling pretty good. I met the guys, Matt, Chris, Paul, and Andy on Friday night and we decided to leave at 4 am on Saturday. With no one fishing this past week it was going to be a crap shoot to where the fish were going to be.

I steamed out Saturday morning and the ride up to Chatham was perfect. I hit the Crab Ledge and found lots of bait and birds but didn’t see any fish. Sean on the “Bushwacker” hooked up out by the BC buoy and I reeled in and headed out there. I have been fishing a big hump out there last week and have pulled a few fish from that area. I pulled in and let the lines out and got on the troll. Meanwhile last year’s winner, “Kaitlins” called in a fish as well as “Waterboy” so we needed to get a bite quickly. I looked at the spread and realized that the two corner rods were reversed and the green chain was on the right and should be on the left. I had the mates move the two rods and I was happy with what was going on behind my boat. About 10 minutes later the left long corner rod goes off and we are tight!! The green chain that I just moved got bit. Crazy. We get that fish to the boat and get the release on a 46 inch fish and we are on the board. The spread goes back out and about 10 minutes later we get a fish up on the right long rigger. The fish came at it 4 times and finally we were on fish #2. Chamleon, my favorite bar. We get that fish to the boat and again get the release on a mid 40 inch fish. Now we are pumped. 2-2 and its only like 8:30am and we are going to fish until 4pm. We were in 1st place and I just wanted to keep catching fish. Long and short is that we got one more bite on the short left red Iguana and we sat back and listened and watched other boats hook-up and we couldn’t get another fish to the boat. So at the end of the first day we had 2 fish and second place on time, “Kaitlins” was in first with 4 fish, and “Starfish” was in third with 2 fish also. Steaming in I knew we needed a big day on Sunday to catch up to “Kaitlins”.

Sunday was the decision day for me. Do I chase the other boats to the south or go back up north where I had the fish yesterday. I made the decision to go North. Today we had two new crew members onboard as Andy and Paul had to leave the island for business trips. Jeff and Josh joined the crew for today’s trip. We got on the numbers from yesterday and we soon heard “Starfish” go tight way down to the south of us. I checked the plotter and he was 26 miles away. Oh boy!?!?! Did I make a mistake? We just got knocked into third place. Next I watched “Fatal Attraction” hook-up right next to us and he boated his 2 second fish for the tourney. The pressure was mounting and I really needed a bite. I had made the decision to stay on my numbers and pound it out even as I listened to boat after boat call in their bites to the south. “Starfish” jumped on another fish and he had tied Kaitlins with 4 only to have them catch another fish and move ahead with 5. At about 8:30 we were discussing the pros and cons of splash bars vs. ballyhoo when a fish exploded on the right short rigger, the new big black Playaction Hawk bar, and we were tight!!! The guys sprung to life and we fought the fish to the boat and got him up on deck to take a good measurement. The fish taped out just under 59 inches. It couldn’t possibly be any longer for us to keep so we decided to kill it and weight it in for the rec. category biggest fish. From the beginning we had decided to fish in the rec. category because that was where the most money was and the only way to win the tourney was with the most releases. This year a big fish really wasn’t worth anything other than a release points.

We were all pumped up now and we had a lot of fishing ahead of us so back on the troll we went. We felt that that fish might give us a shot at the big fish prize money as it was so long. We needed to beat 124lbs so I was hopeful. So we are now in third place with 3 fish when another boat catches their third fish. So once again we feel the pressure. Meanwhile Starfish continues to catch fish and he is now up to 5 fish. So on the troll we go as the hours pass.

I love trolling. I love how you go from nothing to the whole world exploding in a milli second. I was looking forward at the gps and I was headed for my waypoint right on the top of the seamount out in 400 plus feet of water when I hear someone yelling from the cockpit. I turn around and I see a fish swirl on the short left corner but before I can say anything I see this absolute slob pile onto the right long rigger and then another huge fish, a true giant, piling onto the left long rigger. The two mates were running from rod to rod and suddenly the left long, Keywest Special splash bar, gets absolutely crushed by a huge fish. The typical Volkswagen hole that only a big fish can leave was all that was left on the surface as the outrigger clip popped and the Okuma 80WII started to dump line at warp speed. We were into the dacron in seconds as he made a 200 yard run in no time. We started to clear the spread and I had the “Tammy Rose” in full reverse chasing this monster down. I was watching my other spreader bars go by the boat towards the bow as I was yelling to get everything in the boat. Then it hit me. Like a cold chill. No, not again!!! I am fighting a giant bluefin tuna and I am not going to get the victory. We can’t keep this fish because I have the slot fish on board in the ice. Second time in three years that I am fighting a giant in this tournament, and I can’t win anything with this won either. But we need the release, we need to get the leader and get it on film. I chased this fish like it was a sailfish. I darted and turned the “Tammy Rose” and had her on the fish hard. 35 minutes into the fight we saw the fish. Easy 400 lbs and probably bigger. I yelled out 400lbs and everyone said it was bigger. I will never know, it was a big fish. We got the leader and the release at the hour mark but I didn’t want to break the fish off with the spreader bar on him so we spent another 40 minutes fighting him. Corey put the rod in the rod holder and put the boots to him with the Okuma 80WII. My stand up rod was once again put to the test and Corey had well over 40lbs of drag on this fish. I watched as the rod tip bent over and I swear it was in a half circle. You got to love Seaker Blanks!!!! I named it the “BFT” rod for a reason!! It doesn’t just stand for “BlueFin Tuna” if you know what I mean?!?! Corey did an awesome job and we got the fish to the boat and got the bar back and cut the leader and left just the hook lodged in the corner of his mouth. He was still very fired up on the leader but stunned a little and took a second or two to kick and swim away but I clearly saw him turn and take off quickly so I knew he would be alright.

Wow!! A true giant on a spreader bar on a stand-up rod in a tournament, again!?!?! I guess I will never learn. I can tell you one thing, I loved my Okuma reels before this fish but I really love them now!! That Okuma 80W kicked some serious butt. We had huge drag on that fish and we had way more left to go on the lever before we were maxed out. The drag is so smooth, that reel performed flawlessly. This was our 5th fish over 73 inches for this season and by far the biggest. We were all laughing about the Keywest Special being the one to catch the big fish but that color has always been good for me. When we started to talk about the bite no one else saw the little fish hit the green chain. We had three fish up at once. That is crazy.

Well we got the spread back out with just around an hour left till lines out and we just wanted to hang on to 3rd place with our 4 fish. “Starfish” had caught another fish so they went ahead with 6 and “Kaitlins” was now in 2nd place with their 5 fish. At 3 pm we reeled in and headed for the scales in Nantucket to weigh in our little fish. It only hit the 119 mark. We took Third place so my customers won their money back and then some so they were pretty happy. “Kaitlins” took third and “Starfish” took 1st place with a total of 6 fish, with 4 fish being caught on Sunday. Great job Jay Starr and crew. This tourney is one of the best run and truely is a sportsman tourney with great efforts from great crews. I want to thank Jonas Baker and the staff at Slip 14 for putting this event on and making it so great. Good job buddy. Again, it was an adventure to say the least. Capt. Eric

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