7/18/07 Tuna Report [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: 7/18/07 Tuna Report

07-19-2007, 10:12 AM
Well made plans with a friend of Jim W.'s to meet in PLymouth and go out to look for Tuna in CC Bay yesterday. My original plan was to go with another guy in his boat but he cancalled on Tuesday due to the fog forecast. I checked the forecast over and over and it looked like it was going to be doable so I went. Left Tuesday night @ 10:45 pm. arrived at the Plymouth ramp @ 2:00 am. crawled in the back seat and tried to sleep for a few hours. Got up around 4:00 am. and as soon as Chuck arrived we were off. We ended up finding many tuna about 9 mi. outside of Plymouth Harbor. We fished these fish for several hours with only a couple of fish attempting to take a popper on the spin rod. We really couldn't get close enough with the flyrods to make a serious attempt with that gear although I did try and got into them 1-2 times. But no joy there either. At around 10:30 am. the fog rolled in on us and we had maybe 25-30 ft. visibility. So now is when the tuna decide to have the mother of all surface feeds. All around the boat 360 deg. we could here these massive blitzes going on but could not see them. We tried to motor around and get on them but it was futile. These fish I found to be very skittish and getting anywhere within 50 yds. of them would cause them to stop feeding. We saw fish up to 200+ lbs. but the majority of them were in the 50-75 lb. class. We tried the SW corner of Stellwagen and only saw 2-3 pods of fast moving fish. The fishing ledge was completely devoid of life. On the way back west to PLymouth Chuck asks me as we had stopped for a fish that had jumped "What is that noise"? I listen and try to determine what the noise is. He says it is your antenna. So I turn the radio off, but thenoise persisted. That is when I realized what it was. Static electricity was building around my boat.....:whoa: So I immediately put the antenna down but now the rods in the rod holders are buzzing like high tension wires. So we put them on the deck and I tell Chuck hold on we gotta get out of here. I ran at full throttle for several miles praying we didn't get zapped. We stopped after 3-4 mi. and rechecked for static and it had vanished but I was sufficiently freaked out and with the rain coming down steady I said lets call it a day. We had fog for about 1.5 hrs. the whole time tuna fed all around us with wild abandon. After the fog lifted that was pretty much it for the tuna sightings. If we could have stayed out I think maybe the afternoon bite might have been productive but with the sketchy weather I chose to be safe than sorry. The water conditions were perfect flat calm all day and the wind was a non-issue. It was fun to get out and see them but disappointing not to hookup.

07-19-2007, 12:11 PM
I was out too, but never saw a fish. Launched out of Scituate and headed to the NWC. Ran all the way down to the SWC and back. Lots of whales, lots of bait, no surface tuna. Due to weather, I headed back around 1030. Wish I was on the fish you found and I am glad they are still around. Anyone going this weekend that wants to share intel, let me know. Thanks.


07-19-2007, 03:23 PM

Good to hear you found them. Sorry they weren't too cooperative. At least you got a few casts out of the 15wt. Really hoping we get a fresh influx of bait and another good run before the year is out. Be very cool to have the bluefin and bass all off Race Point in the fall like Montauk on steroids. Looks like this weekend is a blowout which is kind of good considering I don't know if my trailer is going to be ready.


07-19-2007, 03:43 PM
Sounds like you had a close call! I believe what you heard was St Elmo's Fire. If it was dark you would have probably seen the glowing ball at the top of your antenae and rods.
I have had the pleasure of experiencing it once myself while climbing over a dune on Plum Island. My rod tip glowed with a big green ball that had a very nasty sounding buzz. Needless to say I hit the sand double quick and slithered on my belly off the dune. Mean time all hell broke loose with wind, hail, torrential rains and multiple lightning strikes on the tip of the jetty. I cowered in a hollow, flat on my belly and carefully examined the folly of my life. I think it was as close to combat as I ever hope to be.:roll:

So what does everyone think about the tunas' lockjaw? Too many boats harrassing them?

07-19-2007, 07:21 PM
FWIW, I think the fog made getting the right setup impossible. Tuna are very fussy about the direction of the presentation, just like bass on the flats. I wouldn`t eat a piece of food that came charging at me either!
I wouldn`t think of chaseing tuna without metals, Yozuri Hydro metals , in particular. The hooks look a little light but held up to that bluefin and came back like new. I`ve caught Albies, Bones and Bluefin on them. They`re discontinued so I`m grabbing up every one I can get my grubby little fingers on, if you know of some sitting on a shops shelf somewhere let me know!

07-19-2007, 07:38 PM
The strange thing about the weather was we had no prior warning that we might be in an electrically rich environment??? All I know is I figured out what was going on in time and got the hell out of there ASAP. As far as the Tuna I am not completely in agreement with Steve on this one. The Tuna when they are feeding are coming from all directions and presentation is of less a concern for me as getting the fly/lure into them when they are "competitively" feeding. That is the key they have to be competing with each other for the available food source or else I think you will find yourself fishless. Most of the fish we saw on Wed. were just porpoising and feeding lazily on the surface, I have never had any luck hooking up when they are in that mode. We did see some nice surface ripping/crashing going on but were never close enough to get an offering into the mix. The one time I did the damn shearwater flew right into my line and ended any hope of a hookup. Those stupid birds are the worst I have ever seen, they just don't give up on your lure/fly until you get it back to the boat. Plus they will dive down and swim to get it as well. DUMB animals. If we could have seen the fish that were blitzing in the fog I am certain we would have boated some fish.

07-19-2007, 08:05 PM
If it was anyone but you, and a few others, I might be upset. But when the Wise man speaks only a fool dosen`t heed. Let me explain further, 1: Why do tuna fishers spend so much effort and time to swing way wide and stealthly sneak in front of the pod if direction were not important? 2: Why would a tuna change direction to chase a fleeing bait when all they want is right in front of thier nose? 3: Tuna feed by overtaking the bait from behind, be it FA`s, Bones or Bluefin. In my shorebound days on the Walls the biggest mistake I witnessed was people casting where they were or trying to get a crossing shot at fish zooming by. I allways had better sucess casting parallell to the wall ,well ahead of the fish and ripping the bait thru the water straight away from them. You cannot retrieve fast enough to escape a charging tunoid.

07-19-2007, 08:09 PM
The trip with Sean when we were throwing needles we had 2 or 3 Shearwaters paddling along pecking at the plug the whole retrieve. Cute the first time but a real PIA after a couple of minutes.

07-19-2007, 09:08 PM
I may have a line on hydro minnows. If you are interested pm me and I'll send you the particulars.
Larry aka Shadfreak

07-19-2007, 09:21 PM
I meant no disrespect of your opinion just thought I would inject mine into the fray. I think your observations are spot on with regard to shore bound tunoid angling. But i think thing's are a bit different out in the open water as I have seen all 4 species of tunoids in our waters do very different things at different times. I think when pinned against a structure be it a breakwall or a reef the baitfish will do the only sane thing and that is run away. In this scenario the tuna have no choice but to pursue and attack from behind the fleeing baitfish. But when in open water there are no impediments to fleeing in any direction, this is why I think the tuna will feed in a teamwork kind of way. They will herd and ball the bait into a small pod and then they attack that pod from all directions, when I have seen this occur on many occasions the bait goes in all directions, kind of a self preservation technique so to speak. The tuna on the other hand are just blasting through the ball/pod with mouths agape and inhaling everything in their path. We saw some of this on Wed. from a distance except the one occasion when they surfaced near the boat. They had the bait all penned up in a small group and commenced with the slaughter from every direction possible. This is also when I believe you have the best chance of hooking up as they are feeding competitively and without regard for much else but their own greedy stomachs.

07-19-2007, 11:25 PM
Don`t misunderstand me Mike. What I meant was that anyone who dosen`t listen when you have something to say is missing out. I have the highest regard for anything you pass along. Your one of the few that can make me change my mind. Even when fish are blitzing in all directions, the pod,et al, is heading in one direction and the best shot is to get in front of them, in limited visability I don`t know how you could pull it off. Just an aside, the first time Sean and I hooked up on the Bluefin at the entrance of the bay was in a pea soup fog and we could hear fish blitzing all around us but couldn`t see to the end of the boat. After a half hour of drifting round trying to figure out what it was the fog suddenly lifted and we were in the middle of hundreds of tuna crashing the surface. I broke off 2, needless to say Sean put one in the boat.

07-20-2007, 08:19 AM
I have to agree that the approach to the fish should be dictated 100% on how they are feeding. Since we are fishing with flies only, any mistakes on the approach get magnified because we need to get within 75 feet.

The head-on shot/let them come to you is definitely choice if they are feeding on the move. Tough to get in position when they are feeding that way but when you see 3-4 of them come up in formation to the fly, one of them is going to take it.

I have read a lot of speculation that getting "too close" to the fish, approaching from the side, back, etc 'puts them down'. My experience is most of the time they just do not stay up that long to begin with. We have had times earlier this year where the motor is idling and fish are airborne all around the boat (like almost bouncing off it) long enough to get 6-7 long casts into the sweet spot (and not hook up :( ).

If we see them piling in on a baitball from all directions as Mike mentions, or ripping just under the surface and leaving rooster tails, we are going to try to get fairly close regardless of where the blitz seems to be moving.

One thing is for sure - the guy at the wheel has just as much if not more to do with hooking up as the guy on the bow. They are frustraing, tough fish but SO much fun to try and 'figure out'!

07-20-2007, 09:54 AM
I think everyone is right on this one. Here is my take:

From looking at the Gulf of Maine photos, underwater video of tuna feeding, and my own on the water observations I believe tunoids feed using a variety of methods depending on the bait they are targeting and overall conditions. An 8lb albie feeding in a few feet of water along the edge of a flat or break wall on silversides will most likely behave differently than a 150lb bluefin targeting bait in 100'+ of water.

For the breakwall/shore based stuff I think Slinger is spot on. Determine the direction of the fish and get your fly out ahead of them. I don't mean to say fishing from shore is easy but to me the hard part there is finding them and positioning yourself to intercept them. A lesson in patience and resolve to say the least.

Targeting the fish from a boat is as Dave said really about cooperation and communication between the guy in the bow and the guy at the helm. I have found fish racing across the surface in a formation as well as balling up the bait and feeding up through the bait from below. The good news is to me the approach is generally the same. Get ahead of them and drift into the action without notifying them of your presence. Here are my general rules of engagement. By no means is this the only way and there are always exceptions but for the most part this is how I do it.

Never approach directly from down wind. If you have breaking fish up wind give them a wide berth (200-500yds) and motor ahead so you can set up a drift. This often means motoring well above the pod as I find they often feed into the wind and I do not want to spook the leading edge that will most often be feeding ahead of the surface action unseen. If you try to approach directly on you will make a lot more hull slap noise (which I think is worse than the motor) and you will be forced to go way above an acceptable rpm level of 1200-1500 max (this is on a very quite four stroke).

Once you are up wind of the fish try and determine the direction they are moving in and position your boat to drift along side the edge of the school and not directly into them. This will often have them feeding right along side the boat and maximize the number of presentations you can make. I leave the motor idling most of the time as I may make small corrections at less than 1000 rpm being careful to make a clean shift into gear minimizing any unwanted motor noise.

Under extreme circumstances such as very calm days I will double the distances for the wide berth and take the rpms down almost in half. There are days where within 200yds I barely have the boat in gear at about 600rpms and will slowly make my way toward a pod of fish if they are staying up long enough. If not I will not ruin the situation by going faster. In that case I will try and find some bait in the area and stay with it. Eventually the fish should find it and you will get your shot.

To summarize, patience is the key. Some may call it running and gunning but IMO if done is this manner you can fish the same pods all day and they will remain up as long as they were going to if you weren’t even there.

07-20-2007, 10:15 AM
Awesome thread.

07-20-2007, 12:03 PM
Mike, good to see you off Wednesday, wish I could have made the trip but had to work so it was a short trip for me, just a few Bass and a lot of fog. I had the chip out of my GPS to download the last tuna trip in the computer so let's just say it was a slightly more challenging commute to work than normal.

Glad you got so at least see/hear them, there have been days I've driven around the whole bay and not seen a thing.

I think when they are feeding on the spike macks you get more of a bait ball and the tuna feed more aggressively as a team than say silversides or sandeels that just can't escape as easily. When they are feeding in that pig pile fashion and staying up for 30 seconds or so it's much easier to hook up than when they are pushing along.

On the lightning subject - I wonder if it might be better to leave the rods upright, otherwise your head becomes the highest object?

MikeZ - your description of face down in the sand brought back memories of getting caught in a storm out on a 4wd beach. We'd made 2 trips out for 3 families, a little fishing, little fun on the beach for the kids, etc... A mother of a T-storm rolled towards us and we sent the girls back with the kids 10 in total in my Jeep. That left me and a buddy out on the beach with all the gear. We took a bundle of surf rods and put them up next to some fencing and got away from them quick, figuring that would be the highest point, not us.
When that storm rolled over us, I was in the sand in a big way, the stikes nearby were loud enough to make your head hurt, I never even looked up. Can't even imagine being caught in that out on the water.

07-20-2007, 05:38 PM
This feeding into the wind is something that I hear quite often, is it fact or hypothesis? I don`t have sufficent time at this to know, but if it`s only 80% true it could prove a big advantage in setting up.
I love a good lightning show, one time had a strike right next to me! I`m getting more cautious in my old age, now I prefer to be surrounded by metal pearched on 4 rubber tires.

07-20-2007, 06:10 PM

I have attempted to validate that fact through the GPS and to some degree have. I also think the idea is clouded/compounded by the fact that even if the fish stay in the same place you have to travel back into the wind to get ahead of them as you would have drifted down wind. So unless they feed down wind if you travel back into it for the most part you are getting back into position to where the fish are/were feeding. Nothing is an exact science here but if I had no GPS and suddenly found myself without fish I would head into the wind first on my search mission to locate the ones I lost.


07-20-2007, 06:11 PM
What I find interesting is the fact that all the reports I'm seeing are the same - still lots of tuna but nobody's hooking up.
For a couple of weeks it seemed they were hot to bite and now they're not. What gives?

As far as experiencing lightning up close, my attitude has changed over the years. At the time of the storm I described above, I was a much more "Hungrey" fishermen. Back then, a forcast of thunderstorms just meant less other fishermen to get in my way.:lildevl:
These days I have too many "ongoing projects" to risk getting cashed in early.:tsk_tsk:

07-21-2007, 02:01 PM
I was out this morning, didn't head to the SW corner for obvious weather reasons. We were on the 140' line and marked large fishy objects and streaks on the fish finder. Birds were hovering over the same schools, might have been blues in the mix but with the size of the returns I'd say tuna were just down feeding on that line. FWIW - temp was 57 inside with a break to 65 at the 140 line.

07-23-2007, 02:45 PM
This feeding into the wind is something that I hear quite often, is it fact or hypothesis?

My observations have show this to be the case for tunoids, bass and bluefish feeding in open water when there is wind. When the wind is light or calm, they seem to move in a circular fashion. These observations are based on after the fact review of my GPS track logs in conjunction with observed wind direction notes.

My theory - since this seems to happen in open water where there is no significant physical structure or significant current - is that there is a surface current created by wind. It is probably easier for gamefish to catch bait by approaching from down current, causing the bait to swim against the current.