Approaching Slow Cruising Bluefin Tuna
Notes: Anglers often focus on big signs like fish finder marks, birds, crashing bait and whales when in an area of known action and life but forget to look at the subtleties of the water. A patch of dark water, nervous ripples, a bulge in the water, remnants of a boil and the slightest hint of a v-wake can mean big success. I can’t even count the times that by noticing and investigating a patch of funky or otherwise unusual water has saved the day, and not just with tuna.
When: I treat disturbances in the water much the same way the police treat a bank robbery. If you say it’s a gun, than you are charged as such, even if it’s a visible #64 rubber band. I’m happy with the odds even if they are 1 in 100. I may stop a dozen times in one trip. Eventually it pays off to stop and cast.
- V-wakes are the ultimate tell: They are subtle and hard to see but worth dropping everything to investigate
- How: You need to approach cruising tuna with the most care possible. A shearwater fart could spook these fish, they are so flighty! You want to idle to these fish carefully. Often these fish have been feeding and have taken a break. They can afford to be selective and are consequently very, very, very spooky.
- Study their direction: Pay attention to the direction they are heading. They often go up and down. If they go down, you have a decent chance at extrapolating where they might end up and you can make necessary preparations. Ideally, you are sitting ready for them.
- Go wide: Make an excessively wide loop, if necessary, to close some distance and possibly get a head of them so you are stopped by the time they get in casting range. That way you won’t spook them.
- Up wind: Try to approach from up wind if possible. This will allow you maximum distance when present to the fish.
- Careful Casting: Lead the fish by casting in front of the fish. Never drop it on the fish or have the shadow of the lure or line go over their backs. Air on the caution of too far in front of the fish rather than too close.
- Distance: Allow enough distance so the splash of the lure’s entry doesn’t spook the fish.
- Downsize the lure: Be ready to downsize your lure. Everything is in slow motion here and you are dropping the lure close to the fish so their ability to get a look at the lure is effectively doubled. If they are finding on small bait, air on the side of matching the hatch instead of airing on the side of visibility. Obviously visibility of the lure is a non-issue here. Also, a smaller, lighter lure makes less noise when it hits the water.
- Downsize the leader: You’ll also have to think about lightening your leader. Remember, everything is up front and personal and in slow-motion. A lighter leader will serve two purposes: A) Your smaller, lighter lure will have more action and B) your leader will obviously be less visible.
- Alcohol wipes: I am a big proponent of wiping down leaders with alcohol wipes, Maybe a couple times per trip. But, if I am targeting breezing, slow cruising fish, I wipe down every 5 minutes or so. I’m always amazed at how much leaders pick up from the air.