Problem Solving: Bottom Grubbing Tuna on Sand Eels
“I was marking fish down deep. Very deep and very close to the bottom. I couldn’t catch any.”
Sometimes Bluefin will key in on sand eels at or near the bottom. You can tell this is happening if you catch a tuna with a scraped up nose. The scrapes are from tuna “grubbing” on the bottom stirring up sand eels to feed on. I typically see this situation only once or twice in a season, though sometimes more frequently. Although this is a very niche problem to have, it is still worth talking about as it is a phenomenon that happens up and down the East Coast. Regardless of where you encounter this phenomenon, your playbook is the same and it’s relatively easy in that you fish an olive or bone Harness Eel Jig just a few feet off the bottom, very slowly. If cod or dogfish are a problem, switch to dead-sticking. Sometimes slowing the jig to a stop will slow them down. Also, to speed the process of culling off the unwanted catches, have extra rods rigged with the same lure so you can drop one while the other is coming up. The hard part is fighting a large tuna that was hooked in 275 feet of water :).