Capt. Mike’s Bluefin Tuna Report – July 26, 2016

Monday was a perfect day to play hookey, which I did with my old friend Chris Burden. We met at 0415 for the usual sundries at 711 (coffee and a sleeve of 7 bags of ice). Our plan was to start with the fleet that has been doing well with bluefin South of MV by The Dump. We arrived at about 6AM. We brought both “Jig and Pop” and trolling gear with us and we decided to start with the spinning rods. We stuck with it for about an hour and a half and all we had to show for it was a pitch to a semi interested white marlin and a tuna I swung and missed on that picked up a 6oz Harness Jig on the drop near birds. Speaking of which, there were pods of birds all over the place. People saw some fish jump. I MAY have seen one or two.

Anyway, after hearing that some guys hooked up, we switched over to trolling by about 8AM. A good friend of mine, John Burns on Relentless, had just taken one on an SI Green Machine Bird Bar, so that was the first lure we put out. We put it WAY WAY back just like he said he had it. After about 20 minutes, the long rigger with the same sand eel machine bird bar went off with a very decent-sized “over” fish. We had a few other crashes too. We teased that fish up by surging the boat near a pile of birds.

CaptMike_Dump_BFT

This was not a Salty Cape film trip, so we took our time bleeding the fish followed by a couple of early morning Cisco Whale’s Tales (my lucky tuna beer). The fish we landed coughed up massive amounts of sand eels and surprisingly some juvenile mud hake. Needless to say, it was no surprise that they came in on the sand eel colored machine as both baits are olive-ish in color. We feathered in more sand eel colors and trolled for another hour. It seemed like the bite had slowed down and we had dinner for Chris’ cookout in a large fish bag on ice, so we figured we should wander off and cruise around looking for the life that disappeared.

The bluefin seemed to prefer the Machine Bird Bars, as they resemble sand eels.
The bluefin seemed to prefer the Machine Bird Bars, as they resemble sand eels.

I implemented a “ladder” cruising pattern and worked my way east for a few miles, then north, then east etc and found birds again. We put lines in and within 20 minutes, we had a double hook up with two more “overs” and 1 under. We boated 2 out of the three. We lost one at the transom being silly. Each fish came in on Olive Colored 40” Flexi Bars and littered my boat with sand eels. After a release we were ready for more action (and a second round of Whale’s Tales!). By then, John Burns on Relentless and Terry Nugent of Riptide Charters, who each had the same plans, showed up and hooked up shortly thereafter. Great day!

Chris Burden with an "over"-sized bluefin.
Chris Burden with an “over”-sized bluefin.

A few observations:

1) They wanted olive colors. We had a lot of crashes through out the day, just about everyone was on olive. I guess we caught 1 fish on our shrimp color, which is a favorite south of MV bluefin color of mine.
2) We were surging the boat a lot. We would slow down, accelerate the boat while dropping back briefly. For some reason, this technique drew a lot of strikes.
3) We fished everything back further than we have been.
4) We found better success trolling down sea.
5) We saw very few signs of actual fish, but we worked the mammals and it paid off.
6) Here’s my spread:

MV_OliveSpread_GreenMachine

Port Flat Line: 6oz Olive Harness Jig
Port Inside Rigger: Olive 40” Flexi Bar Squid Bar
Port Outside Rigger: Green Mack 40“ Flexi Bar Squid Bar
Way Back Center Rigger: Green Machine Splash Bird Bar
STB Outside Rigger: Olive 40” Flexi Bar Squid Bar
STB Inside Rigger: Shrimp 40” Flexi Bar Squid Bar
STB Flat Line: 6oz Olive Harness Jig

Green Machine Bird Bars are very effective south of Martha's Vineyard.
Green Machine Bird Bars are very effective south of Martha’s Vineyard.

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