We spent 15 minutes on the phone with Capt. Terry Nugent to discuss casting to topwater tuna with the Charter Grade Slider, out East of Chatham, from his trip on October 14, 2019 and here’s what we found out..
Capt. Terry Nugent
Location: East of Chatham has been producing tuna in the 55 to 65-inch range. The tuna have been keyed in on 4 to 5-inch sand eels. Look for birds working the surface and breaking tuna.
Tides: No correlation between the tides, wind or current. The topwater bite remained consistent the entire time Terry and the crew were out there. Constant surface action and small schools of topwater tuna.
Approach: To locate these fish, look for circling and diving birds. Because the sand eels are in the 4 to 5-inch range, look for medium sized birds working the surface. This should be a good indicator that you’re approaching a slow cruising, top water school. On foggy, windy days like we’ve had on the Cape the last few weeks, use your radar to mark birds and head east.
Rigging/Lure Selection: 6oz Charter Grade Slider
Why This Bait? The first instinct was to match the hatch with any and all sand eel imitator jigs on board but nothing was working. The Charter Grade Slider in purple was the only lure they would take, most likely due to its high visibility and contrasting colors. It acted as a last ditch effort and worked well for Terry two weeks ago when the tuna were keyed in on a different bait in the same area.
The beauty of fishing with these heavy sliders is that the action is built into the lure, it’s really a plug and play retrieve.
Colors: Purple. Unlike the traditional colors of the sand eels that the tuna were keyed in on, the contrasting and highly visible purple lead to aggressive strikes and hook ups when casting to topwater tuna.
Retrieve: It was more the retrieve than anything that helped Terry and the crew hook up as many times as they did. Once the school is in sight, the most common practice is to get in front of the school and cast in the direction that they are moving. Cast out, long sweep of the rod tip, reel up the slack, let the lure sink and continue again with a long sweep of the rod tip, reel up the slack and let the lure sink. A very pronounced pause when the lure hits the water is what will get the fish to eat. In fact, every single tuna ate on the pause.
In these specific conditions, a slow/medium to medium/fast retrieve is recommended but implementing pauses and changing the retrieve speed throughout each cast can stir up commotion and draw a reaction strike. After you’ve made your cast, let the lure sink for maybe three to five seconds. An added benefit to the weight of these lures is that you can get under the birds when you cast. Even if you see fish cruising, that extra sinking time can prevent a bird hook up.
These can be very dense bait situations and when there’s a super dense amount of bait, it can be difficult to find these fish when blind casting.
OUTFIT FOR CASTING TO TOPWATER TUNA
Rod: 7.8-foot Shimano Terez Spinning Rod
Reel: Shimano Saragosa 20000
Line: 80lb braid tied directly to a wind-on leader
Leader: 100lb Sufix Mono wind-on