Find Your Own Tuna
I have noticed over the years how focused anglers have become on reports seemingly to a point where it might be counterproductive. Here are a few thoughts on how anglers chasing these reports are going about it in the wrong way:
- For starters, where the tuna are is anybody’s best guess when they first show up at the beginning of the season.
2. A report just tells you where they were yesterday. Tuna move fast and the ability to find your own fish is frequently needed. I fish and film offshore a lot. I can’t tell you how many times I have scrambled based on a good report only to discover that they fish had moved. I would (unscientifically) say this happens at least 35% time. I’m sure my guide friends would agree.
3. A report might take you to where there is unpleasant boat traffic or medicore fishing. By running your own playbook you might find a bigger and better situation. It’s a fact — boats put fish down. There may have been a good bite that at 8AM but is over at 9am. Have you ever pounded a spot with the fleet all day to end up getting skunked? I never regret picking up and moving out of a crowded fishing situation.
4. It’s simply badass to skip the reports and find your own fish. After all, it’s the thrill of the hunt that keeps us coming back. The fact is, the most efficient way to get tuna is at the fish market ☺
There are a number of other considerations when coming up with a strategy for finding tuna on your own.
Cape Cod waters can get rough and foggy fast, so please monitor the weather. I always verify the weather from 3 independent sources: NOAA, Fishweather and Accuweather multiple times for the 24-hour period before a planned trip. I am also quite skittish of any weather that is scheduled for late in the day, it can easily arrive early.
You should be ready to make these loops by early June. The bite can happen earlier, but Mid June is a good starting point. The bite in this region can run hot and cool throughout the whole season. Like all tuna friendly locales, tuna baits in this area can be herring, pogies, mackerel, sand eels, half beaks, butterfish, bottom fish and small bluefish. My sense is you most frequently see sand eels and half beaks, but I have never tracked my findings. In any event, you should be prepared for any of these baits through out the season.
Assuming you have 4 outfits, I recommend having 2 jigging and 2 casting rods ready. You’ll be fishing from 100’ to 400’ of water, so you’ll want 1 4oz jig and 1 6oz jig attached to you jigging rod. I rig one paddle tail (In my case a #5 Hogy Protail and a 6oz Olive Hogy Harness Jig, thereby covering finfish and sand eel imitations. I dial in colors as it becomes necessary to do so. And for my casting outfits, I have one rod rigged with a 4oz Hogy Epoxy Jig in Bone, and 1 Hogy Slider in Glow. I view these as neutral color. Again, I will dial in the colors as necessary.)
What To Look For
This run is largely about finding fish or visible signs you can see. Obviously, if you see tuna jumping, you know those where fish!! Duh! But there are so many signs you will likely see first. Birds are the most obvious. Ideally you’ll see large gannets in cyclonic flying pattern but stormy petrels and large gulls are also tells. Look for whales, ideally with lot’s of birds and surrounding slicks. In this situation, a state of the art fish-finder will be your best friend! Look for large plumes of bait with crescent shaped targets surrounding the bait.