Capt. Mike from Salty Cape and Hogy Lures steams out East of Chatham aboard his 28′ Contender for an early season Bluefin Tuna trip. The name of the game was casting Hogy Lures Tuna Grade Epoxy Jigs at surface feeding Bluefin Tuna. The Tuna Grade Epoxy Jig was ideal for “matching the hatch” of the sand-eels these bluefin tuna where feeding on.
East of Chatham has emerged as a premier tuna fishing spot due to its unique combination of geographical factors and abundant marine life. Located off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, this area benefits from the convergence of warm and cold ocean currents, creating nutrient-rich waters that attract a flourishing ecosystem. The presence of large schools of baitfish, such as mackerel and herring, lures Bluefin Tuna to the region. Additionally, the rugged underwater topography and steep continental shelf create ideal conditions for tuna to hunt and thrive. These factors, combined with a strong sport-fishing community and experienced captains, make East of Chatham an exceptional destination for tuna enthusiasts.
- The fishing on this tuna trip was oddly similar to fishing for albies inshore. The feeds were sporadic and often didn’t last long. The name of the game was idling around and patently waiting for the right time to cast.
- The “Walk N’ Gun” approach was ideal for getting your shot at casting into feeding fish. I’m convinced the constant changes in RPM’s when running and gunning turns off the bite. So just idling around waiting for our shot was preferred.
- Side scanning sonar helped us in locating schools of moving fish. Seeing a pod of fish 50 yards off your port side, casting to them and hooking up feels like cheating ,but hey I’m certainly not complaining!
The beauty of the Hogy Tuna Grade Epoxy Jig is the versatility of it. There are a handful of different retrieve styles you can use when casting this lure. All proven to be effective, but on this given day we found the best success with the “hybrid retrieve”.
Skippy Retrieve: This is a tip-up, fast-crank retrieve. Great for imitating fleeing sea herring, half beaks and mackerel. This is the preferred retrieve to breaking fish or blind casting in calm water when you know fish are in the area.
- Cast out, collect line.
- Point the rod at a 45-degree angle and increase reeling speed and rod tip height simultaneously,
- As you reel, twitch your rod back sporadically. This will cause your Epoxy Jig® Lure to pop in and out of the water simulating a fleeing bait fish.
Slow and Low Retrieve: This retrieve starts with the medium sub-surface retrieve but this time, you will introduce long pauses for up to a minute to let your bait settle as deep as 30’ before reeling again. This is an excellent retrieve for finicky fish. The Hogy Epoxy Jig’s® Lure relatively lightweight allows for a slow decent, which mimics a wounded or recently killed bait fish. The drop can also put your lure in the strike zone of suspended fish you may be marking on your fish finder. I like to try different “start-again” retrieves after the drop. Sometimes I will start slow while others are a hard start. I will switch over the course of one cast.
Hybrid Retrieve: “Reel-Reel-Reel-Pause / Reel-Reel-Reel-Pause” I like to alternate this retrieve with the skippy retrieve. It is similar in that it is a very high-speed retrieve but opposite in the sense that your rod tip is pointed low –literally in the water. This will allow you to have a very high retrieve speed without breaking the surface. Another variation I include with the retrieve is sporadic “stalls”. I will randomly pause for three seconds and immediately pick back up. This will often draw a strike.
This is my go-to tuna casting setup. I’m comfortable targeting fish up to 200lbs on this setup.
- Rod: Hogy Tuna Casting Rod
- Reel: Shimano Stella 18k
- Line: 80lb Braid
- Leader: 1oolb Fluorocarbon
- Lure: Hogy Tuna Grade Epoxy Jig
- Utilize the “Walk N’ Gun” Approach. Constant changes of RPM’s is likely going to spook fish, so making sure to take your time and wait for the right opportunities will often reward you with plenty of shots at feeding fish.
- If your vessel is equipped with side scanning sonar then use it! I feel like this is a slept on factor when tuna fishing offshore. The ability to see 100 yards out each side of your boat is hard to beat!
- Match the hatch! Sand eels were the primary forage these bluefin were feeding on. The Hogy Tuna Grade Epoxy Jig is with out a doubt the #1 imitation of large oceanic sand eels. Fish it slow, fish it fast, or in between and you’re in the game!