FishingFishing Reports

Bluefin Tuna Tackle – What To Bring Now

I had a chance to fish this last Monday offshore to chase bluefin tuna aboard Fortune Sportfishing. It didn’t start out to be an offshore trip. The original plan was to fish the islands for white seabass. It was on the Fortune last year where I got my personal best fish (62 lbs.). Looking back at 2017, that trip was easily at the top of the list of my favorite outings all year.

On Friday last week (July 13), they put 29 seabass on the deck (above), so I was really excited about the prospects to catch them on our trip.

Bluefin Tuna TackleThen the boat came back Sunday morning (2 day trip) with tuna…25 bluefin and 2 yellowfin. My buddy, Stew Suenaga (right), was on the trip and got his limit of 30-ish pound fish.

It left me in a gear dilemma on what to bring for our trip.

Upon arriving Sunday night and boarding the boat, the gameplan was confirmed.  We’d be heading offshore.  The conditions at the island were not fishable for our 1.5 day trip.  We’d be making the long run south to fish with the San Diego fleet and chase the bluefin.

I felt like my gear choices were good.  But had I known beforehand that we were definitely going offshore, I would have changed a few things.

Here’s what I’d recommend to bring now for bluefin tuna tackle

Basic Bait Rigs

I brought 2 setups to fish 20-30, and 40#.  We had both live sardine and because we made a stop at Catalina heading out, live squid.  They had success on Stew’s trip because of the squid.  That particular day, they caught about as many fish as the rest of the fleet, because the fish responded well to the candy.  If you depart from Long Beach/Pedro, be prepared accordingly.

Stew said he succeeded on 40# with size 1 or 2 hooks, but that advice didn’t prove to be the case on our trip.  The best bite for us was in the AM gray, and came on 25# or 30#.  Later in the day, I would’ve liked to have a 50# or 60# setup to fish a rubber band rig.  The scenario I would’ve used it was when Capt. Bob said he was marking fish under the boat at depth.

Reach Out and Catch Someone

Bluefin Tuna TackleYou’ll see a lot of topwater action going on if you get out there.  Bob would let us know he was running up on bird schools or full out foamers like the one pictured above.  Those are my buddies, Nick Lam and Tim Shiau, this week on the Outer Limits.  People are having success using surface iron, flatfalls, colt snipers, poppers etc.  You’re going to want at least one setup of this nature where you have confidence to throw it long and get a shot in this scenario.

Deep Diver

Lastly, you’re going to want something to plumb the depths if the fish aren’t on top.  I mentioned above deploying the heavier bait rig doing the rubber band presentation.  But you definitely want to have an even heavier rig to challenge those bigger fish.  To be honest, most of the big cows getting posted are coming on the yummy, but that’s the boat’s gear.

Glow flatfalls rigged for big BFT at Sav On Tackle

As an individual angler though, the big glow flatfall (250g) on your heaviest setup is what you want here (right).  I did bring this rig, which in my case is a Makaira 30 SE on a Seeker 775H (40-100#).  Didn’t get my shot this trip, but I have full confidence with it should I get the opportunity.  If you don’t have a big setup like this one, or can’t borrow one, RENT.  Most of the landings have an appropriate setup you can rent for a nominal fee.  For most people, this is a more sensible option than spending the grand or so to outfit yourself with this one rig.

Bluefin Tuna Tackle
8 cows on this Pacific Queen trip this week

It’s not wide open, but the fish are there.  Bring these setups to have your best shot at making the big score.

Good luck if you get out there.

Joe Sarmiento
Joe Sarmiento is the founder and primary writer of the So Cal Salty blog. The blog covers saltwater fishing, primarily aboard the many sportfishing b...