I am John, fifteen, and my brother (Jake) is thirteen. I have just gotten my brother to start fishing. In the past he hasn’t come with us because it could be “boring”. This was his first fishing trip for tuna. His biggest fish was a legal calico bass. My dad and I chased the bluefin last summer every weekend on a skiff we have out of Dana Point. The best day we had 4 yellowfin on the boat at around 30-pounds. We were going to do a overnight trip to Catilina but the gale warning on friday convinced us that it would be too rough. We still wanted to go so we hopped on an overnight trip on the Tribute on April 1-2.
Jake, Dad, and I went fishing on the Tribute overnight and our captain was Dave. There had been some news of some bluefin moving through, mainly 20-25-pounds, and small yellows consistently being caught. Saturday night we rigged up setups with a variation of line from 20# to 50# flouro. I had just gotten my 9-foot Pinhead rod by Seeker, and was hoping to catch my first yellow on the iron. Once we were done, we went to bed.
We stopped at 3:30 am and started to fish. Nearly the entire boat was fishing glow in the dark flat falls. However, no one got bit. Once we started to move to a different spot, I decided to take a nap. It turned out to be a huge mistake. I woke up with two 25-pound bluefin already being landed. I got my bait in the water with Jake. We started to do the “tuna shuffle” up to the bow or as are captain said “the pointy end”. We reached about halfway up and my brother says, “I’m stuck on kelp.” As line starts screaming of his reel. I start yelling at him to lift his rod tip and once he did, he started to fight the fish. He fought this fish 20 minutes and landed a nice 25-pound bluefin.
Both my dad and I were stoked for my brother but were surprised that he had caught on so quickly and he had landed fish before us!
After this, our captain moved to find better biting fish. As the captain was looking for more tuna, we stopped on kelps loaded with 6-12-pound yellows. As a group we ended up with 12 yellowtail. We started to fish the bass gear for the yellows, which was also a lot of fun. Around 12:30 the captain found a new school of bluefin. They started chumming 2-3 sardines at a time and we started to see boils. We rushed to get our baits in the water as we saw about 5 times, 60-100 pound bluefin jump straight out of the water. We did a drift for an hour with fish jumping out of the water, but no one getting bit. They started to see boils at the bow so the deckhand told Jake to get a fresh bait out and cast out from the bow. He did and hooked into a 80-pound bluefin with 20# flouro at around 2:00. He was using a Shimano Terez and a Fathom 25 single-speed. After this both my Dad and I (and probably the whole boat) were thinking “what the heck”. Throughout his fight, other fish were hooked but broke off almost immediately. At around 3 another guy hooked into a bluefin of similar size. At around 3:30 my brother landed his fish. The other guy wouldn’t land his until 4:30. No other fish were hooked after the second one caught was.
Overall it was a very successful trip with the boat catching 132 yellows and 16 bluefin. My brother won jackpot (all money tipped to crew). The crew was extremely helpful and there is no way my brother would have landed this fish without their help. There was never a “stupid kid” comment and it was all positive corrections.
Although I was jealous, it was one of the most epic tuna trips I have been on.
Next time though, he is the chum.
Written By and Photo Credit: John Donello