Bigeye tuna in the Azores (May 17-19)

JDTuna

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Mar 31, 2014
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Justin
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My friend and I had been talking about taking a trip to specifically target bigeye tuna. I had remembered that bigeyes were caught incidentally while marlin fishing in the Azores and Madeira, so I did a little research. It turns out that bigeye are the most commonly caught tuna in the Azores. They do get yellowfin from time to timMy friend and I had been talking about taking a trip to specifically target bigeye tuna. I had remembered that bigeyes were caught incidentally while marlin fishing in the Azores and Madeira, so I did a little research. It turns out that bigeye are the most commonly caught tuna in the Azores. They do get yellowfin from time to time over the summer (usually 200-300lb fish), albacore, and occasionally see giant bluefin but the bigeye are the day to day tuna. I found a boat called Alabote (www.sportfishingazores.com) that ran charters out of Ponta Delgada, on the island of Sao Miguel. After speaking to captain Jose, we booked 2 and half days fishing from May 17-19. May and June are the peak months for bigeye; however, last year the fish showed up in late April and stuck around for the rest of the year!

Day 1:

After our 4.5 hour flight from Boston (the only city on the east coast offering direct flights), we arrived in Ponta Delgada around mid morning. The crew consisted of my Dad, my friend Andy, and our friend Eric. We quickly dropped our stuff off at the hotel and walked across the street to the marina. Since our flight was delayed, we got out around 12pm. We fished hard all day, but unfortunately the bite was in the morning. Captain Jose and the crew worked hard and kept us out for 8 hours, but the fish wouldn't come up.

Day 2:

We got a morning start on day 2 (left dock at 8am). The wind was blowing hard out of the north, so we fished about around 1-3 miles offshore of the island in the lee. There is a bank about 30 miles offshore where large fish (averaging 200lbs) had been holding, but it was too rough to make it out.

Trolling off the island:

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After a few hours of trolling, the rods started going off and we had a triple header of bigeyes. Everything went right and we ended up 3/3.

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My Dad and I with bigeyes

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The captain turned the boat towards shore so we could eat lunch in calmer water closer to the island, and one of the flatlines gets slammed and the 80W is screaming. Eric grabs the rod and settles in for the fight. This is clearly a bigger fish, and after a tough fight Captain Jose's son Miguel sinks a gaff in a 240lb class fish.

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After cleaning up and taking some pictures, we eat lunch and resume trolling. I was looking back on the spread and watched a jet head get slammed in a spray of whitewater. I grabbed the rod, and the 80W was dreaming yet again, indicating a larger fish. After another tough fight, the fish came to the boat dead. Miguel and Carlos sunk the gaffs and pulled another 240lb class fish onboard. The fish had swallowed the jet and gotten hooked in the gills.

My 240lb bigeye

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We fished a little longer, and called it a day.

5/5 on day 2.

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Day 3:

The wind was howling again on day 3, so we stuck close to the island again. We were hooked up fairly quickly, and my Dad released a beautiful 150lb bigeye.

Me with the wire on my Dad's 150lb bigeye

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We had one other strike, and the hook pulled.

It was a fantastic trip. Captain Jose, and mates Miguel and Carlos were fantastic. They worked hard every minute of the trip, from fishing to preparing excellent food every day. I have fished around the world, and without a doubt the Alabote with Captain Jose and crew was one of the best operations I have ever fished with. The boat is also a great fishing boat, with dry decks and a wide beam (custom built by Jose himself). Captain Jose even packaged fish for us to take back home. We have already booked for next year. Check out his website: www.sportfishingazores.com and their Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sportfishingazores?fref=ts

The Azores are a truly magical place to visit. The people were all nice and friendly, the scenery was great, and the food and lodging were inexpensive. And the fish are big. They frequently catch bigeyes over 300lbs. And thats not even mentioning the fantastic blue marlin fishing over the summer months.

A few more shots:

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BiggestT

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Fished blue marlin out of Horta, Faial in the Azores. Very rough water and not much protection from the islands. You guys did awesome. Wish we had the same luck. We were there for a week and we're only able to get out one day for a single white marlin skipped in in on 130 lb chair gear.
 

BiggestT

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Just booked some days in May this year. Bucket list fish for me. Time to hit the gym.
 
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?? fisherman

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Feb 27, 2003
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Just booked some days in May this year. Buckey list fish for me. Time to hit the gym.


Lucky Dawg!!!

Good luck.....Go get em Steve!!!!!

I somehow missed this thread earlier and am shaking my head at those fish! I visited the Azores years back, and we were actually in Ponta Del Gado....... I had NO IDEA this type of fishing existed there!

Chalk up another trip I want to do but probably cant for who knows when :(

The unknown fisherman:p:
 

BiggestT

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Lucky Dawg!!!

Good luck.....Go get em Steve!!!!!

I somehow missed this thread earlier and am shaking my head at those fish! I visited the Azores years back, and we were actually in Ponta Del Gado....... I had NO IDEA this type of fishing existed there!

Chalk up another trip I want to do but probably cant for who knows when :(

The unknown fisherman:p:

The Euro is low, so it was time. I asked my wife to plan a trip around a couple days fishing, suggesting Lisbon afterwards. She came back with England/Scotland. Something about Hadrian's Wall she wants to see. I financed the move "Trian Spotting" so I guess I better bring the gortex and dust off the right hand driving skills and go for it. Funny, I'm sure I'll be opening the door for her the full time as I did in Australia.
 
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BrassyHooker

BrassyHooker Sportfishing
Oct 10, 2011
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Merritt Island, FL
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Brad Spalding
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Been to Terceira at Lajas Field, AB many times. No charters out of there we could find and never had the time to Island hop. If any of you go make sure you visit one of the Festivals that start in May, they have bulls in the streets and its an unforgettable experience!!
 
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BiggestT

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Been to Terceira at Lajas Field, AB many times. No charters out of there we could find and never had the time to Island hop. If any of you go make sure you visit one of the Festivals that start in May, they have bulls in the streets and its an unforgettable experience!!

Thanks for the info. I would love to watch running of the Bulls, but would never participate. I probably run the 40 in 6 seconds and have a 12" vertical.
 

Vigilant32

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Just added this one to my list, thanks for sharing. What a load of Ojo Grande. Were they all caught in the chair? Did they offer stand up gear?

You could spend 20 years trying to catch those here recreationally, let alone 1 day.
 

BiggestT

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Just added this one to my list, thanks for sharing. What a load of Ojo Grande. Were they all caught in the chair? Did they offer stand up gear?

You could spend 20 years trying to catch those here recreationally, let alone 1 day.

Rory, you can fish stand-up gear. Now that the Captain knows that we have a couple light tackle records to our credit, he's all excited and wants to try for these with 20 lb. I guess he's just used to the heavy tackle crowd. He does offer stand-up fishing. I told him we need to walk before we can run, so right now I just want one. But I may be bringing 20 lb gear.

I have a friend in London who's fishing blue marlin in the Canary Islands the same week, but he's wanted to fish Bigeye in Ponta Delgada. So maybe we share a boat for a week in May 2016. Could use a third. Their stats last year showed them catching bigeye 80% of the fish days in May. Average fish is 130 to 170, but they frequently get them over 200.
 

BiggestT

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I've fished out of Horta Faial and we basically had gale force weather the entire trip and which forced us to fish what little lee there was from the island. While stumbling through tourist videos on the internet, a bunch of "crab landing videos" for commercial flights started to pop up. This was an aborted landing attempt:


And this eventful flight happened a month before my trip to Faial in 2001:

http://www.nytimes.com/2001/09/10/world/jet-pilot-who-saved-304-finds-heroism-tainted.html
 
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BrassyHooker

BrassyHooker Sportfishing
Oct 10, 2011
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Merritt Island, FL
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Brad Spalding
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Thanks for the info. I would love to watch running of the Bulls, but would never participate. I probably run the 40 in 6 seconds and have a 12" vertical.

No they tether the bulls on a long rope one at a time, look where the old people are sitting to watch and sit with them lol!