Last Saturday I fished the overnight on the Tribute with my Brother In-law Mike and Nephew Jamie. They both live in Fresno so they don’t have a lot of deep sea experience. After picking up everyone Friday evening to go to the boat, there was some trepidation due to the wind and rain. I assured everyone the weather looked optimal for the bite to turn on. It looked like there would be some rain in the morning, but the wind would improve throughout the day. I set my alarm for 4 am to fish the flat fall for the Bluefin. I had both Mike and Jamie set up on two-speed reels and flat falls, but I was the only one to make it from the bunk to the rail. I fished the 100# set up until an hour past gray light and decided it was time to change my 100# wind on leader to a 40# leader on the Talica 16. One fish had been hooked on the flat fall, but the Bluefin wanted the Sardine. I made the rookie mistake of not changing my drag when I changed my leader. I was thinking I would just not push the drag all the way to strike. Shortly thereafter I’m bit, the line starts peeling off my reel and in the excitement, I push the drag forward to full strike, Zing-pow I blow my first chance. The good news is the school is sticking to the boat and fish are boiling and coming completely out of the water on our chum’ and these fish are a decent size 60 to 70 lbs. One of the crew hooks one on the bait in the bow and looks to me to hand the fish off. I see an opportunity to appease the tuna gods and build some good karma. I quickly find my nephew Jamie and get him on the rod. He lasts about 20 minutes and he and his dad start tag teaming, and after a close to an hour long battle get the fish to gaff. My brother-in-law Mike, on 2 trips with me has caught 2 Bluefin, and is probably thinking how easy it is. They are both so happy, I know I’ve done the right thing. A Navy Seal, and a new friend made on the boat, John shares he was bit on one of the big mini mack size Sardines. I pin one on and right when I get out near one of the boils I’m bit again. This time the drag is right and it’s fish on. The fight goes on for over an hour on one of the bigger models and I finally get the fish to a pinwheel. He’s a nice grade, maybe 70 lbs and he is two circles from a gaff shot and the hook pulls. Complete heartbreak, but I’m actually pretty stoked about just having the chance to fight one all the way to the boat. The drift has now lasted over 3 hours by my estimation, but the school has finally had enough and sinks out. We spend the mid part of the day on the hunt but can’t seem to find a school that wants to bite with the sun overhead. A couple of sonar marks, and a couple of kelp patties produce no biters. It starts getting later in the afternoon and Captain Shane gets on the PA and announces the code group has shared some numbers where we might find a school. We pull up on the meter mark and almost immediately the fish are up and boiling on the chum again. A couple of people get bit, but I’m still fishing the 40# Segar and they don’t want it. I see a couple of Bluefin come out of the water rolling on the chum and they look to be the 30 to 35 lb grade fish. I go grab my 30# set up that’s a Cousins deck hand rod with a Torium 20 loaded with 65# braid to a 30# leader. Two big Sardines later, and I’m hooked up again. I can’t tell how big this fish is but he makes two good runs. Here’s where things get crazy, after his third run my reel is moving around and since there no reel seat, I need to get things screwed together quickly. One of the deck hands grabs a screwdriver and starts trying to get things fixed. It becomes apparent we’ve got bigger problems because turning the rod clamp nut is not working. We decide we need to take the reel off the rod and see what the F$%& is going on. It turns out the rod bolt has sheared off. At this point, I’m starting to think it’s going to be one of those days. Captain Shane is now on the scene and says he has an idea, and runs off for the solution I presume. With perfect timing, the tuna on the other end of the line decides it’s time for a trip around the boat. At this point mind you, I’ve got the rod bent and the deckhand is holding the reel and keeping the pressure on. We work our way all the way around the entire rail working over and under everyone, several of which are hooked up too. Captain Shane, I, and the crew aren’t willing to let one go without a fight. His solution is two 3” radiator hose clamps, quite ingenious. He isn’t able to locate the boat's nut driver so we’re stuck with the screwdriver. I know I’m not the only one on BD that’s struggled with getting a hose clamp started, try doing it with a 70# tuna shaking the rod and reel. We get it all together and the fight is back on and this is one crazy fish. Everyone else that is hooked up, and is up and down by now, but not my fish. He keeps making runs straight out almost spooling me several times and then charging the boat. This goes on for the next 2 hours with 4 of us fighting big fish on light line. It’s getting late and Shane announces we’re on the clock. My fish finally decides to fight up and down, instead of the endless 20+ surface runs and charges. I’m completely gassed after a combined 3+ hours fighting these big fish and decide it’s better to hand it off and get the fish vs. cutting him loose. We tag team for the next 10 minutes with the drag pinned on the 30# line. At this point I’m seriously praying, please God don’t let another get away when I’ve got him so close. Finally, he’s up on top but the first gaff shot misses, a quick re-swing and he gaffs him in the tail! Of the 4 other fish we were fighting, all broke off but mine. It was a tough day on the whole with the big fish only wanting to bite the light line. We ended up hooking 30 and getting 8 to the boat. I was super stoked to see my Nephew Jamie get his first Bluefin, and was just as happy to get my first of the year in May. I wanted to give a special shout-out to Shane and crew for the amazing Nascar type repair on the fly, I would never have had a chance without their belief and dedication!