Offshore Sea Adventure 80 6/27-7/1, 4hr cow tuna...almost

afraser

I Should Upgrade My Account
Apr 20, 2008
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sf, ca
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aaron
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NA
Went on our annual trip on SA80 for 3.5 days. Always a great group, and the crew was as good as always. They really worked overtime to fix some boat issues and never had a doubt things would go smoothly. I got to the boat early so I could rig the many rods and reels I had (one for each different use). Started out day 1 on the smaller bluefin grounds. In the gray everyone's dropping flatfalls with a few people flylining. Captain says the fish are at 150 feet, so I put a 5 oz sinker on and drop a sardine down. Since its still not light, I'm using the heavy gear. 100lb line, 4/0 super mutu. Doesn't matter, I get the first hookup at 530am. It is a smaller bluefin, in the 30lb class, so it comes in real quick on the 100lb (of course), but that doesn't stop the celebrations. First fish and its early! Already better than the previous trip that I took this month. Another angler gets hooked up on a sinker rig but loses it right at the boat. No fish on flatfalls or flyline. We look around and get a pick bite for about 20 bluefin for the day, almost all on bait. We have the double trouble rig up and it got bit pretty well. On one of the bites I tell my son to give me his rod and go get a kite fish (his last trip was a skunk and I couldn't let that happen again). He runs over, brings in a nice 40lb bluefin on the kite rod. Real easy on that gear. Meanwhile as grab his rod, I noticed it was a little slack and going in a different direction than the drift. I tighten it up and what do you know, there's a fish on! since the kite fish took all of 5 minutes, I call my son back and give him the rod. Takes him 20 minutes as we set the drag a bit low even for a light rod. Still, there's a 3/0 demon circle hook, so the fish isn't coming off. I take a break from the fishing and help and watch him get work on fighting his fish. He finally gets it in and promptly says he's taking a break because he has his limit. Geez, didn't take much to get a little cocky :).

At the end of the day Captain gets word of a yellowfin bite 70-80 miles away, so after dinner, away we go. Unfortunately, day 2 was just a lot of looking at fish, with only a handful of football biters. Not worth the 14 hour run down and back up, but you never know. We also got a few bonita. I got one of those and in between naps while we were running back north.

Day 3, oh my, the fish we "saw". School after school, all keyed in on small baits. A couple people used micro megabaits and got bites, but they did not stick. Dropped down to 20lb, casted poppers, stickbaits, surface irons, micro jigs behind a topedo sinker, all for nothing. One mate said to maybe drop to 15#, I don't have that. Not going to do it. Still I couldn't buy a bite, no one could and its already 3pm or so on the last day.


The fish.
Deckhand in the crows nest spots the 20th bird school for the day and comes down. Mentions to a few of us that he saw 100# fish jump. I'm definitely not going with the 20# like most people are. Instead I grab my medium rod, an ugly stik tiger lite jigging rod, it's 5'8", rated for 100-200lb spectra (yeah right) that just had the tip replaced, paired with a virgin avet jx raptor filled with 500+ yds of 50# threadlock and a 60# seaguar premier topshot, and a 4/0 super mutu circle hook, smallest super mutu they make. Anyway, captain says "go in", and I backhook a pretty large sardine, maybe 7-8 inches, and get out early. I've got him running away from the boat while its still sliding, so he is away from the boat quickly. Now about 1 minute into the drift, I get the first hookup of the day for the boat. The fish is in hyperspeed. I have never seen line melt away that fast. In 15-20 seconds I'm down to half a spool. I don't want to get spooled so I crank up the drag to strike, around 22# now. That just pisses off the fish and he starts to go even faster. Mate tells the captain we need to chase the fish. Everyone reels in there line, but my line is still melting away. I'm not going to get spooled I say to myself, with about 50% confidence. I crank up the drag past strike, almost to full, it's over the 28# I set it at, maybe 35# or so because the spool is small now. The ugly stik rod is doing well so far. Line still melting away, but a little slower. I'm down to 50 yds and the fish stops. Holy crap, I have a shot! I immediately get 100yds back, he's probably swimming my way. We have everyone's line in and I go up to the bow where we chase down the fish. I get just over half the line back. Another run! This time we can chase the fish, so he only get 100 yds or so. This is all within the first 10 minutes! This continues for the next 2 hours. I stay at the bow and get 50-100 yds back while the fish then turns and takes all of some of it back. It doesn't come closer than 200 yds for the first 2 hours even on 28# of drag! Line constantly sounds like a guitar string its so tight. Longest I ever fought a fish before was maybe 2hr 15 minutes, but that was on heavy gear, definitely not a jigging rod and a jx raptor. Well about then the fish makes a run toward the boat. I'm having to walk away from him down the rail while reeling to keep the line tight. I do it just barely. At some point he come to the surface for just a few seconds and we get a good view of the fish. Oh crap, it's huge. Captain initially says 280-300, but revises it later to 250 or so, and its on 50lb spectra, 60lb fluoro leader and an ugly stik jigging rod! I think we are going to get a shot at the fish. Nope. He immediately decides he doesn't like the sight or sound of the boat and take 200 yds again all in one run. Now about this time, the tip of the rod has heated up and the glue that was used to replace it allows the tip to turn under pressure. We are constantly rotating the tip back from here on out, but it doesn't really affect the fight. Just another issue to deal with! Well, we are back and forth around the bow and the anchor quite a bit now so I'm getting a brief respite each time as Mike, one of the co-captains/mates takes the short rod to get around the bow. Oh how I wish I'd used the longer rod! One of the other passengers is a MMA trainer and shakes out my arms every time I have to pass the rod off to get around the bow. That helped a lot. Thanks! As I type this, some 36 hours later, my hands still don't fully close, but it would have been much worse. Anyway, during hour 3 we finally get the fish to deep color. We have to run down to the stern and back several times, so I hand the rod to Mike to do just that, as we usually do on big fish on long range trips. This allows me to get a 1-2 minute break every now and then. We have the fish at deep color the entire 4th hour. I'm spent. Low gear is useful only 10% of the time. The rest I have to stay in high gear just to keep up with the fish as it makes huge circles. We get the fish to full color, then the leader to the rod tip, it's only 15' and we are on the bow so it's close. The fish is maybe 3-5 feet from gaff, it's a solid 250# as we get a look at this depth for maybe 30 seconds. Later I was told they might have been able to dig for it but didn't want to chance hitting the line. Then he takes another 50 yds. Damn! Still deep color. We get him back to color, its been over 4 hours. The 50lb line, 60lb leader, 4/0 hook and jx reel are holding up perfectly. The only problem with the rod is the tip and it is short. We're up on the bow and the fish takes another run around the bow to the other side. This time, we aren't quick enough and the line touches the boat. We've done this perfectly maybe 20-25 times, but this time... pow.

It's like a funeral on the boat. Lot's of people saying good job and "I feel for you". I tell the crew thanks for all their help. Honestly, I'm not that upset. This was a great fish and a great battle and frankly we have over 100lbs of bluefin to process anyway. I shouldn't have had him on that long. You always think what you should have done. It was fortunate I stepped up to the medium rod and 60lb leader for that stop, but I could have used a longer rod. However, we had no indicator that that class of fish was around. I've caught 90lb yellowfin on the same rod with an sx raptor, so I thought the jx and the rod would do the job on the 100# fish we thought were there. The 50lb line class record for pacific bluefin is 233#, and although it wouldn't have qualified because of the help I got going around the anchor and so on, it would have been been a larger fish. 4 hours and change on a 250# bluefin and oh so close... It was a great day of fishing.

One person did catch one 40-50lb bluefin in the evening on a flatfall, which was bridled with a 10/0 circle hook.
 
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tom cindric

Tom-broke-off
Jun 17, 2015
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Lake elsinore
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all she's got
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22 key largo / 2670 Glacier Bay
Wow... That's a hart breaker for sure. So close but yet so far. At least you got some meat to take home.
 
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Born 2 fish

Almost A Member
Sep 13, 2007
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So Cal.
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C.B.
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Lets get ready to fish
Nice report Sorry you lost It ! :smoking33:
 
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tamddo714

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Jul 1, 2013
159
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Butt Hunter
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Proline 23 Sport
thanks for the report and sorry about the heart breaker. just curious is everyone just standing around watching for 4 hours while you were fighting the fish? or were lines back in the water after you guys chased down the fish. thanks
 
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Second Row

You Should Have Been Here Yesterday
Aug 8, 2008
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Newport
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Scott
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21' Grady White - Rusty Hook
Next time!
 
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bdubs73

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Feb 7, 2008
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Brian
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none
Thats one heck of a tale, you'll get to tell it for a lifetime. Sorry you lost the fish! But I literally just told my wife after I read this that it's the thrill of the battle and the victories and defeats that make the sport so thrilling. Next time.
 
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afraser

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Apr 20, 2008
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aaron
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thanks for the report and sorry about the heart breaker. just curious is everyone just standing around watching for 4 hours while you were fighting the fish? or were lines back in the water after you guys chased down the fish. thanks
Both actually, most people came up to watch since most of us know each other. That and it was clearly a big fish and the only bite of the day to that point. Some people continued to fish. That's how I caught a 145# bft a couple of years ago, when someone else was fighting his fish.
 
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jughead

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Jun 10, 2006
609
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Alpine
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John
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24 Seaswirl striper
Anybody that has had a similar experience definitely feels your pain. I had one last year but my bluefin was only 150 at the 60 mile bank when the jumbos were there for a few days. At the time I handled it pretty well but then after awhile I couldn't shake it so I started seeing a therapist. My spectra got severed by the prop on the old glory. Congrats on a great trip. It sounds like your son had a blast! Enjoy all the bluefin you took home!
 
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soulwinner

jeremiah 9:23,24
Jun 16, 2014
403
190
sandiego,ca
Name
john
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cobra
I appreciate the good story telling, thanks for a great read & recall, most of my trips are a blurr can barely remember them the next day. but these kind of events are the ones that shape/ mold your fishing philosophy over time , hard learned lessons that will help in the future. I changed half my gear because of a heartbreak experience on a smaller fish but similar outcome. one too many trips around the bow.
 
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tommyc

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Jul 30, 2011
342
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Livermore, CA
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Tom
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Beatem N' Eatem
It sounds like you did the best that anyone could to try to land that fish, congratulations on hanging it for four hours and getting it to color twice.
 
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mhanson59hb

Fear No Fish
  • Apr 22, 2013
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    Huntington Beach
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    Mike
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    2008 Trophy 1802 "Mako My Day"
    Man, feels like I went through the fight with you (minus the physical pain). Great report and what a heart breaking moment.

    It's easy to say from my keyboard "fish get away", "next time" or whatever, but the angler it happens to can be crushed. You have a great outlook / perspective on the outcome!

    Better luck to you in the future, sir!
     
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    Mnico

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    Dec 1, 2014
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    Mike Nicoletti
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    pending
    I feel for you. I had one straighten the hook on me last week and I've woken up every night since in the middle of the night thinking about what i did wrong or could have done differently. It just pours more gasoline onto the fire of obsession. I'm dying to get back out and do it again.
     
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    John S.

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    Aug 4, 2008
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    John
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    1996 Seaswirl 1850 W/A
    Great story. If you fish the big stuff long enough then you will experience this type of event. 4 hours is epic. I have lost tuna at a little over an hour and that hurt. 4 hours and just out of gaff range and a tuna that big? Brutal. I would have gone to a corner and cried. I really hope you get a nice one this season and post it up. Thanks for taking the time to write this. I have never caught a blue anywhere near a 100. I am living through all of you who have gotten one at a 100 and better.

    John
     
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    lammy

    blessed to have spent so much time on the water.
    Jun 17, 2012
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    dana Point /california/usa
    Name
    erik
    Boat
    22 foot bay ranger / yamaha 250
    I feel your pain! In 2016 i hooked a 250lb plus bft on a popper on 50lb mono on my bay boat.... I was ONLY on for an hour and a half, and followed it immeadiatly, but after an hour and fifteen minutes the awesome sized fish circled the boat 20 times, just out of gaff range... After an hour and a half the fish was almost worn out, but she dove down only like 15 feet, shook its head, and came unbuttoned.
    Only one way to get over it...... Hook another one and land it! (i'm still working on that!)
     
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    afraser

    I Should Upgrade My Account
    Apr 20, 2008
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    aaron
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    I'm curious where did the tackle fail knot , spectra , mono ?
    Failure was on the spectra where it touched the boat. It was also very twisted from all the circles which lowers the line strength too. Probably could have added more drag at end of fight, but.... Line held for 4 hours, so no complaints on that. I made the leader and it held up, short glued insertion with 2 nail knots. The hook was the right one, so check. Clearly the problem was using too short of a rod with a reel that can handle that much drag. The rod was plenty strong enough, just short and a little too thin to hold for that long. I did get a bft over 200 last year on the same trip, but that was on heavy gear (2x4 and avet 30ex) and he was in the boat in 15 minutes.
     
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