Gearing Up for Bluefin
I wrote earlier in the week how those bluefin that we’ve been hearing about for several weeks now finally bit. There are several boats lined up to take their shot at them this weekend.
One boat, the Pacific Queen, got a jump on the rest of the fleet and left Wednesday night, fishing Thursday. Capt. Gavin Harbour got it done, getting his passengers early limits (2 per angler) of bluefin tuna. The grade of the fish was the same 15-25-pound size that was reported for the Top Gun 80’s trip last weekend. Gavin noted that it was a 100% straight bait bite…sardines on long soaks, using light line (20-25lb. fluoro) and smaller hooks (1, 1/0). Pretty basic stuff. Gavin told me they were done by noon, and spent the rest of the day looking if there were any bigger fish around.
Given this scenario, you could go really minimalist on one of these trips and just bring a 30-pound bait setup. If I went this way, I might start fishing straight 30 at first light, then lighten my presentation by tipping it with fluoro once the sun was fully up.
I’m going next weekend aboard the Dominator (spots available). In preparation for that trip, I was talking earlier this week with West Coast JimyJigs rep, Scott Critch. Scott is hosting the Dominator trip and he mentioned to me the possibility of hopefully getting early limits of bluefin at the outer bank areas where these fish are currently holding (from around the 43 Fathom Spot to the 60 Mile Bank), then heading toward the Finger Bank on the way home to get a shot at the yellowtail there. Given all the potential scenarios that could be encountered on just such a trip, and not wanting to be “that guy” bringing 6 rods or more, this is what I’ll be bringing to address each potential scenario.
- 30-pound Bait Setup
The bluefin are going to be the top priority, so let’s start there. Personally, I’ll use an Avet MXJ about half full of 65-pound braid, and a Shimano Terez 80H rod. On top of the braid, the reel will be filled to the rim with some fresh 30-pound mono. Tip as needed with fluorocarbon. If/when we get to the yellows, if they’re biting bait on top, I’ll be ready.
- 40-pound Bait Setup
In the interest of keeping the rod count down, here’s where you need to get a little creative. I want to have my jig stick for the yellows later. That setup is my Shimano Tranx 500 HG about half filled with 65-pound braid and then topped off with 40-pound mono. The Tranx sits on a Teramar 90XH.
For the bluefin portion of the trip, I’d probably do one of 2 things…a) have it setup as a rubber band rig. If at any point, the captain says we’re marking fish lower in the water column, that’s what I’ll grab. If we run into bigger fish or it goes wide, just use as a heavier bait setup.
- Yo-Yo / Vertical Jigging Setup
I’m mostly bringing this setup for the yellowtail. At this point, you don’t know if they’re going to be holding on top or lower, so having both larger and smaller yo-yo jigs is a must for that portion of the trip. Bring your standard yo-yo iron (Salas 6X, 7X heavy, 6X Jr., CP-105; Tady 4/0 etc.), but for the bluefin portion, I might tie on a Shimano Colt Sniper or Flatfall, Jimyjigs Dancing Jimy (pictured left), or maybe a small Megabait type jig. If we come right up on a school, I’ll be up on the bow, fire into it, and hopefully get one to bite before they sink out. If you use any of the small Megabait type jigs, be sure to check the hooks and change out to tuna strength ones!
I hope this information is helpful to you. Good luck if you get out there.