Prior to this year, my hope was to catch a 50-pound or greater tuna within 2-day range. A fish of that size, given the grade of fish we’d been seeing the last few years would be a nice catch. So when I caught a 60-pound bluefin in May on the Eclipse, I was pretty excited about the achievement. A few days later, my buddy Gabe Flores, cracked the century mark onboard the Thunderbird.
Since then, things have really started to accelerate in terms of the grade of fish getting pulled over the rail as anglers have geared up to fight these bigger fish.
In recent weeks, a handful of anglers have surpassed the cow mark. Hai Lee became one of them last week aboard the Pride.
If you didn’t already know, cows are tuna weighing over 200-pounds.
What’s most remarkable about this incredible fishing opportunity is that this grade of fish is the kind normally reserved for deep into Mexican waters. The fact that these fish are being found in overnight and 1-1/2 day range, in American waters is truly remarkable.
I’ve reset my sights and am looking for opportunities to play at this level. Not having had any experience in catching a fish of this magnitude, I talked to a couple friends who would know.
What Does It Take To Catch Cows?
My friend, Capt. John Anjard, grew up in San Diego. He’s worked on sportboats from half day to multiple days and has been a commercial fisherman. He’s caught cows. His garage is better stocked than most tackle shops. John has the gear on hand to catch pretty much any fish around the world. Here’s what he told me.
“First of all, you need to understand you’re not going a stop a fish of this size. You’ll only slow it down.”
When these fish get hooked, they want to dive and can dive to depths of 3000-feet!
In order to slow one down, you are going to need a combined 1000-yards of string! The rule of thumb is take whatever pound test you are using and multiply that times three. This will give you the approximate max weight of the fish you can catch on that size tackle. So in order to be in the game, you need to fish a minimum of 60 and 80-pound test. For a 60-pound rig, John really likes the 775 fiberglass blank (Seeker and Calstar both make it) in a 7-1/2 or 8-foot length. It’s heavier than the graphite or hybrid rods you may be more familiar with, but since you’ll put it on the rail, it doesn’t matter. If he was going to have a custom rod made, 7’8” would be his ideal length (Shimano makes 7’8” Terez rail rods). He explained you want that extra length because you are going to fish that rod on the rail.
Check your ego at the dock, you’re not going to stand up and withstand the 2-4 hour fight you are in for with a fish of this size.
Proper technique to fish big tuna on the rail is to put the butt of the rod under your left armpit (if you are right handed), put the foregrip on the rail, and place your left hand on top of the reel to keep it from wobbling side-to-side as you reel. John recommends fishing with one knee on the ground for stability, and the other one up in case you need to move to follow the fish. Fishing in this way, you can actually use rise and fall of boat with the swell to aid you in besting a fish of this size. When the boat rises, it pulls on the fish. As it falls, reel the line to pick up the slack.
Accurate pro-staffer Erika Brandt, has multiple cows and a personal best 303-pound super cow to her credit. Below, she demonstrates proper rail technique aboard Maximus Sportfishing out of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
Several boats are running limited load, bluefin trophy hunting trips to take advantage of this unique opportunity. Now you have an idea of what it’s going to take to land one of these mighty fish. Good luck!