Race to PEI – PEI Bluefin Tuna
The Race to PEI sweepstakes received several thousand entries, but only one lucky angler would win the all-expenses-paid trip to Prince Edward Island to fish for giant bluefin tuna.
Herring bait for tuna
How do you get a giant bluefin tuna to bite? Brine up a whole bunch of herring baits and keep a steady flow of tasty morsels flowing off of the stern.
Oyster on half shell
Prince Edward Island, Canada, has some of the best seafood on the planet. The guys from Tony’s Tuna Fishing always had fresh fish, oysters and lobsters on hand for us.
Giant bluefin tuna fishing
The Race to PEI winner, Michael Medina, was the first one to battle a giant bluefin tuna. He’d never caught anything larger than 50 pounds before this trip. We fixed that pretty quick.
The team from Tony’s Tuna Fishing run lobster boats that are converted to target giant tuna during the bluefin bite.
Michael gets a few pointers from BD’s Ali Hussainy as he battles a 750-pound behemoth bluefin.
Offshore fishing for tuna
Ali puts the heat to an 800-pound bluefin. You need a reel capable of 60 pounds of drag or more to stop these beasts. The Makaira 80-wide two-speed reel from Okuma was up to the task.
Stand up fishing
Michael was determined to land his bluefin. Fighting a big fish on stand-up requires a solid fighting belt and harness such as the AFTCO gear shown here.
BD’s Jason Hayashi puts the metal to a tank-sized bluefin tuna. Your fishing line and hook are going to be tested to the max so don’t mess around with cheap gear. We fished with nothing but Seaguar fluoro leaders and Mustad hooks on United Composites CX40X0S rod blanks.
Catching giants can work up an appetite, but Tony MacDonald had the cure for our hunger pains. Lobster rolls!
Okuma makaira 80 wide
Bluefin will test your tackle like no other fish. You need a reel capable of holding a lot of line and dishing out serious drag. We fished with the Okuma two-speed Makaira 80WII. Having a low speed helps if that fish digs down deep.
Okuma fishing reels
The reel is ready for action, are you? As bluefin tuna boil around the bait, you better get ready for the ride of your life.
The crew attracts bluefin tuna to the boat by chunking herring. The Bubba Blade makes quick work of these herring baits.
Tony’s tuna fishing
One rod is all you need. A double-header of giant bluefin tuna could actually be a bad thing.
Ali puts a some extra pressure on the fish, pushing on the spool with his thumbs. Don’t try this unless you’re wearing some good gloves such as the AFTCO Bluefever Release Gloves he has on here.
Photo op! Taking a quick photo of the prize before cutting the leader with our Bubba Blade and releasing another giant tuna.
We fished with custom rods wrapped by Salty Dawg. The United Composites CX40X0S rod blanks wrapped with AFTCO wind-on roller guides turned out incredible.
Custom fishing rods
The AFTCO Storabutt gives you some options. You can can either fight a fish on stand-up with a short bent butt, or swap out to the longer butt so you can jump in a fighting chair.
Prince Edward Island
We stayed in some brand new cottages tucked back in the lush PEI countryside.
The food just never stops, and it keeps getting better! PEI mussels are incredible.
Bluefin tuna action
It’s amazing that you can catch such a massive fish just a few miles off of the shoreline. It sure keeps the fuel costs down when the bite is right off the beach.
New england lobster
How about some more lobster rolls guys? Yes, please!
Photos don’t do these fish justice. To truly appreciate the size and power of a PEI bluefin tuna, you have to experience it firsthand.
Half the fun of catching a giant bluefin tuna is pulling on the leader. Brant is gloved up and ready for action.
Jason braces himself as another giant tuna pulls line. To these big tuna, 50 pounds of drag pressure is nothing.
This is what can happen when you put too much pressure on your fighting belt. Oh snap!
Bluefin tuna boatside
The Canadian government is very proactive when it comes to conserving bluefin tuna stocks. All of the fish caught on the Race to PEI trip were released.
Tony MacDonald and his brothers also catch fresh lobster, so if you’re lucky enough to have these guys invite you to a boil, you better go!
Say hello to my little friend! So good, so very good.
Clam on halfshell
Michael enjoys some fresh oysters on the half shell. The shellfish in Canada is outstanding.
Fishing for tuna
Our buddy Eric Newman from Louisiana joined us on the trip and got to land his first giant bluefin tuna.
I’m normally the guy behind the camera lens, but the guys were nice enough to let me pull on one of these beasts.
Catching bluefin tuna
Eric puts some serious heat on this giant tuna. You need to use heavy tackle and lots of drag pressure to get these big tuna to the boat quickly for a healthy release.
Foul weather gear
We had a few wet days out there and high winds, so our Gage foul-weather gear by Grundens really came in handy. Never head offshore without some rain gear.
The boys share some war stories on the short ride back to the harbor.
We have to give it up to Mustad hooks. We put these hooks through hell and they performed flawlessly.
Prince Edward Island
Getting to Prince Edward Island requires a fair bit of travel, but it’s well worth it. The people are cool, the scenery is gorgeous and the fishing is unreal.
Capt. Tony MacDonald and his crew have everything you will need if you ever want to land some giant tuna. Check them out at www.tonystunafishing.com.
Race to PEI winner
The Race to PEI contest was a great success. Everyone on the trip caught fish, we ate like kings and Michael got to experience a fishery he would have never even known about if it wasn’t for BDOutdoors and our sponsors.