Bluefins and albies in the same day!
The charter for the day was my longtime customer and great friend Dave Nilson. Dave wanted to show his co-worker John, who is from the West Coast, how we fish here on Cape Cod. The request was for topwater tuna, despite some heavy winds and high seas. With conditions against us, I brought along Capt. Shaun Ruge as mate, as well as mate-in-training Jeff Richardson. The extra set of eyes would help us see Charlie in the nasty rough water.
We dragged the Contender to the Outer Cape for an early launch, then made the run east in 3’ to 4’ seas at speeds most other boats can’t handle on flat water. We got on site a little before slack tide and found a ton of life. And just like the day before, we found Charlie smashing in with the bass and blues.
The plan was simple: stay with the tuna and avoid the bass and blues as much as possible. Fortunately, the tuna were following an obvious pattern that helped us separate them from the smaller species. Within minutes we had shots at tuna on top. Unfortunately, their aim was off, and the Ocean Lure RTS escaped unscathed.
We kept on the tuna, though, and it wasn’t long before we were able to get in front of another nice group of fish. This time Dave drew the lucky number. Charlie took a big mouthful of Purple Ocean lure and the battle was on. Dave turned up the heat and had the fish boatside in short order, despite the heavy seas. With me on the wheel and Jeff helping keep Dave on his feet, Ruge slid the Aftco gaff into Dave’s first tuna of the season.
By the time the fish was cleaned and iced, the tide had turned and was now running against the wind, making the already sloppy conditions even worse. With a little chart work and some quick calculations, I decided on a tactical change of venue. We flew back to the ramp and put the Contender on the trailer, fired up the big F350 and headed off Cape. The 30-minute trailer ride saved us hours of time had we tried to run to the new location by water.
We re-splashed the Contender and headed off on a very different sort of tuna hunt. The run was short and fast over relatively flat water. Hiding from the wind was going to put us in prime false albacore territory. Having 36 rod holders on the boat meant that the “right” gear was already at arm’s length, and soon the guys were throwing small lures on light tackle to slashing green torpedoes.
For the rest of the afternoon we ran from pod to pod to giant pod of busting albies. Jeff took the wheel and set the boat up perfectly, so Ruge and I were able to get in on the action too. Singles, doubles and triples were the rule. Screaming drags and some fat albies was certainly a better plan than slogging through the growing seas out east. The guys were able to get their first ever albies, along with a great taste of what fall fishing on Cape Cod is all about.
The final tally:
2 very different locations, a 46″ bluefin, a bunch of albies from 7 to 14 pounds, a handful of big bluefish and a slob sea bass (not sure how that happened). Overall, just a killer day of catching fast-moving, drag-melting fish.
I’ve always been a firm believer in covering ground to catch more fish—even when it means pulling the boat and making a major move. Today was proof positive that my game plan is a winner!
- Reel: Shimano Stella 20000SW spinning
- Rod: Riptide Big Gun / Shimano Terez
- Line: Suffix 832 80# braid
- Lure: Ocean Lures RTS (purple)
- Reel: Shimano Saragossa 6000 spinning
- Rod: St. Croix Tidemaster 8-17# rods
- Line: Suffix 832 braid 30# with 12# Seaguar flourocarbon leaders
- Lure: Rapala X-Raps (olive and silver)