Friday, May 16, 2014

Bluewater Day: Sea Hunter 2014

A Yellowfin tuna is strong, beautiful and delicious

I was awakened by a series of short hard raps. 
“Scott, it's 4:45” Mike called from the other side of my cabin's door, "You get the other guys up, OK?"
“Yup”, I muttered. (I prefer single syllables before 7:00 AM.)
I threw my legs out into the dark searching with my toes for the bunk below. I swiped at the wall eventually finding the light switch and grabbed my toothbrush. Once in the hallway, I mimicked Mike rapping loudly on each guy’s door. Everyone it seemed was already awake. Soon we were all on deck grabbing mugs of hot coffee, hot blueberry muffins and our gear bags before heading to the port railing. Here we could see the Sweet Jessie was being prepped by the crew. In the rich, inky darkness of a night on the ocean, we pulled away from the Sea Hunter at our appointed hour... 5:30 AM. The first blush of dawn soon followed, but by then, the Sea Hunter was only a small prick of light on the horizon.

By 7:30, we were trolling two outriggers and four big rods straight back. At the helm, David Cunningham navigated the Diana Banks reading GPS coordinates so as to circle the bank and not go directly over the top. To do so meant almost certain and continual hookups with 'cudas. We were not on the Diana Banks for ‘cudas. With the ballyhoo and lures in a staggered spread behind us, David announced, “We’re gonna get wet!”.

Andrew rigs a ballyhoo

“We’re gonna get wet!”
Lined up on the western horizon, an impressive wall of dirty squall clouds sent us scurrying for our rain gear. As hoods were pulled tight, a cool rain pelted the Sweet Jessie. After a few minutes, we punched through the squall like a shower curtain had just been pulled aside. On the other side of the squall line, we could see a few dozen birds diving on a bit of surface action. Just then, Andrew Perryman, who was rigging rods and manning the gaff, yelled “Fish on!”

The skipjacks came first and often

After a short fight, a beautiful skipjack was hauled on board. I immediately grabbed my fly rod hoping to get a cast into some blitzing tuna. I saw none, so I drifted my fly astern in the prop wash. I was certainly not fly fishing, but the 12 wt. fly rod felt good and I was sure it would offer a lot more fun than one of the big trolling rods. It wasn’t long before my blue/green Rainey’s Sardina fly was tight to something. It turned out to be another hefty skipjack. It was great fun and hopefully a harbinger of good things to come.

My fly of choice haywired on unbraided #69 wire

Unfortunately, we never did get to throw a fly to blitzing tuna. The tuna we saw were just too spread out, but all of us did manage to catch a on our fly rods a bunch of good sized skipjacks and probably were attached to a number of big yellowfin tuna too. We couldn’t keep the yellowfin buttoned up on the fly gear. We did manage a 60, 52, 50, and 45 lb. yellowfin on conventional tackle. It was a thrilling day. We had lots of terrific action followed by the usual slow period when all eyes are searching for birds diving on bait.

Doug Jeffries and Andrew Perryman with dinner!

With sweaty brows and aching fingers, eventually no one wanted to reel in another big tuna, so we turned for home and French Wells. Tomorrow we would fish for bones. Tonight we would gorge on yellowfin sushi and tuna steaks.


David Cunningham cleans $1000.00 worth if tuna

Doug switches gears and gets ready for bones


  1. That last yellowfin kicked my ass. But I sure wish we had some of those fresh inch and half thick tuna steaks to BBQ right now.

  2. With my recent back surgery, I didn't even try! Catching a big yellowfin is like digging a ditch. It's work you're happy to have someone else do while you tea the rewards!