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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Fighting Big Tuna

Everything in life demands planning. Whether you're mapping out your day's activities, creating a business plan, or fighting a fish- you are always better if you have a plan of attack and strategy. I have caught many big tuna in Cape Cod, but I have to say that I was not prepared for how different tuna in North Carolina fight.

What are the differences you may ask?

The most significant is water depth: in Cape Cod depths range anywhere from 50'-400'. In Hatteras the water can be as deep as 900'.

Water Temps: in Cape Cod the water averages in the 60's- in Hatteras the water is in the 70's.

Fish Size: In the Cape, fish generally range from 64" and up- in Hatteras they are averaging 69" and up.

On our first trip to Hatteras I was amazed at how hard these fish fought, and was excited to observe that they all seemed to act the same way at certain points of the fight. With that in mind I decided to create a better game plan for the NC fish.

Here is what I did and why. Please note that this is just my game plan and what I feel comfortable doing- take these ideas or leave them as you see fit. For me these tactics have made a world of difference- we went from 3 for 8 on one trip to 12 for 15 on the last trip.

Step 1: Burn baby burn
Situation: First run following the hook up
Action: I set my drags to 15-18 pounds.
Reason: at this low setting they will rip off line and move far away from boat. I do this because I want them to burn themselves out. In NC I've noticed that they peel off about 150-200 yards of line. Once they slow down I will bump my drag up to recover line from the initial run.

Step 2: Settling In
Situation: Once you've settled in above the fish it will likely be around 60-100' under the boat. At this depth the fast current will take hold of the fish. IT WILL FEEL IMPOSSIBLE TO MOVE THE TUNA AT THIS POINT. If you don't do something to change things up, it will be you who will burn out- the tuna will swim in the oxygen rich warm waters and won't move.
Action: Palm the spool
Reason: By palming the spool you will eventually turn the fish and break his stronghold. I don't believe in giving back line once i get it. By working the angles you will eventually get their head.

Step 3: The end game
Situation: The fish is at color and in circles but you can't get it to come up that last 10 feet.
Action: As the fish moves from the 12 o'clock position to the 6 o'clock position I short pump the the fish.
Reason: This will gain line as the fish swims towards you. When you hit the 6 o'clock position and the fish starts swimming out and away from you, palm the spool. It is very important not to give up line here or you will just keep going in circles. At this point the fish will have less line to work with, and with none going back out the fish will come up towards the surface. Repeating this on every circle will quickly have the fish in gaffing range.

Hopefully whatever strategy you put in place will work for you. If for any reason it doesn't, however, give this game plan a try. Tight lines & screaming drags from

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