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Old 08-11-2019, 04:31 PM   #1
ZaQ
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Default New Tuna Crew

I have been fishing for a long time and have owned 8 boats. I currently own a 26 LOA Seahawk that I purchased specifically for adventures farther into the ocean than I ever did with my sleds. I have tuna fished a number of times on other skippers boats and been very successful, now it is my turn to drive. After a lot of research both on here, seminars and the interwebs we headed West this past Saturday. I picked a spot on Ripcharts and made a troll plan. I felt good about it and we forged on through flat seas to the starting spot, despite not seeing any other boats in the area. Turns out all the fish that were being caught were 30 miles South of where I started, we adjusted and scooped up a hand full of fish. Not the load we were all hoping for.
My questions are:
Without knowing a bunch of guys who are at it each day, how does one successfully pick a spot?

I have always been in boats that find success trolling 7 mph, and we did that for some time with a couple of fish. However, I notice my clones and plugs were not splashing like they did on the other boats I was on. I bumped up to 9 mph to get them to splash and we got a few more fish. Do you want them to splash and skip regardless of the SOG?

We immediately threw bait upon hooking up and after reeling the clones in we started chucking iron. Our chum floating away without a nod from a tuna, bird or shark. We never hooked up on the stop, or even saw other tuna for that matter. Any advice on getting something like that going, even for 2-3 fish?


My first tuna in a boat owned by me.
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Old 08-11-2019, 05:17 PM   #2
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I think your in the same boat as a lot of us. I like to have boats around me so I tend to go where the report of tuna were. Then it seems everyone branches out looking for fish. Sometimes someone finds them and lets others know where they are, sometimes not. So you end up scratching up your fish. Unless you land on them or they are showing themselves, jumping. Good luck out there and I hope your adventure has just started.
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Old 08-11-2019, 05:18 PM   #3
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That is a cool photo. Something to try next time if getting the same results at your higher speeds would be to slow down to 4 - 6 mph and also try some swim baits at that speed. I was surprised being on a friend's boat years ago how well slowing down worked. Ya never know.
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Old 08-11-2019, 05:24 PM   #4
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What port were you fishing out of? And, what date and coordinates did you target? That will help us post-mortem why your success did not meet expectations...

Quote:
Originally Posted by ZaQ View Post
My questions are:
Without knowing a bunch of guys who are at it each day, how does one successfully pick a spot?
That is an outstanding question! Follow Ifish reports, PM people who fished out of your target port recently for follow-up info, and do your best to build a network. For Tuna fishing, I rely on 4 things:
  1. Good color, Chlorophyll. Tuna are often found along the .04 green/blue water edge. Find the edge, find the fish. For me, temps (as long as they are 58 or higher) are secondary
  2. Find a good temp break. If you find good color with a strong temp break you are on the right path
  3. Look for structure. Year after year Tuna are caught in places with good bottom structure, which may cause an upwelling and a local boost to the food chain
  4. The very best indicator for good tuna fishing is recent Intel, much like the best type of sign when elk hunting is live elk!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ZaQ View Post
I have always been in boats that find success trolling 7 mph, and we did that for some time with a couple of fish. However, I notice my clones and plugs were not splashing like they did on the other boats I was on. I bumped up to 9 mph to get them to splash and we got a few more fish. Do you want them to splash and skip regardless of the SOG?
No, not on Sun Dog. I like about 6.5 knots +/-. On windy and rough days my spread will often break water, on calm days I can see each lure but they rarely if ever break water.

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We immediately threw bait upon hooking up and after reeling the clones in we started chucking iron. Our chum floating away without a nod from a tuna, bird or shark. We never hooked up on the stop, or even saw other tuna for that matter. Any advice on getting something like that going, even for 2-3 fish?
Early season it is often harder to convert a troll hit into a jig/bait stop. In 3 trips this season Sun Dog has caught 127 Tuna, of which 70+ were on the troll, around 50 on jigs (slide and while stopped/motors off), and about 8 on dead bait. The best way to get a stop going early season is to hook multiples on the troll, this tends to keep the school close to the boat. Immediately (before dropping a jig, clearing gear, and of course before reeling in the troll fish) send a scoop of chum out by the boat, and then another scoop in front of the boat (so it will sink down under the boat as you coast to a stop). When it is calm like pictured, fly-lined dead baits cast (with a spinning rod, a hook, and no sinker) a ways behind the boat work better for me than using traditional gear and dropping dead bait with small sinker under the back corner. I find that if I don't have either a jig hit or a dead bait hook-up within 3-4 minutes after the stop then it is time to go back on the troll and find fresh fish. Even if you are still seeing Tuna on your sonar.

Good Luck!
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Old 08-11-2019, 06:26 PM   #5
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Welcome to the dark side; Success
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Old 08-11-2019, 06:35 PM   #6
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I am no expert but to get a good stop going takes everybody on board working together. 1 somebody is ready to throw bait at the rod/ rods that got hit; 2 captain has to kill motors and mark spot on gps; 3 somebody has to clear rods; 4 bait thrower has to get rod into water quickly; 5 captain joins in clearing rods or bait and then dropping jigs or swim baits; 6 getting the 1st bait fish hooked up is important because if you don’t it’s time to move on; it should happen quickly; if you hook up and things going throw bait into the wind and let drift under the boat
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Old 08-11-2019, 06:45 PM   #7
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Good questions, it's a big ocean sometimes the best fishing isn't with the crowds. Sounds like you're on the right track with ripcharts and SST's, as far as speed we adjust based on what we are pulling and sea state, I like them "skimming" the surface and not pulling out and leaping. As far a tossing bait some will sink and some will float, others may have tips on how to sink IQF, even if the birds get them that will attract fish too. Great pic of your fish, congrats!!
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Old 08-11-2019, 07:02 PM   #8
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Quote:
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As far a tossing bait some will sink and some will float, others may have tips on how to sink IQF, even if the birds get them that will attract fish too. Great pic of your fish, congrats!!

Thaw and chunk your bait. Whole frozen IQF will float.


I spend most of the time at 5-6 knts. I very speed, as low as 4 and as high as 7nkt, and make turns just like I do salmon trolling.



No one is successful every trip out when hunting or fishing regardless of intel.



Congrats on the new ride and a successful christening first trip out!
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Old 08-11-2019, 09:09 PM   #9
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How about distance on my clones/cedars? I want to mark my lines as I felt we were just kind of winging it. I mark my plug rods in the drift boat and want to do something similar with these.

We went out of the CR and ran up to 31x50 to start. Ripcharts showed me that was the edge of the chloro and I wanted to fish with the swell and wind, so that is why I went North. Apparently all the fish were south and when we spent another hour running down there we eventually got some fish.
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Old 08-11-2019, 09:44 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZaQ View Post
We went out of the CR and ran up to 31x50 to start. Ripcharts showed me that was the edge of the chloro and I wanted to fish with the swell and wind, so that is why I went North. Apparently all the fish were south and when we spent another hour running down there we eventually got some fish.
OK, temp and chloro were good where you targeted, nice use of Rip Charts. Only thing you did "wrong" was explore an area where there were no recent reports of success. Shake N Bake was consistently reporting good fishing for the previous several days working south of where you fished. Same thing for Seelicious a little further south. The fish may get to your spot any day now, but apparently they were not there when you fished it.
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Old 08-11-2019, 10:09 PM   #11
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Info is your friend read the reports on where they are being caught. That doesn’t mean you have to go out and fish exactly where the reports came from. The ocean is big it’s not like river fishing if you can explore and find your own fish use the reports to narrow down your area. Sun dog is a good fisherman and Saturday he was getting all the information he could while making his way to the tuna grounds. I and several other gave him our exact location but he didn’t show up on top of us he just used the info to narrow it down.

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Old 08-12-2019, 04:41 PM   #12
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How much does ocean current dictate your speed? When I am salmon fishing I don't care so much what the actual number is but what angle my line is. What is your indicator that you are at the right speed?
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Old 08-12-2019, 05:53 PM   #13
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How much does ocean current dictate your speed? When I am salmon fishing I don't care so much what the actual number is but what angle my line is. What is your indicator that you are at the right speed?
your over thinking it in my opinion. X-raps won’t run right over 6 knots in my experience same with swim baits. Saturday I was trolling at 7knots all morning picking up fish let one of the crew drive he was doing 6knots and we were still picking up fish. We even had them grab clones on the drift .5 knots.
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Old 08-12-2019, 06:19 PM   #14
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You are probably right, I tend to want to dial things in like I do with my salmon trolling. I just need to get back out there and try out the great suggestions you guys have provided on here. Thank you very much, hoping to get out again mid next week!
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Old 08-13-2019, 06:49 AM   #15
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Zaq,

Focus on finding fish and method secondly. There has been a lot written on here over the years on techniques and how to find fish. I focus on chloro more than temperature and when there is not a good chloro shot I look for temp breaks near structure. Recent reports are good and don’t let recent poor reports deter your decision to fish. The good catching seems to be cyclical and could change drastically in one day.

That is why the previous days report is a starting point at best. Don’t be afraid to make a big move to find fish but be careful of radio fish as some “plugged boats” will have had a slow bite to 15 fish and others will be at 10-20 fish per hour and hold 50 plus fish before plugged. 4 fish an hour is an epic bite for some and a slow scratch for others.

Running to nearby structure has been productive often. Don’t be afraid to change up tactics or mix them up. I have caught a lot of fish on every method over the years. If you find fish the critical decision is not color or size but height in the water column. Fish diving gear and surface gear to cover the water column and focus more on what is working.

Dial in your sonar and learn to recognize tuna. If you are marking a lot of fish but only catching a few that is a good area to keep working. Chum the water and wait until the fish decide to bite.

There are large schools out there and you only need one good school to fill the boat.
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Old 08-13-2019, 07:43 AM   #16
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Everything mentioned here is spot on, meaning there are several things leading to success. Mix it up if something isn’t working. Live by clones, die by clones. Personally, I like trolling swim baits around 4 knots as opposed to clones.

One way to test how many fish are around when you get clone bit is to have a couple guys in the back of the boat with spinning rods rigged with swimbaits and someone else with a scoop of dead chum. As soon as you hook up, throw out the swimbaits and the chum, no hesitation.

Maybe find a buddy boat with experience to take you to the fishing grounds.

Don’t be opposed to moving a considerable distance. Better to run a few miles than to keep plugging away in unproductive water. Have some good binoculars on the boat.
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Old 08-13-2019, 08:08 AM   #17
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The best advice I have ever heard is

"Put your gear in the water and run it"

Do that and all the rest will work itself out


A couple other things are

"Match the hatch"

If its early and they are puking up squid, run clones, if they are eating fish, run a fish pattern.

Dont over think it, tuna are so much easier to catch than salmon.

For example: Some think a swimbait will fish better at 5 mph, better tail action, doesnt need to be put on the hook exact, etc... others will think at 7mph it doesnt fish quite as well, but you cover more ground more than making up for it.

Get to blue water and run your gear, you will develop how Zaq catches tuna. It might be jigging, it might be live bait, it might be dead bait, it may all be trolling. Find what you like to do and do it. Lots of fish out there, lots of room to fish.
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Old 08-13-2019, 10:35 AM   #18
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Get to blue water and run your gear, you will develop how Zaq catches tuna. It might be jigging, it might be live bait, it might be dead bait, it may all be trolling. Find what you like to do and do it. Lots of fish out there, lots of room to fish.
This is great advice. Don't get discouraged by the people who post big numbers. Many have been doing it for years and putting in a ton of hours.

I have come to the realization that I am a tuna troller. That's what I learned 30 years ago, it works and it's fun. When jigging became a fad, I gave it a try, but I couldn't seem to get over the jigging learning curve and no longer try. Frankly, on a small boat with a 2 or three person crew, I just don't think it works as well as trolling.

My other advise is fish care. More so than with any other fish, how you care for your tuna makes all the difference in the world in how good it is. Getting them bled and then chilled as quickly as possible is the name of the game. Lots of ways to do it, but the quicker and colder the fish get, they better they will be. My method is to bleed them in seawater ice mixture for 15 minutes or so, then dehead and gut, then on ice. Once home, I repack in clean ice, throw some rock salt on top and fillet in the morning when they are super chilled.
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