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Old 09-10-2009, 05:05 AM   #1
HappyTunafisherman
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Default Would like some hints on how to search (hunt) for Tuna

Would appreciate advice on how Salty Dogs search (hunt) for Tuna once they deceide the area to to fish in. Most of us Salty Puppies need to learn the proper techniques and the Salty Dog forum is an excellent vehicle for passing on this information.

The SST/Charts are useful for identifying a relatively small area to fish, but how do you go about locating the tuna within this area?

Do you join up with several Salty Dogs to cover the area and communicate with each other what you find? Do you have a search or hunting pattern you use? Do you look at other maps such as contour maps to locate possible Tuna hangouts? If you don't see tuna on the surface or birds feeding what do you do? How much trolling to changing location by runnning at cruising speed do you do?

Thanks for your help. It is greatly appreciated and will be a great help to all Salty Puppies.

The Happy Tuna Fisherman

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Old 09-10-2009, 05:52 AM   #2
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Default Re: Would like some hints on how to search (hunt) for Tuna

Once you get there, it is aimless wandering with binoculars looking for kelp, jumpers, other junk in the water, birds.

Scott.
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Old 09-10-2009, 06:37 AM   #3
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Default Re: Would like some hints on how to search (hunt) for Tuna

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Originally Posted by little doc View Post
Once you get there, it is aimless wandering with binoculars looking for kelp, jumpers, other junk in the water, birds.

Scott.
just what he said
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Old 09-10-2009, 07:09 AM   #4
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Default Re: Would like some hints on how to search (hunt) for Tuna

Do you wander at trolling speed of 5 to 7 miles/hr or at cruising speed? or Some other speeds.

Is it every boat for himself or do you join forces and go in different directions to cover more area?

My experience is San Diego where the Charters troll at 8 to 9 knots and join forces with other boats to cover much more area? Yes it's aimless wandering with binoculars, but they troll fast and have side scan sonar and very good deep water fish finders. When they go anywhere near a school of tuna they circle and throw wiggles to bring the Tuna up to play.





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Once you get there, it is aimless wandering with binoculars looking for kelp, jumpers, other junk in the water, birds.

Scott.
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Old 09-10-2009, 07:39 AM   #5
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Default Re: Would like some hints on how to search (hunt) for Tuna

Animals are all the same, they leave sign showing where they are and have been.

Once you get to the likely spots, you need to find these signs and track them down. Elk/Deer leave foot prints and little round pellets to track them. Tuna leave tail tracks and a though the little round pellets sink, the urine stays near the surface. We often sample the water for PH. When we get a lower than average reading we know he tuna have been there or are there. The last couple trips we didnt have any PH strips left and we just tasted the water. You will know when the urine count is high. You need to keep an eye in the water for the tail tracks. When you see patterns of little swirls in the water about 4 to 6 inchs apart, you are hot on ones trail or shall we say tail. As the tail moves side to side these swirls are created. I have one guy I regularly crew with who can track a butterflys shadow across solid rock up to 3 days old. I think he is part apache, but he claims he is from ireland as he likes his alcohol. The guy can spot tail swirls in the water 50 feet from the boat.

Birds are always a good sign, but cant be counted on. We have caught a lot of tuna with no birds in sight. If you do see birds diving there are usually tuna under them pushing the bait up.

We have only had mild success with calling tuna to the boat. Sort of a pied piper approach to tuna fishing. I cant explain it, but listening to polka at a really loud volume, has shown some promise in bringing tuna right up to the boat. Our next trip we hope to take one with a bow and arrow and we will be using polka to draw them in.

Tuna only have two things on their mind, eating and shall we say....."the rutt". Most people use the eating technique to catch their tuna by putting bait in the water and using lures that simulate something they might eat. But capitalizing on their desire to make little tuna can be used also. It would be nice if tuna bugled like elk, and if they do it is on a frequency we havent found yet or it gets drowned out in all the water. Female tuna urine in estrus has been very effective for us this year. You only catch males, but by working a piece of water and continually putting some urine in estrus in the water you can draw a lot of males into the area. They get busy looking for receptive girls and dont do a whole lot of thinking. These grouped up fish are easier to catch in triples and quads.

The last thing we have had success with this year is decoys. Lifelike tuna decoys are made from a lightweight neutral bouyant material. We place 15 or 20 of these decoys behind the boat in a tight cluster. This draws other fish into the spread and we can catch them.
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Old 09-10-2009, 07:53 AM   #6
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Default Re: Would like some hints on how to search (hunt) for Tuna

As has been mentioned above it really is a hunt and peck show. use your knowledge to give you a starting point and the conditions of the day for what you put in the water. The last few trips for us it has been a one spot show.. we find the fish in one spot and keep figure eighting the spot.

use your radio and team up.. I hate the what are your numbers questions just as much as the next guy, but it helps give some clue to whats happening that may make your search a bit easier. If at all possible call the guys that are heading out there with you and ask if they'll share info and work the pack. where theres one fish there are more and as long as everyone maintains a respectable distance its all good..
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Old 09-10-2009, 08:01 AM   #7
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Default Re: Would like some hints on how to search (hunt) for Tuna

BOE,

You forgot to add the details of your unique tuna call which if I remember right is a very low frequency rumble that is amplified through the water column by use of a solid wood desk chair situated above his tuna coffin for proper resonance. The chili cheese fries BOE uses as a primer is another loosely held secret that enhances the effectiveness of this somewhat silent but deadly weapon.

The other thing I learned from BOE is that if you can get the boat far enough below the water after a good launch, you can actually see the fish you are targeting through the front windows. This is a very, very effective method for finding fish for BOE as we all know.

Nice work BOE. Made me laugh.

-lol
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Old 09-10-2009, 08:04 AM   #8
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Default Re: Would like some hints on how to search (hunt) for Tuna

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bait O' Eggs View Post
Our next trip we hope to take one with a bow and arrow and we will be using polka to draw them in.

Too bad Tred Barta's laid up or you could probably get him to do a show on taking a tuna with his long bow.


The last thing we have had success with this year is decoys. Lifelike tuna decoys are made from a lightweight neutral bouyant material. We place 15 or 20 of these decoys behind the boat in a tight cluster. This draws other fish into the spread and we can catch them.
So where in the world do you find Tuna decoys??? Or are you just having fun?
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Old 09-10-2009, 08:06 AM   #9
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Default Re: Would like some hints on how to search (hunt) for Tuna

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Originally Posted by lurking_out_loud View Post
Nice work BOE. Made me laugh.

-lol
Ok, Look like I've been had
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Old 09-10-2009, 08:23 AM   #10
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Default Re: Would like some hints on how to search (hunt) for Tuna

By the master sir.
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Old 09-10-2009, 08:29 AM   #11
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Default Re: Would like some hints on how to search (hunt) for Tuna

Keep it real simple. Look at the forecast, then team up with a buddy boat or boats. Then you can cover more ground and relay info on the radio if one of you finds the fish. Head for your targeted area.....West. Keep an eye out for birds on the horizon, as stated above. They don't always show where the tuna are at, but it helps. Look for birds congregating, diving, even sitting, as they may be sitting on a pile of bait fish. As you approach, do so cautiously. Spooking the birds usually spooks everything. If that happens, move away and watch what the birds do, then follow them.

Jumpers. Look for them "jumping". Or finning. Sometimes no birds needed as they will come out of the water. A good pair of polarized shades comes in handy. Also, as stated above, look for floating objects. Tuesday, we found a floating pallet....but no fish. This late in the game, it's a "run and gun" show. I like to cast 2 oz. swimbaits (able to cast them farther....don't have to get as close to the fish in case they are shy). If you DO get into fish, mark the spot on your GPS. Once the fish move (or go down), look in the same area for more birds (sometimes even a single) or more fish finning or jumping. Also, watch the direction the fish are feeding. Watch your "track" on your GPS as you will be moving away from the fish too. Then get back on them. If it REALLY dies, move. BUT, give the previous spot some time. Come back later in an hour or too. Usually, this is not necessary, but it can pay off.

The best resource is this board. Make friends, team up and hunt them down. Just my . Hope it helps.
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Old 09-10-2009, 02:08 PM   #12
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Default Re: Would like some hints on how to search (hunt) for Tuna

Take someone (like me) who is hopelessly addicted to casting to jumpers with jigs and swimbaits and makes their own swimbaits and jigs so they own hundreds and hundreds of all the good colors and them some.

One trip and you will have a terrible case of JUMPERITIS cureable only with large doses of jumpers caught on light gear until arms are like putty and you are actually happy when the fish breaks off or comes unhooked.

Cure only lasts a few minutes to a few hours so apply liberally.

But all this only applies to the late season tatics as early in the season like in june and july you see none or almost no jumpers and will still catch insane amounts of fish trolling the traditional gear. That is when temp breaks and color changes are most important and are the signals you are looking for to find the fish.

The late season run and gun is what I wait all year for (and now my lower unit needs replaced..long story) and is by far the most fun. when I troll for tuna early season I only reel in a fish if I have to or when the crew begs me to not make them reel in another one...LOL

Also try a search for tatics on here as it has been covered alot before and there is a ton of info to learn from.

Luke
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Old 09-10-2009, 03:52 PM   #13
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Default Re: Would like some hints on how to search (hunt) for Tuna

I am a salty pup myself, but here goes For me the "Hunt" starts the night before. Final checks of terrafin, noaa, stormsurf, tides, etc. I only joined the Salty Dogs 3-months ago, but I have learned a bunch from forums just like this one. I always check the Salty Dogs right before I go to bed before a trip; two trips ago I changed from Newport to Charleston based on last-minute intelligence, and caught 17 jumpers. Here's what I look for "On the hunt".
  1. Everything else being equal (which I realize often isn't the case) I like to get off-shore; head more west than northwest or southwest, particularly if range/distance is an issue
  2. I like an area with lots of other good spots nearby, in case my first thoughts don't pan out
  3. I like spots that start more in the middle of good water, with even better small temp/color breaks nearby, rather than starting on the edge of green/cool water and hoping the tuna will be right on the other side
  4. I like to map out a set of way points the night before on my GPS, that follow the center of interesting color/temp breaks.
  5. If I'm not getting any "love" I will pick up everything and move a few miles away, using my pre-set points, rather than hope to troll my way out of dead water.
  6. Every time I see or catch fish, I mark the location. This provides several waypoints with good conditions that I can circle back to later that day. This also helps me post an accurate Salty Dog Lat/Lon report that night, to help out other Salty Dogs who may be heading out early the next morning (You need to stay up plenty late, or check in the morning before you head out, to catch my "day-of" reports It's often around midnight by the time I clean tuna, wash boat, and trailer it all back to Springfield and make my post)
  7. This time of year the fish are surface feeding a lot. My last 3 trips I haven't actually started fishing until I saw jumpers or bird activity, despite the fact that the warmer/bluer water started several miles closer in
  8. It was pretty hard to spot jumpers yesterday (9/9, wind, swells, & chop), but if you could spot even a few birds circling a ways out there, we would usually find tuna. On Hank's beautiful 24' North River "Silver Bullet", I spent most of my day standing on the highest vantage looking for birds. This tactic paid off very well for us
  9. One tip that has worked for me this year goes against some conventional tuna wisdom "don't leave tuna to find tuna". Where we first started catching fish, there were other boats in the area, the fish were a bit skittish, and too often the jumpers were closer to another boat. We went back to our terrafin charts (printed and on board), headed towards our next pre-defined target, and found a bunch of tuna with no other boat pressure. I have done this a couple of times this year, and it has worked well for me. Find your own fish, it is more fun and (for me) has been very productive
  10. If you want to see specifically what we were looking at on Terrafin for our 9/9 adventure, the center of our search pattern was around 45.02/125.03. Excellent temp, good color breaks, lots of other very good water nearby. We started catching jumpers short of this location, caught several more past this location, and saw a bunch of jumpers while cruising in late that afternoon with a pretty nice load of tuna.
Good luck!

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Old 09-10-2009, 06:15 PM   #14
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Default Re: Would like some hints on how to search (hunt) for Tuna

Fred Archer's Modern Tuna Trolling...great read and it will teach you to be a better tuna hunter.
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Old 09-10-2009, 09:14 PM   #15
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Default Re: Would like some hints on how to search (hunt) for Tuna

All here make excellent points. I am very wet behind the ears - having all of two trips out this year - my only trips out with my boat. I started out tentative, with no experiance being that far offshore, always had friends around. From my limited experiance, if you have done your homework - you are probably in the right general vicinity. I found, no, my friends, put me on easy fish early on at around 20 miles out - July 4th. Second trip, was different, had 5 fish all morning, then, dissappointed, just trolled toward the barn, and boated 7 more on the way. Learned later, a few miles west, would have made a huge difference, although one buddy boat had a stellar day, in my same general area. The boat was green and yellow - just don't get that! Tuna must like (the) Ducks (too). Anyway, if your in the right area, it appears to me, that your search needs to go west - north and south seem less important. The first trip, birds were everywhere, lots and lots of birds, easy to see you were in the right place. Second trip, hardly any birds around - scratch fishing, if that. Only needed to have gone an extra 5 miles and the reports were plugged boats - just should have headed all the way to where I said I should go in the first place. Always anxious to get those lines in the water when you see blue and temp. - but thats not always enough. Now to figure out if I over ran fish, or they just snuck in behind me!
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Old 09-10-2009, 09:47 PM   #16
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Default Re: Would like some hints on how to search (hunt) for Tuna

Quote:
Originally Posted by PoiToy View Post
Keep it real simple.

The best resource is this board. Make friends, team up and hunt them down. Just my . Hope it helps.
Or Troll with a large Hawaiian with at leased 100 feet of leader that way you can't hear him hollering
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Old 09-10-2009, 10:50 PM   #17
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Default Re: Would like some hints on how to search (hunt) for Tuna

This is my third season of tuna fishing. Gave up Salmon fishing in Canada this year to focus on tuna! This late season stuff is challenging compared to early season.... as I've heard it said, it's easy to catch tuna in June and July!

At any rate, at the risk of repeating what's already been said, here's my 2 cents.

Use Terrafin, Ripacharts, etc to find the water you want to fish.
Pump all your friends for coordinates.
When you get there, look for birds! Every successful trip this late season has been when we found birds. If they are sitting on the water, we troll around them. If we see jumpers or birds diving, we've has some success trolling in tighter and tighter circles until you cross the edge of the school. We start our circling a good distance away and then tighten it.
Casting to jumpers is the ultimate challenge - getting close enough without spooking them. This is something we're still learning how to do. We try to get upwind of the school, shut down the motor and start casting.
Don't be afraid to stop and fish if you like the conditions. Too many times it's easy to get focused on running to the magic spot on your GPS and you run right over fish.
Go to lighter gear on your casting "stuff". After reading Salty Dog I put together an 8' Ugly Stick (8-20 lb) with 40 lb Power Pro, small swivel with 18 inches of 30 lb leader tied directly to the swimbait (2 oz). You can cast quite a ways, and you get a great fight!
Read Salty Dog for lots of advice - I can't tell you how much I've learned from reading the threads here.
Finally, see if you can ride along with an experienced tuna captain - or invite him to fish with you on your boat. I did this earlier this year with one of our best tuna skippers. It was a real eye-opener!

Best of Luck!

Dave Laird
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Old 09-11-2009, 03:34 PM   #18
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Default Re: Would like some hints on how to search (hunt) for Tuna

Watch the birds. I am quite reluctant to pass up an area with mega bird activity regardless of my plans made on the beach.

I do bird watching as part of my sea-sick abatement program. But the side benefit is that after many years of bird watching I can discern behavior that screams "fish here!!!!!" from a long ways off even in rough water that makes it hard to see jumpers. For example just this week I saw the dog paddle on the tuna back behavior two days in a row. The birds performing this stunt are sitting on the water in small groups of one to twenty. They sit there on a school of bait fish until the tuna start breaking the surface nearby and then they extend the wings up at a 45 degree angle and paddle furiously with their feet into the wind towards the breaking fish. If you see this close up it looks like the birds are surfing on the backs of the fish. As they do this they gulp bait which the TUNA! blow out of the water in hot pursuit. At a distance you will see a shearwater or two hop up in the air and go back down very quickly as it flies twenty yards to the new boil.

The other thing you can see from a ways off is the sharp turn and dive of a cruising bird. Remember that birds are in the fish finding business and as a matter of survival are quite good at it.

There are many other 'birds on fish' behaviors which I'm sure all of you have seen in our trips offshore.

Enough about birds.

As odd as it sounds, I like the "same old spot". More often than not when we are on fish, a trip to the GPS to mark the spot ends with .. "Hey, we were here last year". For some reason rip lines and breaks form within a hundred yards of where they did before. And tuna being mainly concerned with eating the baitfish that like those rips and breaks are there every year too.

My guess is that the underwater structure did not move in the last year and the California current remains constant north to south every summer.

Therefore => the fish are in the same old spot. The spot known as '61 degrees' or 'Area 61' is a prime example of this maxim. I named this spot one day after seeing some 50 waypoints in a square mile area. Those waypoints were collected on a old non-charting GPS over several years of random fishing and when they were loaded into a newer GPS unit the structure and the blob of waypoints at it's tip made the lights go on for me.

As I head to the same old spot I look for life. Anything which indicates activity. This can be birds in any number, a color change or stuff floating in the water. And the biggest clue, airborne fish. There have been a few days when airborne fish led to very exciting fishing in places I almost always run through at high speed.

The other thing is the walking of the dock. You can learn alot about where you will fish tomorrow by talking to those who fished today. SO get out there and find those blood splattered fishers who are just getting in with a load of free range, organic, pacific pork.

Tight lines.
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Old 09-12-2009, 04:11 AM   #19
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Default Re: Would like some hints on how to search (hunt) for Tuna

As said by others look for structure which creates upwellings.Birds,rips,temp breaks any kind of activity on the water may raise fish.If you do not find any of the above then try fishing a mile and then run a mile until fish are found.You can fast troll up to about 13 knots until fish are located.Corrirod had a clone out while I was running 14 knotts the other day and bingo he caught a fish .We stopped and ended up fishing the spot all day and filled the boat.Keep your ears open at the dock get a general are where fish have been caught.Keep a log book and write down where you find fish and what time of year.It has taken many of us years to come up with patterns.I wish I could of gone to the internet 20 years ago and just asked.Good luck
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Old 09-12-2009, 06:41 PM   #20
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Default Re: Would like some hints on how to search (hunt) for Tuna

Quote:
Originally Posted by Black Bolt View Post
This is my third season of tuna fishing. Gave up Salmon fishing in Canada this year to focus on tuna! This late season stuff is challenging compared to early season.... as I've heard it said, it's easy to catch tuna in June and July!

At any rate, at the risk of repeating what's already been said, here's my 2 cents.

Use Terrafin, Ripacharts, etc to find the water you want to fish.
Pump all your friends for coordinates.
When you get there, look for birds! Every successful trip this late season has been when we found birds. If they are sitting on the water, we troll around them. If we see jumpers or birds diving, we've has some success trolling in tighter and tighter circles until you cross the edge of the school. We start our circling a good distance away and then tighten it.
Casting to jumpers is the ultimate challenge - getting close enough without spooking them. This is something we're still learning how to do. We try to get upwind of the school, shut down the motor and start casting.
Don't be afraid to stop and fish if you like the conditions. Too many times it's easy to get focused on running to the magic spot on your GPS and you run right over fish.
Go to lighter gear on your casting "stuff". After reading Salty Dog I put together an 8' Ugly Stick (8-20 lb) with 40 lb Power Pro, small swivel with 18 inches of 30 lb leader tied directly to the swimbait (2 oz). You can cast quite a ways, and you get a great fight!
Read Salty Dog for lots of advice - I can't tell you how much I've learned from reading the threads here.
Finally, see if you can ride along with an experienced tuna captain - or invite him to fish with you on your boat. I did this earlier this year with one of our best tuna skippers. It was a real eye-opener!

Best of Luck!

Dave Laird
Black Bolt
Thank you for your insight into the tuna game. If you need a crewman who is comfortable offshore, willing to work hard and learn from your experience, give me a call. I live in North Bend and am free most of the time to go and learn from anyone with your experience. Looking especially for techniques to sneak and cast into late season fish. Have caught two this way and they sure were fun.

Met you at the docks last Wednesday

Dick Stroud of the "Lady Ellen"
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Old 09-13-2009, 10:32 AM   #21
HappyTunafisherman
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Default Re: Would like some hints on how to search (hunt) for Tuna

Thank you Salty Dogs for sharing your knowledge and experience with us Salty Pups. Using the hunting techiques in this tread will make us much better Tuna Fisherman.

Also plan to buy Fed Archer's Moden Tuna Trolling (thanks Seelicious) to see what other techniqes are good.

Want to also thank Bait O' Eggs for the humor he brought to this thread. Laughed so hard reading his message that it brought tears to my eyes.

The Happy Tuna Fisherman (Gil)
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Old 09-13-2009, 11:16 AM   #22
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Default Re: Would like some hints on how to search (hunt) for Tuna

Brook, I resemble that remark. I heard we are a very attractive race, which is why we have a high catch rate. LOL See also the tread about the cheese grater....probably Hawaiian. Also, dark color, dark day so troll us accordingly, except me.
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