Bluefin Tuna Fishing Cape Cod

We caught our first tuna on the Black Rose in 2005… It was all of 20# and 33″ long. We trolled a daisy chain as if we were fishing for yellowfin. I was addicted. In 2006, we trolled the basic squid bars all over Stellwagen Bank. It seemed easy. We caughtg tons of fish. We mainly used 50-wides and trolling rods. The fish were predominantly 43-47″ that year. I think we got a 51″ fish and it seemed “huge”…. In 2007 it all changed as we had a group that said “we want to use spinning gear for them..” By the end of the year my mind was blown. The action was incredible; the fights were something that gave you nightmares and dreams at the same time. We broke rods; we lost plugs. We learned new meanings to the term “wind knots”. The adrenaline of the chase still runs in my blood.

Capt Rich with a giant tuna
405# tuna in Cape Cod Bay

It was AWESOME. There was no turning back…well, maybe a little turning back. We found whales one summer, feeding on the edge of Stellwagen and noticed that the marks were down deep so we started jigging for them. We went from casting topwater lures to dropping iron down deep…we went from 8′ spinning rods to 5′ conventional rods. The leverage we could get on these fish with the shorter rods was a great feeling. Bigger fish started to come over the rails regularly.

Perfect sized bluefin tuna on Stellwagen Bank
Fishing Stellwagen Bank for tuna

Now, nearly 20 years after my first tuna, I’m an older man. Maybe even a wiser man. We have taken tuna pretty much every possible way: Topwater spinning rods…Trolling 50-wides. Trolling 80’s. Live bait on 50’s and 80’s. (does anyone remember when mackerel were scarce and we were paying $100/dozen for live pogies?). Whole live bluefish on kites…Deep jigging spinning rods. Dropping iron jigs to the bottom with conventional tackle. RonZ’s every way possible. Weightless 12″ Sluggos. Homemade popping Sluggo-rigs… Dropping live bait to the bottom with heavy sinkers, holding deep in the current. Now trolling Chatter Lures Side Tracker squid bars.

Giant Tuna fishing
Perfect form

You know what hasn’t changed? The excitement. The anticipation. The chase. The look of amazement on my customers’ faces. One day, after losing a grueling hour long battle with a mid-80’s inch tuna on a spinning rod, my customer in full weeping mode…proclaimed “I’m not crying because I lost the fish; I’m crying because I didn’t know that fishing could be so awesome!” I’ll never forget that. It really is incredible to see these big fish in action.

Giant tuna on Spinning Rod
East of Chatham, nice giant tuna

I’m glad that I don’t “just do tuna”. It’s not a fishery for everyone. Sometimes the bite isn’t “on”. The ocean feels enormous on those days. On those days, I dread hearing “Is there something else we can try to catch?” I always feel like “you have to put your time in/it could all change in an instant.” So many times in the past I have succumbed to the “whatya say we try something else” and hear on the radio when I am too far to return to the tuna “we’re tight” from other captains.

Giant tuna on spinning rod
He hooked this giant tuna east of Chatham

Some people say they want to fish for tuna because they want to fight something big. I get that. Totally. Many people with their own boats aren’t comfortable targeting something that big. If it’s a big-fish thing, I often recommend shark fishing. If it is truly a tuna thing, I smile at them and they smile back. They get it. That’s tuna fishing!

Two giant tuna
Every once in a while we double up on giant tuna.

I eat most of my tuna raw. When I first started fishing a Korean guy said that he ate almost everything raw. I looked at the bag of steaks and thought “no friggin way!” I was wrong. Ha. When you get some friends involved, you can go through a lot of fish quickly and you’ll enjoy it totally. Plan on eating it within about 5 days… Otherwise, freeze it…then vacuum seal the frozen fish. I find it better than bagging it and then freezing it. You get a better seal if you freeze the fish first.

354# tuna on spinning rod
90 minute battle on an 89″ bluefin tuna

We are very fortunate around Cape Cod to have this fishery. Because of the shape of Cape Cod, we are able to fish north of Cape Cod (Cape Cod Bay), Race Point/Peaked Hill Bar, Stellwagen Bank, the deep waters to the East, or along the whole back side of Cape Cod. Fishing south of Cape Cod leads us often “East” past Chatham to Crab Ledge, The Regal Sword, and the shipping lanes east of Nantucket. Also, south may mean the waters south of Martha’s Vineyard where we fish the Claw, Inside Fingers, the Dump, Tuna Ridge or other areas west of the Vineyard.

One of best tuna dishes
What a delicious meal

We target tuna from June through November. I’d love to see you out there for tuna or other species. Check out our pricing at our main page. Text or call me at 508-269-1882 or email at