I should make this one into a video. Count on it soon, I’m just warming up. I’ll touch on some points here as if I were in some way experienced at taking people fishing. Since 2004, I feel like I am still learning. And I am forever the optimist.
One of our favorites happens with run and gun tuna fishing.
As many of you know, it is one of the most demanding forms of fishing known. Think about it…the goal of the day is to outfit my customers with spinning gear capable of throwing a lure at breaking bluefin tuna that may be in the 300-500 pound range. This is incredible. Success is measured often in chances at fish, not just hooking a fish, let alone landing one. As a captain, my job is to put you in the ball park…in the ballpark when the game is going on. These schools of fish often move very fast and can cover 100 miles in a day. Sometimes they pattern themselves and myself and other captains communicate. It helps.
Since mastery of the gear is important, in the parking lot or at the dock I often ask each customer, “which hand holds the spinning rod and which hand turns the handle?” I understand that many people HEAR “are you a lefty or a righty?” Well, that confuses things, so I ask again the same question. Good. Two guys reel in with their left hand and one reels in with his right hand. I show them the spinning reels that match their description of left/right hand retrieve. It is incredible how many people then hold the rod and say “Oh no, I was wrong. I need it the other way.” It is good to make this mistake at the pier, because to switch the handle means that I have to take the handle off, take a tiny set screw off the handle, get another internal handle mechanism, and then put it all back together.
But was is even more incredible is when we get to the fishing grounds and tuna are breaking and one or two guys says “oh man, I was wrong. I can’t reel in this way.” Now imagine this…the fish are breaking and I can’t quickly get a reel into your hands that you can use. If I stop what I am doing, we run the risk of losing the school and missing a great chance at these fish. This is an important lesson…that’s why I started my talk with this one and ranted for a while. If you’re reading it still, thank you. More fun stuff to follow.
I was on my boat with three guys once and all three said that they reeled in with their right hands. This typically means that there are three left-handed guys on the boat. 1 in 8 times 1 in 8 times 1 in 8…I think that’s .19% chance….or 2 in a thousand…. Another captain on the radio says “if that’s true, but a lottery ticket, but I’ll bet you none of them reel in with their right hand!” He was right. I have only once had 3 guys all reel in with their right hands (and yes, out of about 500 tuna trips!!!)
Another classic “reeling in” snafu revolves around this issue. On many occasions I have had guys grab a rod, only to realize that they were wrong in their estimation of left/right.. So what do they do? They turn the reel over and reel backwards. The reels are about $1,000..Rods are $200… Line is $100. The lure may be $100….and there is no way a guy is going to hold on properly to this rod if he is holding it upside down when the tuna hits. And there is no way to reel one in. And the rod isn’t designed to bend backwards. But guys try….
Now getting back to the $1,400 rod and reel that my customers are using.. It’s a freshwater thing often or an inexperience thing as well…but this is big time fishing. We are casting lures that are heavy; lures that can pull a rod out of your hand if they get knotted or something happens on the cast. There is a character on the show “The Mandalorian” that got famous for his final line in each conversation “I have spoken.” I feel like there is one way to cast a lure on my boat, with my gear. “My way.” But the flexibility is given as long as guys hold onto the rod during their casts.
When casting a lure at tuna, BOTH HANDS HAVE TO BE ON THE ROD, FIRMLY HOLDING THE ROD DURING THE ENTIRE CAST. I see guys throwing the lure, then holding onto the end of the rod like they’re flyfishing, putting their other hand behind their backs almost. Other guys hold on with both hands, but release their top hand during the cast, sliding it loosely down the rod. It’s at this point, please help me if I’m out of line, that I remind everyone on the boat that their fare doesn’t cover throwing my rods in the water. I remind them that they are using $1,400 rods and that they should use two hands. In addition to making better, longer casts, they are safeguarding a significant piece of machinery. Furthermore, the second the lure hits the water, they have to close the bail and start a retrieve immediately. (I’ll talk about technique coming up.)
I’ll end with “immediately”….there are guys who bring their own gear and I love this. These are the guys that are really dedicated to the sport. They often have more gear than I do. Fishing is like that. It is an addiction and tuna fishing is the crack. Immediately….if you’re going to bring your gear, get it ready before getting on the boat…We leave the pier early to get to the fishing grounds early….BECAUSE THAT IS WHEN THE FISH BITE most often; most regularly. If you wait til we get there to put a leader on; to tie a lure on…you might just miss your best chance of the day. I have had people catch fish on their very first cast for tuna. Ever! It’s the best feeling in the world. And I have had guys go many trips without a bite.
So what do we have so far? Know how to use a spinning reel. If you can practice, it helps. Hold on tight to the rod. Be ready. Know that this game happens fast; seconds count.. Sometimes split seconds count. Making that perfect cast means Where?–Lead the fish; put it exactly where the fish will see it. When? Often times when I say “cast”, letting it fly as the “c” comes out of my mouth. How?–Means these lures don’t impart action themselves–you have to make it dance.
Oh yes, I haven’t typed in a while.. More to come. And ask questions all day. I love talking fishing…