Current Waters: Watching For Tuna
Captain Carl Bois •
The in-shore fishery is strong right now with bluefish and striped bass here and in great numbers. Really happy with what we’re seeing for the size and quality of fish. The variety of sizes bodes well for the future of both fisheries.
This is the time of year when our world famous bluefin tuna bite begins. This past week we went out on our first scouting mission to the east. Most of our starting points are two hours from the dock so this is an all-day excursion. This was a recon mission to see what things might look like.
Bluefin tuna are one of the largest fish in the ocean and can grow up to 13 feet and weigh more than 1,000 pounds. They are found throughout the North Atlantic Ocean. Atlantic bluefin tuna are highly migratory and they swim across the great Atlantic at speeds in excess of 40 miles per hour.
This species is managed under the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan along with many amendments. These include commercial and recreational fishermen who are required to have a permit to harvest bluefin tuna. There is also an annual quota and sub-quotas. In addition, there are gear restrictions, time and area closures, and minimum size limits of bluefin tuna. In recent years, the tuna fishery has been outstanding. If you can get out, it’s a good time to check that off your bucket list.
Going out to fish for bluefin tuna takes a certain kind of passion (or insanity depending on your perspective). It’s a spiritual experience for some, a bucket list adventure, and a recon opportunity.
We may not have found any bluefin the other day, but the trip was not a loss. Spending time offshore is always a positive. When looking for tuna you read the signs on the water. Where are the birds? Where is the bait? From the surface, the ocean looks like one vast expanse of the same. But it’s best to know your waters and what’s beneath.
We had a great whale show – minke, pilot, humpbacks and finbacks are common sights in these waters. Seals are also a familiar sight, stealing the bait off our hooks.
The bird life was also spectacular. Many pelagic birds never come near shore and getting out into their environment is the only way to see them in action. Shearwaters, parasitic jaeger, petrels, and northern gannets to name a few.
We may not have gotten the bite this time, but it looks like it will come together soon. The dinner table has been set, we’re just waiting for the guest of honor to arrive. Steaming home after the day on the water without the big tuna, I’m filling out fishing reports and reflecting on the day. This is the time to record the conditions, what we saw, and what we had for bites.
Sometimes it’s in a journal or in your head, but taken together, each excursion provides info on weather, water temp, conditions, time of year, bait patterns, bird shows, etc. My journal and the info gathered over time allows me to compare notes from previous years. Data taken together over time shows patterns. For those of you really into your fishing – whatever the species – keeping a journal over the years of yours and other people’s successes together shows trends and patterns that you can capitalize on in future trips.
Yes, we always love the catch, but spending the time out there in the vast ocean of our backyard is never a waste of time.
My father, a Maine guide for the past 40 plus years, was the one who taught me my passion for fishing. So get out there this father’s day weekend and go fishing. Take someone who has never been. Teach something to a new angler. You may end up catching something or you may share a story, an experience, and a site of something new.