Dick Pinney's Guide Lines: Catching bluefin is intoxicating, dangerousBy DICK PINNEY June 10. 2018 3:31AM
So you are sure you want to catch a giant bluefin tuna? If so, my first suggestion would be to make an appointment with your local "shrink" and find out for sure that you are lucid and have all your marbles together!
It's only kind of a joke as giant tuna fishing is very intoxicating and can take over whatever sanity you have left! It's the most addictive outdoor activity that we've ever been involved with and can take over your whole life. And we are very serious when we make this statement, as you'll quickly find out for yourself.
It starts when you mix with some very experienced tuna fishermen and try to pick their brains, and become enchanted with their stories to the point that it's kind of addictive just to get absorbed with their stories and excitement. And until you live through (hopefully) having one of those monstrous fish on a rod and reel or handline yourself, you will no longer doubt and blame the story tellers for exaggeration!
To start off, you'll need to gather as much information from tried and true veteran tuna fishermen, especially those who probably had their start by catching them on handlines. Better still, if you can hitch a ride or two aboard one of their boats and watch and take notes of their systems, you will be so much better prepared for a mind-boggling experience where the big fish rules the battle for some time before it gets tired and brings some sanity to what you are trying to accomplish.
Believe me when we say that the fish plays you for the first half of the battle and you play it for the last half (hopefully if you haven't had a hook pull or a line or leader snap).
We are not exaggerating. This is especially true if you are fishing with handlines where the chances of getting wrapped up in the fishing lines make this a very dangerous undertaking.
We suggest that anyone new to giant tuna fishing with any kind of gear should take a few trips with an old pro at this game. There are things you should do and that you should not do that can injure or take a life if not properly advised of the safety aspects of this giant bluefin tuna fishing.
After a hook-up, when you have some control over the fish, it's easy to let your guard down, especially when you've brought the fish up to the side of you boat. If you've been fishing with handlines, you want to make sure that, as you recover the line back to your boat during the process of fighting the fish, the fishing lines are not just scattered around the deck or your boat!
If you are fishing with suitable-sized tuna gear, it's very important that your drag is set so, if a fish you've brought alongside your boat is able to pull some "drag" off your reel, it won't pull you to the rail, or worse, over the rail!
Until you've actually hooked and played a giant bluefin, or been an observer of this action, it's hard to believe that it's true that the tuna plays you the first part of the fight and then when it tires you get a chance to reverse this challenge! When they are brought alongside the boat is a very dangerous time as you are no match for their strength and coils of line that you've recovered in the battle seem to have the knack of finding an ankle or arm to snag on to!
Don't ever try to bring a "green" tuna aboard! You need to play them-out until they are really docile and turn up on their side. But that is also time to beware as often when they feel the bite of a gaff hook that they find new life and can be a very dangerous opponent!
Some people like to "finish them off" by shooting them with a gun when brought alongside. To me that is a very dangerous method! A loaded gun being handled by an exhausted crew member is a scary and risky thing. Patience is the key and shooting a tuna alongside a boat is not the way to go! Just be patient and let the fish's loss of blood and exhaustion lead you to an easier way to get another line on the fish - most often called a tail-wrap.
When you finally get the fish onboard, that's the time to do some celebrating but that DOES NOT include inebriation! The serious partying should be delayed until the fish is duly covered with ice and canvas and in the back of a pickup truck on the way to the fish buyer. Then a call to a sober friend (or a wife) can be made to secure some safe time for "rockin'-and-rollin'."
We can't remember many times that can compete with landing our first giant bluefin and watching the fish being loaded up and taken to the market!
"Celebration-Time." Hah-hah! Let the good times roll!
Dick Pinney's column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email him at DoDuckInn@aol.com.