Tuna tourney-the journey Day 1 of 3

The following is a three day journal account from local anglerTom Kolasinski, who was prefishing for a tuna tournament on the ECLIPSE with Alex and Carlos offshore. There are three posts for this one.

2012 October 9, 11 and 13 Fish Tales Trilogy Part 1

Let’s call this a trilogy as the first 2 days are preparation for the third, which is the first annual Tuna Shoot Out. It’s Tuesday and the tournament for tuna is on Saturday. I will fish today and Thursday preparing for the tournament. Two things in the back of my mind are; no one is finding let alone catching many tuna and the weather forecast for Saturday is “Small Craft Warning”.

Though I’ve heard tuna have been caught at the Gordo Banks, that’s a 2 1/2 hour boat ride one-way. Given the tournament starts at 7am, you need to be at the scales by 4 pm., you need a 1/2 hour to get sardines and an hour to make bait, that leaves only about 2 1/2 hours of fishing time. Not good for Plan A.

Plan B is to come up with a Plan C: Spend the next 2 fishing days scoping out the 250 square miles of fishing grounds for porpoise and hopefully the tuna that swims with them. We are off the dock at 6:30am and spend the next 1 1/2 hours getting sardines and bait. Then we head south for about 35 miles looking for porpoise. We find a small school of the grey with white belly porpoise., the kind that look like Flipper.

Our approach to fishing the porpoise is to troll in and out of the school, dragging lures (usually cedar plugs and hoochies) and chumming with live sardines. The sardines are tossed off the back of the boat 2 and 3 at a time. If there are tuna then they should start surfacing, feeding on the chummed sardines or hitting the lures. If either happens, then we put the boat in idle and toss big handfuls of sardines and drop back fishing lines hooked up with a live sardine attached. If the tuna are here and in big numbers, we have had 7 tuna hooked and ready to be reeled in at one time (4 on the trolled lures and 3 on rods rigged with hook and sardine). We zigzag thru the porpoise for about an hour with nothing happening. So we stop the chumming and turn south looking for more porpoise.

About 30 miles south and 15 miles offshore, the left outrigger Goes “POP” and we are hooked up to a nice-sized dorado. I am reeling it in, Carlos is clearing the other rods, while Alex yells out that there are other dorado. They are working up a feeding frenzy around the hooked one.

I slow down on my reeling and Carlos grabs a rod set up with a hook and rigs a live sardine; drops it back with one hand as he chums more sardines with the other. Another hookup! We stick the new hookup in a rod holder and drop back another baited hook. Another hookup! My dorado is at the boat so Alex having put the boat in idle, comes down and gaffs it. Gives it a couple whacks with the tree-limb fish bonker (2 nice things about these fish bonkers; they are free and float if dropped over board) and slides the subdued fish into the fish box.

Carlos hands me another rod and I start reeling the third hookup. Alex repeats the gaffing with Carlos´s fish and then mine. Nice start. We have three, 20-30 lb dorado in the box! Now we cleanup the deck and re-rig the lures and continue to look for the porpoise. Its 15 minutes later and we do a repeat, only this time we had 4 dorado on at once managing to put 3 in the fish box. At the end of the day, no tuna but 6 nice dorado for everyone to make up lots of ceviche. Life is Good!


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