Bluefin tuna are one of the greatest challenges to anglers off the coast of New England, and Massachusetts continues to be a center of activity for giant bluefin tuna.Most tuna are caught chunking or trolling. I will describe the techniques used by top crews to catch these giants.
Chunking for Bluefin involves archoring on a good fishing spot known to hold bluefin. Once anchored, top crews deploy chunks, stick baits and live baits suspended on ballons at different depths. Most captains have their crew position the baits where at the depth they mark tuna fish on their fish finder.
Many top captains use Gamahastu Live Bait hooks. In determining the hook size, it is important to match the hook to the size bait that you are using. You shouldn't use a hook that is too large, because it will detract from the presentation of the bait.
All top crews use fluorocaron leader. Leader varies from 150-lb to 220lb, with many crews fishing light gear (150-180) to get bites when they are hard to come by. Most crews start off with a long leader (say 15 feet), so they can cut back and recimpt the hook on if their leader gets nicked up by dogfish or other pests.
Many crews using light fluorocarbon also use H crimps instead of G crimps for their 150 or 180 fluoro. The lower profile H crimp must be done carefullly, preferably using the Jinkai crimping tool listed on this page.
They also use these crimps to attach a small wind on swivel. This way, the leader can be wound all the way on the spool, protecting the flurocarbon during storage, ensuring clean decks, and allowing the angler to reel the fish as close as needed to harpoon it.
All crews attach the sinkers and ballons using rubber bands. Sinker weight is selcted based on the spped of the current and the desired depth that you are trying to fish.
Most crews that troll bluefin fish spreader bars from their outriggers at about 3-4 knots. Most crews fish three to four spreader bars, two from the outriggers and one or two flat lines. Outriggers are rigged with roller trollers so that the line can be reeled through the clip to tease the fish into striking again if he misses the first time. The clip is set tight so that the outrigger sets the hook on the fish.
Fisherman use different spreader bar sizes and colors in their trolling spread based on experience and conditions. Snap swivels are used so that rigs can be swapped out easily. Thimbles and heavy chafe gear protect the mono where it connects to the hook and swivel. Most crews use the Mustad or VMC southern tuna hook style on their trolling rigs.