Tuna Tips

Saltwater fisherman share stories, tips, etc.

Tuna Tips

Postby Mike Brooks » Mon Dec 08, 2008 9:07 am

Similar to other members of the mackerel family, bluefin tuna has a graceful, streamline appearance. The snout is pointed and the tail region is slender, both leading up to a robust body, hence providing for the "football" name often given to juvenile bluefin. All fins appear streamlined and the dorsal, pelvic and pectoral fins fit into slots in the body to reduce drag. A series of small, yellowish finlets occur from the second dorsal and anal fin to the caudal fin. Bluefin tuna are darkly colored on their dorsal surface with dark, shiny blue tones that can approach black. The dark coloration fades and becomes silvery towards the lateral line. Below the lateral line and the belly are silvery and may have irregular bands and spots that are iridescent white, gray and silver. Dorsal fins are dusky to black and ventral fins are dusky with lighter shades of white, gray, and silver.

Distribution

The bluefin tuna, one of the largest species of bony fish in the world, is renowned for its size, speed and beauty in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The known range of the Atlantic bluefin tuna is from Newfoundland to Brazil in the western Atlantic and Norway to central Africa in the east Atlantic.

Behavior

The movements and spawning habits of bluefin tuna still contain some mystery. Spawning is known to occur in the western Atlantic primarily in the Gulf of Mexico and within the Mediterranean Sea over in the eastern Atlantic. We have long known that many bluefin that spawn in the spring in the Gulf of Mexico will head north to feeding grounds along the U.S. continental shelf. There is a growing body of evidence that indicates western Atlantic bluefin tuna can interact with the spawning and feeding grounds in the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea. Despite being the same species, the expected age of first spawning is quite different for the two groups of tuna. Western bluefin are thought to mature at about age-8 when they weigh near 250 pounds. Eastern bluefin mature at about age-4 when they weigh less than 80 lbs. Hopefully, ongoing research on reproduction, migrations and stock identification will shed more light on the Atlantic stock composition of bluefin tuna.

Diet

They will aggregate and forage on concentrations of small pelagic prey like mackerel, sand lance, sea herring, menhaden and squid. In the absence of large schools of pelagic prey, they will feed on whatever they encounter throughout the water column. Bluefin are a schooling species that usually remain in schools of similar sized cohorts

Habitat

The bluefin's large size and capacity to visit all the temperate oceans of the world have made it a difficult species to study. Physically, they have the ability to retain metabolic heat, rendering them the closest thing to a warm-blooded fish. Being warmer than the surrounding water allows them conduct physiological processes faster than cold-blooded fish. Food digestion and oxygen transport can occur quicker and more efficiently. And the warmer bluefin can colonize colder regions of the Atlantic in search of prey.

Tip

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.

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.
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Mike Brooks
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