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Thread: trolling tuna....high speed

  1. #1
    NBS Extreme Angler Jim's Avatar
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    Jun 2006
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    trolling tuna....high speed

    Every boat and every captain has different ideas about offshore lure selection, presentation and how to rig them. I?m going to tell you about what we do on my boat, the WINDY. For years we trolled around offshore with an assortment of high speed lures that looked like a smorgasbord of green, yellow, red and white and what ever else I was attracted to on the walls of the tackle stores I dealt with. When we first started offshore we fished jap feathers, cedar plugs and rigged baits. However the days of seeing a swordfish horned up, white marlin tailing the surface and boats charging

    through acres of school bluefin tuna are gone. Now when we leave the dock for a day of trolling we don?t even have a rigged trolling squid on board. The jap feathers and cedar plugs are hanging on the shelves of my basement gathering dust and mildew. Today we head offshore primarily for yellowfins, longfin albacore, and the occasional white marlin with an assortment of plastic lures that we teach to swim behind the boat at seven point three knots.

    Although we carry many different colors of each lure on the WINDY, only a few ever hit the water. The primary color we use is zucchini. No matter what lure we put out it?s a good one as long as it?s a zucchini. We fish a pattern of twelve rods on most days and fourteen on occasion and at times all but two will have a zucchini colored lure on it. My idea is to make a school of fish behind the boat all basically looking alike and doing the same thing. Have you ever been sitting at the dock watching a school of spearing, noticing that one is out of place with an injury of some sort and watch a snapper single that one out and eat him. That?s where the idea for the two oddball lures originates.

    My favorite lure is the Sevenstrand Tuna Clone at two and a half ounces and it?s larger cousin the Bigeye Clone at five ounces, both in zucchini, followed by Psychobeads (Green Machines, although I like the yellow better than green), Super Plys (Soft Head Green Machines) in zucchini, followed by bullet shaped jet heads in three and five ounces and the small straight running Zuker grass skirt. We also have on board several specialty lures for when its rough. These are straight runners in the eight to twelve ounce range. The changeling colors that I like are sablefish (black and purple) or mean joe green (black and green). The oddball lure can also be a zucchini colored lure of a different type within the pattern, or you can trim the skirt on any of these lures to give them a totally different appearance. When you give the lure a hair cut, you?re making a long lure appear fat and dumpy or the oddball in the school.

    We have also been experimenting with high speed spreader bars. These are 30" stainless steel wire spreaders that are rigged with eighteen or more zucchini colored shell squid. They can be used in place of a bird or in conjunction with a bird. I rig mine with a three hundred pound snap swivel hidden in the last squid and snap any lure we choose onto the rig. I fish them in the same position that I would any other lure. Put six squid rigs in the water and you?ll definitely create a commotion back there. It?s very impressive. Try to keep away from the big splashing lures, unless you?re trying to attract a big blue marlin. They just don?t seem to get the strikes that a straight running lure will.

    OK, now lets put some lures in the water. We fish two rods off of each Outrigger on the WINDY; we call them the near and far rigger. These are all fifty pound trolling rods equipped with wide fifties. I don?t like this reel but it?s a necessity because of the line capacity. The first two rods we put in the water are the far riggers, usually a yellow Psychobead rigged off a bird. We fish them back, and I mean way back, as far as 200 yards, outside of the rest of the pattern. The near rigger is part of the pattern usually placed on the third wake. It is outside and is most often our oddball. Here we?ll put a zucchini Green Machine, a jet head or any lure that might suit my fancy at the moment. Next the flat lines go in. These lures come right off the tip of a fifty pound outfit and are fished inside the near rigger on the third wake and have a Zucchini Clone in tow. Next we fish six rods off the transom of the boat, four stand ups with thirty pound reels and two fifty pound trolling rods to even things out, all with zucchini Clones. These rods are alternately pinned down to the transom with a rubber band and are fished on the second and third wake. If its calm out we?ll fish two more fifties right down the middle, off the rod holders on the fighting chair. The idea of this pattern is to create multiple hook ups. Two, three, four or ten on at time is what we are looking for. In this day and age you might only get one bite during the day, and we want to make it count.

    The speed of the boat is not as critical as you might think. Every boat has its own quirks for raising fish. We have caught tuna and marlin at all speeds from six to thirteen knots. The WINDY is a single screw downeast hull and tends to raise fish best at seven point three knots. It seems to me that twin-screw boats tend to raise fish better going slightly faster, say around eight knots. Years ago when I had a boat that only cruised at twelve knots, and the tuna were only eight miles from The Point, I would put out a couple of rods as soon as we hit blue water, and it was common to get strikes at this speed. Watch your speed on your Loran or GPS and adjust for current and wind. You will find that there are great differences in speed depending on the direction you are going. Even on a dead calm day the speed of the boat can increase or decrease by two knots by trolling with or heading into the current. Pay attention to the direction you are trolling. If you raise up a fish going into the current and don?t get a strike when you turn around and go down tide, turn right back and head into the tide again. This will very often bring them up again. When you do hook up, keep the boat going as long as possible. This will increase your chances for multiples. Remember the best time to get a strike is when you?ve already got one the line. Sometimes a sharp turn will bring them up. If the near rigger goes off try turning the boat hard towards the fish, this will create big wake and a change in speed and direction of your lures. The lures on the outside of the turn will speed up and conversely the lures on the inside will slow down. Remember the odd ball in that school of spearing; anything out of sync will draw a look from a hungry tuna. If you find that you?re raising fish and not getting the hookups try speeding up slightly, this should increase the probability of a solid hook up.

    Now-a-days you?ve got to run long and far to catch tuna. The 43500 line is good place to start. That?s a far cry from the 43800 line of only a few years ago. When you get there you don?t want to be a non-participant. Make sure the lures you put out are proven catchers. By this I don?t mean you favorite beat up Green Machine. A new lure properly rigged that has bright sharp colors will always get more looks than a washed out, beat up one. Particularly with the Tuna and Big Eye Clones. If you fish them for a few days, you?ll see the color wash right out of that chartreuse head. When you see your lures looking dull, replace them. Never buy lures that pre-rigged, always do it yourself, and rig them so they look nice with hooks of correct size and proportion for the lure.

    The last thing I can tell you about high speed trolling offshore is that luck plays more of a factor in this type of fishing than any other. You can be there for the best bite of the season and still not raise up a fish. Even if you?ve got the right lures riding behind your boat, they?re rigged properly and the placement is correct, some days all you can do is wait and watch. Basically all the boats out there are doing the same thing you are. The ocean is very big and your boat covers only a speck on its surface. If you?ve got twelve of your best lures in the water, you?re in the right area, you?re going the right speed and you?re not hooking up, all it means is that you?re not passing over any fish. The boat is going through the water at seven knots and the tuna are swimming around at twelve knots and what?s needed for success is for it all to come together in the wake of your boat.

  2. #2
    NBS Member Got Rum?'s Avatar
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    Jun 2006
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    Mystic, CT/New York City
    A few additional tid-bits:

    I employ a few additional methods to my spread. In addition to getting length (distance from the boat) and width to the spread, I always try to get depth to it as well. We typically deploy a deep running lure in tight just outside of the wash-we'll drop a Mann's Stretch off a rod tip; use a downrigger to run a smaller swimming plug or a single stip teaser with a trolling spoon; or use a Braid Speedy.

    I've also borrowed a few southern methods to add to my trolling spread......running a strip teaser dredge (or the new Chaos Mojo dredges) off one cleat, and bowling pins or a Big Kahuna off the other cleat. The additional flash doesn't hurt.
    Still searchin for my lost shaker of salt.

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