by Capt Bryan LoTufo

Six on can get hectic.
Tuna fishing is one of the most addictive forms of recreation I know. The fight that tunas exert is a big part of the allure, but for me, watching one of these torpedoes slamming my spread is the ultimate rush. Whether it is albacore, yellowfin, bigeye or bluefin, the reel?s song remains the same. A boil of white water, a screaming reel followed by my scream of "fish on"!

The 2005 season for albacore and yellowfin was a very good one. Captain Barry Kohlus and I had averaged ten tuna for each extended day trip we had embarked on. We had taken great pride in our success up to this point in the season, but in our business, you start each day with a clean slate. Somehow when close friends come out fishing the normal pressure to produce action for our clients is intensified. An extended day tuna trip is looked forward to for the entire year until the day finally arrives. You hope for a combination of good weather, good fishing and good luck. The culmination of these factors can produce great memories that will

last a lifetime. Those were my thoughts as we departed the dock at 3:00 am on this placid August morning. On board were my close friends, brothers Luke and Brennan, brothers Steve and Frank, Charlie and Mike. They had been fishing with us for the last fifteen years and were quite experienced.

At our nineteen knot cruising speed, the ride out took three hours and as soon as the sun peeked over the horizon I began arranging our arsenal of tackle. On the VENTURE we fish ten rods with Penn International 30 wides with forty pound test and 50 wides with hundred pound test, standard charterboat tackle. We use both artificial and natural bait, but for me, fooling a tuna or marlin on a natural bait is more satisfying as a certain skill level is required to rig it properly. Innovation and creativity play a large role in inspiring our confidence level towards fooling these wary opponents.

At 6:00 am Captain Barry throttled down the VENTURE to our seven knot trolling speed. While he began lowering the outriggers, I started setting out the lines. Then the waiting game started. Generally early morning is a productive time as tuna rise due to the low light level, but a half hour turned into an hour, then two hours. As it neared 9:00 am, with three hours without any action, a worrisome apprehension started settling over me.

Then all of a sudden I saw a flash out of the corner of my eye. Next thing I knew, three rods were bent with their reels singing out like fine music. With three fish on I began clearing some of the other rods out of the water as Brennan, Luke and Frank worked their fish. Brennan?s fish came up first, and in one motion I gaffed and lifted the fifty pound albacore into the boat. A few raps on the noggin with my billy club and a jab to the throat with an eight inch knife and the fish was slid into the live well. Frank?s fish was up next and then Luke?s, with each one flopping around until being dispatched with the billy club, bled and slipped into the well to bleed out.

The crew was happy, and I felt a certain amount of weight lifted off my shoulders. As the boys hosed the blood off the deck I began to reset the rods. Then the guys celebrated with the first beer of the day.

Captain Barry kept pounding the area where we caught the first three fish and it soon paid off. Steve brought in a single, then Charlie and Mike took a double header. At this point I was glad that at least each man had caught a tuna. It was noon before the albacore attacked our spread again. We boated a double header, then a triple then a single. We then had twelve fish, each man with two tuna each for the day, a good trip by anyone?s standards. As I reset the rods two more albacore came crashing in at thirty knots. The ferocity of their attack never ceases to amaze me. The power generated in their water medium is incredible. Brennan and Frank made short work of these two fish and our count was then at fourteen fish.

The early start along with steady tuna action combined with a few cervezas had taken it?s toll on the crew. Next thing I knew they were all taking a nap and I was the only one awake. As I sat in the cockpit of the VENTURE browsing a sportfishing magazine in between watching our lures, dancing behind the boat, I couldn?t help but to reflect at how fortunate I am to have an occupation that I enjoy so much. Yes it is

hard work, but it is also very satisfying and as the years pass I seem to appreciate my career choice more all the time and I?m lucky to have a wife who is willing to support my addiction.

It had been two hours since the last strike and we had about a half hour left to fish. The boys were still napping and who could blame them as it had been a long day. What happened next was one of those magical fishing moments that gets seared into the memory for years to come. As I looked back towards the spread, the water seemed to boil like a pot of pasta. We had run over what we call the "main body" of tuna and they were in competition mode. Next thing I knew six reels were screaming in unison. I abruptly woke the boys with the cry of "fish on", and then I had my hands full. The fish were crossing each other and if the line touched while running out they could cut each other off. Over and under, under and over, I scrambled to clear lines as the first of my anglers arrived. Before I knew it all six of my friends were fighting tuna simultaneously.

I knew this was special end to a special day and I wanted to preserve this moment forever. So with six fish on at once, I climbed up to the bridge to get a photo. On cue the boys all turned their heads and looked back toward me. In this photo I can see the thrill that came out of the uncertainty that each day presents.

As methodical as we could be in this frenzied situation we boated the tuna one at a time. The boys were well coordinated as Barry and I gave them instructions as to where to maneuver and in what order we wanted the fish to come in. With Captain Barry conducting, the boys orchestrated a perfect six for six on the tuna.

After the customary high fives all around, and of course another round of beer for the boys, the celebration was complete. With twenty tuna in the boat my worrisome apprehension had turned into joyful exuberance. This was certainly one day the captain, myself and the boys would never forget. For me as a mate it is as I always say " a good day of fishing sure beats a bad day at work"