As many of you know or have heard, the bluefin tuna have been coming through for the last month or two on their way to spawn in the gulf. Last Thursday I caught and released an estimated 600-800 lb bluefin. I've hooked quite a few on the kite but you're always undergunned with sailfish tackle.
We were kite fishing when we saw the bluefin tailing down sea about 50 yards north of our spread. We immediately started pushing south while i got out the Penn 130. This bluefin was swimming much slower than the dozens of others I've seen, it was only moving 5-7 its, while the others are flying south at 10-15. Although the 130 was rigged for kite fishing for yellowfins with a small extra strong circle hook and kite float, I decided not to recrimp a new hook since it was time sensitive to get a bait in front of the fish.
I hooked on a whole 5lb bonita and pitched it out 100' behind the boat and let it skip. The bluefin kept sinking out and popping up nearby, requiring us to zig zag to pass the bait in front of him. in 80' off Key Biscayne cape, the tuna made a hard turn offshore and aired out on my bait. I dropped back, and we got tight.
Our charter clients weren't great anglers or physically equiped to fight a giant with 40# of drag, so I battled the fish for the majority of the 3 hr fight. We couldn't get a definitive answer to whether the fish could be legally harvested, and at the 2 hr mark, the fish was on the leader 8' behind the boat but we refrained from the harpoon shot. which would have been the easiest shot in history... After 2 minutes boat side the fish went down to 40', when we learned for sure the season had been closed again until June 1st. We avoided a $50,000 mistake by keeping a level head and not getting caught up in the moment.
We got the fish up to the boat another 2 times and on the leader attempting to get a measurement before the release, but ended up straightening the hook on the leader. I'm happy to have released the fish anyways. We didn't capture too great of pictures in the midst of all the chaos, and what we did capture doesn't do the fish justice. I've never caught anything this big, so I can't give too accurate of an estimate, but I'd say it was certainly over 100" and 600lb.
1983 Wellcraft V-20 Fisherman
2001 Evinrude Ficht Ram 225
They didn't really have a choice, but they tipped well, and realized the significance of that fish.
Yep General category closed until June and trophy category for recs down here, closed until next year
1996 24' CC w/300 Yamaha - Sold
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“Everyone behaves badly--given the chance.”
― Ernest Hemingway
Spend 3 hours fishing for dime a dozen catch and release sailfish or be exclusive witness to a once in a lifetime historical giant blue fin catch -- I wish I could have that choice.
I knew that those things spawn in the gulf, but I've never seen any adults off of South East Florida before. I always figured that they were all scooting down the east side of the stream & making a big loop into the gulf. It's great to see that they are showing up around here now. Thank you very much for that report.
Congratulations on hooking that monster & bringing him to the boat.
I look here - https://hmspermits.noaa.gov/news
Unless I am reading that wrong, the commercial general & head boat season was closed, but HMS permitted recreational angling was still open.
"Effective April 30, 2017, through December 31, 2017, the bluefin tuna (BFT) daily retention limits are the following. For HMS Angling-permitted vessels: 2 school BFT (27 to <47") + 1 large school/small medium BFT (47 to <73")"
Interesting point is that these fish most likely are Western Bluefin since they are obviously headed to the gulf to spawn.
What other variety of bluefin would you expect to see around here?
I wonder - if you started a business building houses - and someone didnt want a certain type of house - if you would build it and then say they didnt have a choice. haha