The picture above is grainy but it illustrates the reason why grown men leave home at 3:30 in the morning to be on the water at first light when it’s a cutting 36 degrees, with no respite on an open boat. Had the photographer (me) not sucked, he would have captured more elegantly the 80 pound bluefin busting the surface right in front of the boat. Instead he got a small bit of fin.
I am not the hardcore one here. That distinction belongs to Capt. Chris Hessert and his buddy Squid Vicious, who took me along on one of their Quixotic quests to hook a bluefin on spinning gear. I experienced it a week ago with Capt. Dave Azar and had to try again one more time.
It’s a low percentage game, but the chance to sight cast to giant pelagic fish has been driving these guys to delay hauling their boats another day, to burn through tanks of gasoline, and to temporarily lose feeling in their hands and toes due to cold running. It’s a trade-off that, for even one hook-up, is totally worth it.
Mike experiences the bluefin euphoria
Unrelated email conversations with Jeremy of Flies and Fins and Michael Gracie of, well, Michael Gracie, brought back the memories of a trip that constituted four days of uninterrupted awesomeness. I haven’t gotten to play the tuna game since that trip, though Lord knows we try, but it’s not an everyday–or even every year–happening to have fly-rodable bluefin come into the backyard.
Watch the water rip at 3:18; that pretty much sums up why this is the holy grail of northeast salt. Damn I’m ready for the season.
Every year I participate in a bluefin tuna expedition organized by Jeremy Cameron of Flies and Fins. This year the tuna didn’t show but we put it together on stripers and the recap, plus video, is up on Flies and Fins.
Underwater footage from National Geographic.
Below is an interesting NPR podcast with Richard Ellis, author of Tuna: A Love Story.
NPR PODCAST: Can the bluefin tuna be saved?
Quote: “The tuna is better at what it does than what MIT could possibly create.”
(Thanks to NH Mike for the heads up.)
The people in charge of protecting it seem to doing their best to drive bluefin to extinction.
Read this article by noted marine biologist Carl Safina on Yale e360.
A 43-nation commission has public-trust management authority and a mandate to conserve. But the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas has for its 40-year history merely acted as the fishing industry’s official, tax-funded conglomerate. Think of it as the International Conspiracy to Catch All the Tuna, and its record starts making sense.