Back in August, BOATING sent editor Pete McDonald up to Rhode Island on an off-shore fly-fishing mission to catch Bluefin Tuna on our summer project boat, the Angler 204FX. Behind the scenes Pete and his crew received immense help from seasoned Bluefin angler and fishing guide Capt. Mike Warecke of Old Lyme, CT.
For nearly thirty years now, Capt. Mike has been fishing the salt and fresh waters of the northeast and in his spare time - who has spare time when there are fish to be caught? - runs his own fishing business, Fishing Innovations. With an expertise in saltwater fly-fishing, Captain Mike provided great company and indispensable knowledge on Pete's quest. Post-trip, we caught up with the Captain in a rare moment of downtime and greedily picked his brain about why he loves fishing Bluefin and more importantly, what has contributed to his success rate.
Fishboat: What is it about bluefin tuna?
Capt. Mike: I live in the northeast, but when the season is on, I fish five days a week. Striped bass are out there for eight or nine months but bluefin only for one month. It's such a gamble.
Fishboat: So you're in it for the challenge?
Capt. Mike: Oh, sure! Bluefin are so hard to find and it's a short period of time when they come inshore to feed like that. It's a big gamble to get everything to line up perfectly.
Fishboat: When is the best time to target school Bluefin tuna inshore?
Capt. Mike: The schoolie tuna show up in Rhode Island towards the end of July and stay through September. The best time to target these fish is in the 3rd week of July through August.
Fishboat: How far offshore do you typically have to run to find them?
Capt. Mike: Normally you have to travel 30 plus miles off shore to find these fish, in and around trollers. There are a couple of weeks when the nickel size bunker schools are big and tight. These bait schools are within 3 miles from shore. This brings the schoolie tuna in to feed.
Fishboat: What is your tackle of choice for fly fishing?
Capt Mike: The tackle used for these fish are 9' 12-weight fly rods and large arbor reels with smooth drags capable of holding 250 yards of 30lb backing. The lines are full sinking and sink tip fly lines. The leaders are 6' to 8' long, the 40lb butt section 1' to 2' long and attached to the fly line with a nail knot. The next section is a 2' long, 30lb line connected to the butt section with a loop to loop connection. The class tippet is 20lb flouracarbon connected to the 30lb section with a Bimini twist.
Fishboat: Do you think the color of bait has an effect on your success rate?
Capt. Mike: All my flies are tied in white, but the size of the bait is most important.
Fishboat: So size matters?
Capt. Mike: You could say that. The bait I use is the size of a nickel and the tuna are keyed in on that size bait.