Fishboat: On the topic of size, tell me about the largest bluefin you ever caught.
Capt. Mike: I was out on the boat by myself and I had one that was 50-60lbs! I tailed him twice, which is considered a legal catch, but after a 40 minute fight I was getting pretty tired. It's hard to wrestle a fish like that, so I didn't get him up, but the biggest I pulled up was 30lbs.
Fishboat: As far as the boat driver, do you prefer the run and gun method? Or do you like a driver to be slow and stealthy?
Capt. Mike: Many people will go motor up, running gun full throttle until they're a cast distance away. What I've found works best is to come up quickly but slow down a nose distance from the school. This lets you get organized to get a good fly presentation into the school. Also, when a school pops up, let them come up and go back down. Then move over to the location where you thought they surfaced and hit the "mark" button on your GPS. If you sit there for a while, the fish will usually surface again right there. I think run and gunners seem to always put the school down. And always leave your engine on - the fish don't like the change in pitch if it is suddenly silenced.
Fishboat: How do you catch them with spinning gear?
Capt. Mike: I have caught these fish on spinning tackle. 8' to 9' rods with a good backbone work the best. I use tin lures in chrome; the 3/4-ounce deadly dick with green tape works the best. But I have seen many guys use plastics and do just as well.
Fishboat: Why do you think you have such a high success-rate with bluefin?
Capt. Mike: The most important thing in catching these fish is casting. When a school comes up to feed, they do not stay up long. Long, accurate casts are needed to put your fly into the school of feeding fish. You need to cast 80' from a moving boat to a moving target. Obviously the more casts you can get into the school, the better chance the tuna will eat your fly. The fly-caster and the captain need to work together for your best chances of catching schoolie Bluefin tuna.
Fishboat: Last one. Can you give our readers any more advice?
Capt. Mike: Patience. Definitely have patience. During our trip in August, we were out on the boat and one of the guys kept saying, "Go over there! No, go over there! Wait, over there!" But I say it's better to slow down, take a look at your surroundings and really look at the big picture. It can't be a run and gun process-you must slow down and focus.
For more information on Captain Mike's fishing adventures, head to his website www.ctfishsaltwater.com. Out of season, Captain Mike runs his own business, Fishing Innovations (www.lockingrodholders.com), having a patent on the locking rod holder, designed for traveling fisherman. He also makes his own fly reels. Special thanks to Jeremy Cameron of Flies and Fins for shooting the video and helping to organize the trip.