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900lb+ Giant Bluefin Tuna on Standup - Lessons Learned!

By Capt Andy LoCascio - 12/26/2019 - Short URL: https://neangling.com/?p=8211

We have been Giant Bluefin Tuna fishing with Capt Troy Bruce of Bruce Brothers Charters (Prince Edward Island, Canada) for many years, and this year we had a very special fish.  This trip is very special to us and we use it to hone our stand-up fighting techniques.  Steve Palmo was on the rod and we certainly learned a lot.

Gloves Matter when Fighting Giant Bluefin Tuna

Steve is in complete denial that I have found the very best pair of gloves.  Before we go into that, you need to understand that we use our hands to add additional drag pressure at critical moments in the fight.  Wehn this is done correctly, you can shorten the fight significantly.  This is better for the fish (especially because nearly all bluefin tua are released in PEI), and better for the angler.

We have yet to find ANY retail fishing gloves that are suitable for giant tuna fishing.  The reason is very simple, all of them include synthetic materials on the palms and the fingers.  When you have these gloves on the 200ft mono top-shot and the line is getting ripped out, the heat is enough to melt the synthetics and also damage the line.  NOTHING beats leather!  Leather simply will not melt and because it contains so much air, it stores and conducts heat poorly.  Synthetic materials are just too dense.

My strong recommedation is Gill Long Finger Pro Gloves.  These gloves were built to protect the hands of sailors who can easily get burned by lines.  All of the materials that actually make contact with the spool are either leather or specially designed to resist heat.  I have never melted one of these gloves.  I like the open thumb and finger-tip, but not everyone does.   Steve doesn’t like that feature and is still searching.  Please note these gloves tend to run small, so order a larger size!

For this trip, he had some new all-leather gloves, but they simply did not fit tight enough.  It worked relatively well for adding drag, but took a toll on this hands.

Here is the takeaway; forget about retail fishing gloves and find a tight fitting mostly leather sailing glove.

Energy Conservation while Fighting Giant Bluefin Tuna

Steve has fought countless giant bluefin tuna on stand-up in Prince Edward Island including fish over 1,000lbs and never needed more than an hour.  The gear is finely tuned to these fish, the waters are relatively shallow, and the captains and mates are the best in the world.  Combine that with some good technique and you should be able to get most fish to the boat in an hour or less.

In the video below, Steve is initally counting on getting this fish to the boat just like any other.  The first few minutes of the fight were uneventful and most of the fish that had been caught were under 700lbs.  The fish really didn;t show very much for the first 15 minutes or so, but then actually got stronger as the fight progressed.

There are two phases to a giant fight.  The first phase is when the fish is still mkaing runs away from the boat.  This is usually half the fight.  During this phase, the angler focuses on saving energy and letting the boat do most of the work.  The second phase is when the fish is below the boat and is swimming in circles with it’s head down.  The angler now needs to step up and gain line whenever possible.  Additionally, it is critical to minimize how much line the fish takes back.  This is when the gloves and proper technique are critical.

At 45 minutes this fish was still not under the boat and I knew we were going to be on it for at least another 45 minutes.  Unfortunately, Steve had been trying to get the fish into phase 2 for at least 15 minutes and was nearly spent when the fish finally entered phase 2.  The video below tells that story.

Here is the lesson: Let the boat do all the work until you can force to fish into a circle beneath the boat!

Use Everything to Your Advantage

There are moments in the video where Steve uses the fighting chair for stability by leaning up against it.   He also reaches back and grabs the chair with one hand while applying maximum pressure with the other hand.  If he did not grab the chair, the fish would easily pull him up to where his center of gravity is on front of his feet.  If that happens he will either get knocked down or pulled overboard.  There is some risk in doing this, at one point in the video you can hear me say “square up”.  My concern is that the rod is not pointed straight at the fish.  That can make the line slip off the rollers and make contact with the guide frames.  The line can easily be damaged.’

Giant Bluefin Tuna on Stand Up - Prince Edward Island

By Capt Andy LoCascio - Host of Northeast Angling TV
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