UPDATED ON April 3 2024

My First Experience Bigeye Tuna Fishing at The Northeast Canyons

by Ryan Collins

Is it too early to start thinking about tuna? I don't think so! Before you know it the offshore tuna bite will be in full swing off Cape Cod and the Islands. 

Today I wanted to re-publish this report from July 15th, 2018. If you love tuna fishing then I hope you'll enjoy the following story. And if you are hoping to catch a bigeye someday, then perhaps you will find some of this information valuable. 🎣

The Northeast Canyons are located roughly 100 miles south of Cape Cod, and during the summer they contain a multitude of different species of fish.

It's not unusual to find blue and white marlin, wahoo, yellowfin tuna and of course the hard fighting bigeye tuna.

Bigeye tuna can grow up to 8 feet in length and weigh as much as 400 pounds. The eyes of bigeye tuna are well developed and with a large spherical lens allowing their vision to function well in low light conditions.

So when I got the call from My Fishing Cape Cod member Kurt Saraceno that they were planning a trip for bigeyes and that they needed an extra deckhand, I jumped at the opportunity. 

I met the guys in Osterville at 4AM on July 15th. Our goal was to make the 100+ mile run to the canyon shown below.

If all went well we would arrive at the canyon in under 4 hours, fish for the morning and early afternoon, and then make the ride back home before dark.

It would be a long haul but it was doable, especially with favorable sea conditions and 900 horsepower!

The Trolling Spread

We arrived at the canyons around 7:30am and quickly got to work putting out an 8 rod trolling spread. 

The spread consisted of a mix of daisy chains, spreader bars and big swimming plugs. I have included some photos of the lures we were using below.

Sea conditions were a little lumpy but the spread was skipping nicely across the surface of the water as we trolled along. 

I had just settled in and was starting to get comfortable when all hell broke loose at around 8:30am. 

Bigeye Tunas On The Line

Suddenly and without any warning whatsoever one of the spreader bars got crushed in amazing fashion, and whitewater went flying high into the air.

An instant later another rod went off under the strain of a big fish, and seconds after that two more tunas jumped on the line.

Drags were sizzling as we scrambled to clear lines and fight the fish.

All eight rods were now hooked up. It was apparent that we had crossed paths with a very aggressive pack of tunas! 

We dropped a couple of the fish during the ensuing pandemonium, but little did we realize what was about to happen next, soon after Ted cleared one of the spreaders on the short outrigger...

As the spreader bar skipped along the surface, just a mere yard or two from the port side of the boat, a 100+ pound bigeye tuna came hurdling out of the water and slammed the bar. 

Responsive Video

Once again we were hooked into another big fish in spectacular fashion! It was so cool being able to visually see these tunas crashing our baits right on the surface and virtually right next to the boat. 

We ended up losing one of the bigeyes just off the stern of the boat, but after a very strenuous fight we managed to get the second bigeye right to the boat. Kurt and I grabbed a couple gaffs, Ted fought the fish and Curtis kept the boat moving forward.

 It was a beautiful fish!

We didn't weight the bigeye but the guys figured she was around 125 pounds.

The Video

In addition, I captured the entire trip on video, which you can view below. 

In this video you'll see what it can be like to fish the waters located 100+ miles off the coast of Cape Cod & the Islands.

Responsive Video

00:01 - introduction
00:30 - information about West Atlantis
01:00 - cruising the 100+ miles to West Atlantis
01:43 - setting the spread
02:45 - intro to the lures we are trolling
04:18 - drag pressure setting information
04:57 - bigeye tuna on!
06:15 - another bigeye tuna slams spreader bar right next to boat
07:21 - landing first yellowfin tuna
08:00 - losing first bigeye at the boat
09:22 - gaffing a 100 pound bigeye
11:44 - summary and info about spreader bars and lures
12:38 - cruising back to Cape Cod

Equipment used in this video:
- The spread consisted of a mix of daisy chains, spreader bars and big swimming plugs from Black Bart and Carlson Tackle.
- For reels we used Shimano Tiagra 50's matched with the appropriate rods, harnesses gaffs etc. etc. the list goes on and on. LOL
- I'm not the best resource for questions regarding offshore equipment, so for help selecting offshore tackle and gear please contact my friends at the Goose Hummock Shop in Orleans, MA at http://goose.com or via their online store http://themightyfish.com

In Conclusion

Bigeyes are definitely one of the hardest fighting fish in the sea. Just like bluefin tuna they do not give up and will literally fight to the death.

We trolled around for a few more hours but the bigeyes never showed themselves again. However, what would we have done with any more tuna anyways? We harvested plenty of meat from just this one fish.

My wife Lauren made some absolutely delicious ahi tuna nachos with firecracker slaw which I highly recommend!

In conclusion I have to thank MFCC member Kurt Saraceno, his dad Ted and good friend Curtis for inviting me along on this canyons trip. It was definitely another offshore adventure to remember!

Tight lines ?

About the author 

Ryan Collins

I'm fortunate to have grown up on the beach, and I've been fishing since kindergarten. I have great family, friends and fishing experiences to be thankful for. Just being out there is enough-catching fish is just a bonus!

  • Worked on an off shore lobster boat 30 years ago and we would troll and pick up a tuna to harvest. Special place out there. Boats today can make that run.

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