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Cape Cod Bay Giant Tuna Time

This giant tuna article was published in June of 2011.

With reports of seriously big tuna being spotted by planes flying over Cape Cod Bay, it may be time to start thinking about drifting a bluefish off Sandy Neck.

A plethora of mackerel invaded Cape Cod Bay over the past few days.  Some nice bass and blues have been caught by anglers trolling tube and worm rigs around the mackerel schools.  However you can be sure that stripers and bluefish are not the only predators that have taken notice of the large amount of bait currently present in Cape Cod Bay.

The stickboats have been having good success off the backside of the Cape and around Provincetown.  I would not be surprised if we soon hear of giant tuna being harpooned inside the Bay sometime over the next few days.

Giant Tuna

Beefy tackle in the form of 80 and 130 class reels are a necessity for rod and reel anglers set on catching giant tuna.

The nice weather predicted for this weekend presents a great window of opportunity for small boat tuna fishermen hoping to hook up close to home.

Recently fishermen departing from the East End of the canal have reported bait balls of tinker mackerel extending from the Sandwich shores, well eastward off Barnstable.  Odds are this is not the only area in the Bay holding mackerel.

Areas to Check Out

The Fishing Ledge, which sits almost smack dab in the middle of Cape Cod Bay, could be a prime spot to take a look for Charlie (tuna) this weekend.  If the seas are glass calm, keep your eyes peeled for giant tuna cruising just underneath the surface.

Giant tuna will often create a V-shaped wake as they cruise just inches under the Bay's surface.  If you plan on targeting smaller tuna on spinning gear, it may be smart to gauge the size of the tuna before casting.

Last year, around this time, tuna in the 150 pound range could be found a few miles north of the Fingers outside Barnstable Harbor.  This class of fish would be much better suited for spin fishermen, compared to some of the larger specimens being caught by the stickboats and anglers utilizing heavy conventional tackle.

The area referred to by old timers as the Square off Billingsgate may also be an area worth taking a ride too.  A smart tactic would be to spend the early hours of the morning catching bluefish over the shoal, and then drifting the blues in the deeper water west of Billingsgate in the afternoon.

The bluefish I have seen so far this week in the Bay have all been monstrous.  We had good success on fat, 34+ inch blues on Thursday.  These larger specimens of the bluefish population make prime bait for giant bluefins.

Techniques to Try

Kite fishing is one of the most exciting ways to catch a giant tuna.  It's essentially the same thing as topwater bass fishing, except the fish is about 100 times bigger.

Details matter when kite fishing.  Using braided line on Penn 80 or 130 conventional reels can really help a kite to fly high and strong even in a light breeze.  Dropper lines set at intervals from the line running off the kite rod will help to decrease the severity of the angle of the main line running from the reel to the bait.  "Bridling" baits can help to increase the longevity of precious live bluefish, pogies and mackerel.

Check out Kite Fishing for Giant Tuna 101  for more information.

Giant Tuna

Nothing beats seeing a giant tuna at boatside. Photo courtesy of TR Schilb.

Balloon fishing allows a tuna fisherman to strategically place live baits at specific depths.  An appropriate size egg sinker, say 8 ounces, is attached a distance up from the live bait on the main line using an elastic band. If the depth you desire to place your bait at is 80 feet, then 80 feet of main line is paid out.  A balloon is then attached 80 feet up from the live bait.  Float the balloon away from the boat and start the drift.

We'll discuss the finer details of balloon fishing in subsequent articles.  Until then, tight lines and good luck in your pursuit of giant tuna!

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