November 13 2023

Fishing for Giant Tuna in December

by Ryan Collins

*This blog post recaps an awesome trip I experienced last year on December 5th, 2022. With the month of December quickly approaching, I figured now would be a good time to re-publish this post.

It was a chilly 28 degrees when I woke up at 3am this past Monday morning, December 5th. The stars were shining bright in the sky and the wind was calm. Despite the cold I was excited to be going fishing, as I knew this would likely be my last tuna fishing trip of the 2022 season.

For this trip I met up with my friend captain Cullen Lundholm of Cape Star Charters. Cullen is also captain of the group fishing trips we offer to My Fishing Cape Cod members for tuna, striper, black sea bass and more.

Monday December 5th

It was pitch black when Cullen launched the boat at 4:45am. Our plan was to head out before sunrise so we could be on the fishing grounds for the false dawn.

Cullen's 33' Conch center console is a fishing machine! The only drawback to center consoles during December is that they can be a cold ride, especially when compared to other boat styles like a Downeast, which has an enclosed pilothouse.

The boat's spotlight illuminated the water in front of us, which helped us to avoid a labyrinth of lobster buoys. We kept our eyes peeled as we cruised through the darkness before you never really know what could be out there.

I was surprised by the number of boats that were cruising out with us. Dozens of vessels were all steaming through the cold to get to the tuna grounds. In fact, the scene at the boat ramp reminded me of a busy summertime commercial striper day.

We weren't the only ones hoping for a December tuna! I was very surprised by the number of boats that were out there tuna fishing on Monday. The boat ramp was as busy as a commercial striper day during the summer. 

The December Tuna Grounds

The cold salty air felt refreshing and it was good to be back on the water. An added bonus was that the wind was calm and the seas were smooth, which made for an easy and enjoyable ride. The anticipation of possibly having an encounter with the largest tuna in the ocean was building.

There are many productive tuna grounds located not far offshore the beaches of Cape Cod. During this trip we fished the well known area depicted in the map below.

Please login or start a membership to view the area we fished during this trip.

Not long after arriving on the grounds we began marking an amazing amount of bait fish on the sonar. I dropped the sabiki rig into the schools, however the fish would not bite. This is not unusual behavior, especially for mackerel, which prefer to bite when there is light in the sky. 

Sure enough, as soon as the eastern horizon began turning orange and there was a little light penetrating into the water, the mackerel began biting and we quickly loaded up the live well. We were literally floating atop a school which may have contained tens of thousands of fish.

The yellow, orange and red "mountains" that you see in this photo is what baitfish such as mackerel look like when schooled up thick.

As soon as it got bright the mackerel began biting and the action was fast and furious.

Giant Tuna Bite #1

On Friday December 2nd Cullen landed a 95 inch tuna, so he had a good idea of where the action was happening. Nevertheless Cullen was talking with nearby captains on the cell phone and on the radio to get dialed into exactly where the tunas were.

It was a beautiful morning with a spectacular sunrise - especially for December!

I've always been impressed by how "plugged-in" Cullen is, and also amazed by the amount of calls he receives and makes throughout the course of a fishing trip. In an average trip he probably makes more phone calls than I do in an entire week!

After speaking with a bunch of the guys, we set up shop a little north of the fleet and were enjoying a little space to ourselves. The amount of bait on the sonar was ridiculous, and soon enough on the bottom of the bait was an arch, which indicated there was at least one giant tuna in the area. 

We set the baits at different depths and different distances from the boat and waited for something to happen. About 45 minutes into fishing, captain Cullen decided to move. I was a little surprised that he wanted to leave all this bait. However, I trusted that he was making the right decision.

Sure enough, 15 minutes into setting up at the second spot, which was just a little east of where we began, one of the rods went off. The fish began dumping line like crazy so we knew for sure it was not a shark, and that it was definitely a tuna! 

The rest of this report is for members-only

Please join My Fishing Cape Cod or login to continue reading.

Photo courtesy of Mass Bay Guides.

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!

  • Pretty amazing, sounds like an awesome trip. I did a Tuna run this summer with Tyler Putney at Flatliner Charters and it was one of the best adventures of my life.

    • It was definitely an amazing trip. And that’s awesome Mike to hear about your tuna adventure with Tyler! Tyler started running some of our My Fishing Cape Cod group fishing trips this past season, and we’ll be doing more trips with him in 2024.

  • What a great blog story. I’m one of those that put the rod away, but when my nephew comes back down in the spring, we’ll be out again. Happy holidays!!

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the post Norm. Catching a fish like that during December was a first for me. I’m glad I went! Spring will be here before we know it. I hope you and your nephew have a fun and productive 2023 season.

  • Great story Ryan!
    I’m sure we’ll collide out there next year, since I have hooked my self on Tuna. Going Commercial next year…:))))
    Hope to see you on some MFCC meet.

    • Hey Igor, good to hear from you! I’m glad you enjoyed the post!

      With regards to meetups etc., we just booked April 1st at the Cape Cod Conference Center for the 2nd annual “Cod and Coffee” meetup. We’ll have some special guest charter captains talking about cod, but also other species like tuna, fluke etc. It’d be great to see you there!

  • Nice way to end the season – you and Cullen are a formidable team.

    Great report and adventure – thank you for sharing.

    • Thanks for reading Mike and thanks for commenting. I hope the largemouth bass are still treating you well. I hope to get out there someday with you in your little tin boat! 🚣‍♂️

  • Great experience and good catch as every one gets ready for Christmas. King Neptune was good to both of you and allowed one of his charges to be taken from him. Peace and Prayers

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