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Fishing The 2020 Big Game Battle

My dad and I, and a friend, recently had a great weekend fishing the Nantucket Big Game Battle. We fished down south at the canyons on day 1 of the tournament, which was on Friday.

We departed Nantucket Harbor at 2:30 am and set a heading for Hydrographer Canyon. After making pretty good time, we set lines in at the tip of the canyon at approximately 6 am. 

The spread consisted of 4 spreader bars off the riggers, a marlin lure down the center, a weighted daisy chain off the flat, and a Nomad DTX Minnow (pictured below) off the other flat.


5 minutes into the troll, the short rigger with a black spreader bar got bit! We made quick work of clearing the lines and were fortunate enough to get a beautiful 40 lb yellowfin on ice.

By 1 pm, we had released 4 more yellowfin of the same sized class with spreader bars and the Nomad DTX getting the bites. The highlight of the day happened when we trolled over a school of much larger yellowfin and we came tight to three fish.

After releasing the first two, the 3rd fish was definitely the largest of the bunch, so we decided to keep this one. After boating this fish, it was time to try and hook a marlin

We reset a spread of a mix of blue and white marlin lures. Unfortunately, we missed our only shot at a white marlin which came up in the spread but never really committed to any of the lures. At 4 pm lines were up and we headed back for the Nantucket Boat Basin.

Day 2 of The Big Game Battle

The weather on day 2 was not nice enough for us to make the long run to the canyons, so we opted to fish east of Chatham for bluefin tuna. We had talked to some friends from the day before and they had got three bites in this area, all on live mackerel. We had never fished live macs before, so this was definitely a learning experience for everyone on board.

After filling the live wells with medium to large sized live mackerel, we made our way to the tuna grounds. While setting the first line in the water, a giant bluefin took our bait no more than 15 feet under the boat, and took a scorching run up towards the bow. Unfortunately the line got wrapped around our anchor (which was stowed off the bow) and we ended up chaffing off the fish.

Losing that tuna was a total bummer, but at least we knew we were in the right area, and 10 minutes later we got another shot at a much more manageable sized fish.

After fighting this fish for 45 minutes we got the 60-65 inch bluefin boatside for a quick and healthy release. Again, we rest the lines and this time we had to wait a little longer for our next bite. About an hour past and suddenly the down rod which was set between 150-200 feet bent over. 

The fish however did not take any drag for 2 or 3 minutes, so I thought we had hooked a shark or even a dogfish. Finally, the fish realized it was hooked, and took a really nice run, confirming we were tight to a bluefin! 

The fight was interesting, as we had to weave through a large fleet of boats. An hour later, we had color ,and could tell this was a bigger fish than the one we had previously released.

We got the tuna boatside and the fish ended up measuring out to 74 inches-which made for our first giant bluefin tuna release of the tournament.

After swimming this fish for a few minutes, we released the tuna in a very healthy condition. With only 3 hours left of fishing time in the day, we reset the lines hoping for one more bite, but that bite never came.

It was still a great day and an awesome first experience drifting the live macs. We ended up scoring around 1,100 points in the tournament, which was very respectable.

All the bluefin were caught using light tackle; Talica 25 reels with 25 feet of 130lb fluorocarbon. This made fighting the fish much more enjoyable and sporty compared to using 50w and 80w reels.

Tight lines! 🎣


  1. Kurt,

    Thanks for sharing. Intrigued by the use of Talica 25s on the large Bluefin. Love the Talicas. I have a bunch of 25s and a couple 50s that I use in the Canyons and south of the vineyard but have been reluctant to take them out East knowing I could hook a giant. Is this something you do regularly or just making the best of tough weather? Think the Talica 50s with the right rods are enough for out east?

    1. I definitely think a 50w is plenty big for out east if your on a center console. We fight the fish up from off the bow, so that can help prevent you from getting spooled on lighter gear. Obviously, there’s always a chance of hooking a really big one, which could probably give you some trouble. But for the most part, you should be able to handle the majority of fish with a 50w out east in my experience.

  2. BGB is the best tournament going! What’s your boat name? We stayed that night in the canyons fishing a CC and it was miserable, to say the least – fishing on “Joint Venture”.

    1. Hey Andrew, ya the bgb is such a great tournament. I fish on a 36 Yellowfin named Rumble. We were gonna do an overnight but the weather changed which forced us into doing a day trip. I heard Joint Venture ended up doing really well on the leader board, congrats!

      1. Good to know! I’ll say hello next time I see ya!

        Thanks!! Our overnight decision paid off and we found medium bluefin on the way home as we were way way east – limited out in 45 minutes! Last one came over the rail at 2:45p.

        1. That’s awesome! How big were those bluefin?

  3. What a great trip. Really enjoyed reading about this adventure.

    1. Thanks Jake!


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