August 31 2016

Tuna Fishing PEI with Bruce Brothers Charters

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Ryan Collins

10 days ago my bachelor party buddies and I fished Prince Edward Island with captain Troy of Bruce Brothers Charters.

The target was giant bluefin tuna. Prince Edward Island is one of the best places in the world to catch and observe the largest tunas on the planet.

However, I also wanted to investigate the rumored North Atlantic striper fishery. More on that later.

When the tuna fishing is on fire at PEI, it is possible to "hand feed" giant bluefins in the 500 to 1200 pound class. The guys toss herring off the boat and watch as behemoth tuna slurp them down just yards away.

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Here's a great video from Taylor Sears of MBG which does a nice job of showing how PEI tuna fishing can be, when it is firing on all cylinders.

I've since learned the best hand feeding action usually occurs in the early fall, from mid September through early October.

Nevertheless our crew from MFCC was pumped and excited when we departed Massachusetts late in the night on August 19th.


The Scenic Drive to Prince Edward Island, Canada

My Dad took the helm and the rest of us piled into our 15 person van for the 10.5 hour ride from the Sagamore Bridge to our AirBnb house in Mermaid, PE.

We arrived safely around 1pm the following day.

The house was amazing!

My dad actually cooked something!

Everybody was so pumped that no one slept.

The neighborhood was quiet and peaceful.

Yet the main city of Charlottetown with its restaurants, bars and more was just 10 minutes away, right across the Hillsborough River.

After a bunch of lawn games (and beers) it was clear none of us were going anywhere! Everyone was in bed just after sunset.

We all wanted to be well rested for giant tuna fishing in the morning.


Day #1 of Fishing PEI with Bruce Brothers Charters

We all piled back into the van before sunrise for our 1+ hour drive to North Lake where we would meet up with captain Troy of Bruce Brothers. 

Upon arrival at North Lake we immediately knew were in a fishing community.

The harbor was peaceful and quiet. 

Clues about their fishing culture existed everywhere we looked.

Captain Troy was ready to go as soon as we arrived.

Our first mate John seemed very excited to start fishing.

We all hopped onboard and soon the lines were cast away. 

We headed north en route to some of the world's most productive giant tuna fishing grounds.

In the afternoon captain Troy cooked us fresh PEI mussels.

We saw tunas chasing bait on the surface, and we marked giants on the sonar beneath the boat.

Yet the highly anticipated, elusive bite from a giant tuna eluded us.

We fished several prime tuna areas up to 14 miles offshore.

Late in the day two different boats nearby hooked up with 400lb class fish, and we knew our bite could happen at any instant.

Yet it was not meant to be. As the sun sank low in the sky we were forced to reel in our baits and make the steam back to North Lake.

Despite not hooking a fish during Day #1 we still managed to have a remarkable time. I was pumped to see everyone together having fun.

I also learned more about the Prince Edward Island striped bass fishery, and I was able to confirm that stripers are not rare on PEI, but are actually plentiful. 

Captain Troy and his friend Josh were happy to share some recent PEI striper hot spots, and I looked forward to giving bass a try the very next day.


Never Give Up! Day #2 at PEI

I woke up the next day not sure what to do. We had only scheduled one tuna trip with Troy, so I figured we would spend Sunday striper fishing or maybe head into town for a beer.

However I could feel how badly everyone in our crew wanted to be on the water, trying again for a giant bluefin. I texted captain Troy to see if he wanted to head out for a few hours in the afternoon. 

Troy jumped at the idea and by 2:15pm we were back at North Lake! 

It had been a late start to the season for Troy, and I could tell that he too desperately wanted to hook a tuna. Even better was the news filtering in of 4 out of 5 boats hooking tuna earlier in the day.

We headed east where good action had been reported, and quickly went to work loading up the live well using hand lines.

First mate John was not able to attend this trip, so my friend Jason Mazzola quickly went to work setting a kite bait.

Suddenly the sonar began beeping, as a "wolf pack" of giant tunas swam beneath the boat. We sat in nervous silence staring at the kite bait and mackerels set beneath bottles (instead of balloons).

15 minutes went by with no action when suddenly the sonar began to beep yet again. More enormous "boomerang" shaped marks appeared on the screen! The school of giant tuna was back.

Despite tuna swimming literally within yards of our baits, we failed to entice a strike. Slack tide came and went, and soon it was nearly 9pm.

Troy had told me to expect to be back at the dock as early as 6pm, yet we continued fishing for an additional 3 extra hours. Troy definitely put forth the extra effort, trying his best to get us that elusive bite. 

Reluctantly Troy finally asked us to reel in the lines. My crew and I needed to catch a good sleep before our long drive back to Massachusetts. A couple of hours later we arrived back at our house, and by 11pm I was dead asleep in bed.


In Conclusion

Our trip to Prince Edward Island proved to be an awesome experience. I cannot thank my friends, family and captain Troy enough for helping to make it a bachelor party to remember.

I also need to thank my fiance Lauren for finding us a great place to stay using AirBnb. My dad Jake also drove most of the way to and fro, and he did a terrific job finding us a suitable 15 person van for the trek.​

Perhaps next year I will return to Prince Edward Island during the early fall for another chance with a Canadian giant bluefin tuna. If you check out Bruce Brother's Facebook page, you will see the season is currently in full swing and they are consistently catching giants.

I am also intrigued by the positive reports of striped bass in PEI waters, and I would definitely like to invest some serious time tracking down some Canadian striped bass.

Until the next adventure - tight lines and take care!

Ryan

What do you think?

Let me know by commenting below.

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