Thursday, July 12, 2007

tuna 7.9.07

Busman’ Holiday

I’ve never really known the origin of the term ‘Busman’s Holiday’, but it’s a phrase that is commonly applied to a day when two guides have the day off and go fishing together. That’s what happened this Monday, when Jamie Boyle and I both found ourselves with a blank square in the calendar and the itch to get our first tuna of the 2007 season on the fly rod.

With tuna on the mind we met at the Vineyard Haven public boat ramp at 4:30 AM. Joining us on this mission was longtime friend and talented angler Patrick Courtney. After loading Jamie’s boat with the necessary tackle, ice and provisions we steamed north, up toward Cape Cod where we had reports of surface feeding bluefins from reliable sources that live in the area.

Once we arrived at the grounds it was not long before we began to see fish on top. Seeing your first leaping tuna fish of the year gets the adrenaline pumping, I don’t care who you are. After a couple of fly changes and tippet strength modifications we came up on a group of fish that was busting pretty hard and one throw in with a small olive over white Mushmouth yielded a hookup almost instantly. After a battle that lasted the better part of 30 minutes we had the fish boat side. Some fine work on the part of Jamie at the helm and Patrick on the gaff brought the fish over the rail, a nice fat 46 inch specimen that we estimated to weigh in the high fifties, a personal best on fly for me.

Next it was Patrick’s turn, and a couple of shots with the spin pole produced a fish in short order. Pat is an expert with the heavy spin stuff, having taken many tuna and marlin in this fashion. As a result of his experience he knows what the tackle he uses is capable of, and ten minutes after he went tight we released a nice tuna in the 45 to 50 inch range.

Now it was Jamie’s turn. I wasn’t accustom to driving shots in Jamie’s boat, which is significantly bigger than mine, but regardless of my needing a little time to work the bugs out it only took Jamie two casts to tighten up to a nice bluefin on the fly. Like Patrick, Jamie is quite accustom to landing big fish on relatively light tackle, and he was able to best another tuna in the same size range as the previous ones in less than 20 minutes.

The action began to slow around mid-day, but it did open up for us for a short time in the afternoon and we were able to hook two more fish, landing one. Four fish landed on five hookups, 3 on fly and one on spin, not a bad way to open up the 2007 tuna season. All the fish were in the 45 to 50 inch range and weighed between 50 and 60 pounds. Hot fly was the Mushmouth (big surprise), and the spin lure of choice was the Maria, although we did have some fantastic hits on top water stuff.

On the home front, the bass fishing on the Vineyard has remained very strong. The shoals off Chappy are still producing nice bass on spin and fly alike. The bass fishing this year has solidified it self as head and shoulders above the previous two years. The fish are bigger, more plentiful and more aggressive. They also seem to be hanging in their inshore haunts longer than they have in a great while. There are a host of factors that could be contributing to this, including water temperature, bait population and numbers of fish in general. It’s most likely a combination of these and others.

Not that many people have started looking for tuna south of the island as of this report, but they surely will be soon. A couple of bonito have been landed in Vineyard waters, and it shouldn’t be long before we’re dealing with them in fishable numbers inshore. The beach fishing has been predominantly a Lobsterville thing, with some nights stronger than others. The clouds and the fog have kept me off the flats for the most part, but with high pressure and clear skies predicted to return soon, I should have a far more detailed flats report next week. All in all the fishing on the Vineyard and in surrounding areas is very strong at this point. Usually we’re talking about a slow down at this point of the season as the summer doldrums set in, but right now is prime time.

Captain W. Brice Contessa