Bluefin Tuna (Thunnus thynnus) fishing in the waters of New England has been a prominent part of our lives for many years. We introduced “Stand Up” fishing into this fishery during the mid 1980’s when any line less than 250 pound test and reels of 12/0 was considered to be light tackle fishing. We were using lines as light as 50 pound test. With time, we settles in with 100 pound test line on 50 to 80 wide reels. We modified our rod butts so that extended only 8″ below the reels. Later, we worked with Aftco to develop what is now the smaller bent butts rods used with most stand up harnesses today.
The first eight years that we fished for these giants, the average weight of the fish that we caught was 764 pounds. During my ninth year, I fought to boat a fish that I was afraid was under size. A legal fish has to be 73″ long and that fish weighs around 280 pounds, plus or minus. We did not stick this fish, but measured it in the water. It was well over the 73″ minimum and weighed 525 pounds. I had never seen one that small.
We perfected the stand up techniques over the years and as a result, landed a high number of the fish that we hooked. A new leader was introduced and was an instant success. It more than doubled our catch even though is was manufactured in 200 pound test and up. They called it Fluorocarbon. I was so sold on this product that we brought it back to George Foti, who was with Fin Nor tackle at that time, who at time had lighter lines manufactured and imported from Japan. In my mind, It has revolutionized light tackle fishing as we know it today.
Over the years, we landed four fish that weighed in excess of 1000 pounds each. The largest of which weighed a whopping 1154 pounds. This was the largest fish ever taken on stand up tackle. Over the years I have heard of a Marlin and a Tuna that were estimated to be larger, however they were released and not weighed. One of the granders was taken while fishing with my companion, Mike Winehoffer, in Cape Cod Bay. The fish went crazy and wrapped around an anchor line and ran so fast that it was necessary to chase the fish on a full plane. We stuck the fish in just 20 minutes. It weighed 1081 pounds.
Each fish has it’s own personality and story. With hundreds of fish taken over the years, we have hundreds of stories, some funny, some interesting and some down right terrifying.