In terms of sports fishing, tuna are quite possibly the perfect game fish – they fight hard and travel in packs. However, you can’t rely on just luck for a successful offshore tuna fishing trip. Strategy and experience play a huge role in how well you do, along with helpful tricks of the trade from the pros who know it best. Check out these pro tactics that’ll help you land that trophy tuna you’ve been dreaming of.
The type of tackle you use is one of the most important factors in catching a prize tuna. The pros suggest you start with a 50-pound tackle, spool the reel with a 50-pound monofilament, and add a 25-foot wind-on leader of 150-pound mono. Use a wind-on swivel to connect a 10-foot leader of 130-pound test. If the tuna start to resist, switch to fluorocarbon, and downsize the leader.
Other helpful tactics include using a mixture of artificial and natural baits such as the ballyhoo-and-skirt combo (best skirt colors include blue-and-white, pink-and-white, and chartreuse-and-white). Black-and-red or red-and-pink can also be effective, especially on cloudy days. A simple, naked ballyhoo rig will work as well.
Artificial baits will work as well, such as a bird or spreader bar followed by a squid or Green Machine. Pro tip: be sure to match the size of the bait to the size of the available forage. It’s best to try different sizes and color configurations until you find out what works.
Since tuna travel in packs, it’s not uncommon for every rod to go down when they attack the spread. Rule #1…the more rods out, the more fish you’ll hook. The pros suggest starting with a skirted ballyhoo on the long riggers, short riggers, and flat lines.
You’ll want to troll the spread at 6 knots, and when the fish hit, don’t stop trolling! Keep the boat moving until all rods go down. To attract more tuna, have one person per line and jig the lures. Keep the boat moving (slowly!) while the anglers reel in the fish.
Tuna can turn finicky, so when that happens, you’ve got to pull out more tricks! If the tuna are deep, but not hitting surface baits, add a planer followed by a 3 ½ drone spoon or skirted ballyhoo. Use a reel spooled with a 130-pound braid to get the planer down deep.
The Kites, Jigging, and Popping
Another great trick is flying a rigged squid or rubber flying fish from a kite. For best results, start with a kite matched to the current wind conditions. For instance, with a 15 to 20 knot wind, rig two breakaway clips to the line coming from a short kite rod. Spool two 50-pound class rods with a 130-pound test braided line and add a 25-foot leader of 130-pound monofilament. Use a rubber flying fish or squid with a double fang stinger hook. Make sure to fly the kite so that it just barely touches the surface. Have one person control the reels to keep the baits from splashing from wave to wave. Here’s the cool part…the fish will actually take the bait in the air!
One last trick is casting a top-water lure or dropping a jig. Choose a heavy-action jigging rod and high-speed reel. Spool the reel with an 80-pound braided line that is color-coded to mark the depth. Then, add a 12-foot length of 80-pound fluorocarbon and tie on a 500-pound test ball-bearing swivel. Connect the split the ring on the jig to the swivel and find the school of tuna with the fish finder, dropping the jig to the same depth.
When you see the tuna come to the surface, respond with a top-water popper. Pick an 8-foot spinning rod spooled with 80-pound braid and add an 8-foot section of 80-pound fluorocarbon leader. There are few things more exciting than hooking a tuna on a top water popper, but make sure to let the tuna take the plug before you start to reel it in.
Now that you know the ins and outs from the pros, it’s time to book your next chartered offshore fishing trip in Venice, Louisiana! We fish for you or you can try your hand while on the boat; either way you’re sure to score great tuna. To learn more about tuna fishing, our charter, or more about our experienced captains, give Home Run Charters a call at (504) 909-TUNA.