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June 27, 2014

How to Catch Big Fish from an Open Boat

Defeating big fish from open boats requires special tactics and teamwork

2. KNOW YOUR QUARRY

Tackling monster fish from an open boat — such as a center-console or walkaround — ranks as one of the most adrenaline-charged experiences in the angling world, putting you closer to the water and to big sharks, billfish, and tuna than you could ever get on a large sport-fisher.You need to know the characteristics of the species you’re targeting, according to Greg Stotesbury, national sales manager for AFTCO, who has fished for marlin, makos, swordfish, threshers and tuna from open boats virtually all of his life. “With striped marlin off Baja and Southern California, for example, we try to keep fish out in front of the boat with the angler in the bow,” explains Stotesbury, who has successfully caught and released stripers as large as 300 pounds. “We don’t press them very hard but try to keep as much line on the reel as possible, as we generally run down on them, keeping the fish at about 11 or 1 o’clock.”

With species such as swordfish and tuna that want to fight deep, it’s a different story. “We keep these fish out behind the boat,” reveals Stotesbury, who has landed bigeye tuna as large 165 pounds and swordfish up to 248 pounds. “You want to make the fish follow you as much as possible.” The idea is to idle the boat ahead of the fish, with the angler in the aft cockpit, applying pressure that keeps the fish coming toward the surface.