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October 03, 2013

Crashing Bluefin Tuna on the Cape

A first-time jigging trip for tuna off Massachusetts produces lifetime memories

The Right Tackle and Bait

These jigs — whether soft baits like RonZ products or all-metal jigs — are crimped to 60- to 90-pound mono leaders. Rice uses 10-foot leaders if casting the lures, and up to 22-foot leaders if simply dropping down and vertical jigging.

The leader is spliced to 80- to 100-pound braided main line, which we had spooled onto Quantum’s new Cabo 80 PTs reels and Van Staal VSB250S and VS275S reels, mounted on beefy Van Staal jigging rods, for this trip.

Yes, these spinning outfits might be considered light tackle at first blush; in fact, they are light in terms of weight. But they pack as much of a punch as any conventional outfit. The Cabo 80s, weighing only 25 ounces, generate an amazing 55 pounds of drag pressure. They proved more than adequate on the 60- to 100-pound bluefins we encountered. I was amazed at the efficient pressure I was able to apply to a respectable fish on our last day — my first bluefin ever on any type of gear.

On the way back in, winding through the towering sandy banks of the Chatham Cut, it was hard not to feel overwhelmed by the beauty of this place. And when Poirier slapped me on the back with a good, hearty chuckle, it became crystal clear why he loved this fishery so much — and why it’ll no doubt miss him. 



Tuna on Topwater 

When conditions are right, it’s possible to tangle with triple-digit bluefin tuna on topwater off Cape Cod. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind to maximize your success:

When he sees big schools of busting tunas, Capt. Bobby Rice likes to get ahead of the fish, positioning his boat upwind of the school. “You kill the motors and let them come right to you,” says Rice. “With the wind at your back, you can cast big lures 200 feet. As soon as the lure hits the surface, start working it. It usually doesn’t take long when they’re feeding.”

What lures does he use? “Shimano Orcas and the Tuna Candy by Gibbs Lures,” Rice says. “It’s a big pencil popper with a single Owner hook, oversize split rings, and a big swivel. The hook hangs off the back of the lure, and the hardware allows the lure to pivot against itself and not pull the hook on a big fish.”



Cape Cod Information

From Orlando, Florida, I flew into Providence, Rhode Island, rented a car and made the two-hour drive out to North Truro on the Cape. The drive gave me a great opportunity to soak in Cape Cod and its gorgeous grassy sand dunes, scrub pines, and juniper.

There are many nice places to stay here, but I checked in at Top Mast Resort. Very comfortable and convenient, Top Mast features an indoor pool, which feels particularly great after a couple of days slugging it out with bluefin tuna.

Cape Cod is also known for its fabulous seafood. Be sure to check out some of the joints in Provincetown, but you also must visit the Whitman House Restaurant and Bass Tavern at least once during your trip here. Owned by Capt. Bobby Rice’s parents, Bob and Sue, Whitman was, without a doubt, my favorite restaurant. The seafood is excellent and reasonably priced.

Remember that fishing for bluefins in federal waters requires vessel owners to possess a federal recreational permit. Anglers who stay in state waters must have a federal permit for the vessel if they plan to keep a tuna. Check hmspermits​.noaa​.gov for permit information and current tuna regulations.

Unless fishing from a permitted charter vessel, adult anglers fishing in Massachusetts need a $10 saltwater-fishing permit; visit mass​.gov/eea/agencies/dfg.




Capt. Bobby Rice
Truro, Massachusetts

Top Mast Resort
North Truro, Massachusetts

The Whitman House
Restaurant and Bass Tavern

Truro, Massachusetts