This summer i decided my mission in life would be to become proficient at fishing for Longfin Tuna.
While the weather gods have not been exactly kind I have had a couple of successful trips and have caught a bunch of fish.
So what did a learn?
1. Cedar plugs are (not) the "Bomb"? 2. Size matters. 2. Franko method puts more fish in the boat 3. Double hooks catch more fish? 4. I still have a lot to learn<g>
The ~18 fish i caught in the last two trips the break down per lure was:
Lure Fish count P line Clone 6 fish Rapala X-Rap 15 5 fish 4 Inch Salmon hoochie 5 fish Cedar Plug 1 Fish Zukers 1 Fish
As with most situations the numbers don't tell the whole story and fishing can be a fickle mistress from day to day but this certainly doesn't paint a great picture for the time honored cedar plug! The reason i say the numbers aren't telling the whole story is this graph suggests all the lures had equal water time- and this isn't the case.
My spread typically had 4 Clones fishing at any given time (see picture above). I ended pulling the cedar plugs out of the water due to not producing. I pulled the only zuker i had as it kept catching and holding kelp. I only had two Rapala X-Raps 15. I built the 4” Hoochie /Tuna lures late into the second trip.
Considering water time the X-Raps and the 35 cent Salmon skirts were definitely the hands down producers.
Which brings me to my second discovery....
Another thing the graph above doesn't high light are the "Drive-by" fish...On my first trip EVERY time we caught a fish the X-Rap had a hit...many of these fish didn't make it to the boat (hence the term "Drive by"). ( I am guessing the reason the fish were getting loose was they were getting hooked in the side of the head.) The second trip we still saw this lop sided attention plus one of the clones getting more attention than the rest....In looking at these lures getting the fish the one thing that stood out was the size. The X-rap is only 4.5 inches long. The P-Line clone that was getting all the attention was behind the 36" spreader bar dragging 20 4" skirts. After noticing this I replaced two of the P-Line Clones with 4" Salmon hoochies with Tuna hooks . From that moment on, none of the Clones caught another fish.
Franko method puts more fish in the boat
Simply put Bob Franko suggests that fishing all the same lure will put more fish in your boat. Perhaps not immediately intuitive this does make a lot of sense...and would probably be less controversial if he described his theory as the age old Trout truism: "Match the Hatch".
One thing i didn't mention in the section "Size Matters" all the Tuna caught were full of 4 inch long anchovies.....
But i definitely agree with this theory, and am always tuning my pattern to be more like the lures that are catching fish!
Double hooks catch more fish?
Unlike most game fishing, Albacore techniques originated from the commercial fishery. On the commercial boats they typically use hand lines on hydraulic pullers -doing everything to make this efficient as possible. Double hooks helped the efficiency by enabling the "Tuna Haulers" to replace hooks without any tools in less than 10 seconds. Intuitively it makes sense that more hooks would equal more hook ups but in my case I fished half my clones with double hooks and the other half with singles ...and for the life of me didn't notice a difference in hook up rates. Not certain it is fair to take anything from this but the lures that did seem to have the highest hook up rate, my 4" Salmon Hoochies, I only fished with single hooks....
I still have a lot to learn
While i did catch alot of great fish, the guys fishing and winning tournaments were catching twice as many fish. Two things they do that I haven't started (yet) doing is :
1. When they get a bite, throw out and fish Livebait
2. Cast Jigs as soon as one of the trolling lures had a bite.
While not a big fan of bait fishing I do like the idea of using lighter gear and jigs. -Now i just need to figure out how to do this with six rods already in the water, one or two with Tuna swimming the wrong direction- all while trying to drive the boat! (Unlike the tournament boats i typically either fish alone or with one other person)