Fishing for tuna is something amazing, both for the size of the animal and its strength. At WeFish we want to share with you the knowledge of the Portuguese fisherman Vítor Ganchinho, CEO of GO Fishing Portugal and passionate about sport fishing, with decades of experience.
Vítor comments that this summer he and his partners have frequently been able to see illustrious figures of the sea such as some large tuna between 60 and 100 kg. These were gathered in schools attacking fish on the surface, and when six tuna are seen jumping, it is known that we will have thirty or forty down.
It’s not surprising to find many atlantic mackerels and abundant schools of horse mackerel and sardines on the coast, since these bait fish attract large tunas to places where they are perfectly accessible to us. The encounter between tunas and anglers begins to happen more and more regularly, it’s normal that we want to measure the strength of this great species and try to catch it.
Characteristics of tunas
Tunas have a spindle-shaped body, they are extremely compact, short and thick, pure musculature. Along with the forked caudal fin they have two very strong hard keratin lateral fins. Keratin is a protein of animal origin, made up of about 20 amino acids, which is present in our skin, nails and hair. That is why special care must be taken when handling the tail of the tuna without gloves.
The colors of the different species of tuna that exist are very similar, shades of dark blue and silver that mimic the blue of the depths of the ocean. Its body metabolism is very fast, forcing them to eat food frequently. In addition, some species can even raise their body temperature 10 to 15ºC above the temperature of the surrounding water, which is why it’s called endothermic fish.
Tuna is a tremendous swimmer that can do up to 170 km in a single day, making it difficult to reference where to find them. Just because a tuna has been sighted in a certain area does not mean that it will be there or nearby the next day. It’s more common to find it in open water but it can also be approached to the coast to take advantage and feed on easy prey for these fast predators. Seeing a tuna attack on small fish with birds in between taking their opportunity to eat is quite a spectacle.
A curiosity about tunas is that they do not have sexual dimorphism, that is, males and females are exactly the same. This means that when they form schools they do so based on similar sizes, therefore, the largest specimens will tend to be found in smaller groups due to their scarcity. A large tuna specimen is a fish that can weigh more than 600 kg and there are not many places in the world where it is common.
No, fishing for tuna is not an easy task. In the first place because in a battle force by force, they win. It is an honest opponent, well prepared for a fight of strength, that does not give up without fighting and that will make us sweat to the last drop.
It’s a fish that uses the weapons it has: its speed of movement, its weight and its physical resistance. Tuna fishing will always be difficult, rarely will you find a tuna that gives up without trying to break all our equipment for hours and hours. Why difficult? because it implies that everything is aligned, that everything is perfect, since the slightest weakness in the equipment or the slightest failure in performance will end the fight. These fish don’t forgive amateurism, that is, improvised materials or tests with reels and rods to muddle through.
Vítor Ganchinho has already fought the battle against tuna several times and knows very well what is required, both in terms of materials and physical capacity. Let’s analyze in detail what is necessary to be able to catch one of these fish:
– The rod:
It must serve as a spring, be able thanks to its damping action to minimize the jerks of the fish but it must also fatigue it until it runs out of strength. It’s still a tough task to fight with a fish that easily enters the ranking of the strongest that we can face. A shark jumps one or twice and stops the boat; instead a tuna on the second exit is still trying to figure out how to prepare its escape. The rod cushions the jerks (within a certain limit) and allows us to interfere with its movement, but without excesses. In fact, we don’t move it, the tuna goes where it wants for a simple reason: it is too heavy to catch and if we want to do it in a “gross” way, the only thing we will achieve is to break the equipment. The rods with rings, although not essential, are recommended since they allow an exit of the line without creating so much friction. A nylon subjected to constant pressure and considerable friction tends to heat up and lose its characteristics.
– The reel:
There are many reliable brands, both Japanese and American, but we basically recommend those that really specialize in tuna, such as Tiagra or PENN International. A Big Game reel must be filled with hundreds of meters of line, otherwise we will find it empty right at the first exit. There is no fixed pattern in the behavior of the tuna after the bite, some move horizontally, others prefer to sink and go as far as they can.
– The line:
It may seem strange, but the only part of the line that is really important is the leader, that is, the last 6 to 10 meters of nylon that is connected to the sample. Regarding this, the great specialists defend that the diameter is 2 mm and that’s all, because the critical phase is really to collect the tuna when it is next to the boat, that is when you play all your cards. The last meters involve physical effort, the strength of the tuna never decreases, the weight is too much, and in case of carelessness, a last head butt can be fatal and compromise the catch. The rest of the line only serves to guarantee contact at a time when the effort is less. A tuna is not pulled as if it were a small mackerel, it’s a work of patience. The alternative is to make a maximum and constant pressure and risk that some part of the gear fails. The weak points are usually the terminal / hook connections, the heating of the line at the pins and the physical capacity of the fisherman or fisherwoman.
Most manufacturers know what they are targeting, they have the necessary experience thanks to thousands of reports made by their clients, and that is why they produce material that withstands the attacks of these colossal fish. Brands such as Rapala or Williamson know what they are doing, but with cheaper brands like the typical “made in China” it can happen that the lure wears out or even that the hooks open. We do not think it is worth losing a fish like this for 3 or 4 euros …
– Physical capacity:
It’s not a material but it is a very important factor given the strength necessary to catch tunas and the resistance of these fish. At the end of a fight that can exceed 3 hours we can assure you that it is a very important detail. It will all depend on the size of the tuna and a bit of the species in question, but some physical strength will always be needed anyway, that for sure. It’s also very important that the angler wear gloves to protect their hands from rubbing and a fishing belt to hold the rod.
This has been all about tuna fishing. The original content comes from the text written by our friend Vítor Ganchinho in his fishing blog PEIXE PELO BEICINHO.
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