Updated on August 23, 2022
Hello again everyone! Today's blog is all about the top game fish of California, the Bluefin Tuna. In this article, we are going to cover our favorite fish to catch, and our favorite ways to prepare it for a wonderful dining experience.
This article is brought to you by Captain Experiences, providing access to damn good fishing charter vessels nationwide. Ok, let's get started.
In my opinion, the hardest to catch, and the best-tasting fish to roam the oceans. To catch a bluefin tuna requires a seaworthy vessel, the very best equipment, competent fisherman, good electronics, and lots and LOTS of fuel. Bluefin fishing is usually deeper waters and further away from shore. Around San Diego, there have been instances where Bluefin was caught as close as the nine-mile bank, but this is extremely rare and does not last very long. Most successful bluefin trips are multi-day and venture as far out as 250 miles from shore, for best results. Your other choice is to head south deep into Mexican waters to the outer banks of Baja, Mexico.
Once you book your charter and head to sea, remember that this does not guarantee you a bluefin every time. Firstly, Bluefin is known to be a fickle fish. Many times I have pulled up to a breezing school of Bluefin and expertly dropped anchovies, sardines, jigs, you name it... right on top of their heads, and no matter what you do they will just not bite. Many people believe that over the years the Bluefin has acquired the fear of fishing line, and if they see it, they will not bite. To combat this, many modern fishermen depend on a high-end, nearly transparent leader like TOPSHOT.
The lower the strength of the line at the leader the less visible the line is to the blue fin, and the more likely you get a bite, and the more likely you lose the fish. Have the crew help you pick the right setup and tie the critical knots. When you do hook one, you will be facing a very large fish! Inexperienced anglers are often exhausted after a multi-hour fight, and landing a tuna after hooking it is never assured.
There are many methods of catching bluefin tuna. Trolling, jigging, kite, balloon, down rigger, and even just casting free lined bait, to name just a few... but all of these methods have one thing in common. From the moment you hear the deckhand yell "HOOOOooooOOooooOOOOOK UP", you will be in the fight of your life. A fistfight. A giant tuna will not give up his life easily so the best thing to do is keep your cool, make sure your drag is set right, and settle in for a long fight.
The longest fight I have had is four hours. And I lost the fish at the back of the boat, within sight. It simply wore out the 100lb leader with its head. When I pulled the line in it was just a frayed end, where once a tuna had been. The customer, crew, and captain were all sad the fish was lost, but glad because they had been part of the spectacle. If you are going after your first bluefin, remember that it sometimes takes several tries to get the big one on the boat.
Be sure to keep your line tight at all times, even when the fish is swimming strait at you. Follow the instructions of the Captain and crew as they work the boat to set you up for the kill. Follow your line to whichever corner of the cockpit the fish goes toward, this is critical. Lastly, as soon as you see color under the water, yell it loud to the deckhand, "COLOR!" and he will bring a gaff (or two) to nail your prize fish.
The time has come, you have just hauled a giant 200+ pound bluefin over the side of the boat and it is currently beating the crap out of the inside of the fish hold. Your adrenaline won't stop for a while, and you are now hooked yourself, on bluefin fishing!
The bluefin will probably be the pinnacle of your fishing career. Even bigger fish can hardly put up more of a fight than a giant bluefin, and if you have successfully landed it, then you are in a special group of only a percentage of fishermen who has ever caught one successfully. If you manage to land one on your first try, well... my hats off to you, most people have to try repeatedly to manage the feat. If you have ever landed a big bluefin, then you already know what I am talking about.
I promised this was going to be a catch and cook article, didn't I? Well, I always deliver the goods so I am going to tell you the very best rarely known way to eat bluefin. The answer is... on the way home! That's right, the deckhand will cut you off a slice of prime bluefin right on the spot, and prepare fresh sashimi and sushi on the boat, on the way back. It is not very difficult, have one of the crew slice you off a slab of just-caught, completely fresh, never frozen, melt-in-your-mouth Tuna sashimi or sushi. Collected from the best part of the tuna, the belly. I cannot even begin to describe the taste of fresh bluefin sashimi and sushi dipped into some good wasabi and soy sauce, with just a sprinkle of sesame seed. When you look at this picture, remember that it was taken on a 50-foot sport fisher doing 12 knots. No fancy dishes, but the taste is worth it. Grab a pair of chopsticks and go to it.
Well, there you have it! I hope you enjoyed my blog on Blue Fin Tuna! If you want to go Bluefin fishing, head over to the San Diego page at Captain Experiences! There are trips available for every price range and experience level.