READER REPORT: Angler sets out to deck season’s first bluefin on the San Diego, and scores

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THE CREW OF THE SAN DIEGO out of Seaforth Sportfishing hoists the bigger of the two bluefin bagged by Trevor Beere.
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BY TREVOR BEERE

SAN DIEGO—I am still in disbelief over what happened.

Leading up to the trip, the fish counts were a little scary to look at, but we set out with extremely high hopes and low expectations of the possibility of getting the first bluefin of the season aboard the San Diego.

A few of my friends that weren’t able to make it on the trip were talking all kinds of trash about all the heavy gear I was preparing saying things like, “you don’t need all that gear for a few bonito!” All I had to say was, “I’m going out there to catch the first bluefin of the season, and if some bonito want to play, I’ll be ready for them as well!”

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On the way out to the grounds I set up two different sinker rigs because I have more confidence in that to catch a bluefin than any other method, and typically I prefer to use the old-school rubber-band style sinker rig because I feel it allows your bait to move around a little more freely. I also had fly-line bait rods ready with 20-, 30- and 40-pound test and an 80-pound vertical jig setup ready to go.

It did not take long for Matt and the boys on the San Diego to find some “size lage” tuna once we got into the zone, and as we approached the first giant flat spot of slightly subsurface 60- to 200-pound tuna they started chumming and the fish started boiling!

I grabbed my 40-pound setup and sent the best-looking bait I could find in the wells down to the depths that Matt mentioned over the loud speaker (180 to 240 feet). I was doing my thing letting 5 to 10 feet of line out slowly and stopping it until I could feel my bait pitter-pattering before letting down another 5 to 10 feet.

Before I even got to my 200-foot mark on my line, Matt was saying those fish blew right through us and are long gone so wind ‘em up! As I was winding up, Fisher, one of the deckhands, asked me what I was doing with my 40-pound setup in my hands and if I had just seen a couple of the fish that boiled (fish up to 200).  I said “yea,” and he asked if I wanted to hook one of them on 40-pound, and I said, “nope!” with a chuckle.

I quickly realized I needed to change something if the fish were moving that quickly, so I started re-rigging my heavier 60-pound setup with a Bralla rig (drop-shot-style sinker rig),  a technique I learned from Matt Bralla,  Captain of the San Diego. This technique allows you to send a bait down extremely fast (full-speed freespool) without the worries of tangling up.

Before I finished re-rigging ,Matt was saying we’re pulling up on another big batch of tuna, so I quickly finished tying on my 8-ounce sinker about 4 to 5 feet below my 1/0 ringed circle hook and started searching for the best bait I could find in the well. As I was sending my bait down, I watched my good friend Tyler hook up on a small Coltsniper-style jig, and as he was running up to the bow with his fish peeling line.

At that point, my bait stopped sinking. Knowing that the bottom is likely over a thousand ft below me, that could only mean I was bit! I quickly put my reel in gear and wound down into the biggest fish I’ve ever hooked, as I yelled “There’s a biter!” it started dumping line off my reel and taking me up toward the bow. As my reel heated up and my line disappeared, I started to get nervous and felt like I had no control of the fish, and the fish started to cross over to the other side of the bow. Deckhand Ethan sprang into action and grabbed the rod to get me over the head, and he slowly put more and more pressure on the fish by high sticking the rod and holding the line until it stopped running and turned around. He gained over half the line back that I had just lost and handed the rod back to me, and I made huge gains on the fish as it was headed straight back at the boat almost getting my mono leader back on the reel before the fish went straight under the boat and headed back to the stern.

I got the fish to the back of the boat where I was able gain some line back before the fish took its third run toward the bow. The fish practically spooled me on the first four runs it took before settling into some deep circles, about 30 minutes into the fight.

Once the fish was straight up and down, I was able to put my Penn Fathom 2-speed in low gear and really put pressure on the fish.  As the fish got closer and my leader knot approached the rod tip, we knew the fish was 100 feet away, and that’s when everything got really stressful, especially for me sitting down unable to see the fish doing its circles. There were multiple moments where I was leaning on my rod so hard it was lifting me up out of my chair!

TREVOR BEERE with an estimated (measurements) 136-pound bluefin tuna, the first of the year on the San Diego out of Seaforth Sportfishing.

After about a 45-minute battle and several laps around the boat we managed to get a gaff in the fish and bring it on deck. I knew from how the fish was fighting it was much larger than anything I had ever caught, and when I saw them bring the fish over the rail, I was speechless! After a couple quick pictures, Matt and the crew sprang back into action and got back on the hunt for the next batch of tuna! They estimated the weight of the fish to be 136-pounds based of the measurements, which is close to double the size of my previous personal best and my first triple-digit.

The entire boat managed to land five bluefin out of about 10 to 15 that were hooked, and I somehow got lucky with two of them! The smaller of my two fish got split up and shared with everyone on the boat that didn’t catch a fish, so everyone went home with some fresh tuna, and the four people in our group split up the bigger one, so we all have all-you-can eat sushi for a while!

ONE-FIN TWO-FIN BEERE’S TWO BLUEFIN – Five tuna out of over 10 hooked were brought aboart Seaforth’s San Diego, and Trevor Beere bagged two of them.
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