Taking it Slow for Spinning Rod Tuna

The On The Water TV crew spent two days targeting tuna on spinning gear at Stellwagen Bank, catching the last leg of a great bluefin run off Cape Cod.... Continue reading

“Slow it down,” I reminded myself as I worked the lure through the school of breaking bluefin tuna. But, slowing down your retrieve is easier said than done when 100-plus pound fish capable of swimming more than 40 miles-per-hour are tearing up the surface right in front of you.

It was Captain Bobby Rice of Reel Deal Fishing Charters who’d offered me that advice on Monday, proving his point when a 63-inch bluefin tuna smashed his Strategic Angler Frantic stickbait. The following day, I was out again with Bobby hoping to put that advice to good use.

Using the same lure Bobby had caught the tuna on the day before, I retrieved with steady pumps of the rod to make it dart and flash like a wounded baitfish. The line came tight slowly, as a big tuna rolled on its side to engulf the plug. I barely had time to set the hook before the rod was doubled over and I was bracing myself against the gunnel as the first bluefin tuna I’d ever hooked on spinning gear ripped line off the Van Staal VM275.

With my back burning and arms aching—and after a little help from Craig Cantelmo of Van Staal—the 60-inch tuna came into view. As Bobby leadered the fish and released it, I marveled at the fact that these fish could be consistently landed on spinning gear. Years of trial and error have allowed Bobby to push the limits of spinning rod fishing for tuna, and land fish upwards of 400 pounds doing it. For more information on how he beats these big bluefin, check out the upcoming season of On The Water TV, starting in January 2015.

We filmed two days of tuna fishing on Stellwagen Bank, catching the last leg of a great bluefin run off Cape Cod. In addition to my tuna, Bobby hooked and landed three of his own. He even hopped aboard his friend Capt. Eric “Schooney” Morea’s boat to help battle an 86-inch tuna.

A flock of shearwaters following the bait indicated where the bluefin were feeding on the surface.

A flock of shearwaters following the bait indicated where the bluefin were feeding on the surface.

Jimmy and Bobby with a nice 63" fish taken on top water with spinning tackle. Over two days of filming, the Reel Deal crew enjoyed excellent fishing, bringing 4 bluefin to the boat.

Jimmy and Bobby with a 63″ fish taken on topwater with spinning tackle. Over two days of filming, the Reel Deal crew enjoyed excellent fishing, bringing four bluefin to the boat.

Capt. Crag Cantelmo from Van Staal and Capt. Bobby Rice with a 63" bluefin. These two have pioneered the tackle and techniques that make this fishery possible on spinning gear.

Capt. Crag Cantelmo from Van Staal and Capt. Bobby Rice with a 63″ bluefin. These two have pioneered the tackle and techniques that make this fishery possible on spinning gear.

After the entire crew took turns fighting the giant on spinning gear, Schooney Charters called in their friend Capt. Bobby Rice for a fresh pair of arms and help with the end game. Getting this fish to the boat was no small feat and teamwork was needed to get the job done.

After the entire crew took turns fighting the giant on spinning gear, Schooney Charters called in their friend Capt. Bobby Rice for a fresh pair of arms and help with the end game. Getting this fish to the boat was no small feat and teamwork was needed to get the job done.

It has been a record breaking year for bluefin on spinning gear, starting with Bobby's 400+ pound fish, broken by Dom Petracras 600+ pound fish just a few days later. Here, the crew stands with a 365-pounder.

It has been a record-breaking fall for bluefin on spinning gear, starting with Bobby Rice’s 420-plus-pound fish, broken by Dom Petracras 590-plus-pound fish just a few days later. Here, the crew of Schooney Charters stands with a 365-pounder.