The 2011 bluefin tuna charter season in North Lake, Prince Edward Island, with Tony’s Tuna Fishing was another very successful year! The giant bluefin tuna hook-ups this season year ranged from 600-1200 lbs - on a daily basis! Between the Princess Nova and L’il Miss Maddy, we kept and brought in eight tuna and all the rest were catch and release. We have seen a substantial increase, year after year, in the number of bluefin tuna in our waters during the July to mid October timeframe for the past five years. We believe that this is largely due to the tuna following mackerel, herring, and squid in our waters. We have seen an up-tick in the abundance of these smaller fish over the past few years, to the point at which you can hook mackerel almost anywhere you stop off North Lake, PEI.
We have been using the Okuma Makaira MK-80W-II reels for the past two years, and have had great success with them. Some of these reels have been in action with 40 to 50 giant Bluefin tuna each without seeing servicing yet (although they will be this winterJ) and held up perfectly. The drags are very durable, and we can still put 70 pounds of drag on these reels with no issues. Other reels we have used in the past heat up during the fight, some of which we have had to pour water on to cool them down. The problem that we have seen with these other reel brands is when the drag components do heat up, they start to bind up and the reel becomes quite jumpy, eventually leading to line breakage due to inconsistent drag pressure. The Okuma reels stay cool throughout the whole fight, sometimes up to three hours, with consistently smooth performance. We recommend the Okuma Makaira MK-80W-II to anyone who is in the market for an 80 series reel and looking to hunt big game like the giant Bluefin tuna. If it will hold up here in PEI, it will hold up anywhere!
As for our tackle, we use Mustad Demon circle hooks, and are very confident that we are inflicting minimal harm to the bluefin tuna by hooking them in the hinge of the jaw every time. These circle hooks are new to our fishery, but we are now finding a lot of our fellow commercial fishermen are using them instead of the traditional “J” hook, realizing that they are less detrimental to a tuna that may break away during the fight - without compromising your chances of getting them back to the boat.
We had a very busy tuna charter season, and thank everyone, both new and repeat customers, that chartered with us and posted good reports for us on various forums. Our boats sailed every day for ten weeks, not allowing us much time for reports, so we relied on our clients to do that for us on our Facebook page.
We had a great time fishing with all our charters in 2011 and would like to, again, sincerely thank you for your patronage. We hope to see you all back in 2012. Until then, tight lines to everyone!
Captains Tony and Bradley MacDonald