We have just finished up another awesome year of giant bluefin tuna fishing here in North Lake, Prince Edward Island, the Tuna Capital of the World. 2014 was a great year, with some fishing being done in different areas that we haven’t fished the last few years, but the results in these areas were superb!!
2014 was, for the most part, very similar to 2013 and to describe it as a predictable year would be fair. The bluefin ranged from 350 to 1250 pounds, with the larger ones showing up later in the season as they continually put on weight for the whole time they are in our waters. The reason for so many tuna in our waters is the bait. We have an abundant supply of herring, mackerel, capelin, squid, and many other small bait fish in our waters to hold the giants around.
We held off a little later on the start of our tuna fishing this year. With the rough winter we had coming into the 2014 fishing season, everything was a little later. Our lobster fishery got off to a slow start, so we thought the tuna may be a week or two later getting into our waters as the cold water may have slowed their migration up from the Gulf of Mexico. We encouraged our clients to leave their trips if possible until the first of August. We did start with two boats on July 28, with three fish being hooked and brought to the boats the first day, so the start date was perfectJ
We only fished four days in July, and then went full out in August. The tuna acted very much like in 2013, staying high in the water, and we did not “mark” a lot on the fish finder, meaning they were so high in the water column that they were not going under the boat where they would register on the fish finder. We did find amongst all our boats that the tuna seemed very aggressive in August, and if you did see or mark a tuna, there was a very good chance you would get him on the hook. August was a great weather month as we would expect, and we got most of our hookups on the kite bait or the high bait out away from the boat. The tuna in August ranged from 350 to 1000 pounds, and these same tuna will actually put on 15 to 20 percent more in body weight before they head back to the Gulf of Mexico around the end of October!! August always brings lots of hookups because the tuna had just arrived a short time ago, and are very hungry after that long trip. Feeding the tuna beside the boat does not happen a lot in August, but still a lot of hookups. We stayed in Souris harbour for most of August, and fished more this year off East Point in the shoal water, and hooked a lot of fish in this area. We haven’t done a lot of fishing off East Point in a few years, so to see tuna in this area in good numbers is great news for next year!
September, like we predicted would happen, brought the herring, and caused the tuna to bunch up on the herring grounds. We moved back to North Lake with the boats and spent most days off North Lake, with a few longer trips to Fishermen’s Bank scattered throughout the month. We had ten kill tags amongst our boats in the initial allotment for 2014, and we used them all in September. The tuna our boats brought to the dock ranged in size from 500 to 927 pounds. Like other years, size is important but timing the market is the most important thing, which can explain why we may release a 1000 pounder today, and take a 600 pounder a week later. One change this year in September with the tuna bunching up on the herring was the fact that they were a little more hesitant about coming right up to the surface. On some days, we would be marking all kinds of fish but they were sticky about coming above 25-30 feet. We got them to bite on most days if they were acting like this, it just took a little bit of ingenuity and patience. Another technique that worked well when the tuna were acting like this was the kite, the tuna seemed to like that live mackerel splashing on the surface and they would just explode on it!
In October, we fished a little later than in 2013, and it worked out quite well. The herring were still around off North Lake and on Fishermen’s Bank, and we fished both areas depending on the weather and which spot was hotter at the time. We hooked and released tuna ranging from 600 to 1200 pounds. One of our boats, Boo Boo, with Captain Terry Harris, was lucky enough to get a reallocation kill tag, and he landed a beast that was 989 pounds.
All our captains and crew members with Tony’s Tuna Fishing are excited about what we saw in 2014, and we cannot wait to get back on the water wrestling these giant bluefin again in 2015!!!
We hope to see you here!!
Capt. Tony MacDonald
Tony’s Tuna Fishing
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