Before we start our 2017 report, we apologize for not giving a 2016 report. We purchased another rental house for our tuna fishing clients and got so busy renovating it in the fall of 2016 and into the spring of 2017 that our report got put on the back burner. I will say 2016 was another successful year, and once again, we were lucky to add another new vessel to the fleet. Cindy Mae replaced the Boo Boo for Captain Terry Harris.
The 2017 season started off very strong with Captain Bradley being the first to start taking our clients to fish for the giant Bluefin. Capt. Bradley started around the first of August and had great luck for the first couple weeks fishing Milne Bank just southeast of East Point, PEI.
Most of our boats had one tuna to catch and kill in 2017 under our commercial license. We were allowed, like previous years, to pair up with another captain and use their tag as well on our boat. Bradley and Tony both had an extra tag in the first allocation by pairing up with their two uncles and putting their kill tags on Bradley and Tony’s boats respectively. Similar to previous years, there was a reallocation after September 26 which was based on an existing list from previous years. We also managed to have a couple of kill tags for the fleet out of this lottery as well.
Captain Tony onboard the Li’l Miss Maddy was the second boat to fire up and go in search of the giant bluefins in 2017. Tony started on August 12, and although they burned more fuel than in previous years, they did locate giants many days, and in many different areas than where we traditionally fish.
August was not much different than past years, with most of our fishing being drifting with kites and down baits, using live maceral. There were also more hookups this year from trolling, as we covered more ground and saw a lot of schools of tuna in the deep water that were feeding on surface bait, small maceral, not the traditional herring schools we have witnessed so often in the past few years.
September, 2017, was different than the past few years, as we saw fewer herring in the traditional areas, and the result was the tuna stayed out in the deeper water, and were feeding on these schools of small maceral. This is quite common in August, but normally the tuna move shoaler and feed on the herring in September. Although there were still large schools of tuna basically spread over the entire Gulf of St. Lawrence, and the Northumberland Straight, they just never bulked up in the traditional areas on the herring. We did find herring and tuna in some areas this year where the herring do not usually do their spawning, and we had some great fishing many days in these spots. When it comes to tuna fishing, you have to keep an open mind and remember that every year is different and we have to keep adapting our fishery to the changing patterns of the tuna and all of the bait fish they are chasing.
There were many theories on why the herring did not show up in as large of a quantity in 2017 as in previous years. We think it was just a slight change in water temperature, it was warmer than normal in September in the Gulf. The herring that did show up were late, around the latter part of September, and although they didn’t stay around long, it did keep the tuna in the area off North Lake until the end of October. Some of the fishermen with a kill tag to fill were having great luck hooking giants right off North Lake without a lot of effort the last two weeks of October. The weather was a little cooler but the fishing was good!
We are optimistic for 2018, we hope to have the herring back, and we will continue to spread out our fleet of boats and find the large schools of tuna in the deeper water in the earlier part of the season. We saw a lot of tuna in 2017, so the future of our fishery looks bright.
We also look forward to some new boats for some of our captains between 2018 and 2019!! More of our captains have new boats on order, they should start popping up with our Tony’s Tuna Fishing flags chasing Bluefin tuna sometime in the fall of 2018 and into 2019. Stay tuned for pictures on Facebook as they show up!
Stay warm this winter, hope to see you next year!!
Copyright 2018, Tony's Tuna Fishing