I went tuna fishing on the Gulf Eagle out of Port Aransas on Dec 29 on a short notice. The airfare from NY to Houston, Texas was very expensive on a short notice, but I was determined to catch my last yellowfin on jigs or poppers before 2008.
When I arrived at Hobby Airport at midnight on Friday, Bret was waiting for me. I am very thankful that Bret could give me a ride to Port Aransas as I could have hard time to drive alone from Houston to Port Aransas on a rental car at night.
There were 13 guys on the boat and fare was $545 per person including gas surcharge.
The first thing I noticed on the boat was it was like I was on a bluefish trip rather than a tuna trip as most guys brought light tackles. ? And only couple of guys except me brought spinning gears.
The boat left at 6:00 am as scheduled and it took about 10 ½ hours to get to Boudreaux. The chartered Pelican was fishing there already.
I brought only one custom conventional rod and one spinning rod from OTI 80 lbs 7’6” blanks and started to cast poppers first on the pulpit. While casting poppers, I saw small billfish ( I thought it was a billfish at first as I never heard anyone caught a swardfish in Texas) and it took my popper as I teased the fish under the boat by jigging my popper up and down.
Unfortunately it got away after 10 second fight. In retrospect, the fish was more likely a swordfish than a marlin. It would have been great if I had caught the swordfish on a popper as nobody ever caught swordfish on poppers.
After catching couple of blackfin tuna I finally got the first yellowfin. The tuna didn't fight well and I thought I had a good size blackfin until I saw it on the surface. To my surprise, it was a nice yellowfin which turned out to be 75 lbs. On the next drift I got another nice tuna on a popper and it took lines. But the 80 lbs mono line got broken ! I packed my tackles in a hurry and I didn’t bring leader lines and I had to borrow from the boat. The boat had 80 lb Sufix line. I didn’t like the line as the line gave me problems before, but I had to use it as I don’t have any other alternative.. This time I used about 22 – 24 lbs drag and 80 lbs line shouldn’t be broken.
As popping slowed down, I switched to jigging. I casted out to down current and I started to jig as soon as my jig hit the water and I had a nice hit after catching a few balckfin. My drag was screaming and I immediately knew I had a very nice yellwfin, but suddenly I felt nothing. My main 80 lbs Japanese PE ( braid) line got broken though I used 22- 24 lbs drag ! Recently I have been experimenting several different Japanese PE lines and I am disturbed that lines got broken a few time while fighting tuna. This is another case.
As fishing slowed down, I decided to rest for a while. When I woke up around 3:00 am, I found I did not miss much as they caught mostly blackfin. It was fun to watch them to jig blackfin with light setups. I realized how the propaganda of Shimano’s Butterfly system are powerful and influential as most guys used Japanese style jigging with assist hooks. Definitely Japanese style jerk/crank technigue is working for blackfin tuna as they caught at least 3 times more than I did while I jigged slowly for yellowfin.
After day-break I had a nice hit on my popper and the big fish shaked head violently and my 80 lbs Sufix leader line broke again !!! I seldom lose tuna due to line breakage as I normally use drag close to ¼ instead of 1/3 for safety, but I lost three nice ones on this trip.
Fishing was generally slow compared with previous trips to Boudreaux. I don't know the majority of yft left the area and we had only slow day. but I had a great time with bunch of nice people and got my wish. Capts and mates worked hard all night.