[dropcap]M[/dropcap]ay is the best month to catch yellowfin tuna off Long Island. We typically find schools of yellowfin in the 40-to-60-pound range congregating around certain areas such as Simms Bar, Diana Bank and Rum Cay. Live chumming is the best method of catching these prize fish. When the bait is available, we aim to take 100 gallons or more worth to insure a successful day. A simple but proven rig we use consists of a 30-foot-long section of 60-pound fluorocarbon leader with a 130-pound SPRO Power Swivel tied to one end and a 9/0 Mustad 39960D circle hook tied to the other end with a “non-slip Luke’s knot”, a custom variation of a non-slip loop knot. We use a range of rod and reel combos from a 50-weight reel spooled with 50-to-80-pound test to #16 and #20 size reels spooled with 50-pound braid and a mono-filament top shot.
Our typical scenario involves us locating a school of tuna, setting a drift that will get us close to the school, then shut off the engine and start live chumming pilchards. We throw some over unharmed and some other we poke the eyes out and toss them over. This makes the pilchard swim around in circles near the boat. Don’t be scared to put some drag on those big tunas. We like to set our drags to 20-pounds at strike. We start off with the drag almost in free spool and when the fish hits, we slowly bump the drag up to full 20-pounds. Using the right gear and technique are key to landing these fish. A tuna rod belt with back harness are the necessary tools for the job. Bending the knees to give a short, quick half-crank on the reel is the most efficient way to work the fish up quick.
If live bait is not available, chunking is another “go to” technique. Regular size squid work great. We typically deploy five lines with whole squid hooked on. We stagger the baits at different depths with 1-ounce weights connected via rubber bands. The way chunk is presented on the water is key to getting the fish in the “bite zone”. We prefer to cut the squid into thirds and toss one piece over every five feet. This provides a nice constant chum line that will draw the school right next to the boat. Too much bait at one time and the fish stay down deep, not enough bait and the fish will not find the chum line. Each technique of fishing is a science unto itself.
Don’t forget to bring the soy sauce and wasabi. You are guaranteed to get your fair share of sashimi when fishing Long Island, Bahamas.