MIA Bluefins, Memories, and A Safety Reminder

By Captain Ralph Wilkins

Summer 2014 is just about behind us and for me it’s been a fun one (I’ve enjoyed the new opportunities in the charter boat fishing industry), but also somewhat different from past summers, especially as far as tuna fishing goes. I can’t help remembering back in the ‘80s when the tuna boats like FV Odysea and many others would live on Jeffreys Ledge starting the July 4th weekend and catch a couple bluefins a week. In past years, by the first week in August, the June and July local bluefin tuna quotas would be caught, and we would tie the boats up and go home to do some family things with the kids until September 1st. How things have changed since then.

Those were the days—money in the bank and all the fuel bills paid. I think many of us have avoided really thinking about it too seriously. Honestly, I think we just all hope and pray that it’s a temporary cycle. Fact is that the fishery hasn’t really been producing quota-killing bites like past years that affect the quota, especially in June and July. It’s a pick here and a pick there. This year we didn’t really have a June or a July fishery at all. Hopefully with the cooler water temps this year it’s just all running a little late. Latest reports are that some guys are catch- ing bluefin up off of Maine, and there have been a few taken to the south and east of Cape Cod. The harpooners are doing OK when they get the weather, so like I said before, I don’t think the fishery is dead. I just think the fish find the need to avoid the areas that us fisherman seek to kill them in and around—it only makes logical sense. Let’s face it: it’s a vast ocean and they don’t have to come back to the same spots every year. They have many choices of where to go!

However, let’s thank Mother Nature for the enjoyable spring striper fishery we had this year out of my homeport of Ptown, MA. Some real good spring fishing with nice-size fish caught. Best part it was consistency—many days in a row with good reliable fishing. I know for me, it helped keep my mind off the MIA bluefins that I used to catch in June and July back in the ‘80s!

One last thing: with the fall sea- son upon us and the potential for the offshore tuna fisheries to get going, please don’t forget to check and double check all the safety gear on your vessel before going offshore. We all need to comply with the USCG com- mercial fishing vessel requirements and stay safe out there. Please don’t wait for a disaster to find out your raft won’t open or your flares don’t light. If you’re in need of some things to keep you and your crew compliant and safe quickly, LRSE- Life Raft Safety Equipment based out of RI and Landrigan Corp in Boston, MA are great com- panies to contact. They have pick-up locations near you and have loaners, too, so you can keep fishing while they work on your equipment. Do it now before the fish are biting! They gave me a very quick turn around on my raft and had all the EPRIB stuff I needed in stock! Don’t be cheap… Be safe! Your life and your family depend on it! Tell them Capt. Ralph sent you! Tight Lines and Safe Journeys.

4Cast Captain Ralph Photo 2

Evelise Leopoldo aboard the FV Odysea.

Ralph Wilkins Headshot

Ralph Wilkins is a contributing editor for Coastal Angler Magazine. Wilkins is captain of the Odysea and popular cast member of National Geographic Channel’s hit television show Wicked Tuna. Email Captain Ralph at ralphjwilkins@gmail. com, visit his website at odyseatuna.com, and be sure to like “Captain Ralph Wilkins” on Facebook.