It’s that time of year again and whilst as I write the season is still only days old, it looks like it could be a special one. At the end of July we spotted the first ones for ourselves as reports from the west started to be published online, the Atlantic Blue Fin Tuna are back!
The CHART 23 programme, which is a research project which includes a group of licensed charter boats with skippers and crew capable of safely catching and releasing these giant fish, officially started on August 14th. With large numbers of fish present, clear water and decent weather it was no surprise it got off to a flying start along the south coast. The fish are already spread out to the east and west and no longer are they just concentrated in Falmouth Bay which is where the majority of fish settled in the first couple of years of their arrival.
My good friend Mike has been part of the CHART crew from the beginning this year being his third. I was very fortunate to be invited to ride along for the day and see the spectacle and enjoy the wildlife. We boarded “True Blue”, a very impressive Rodman boat that traditionally you’d associate with big game fishing in Mauritius or some other far flung exotic destination. We were greeted by skipper Steve Porter at 7am ready to get out in weather that felt like Mauritius and not Mylor near Falmouth. After an excellent briefing from Steve who explained everything about the boat, the fishing and how things would go during the day we dropped the ropes and headed off. Fish safety is paramount on this programme. Yes we want to catch the fish of a life time but that can only happen if we’re ready for it. The CHART programme is a team of skippers and crew who have the experience to do things safely for you and the fish. That’s not to say others are capable but if you want to do things right then for now the CHART programme is the way to go. It’s not really like anything else in UK fishing. It’s awesome!
With the crew gagging to get going we pushed out into the bay and I put on my binoculars and tried to make myself useful by spotting the feeding activity. The weather was flat calm, if a fish broke the surface, I’d see it! It wasn’t long before we saw some activity, maybe 20 minutes. Not nearly as far out as the boat had traveled on the previous day to catch fish but it was an opportunity that would have been silly to pass by.
Tuna fishing is s partnership, skipper and crew. Crew on True Blue is Mike and also a great friend of mine. You get out of tuna fishing what you put in and Steve and Mike work hard. Mike got the rods ready, chose the spreader bars and lures and run back a “pattern” that looked good for the conditions. It was clearly the right choice and in now time at all the first fish hit and just like that we were in!
It would be easy to panic at this point. There’s a giant fish on the line and the reel is screaming! But panic causes mistakes and mistake lose fish. But there’s no panic on True Blue. Everyone to their stations, deck cleared, rod to the angler and let battle commence. Now Mike and Steve work together with the angler to get the fish safely to the boat in around 20-30 minutes. Incidentally, if the fish isn’t at the boat within 1-hour the crew take over and finish the fight. These fish can fight for hours which isn’t good for their safe return to the water. With sensible gear and a wise approach most fish are beaten in less than 45 minutes.
Matt did a sterling job on the rod in the tropical heat. As soon as the fish was boat side once again Mike and Steve are working to unhook the fish, measure it, tag it and the get it revived ready to swim away good and strong.
From the high vantage point of True Blue’s flying bridge I could watch everything unfold. Steve and Mike are forever making small tweaks to what’s happening most of which are unspoken and will go unoticed by the angler on the rod but that’s because they are keeping everything calm and stacking the odds in the favour of the angler. It’s a huge wild fish you’re fighting, it’s strong and unpredictable and whilst each fight does have a bit of a pattern at any moment that fish can rush towards the boat, the surface shake it’s head or dive for the boat and between them, the angler the skipper and the crew need to keep the line tight to stop that fish throwing the hook.
This capture was text book. A perfect crew display and the fish powered away after a couple of quick photos. All that was before 9am!
What came next was a run of bad luck like I’ve never seen. Angler number two was Oli and with more fish feeding it was only a matter of time before it was his turn in the harness. But, we were to be reminded of just how hard these fish are to beat. Over the course of the next eight hours we had a further five takes. Each time the fish managed to break free. I had to sympathise with Oli. On my first day fishing for Blue Fins I lost three, it hurts. But, Oli is an angler and he knows that these things can happen and it proved just how hard these giant fish are to catch. You’ll get one next time Oli!
Amongst all the fishy excitement and in balmy hot weather we enjoyed watching huge Fin whales, minki whales, common and bottle nose dolphins, a basking shark and a couple of free swimming sharks. It was a incredible day at sea.
If you’re angler reading this and you want to experience some truly wild fishing on a stunning boat with a crew that simply don’t stop working for you, drop Steve a line and get yourself out on True Blue. Just a few years ago you had to travel to the other side of the world to experience this. Now, it’s just down the A30.
Thank you Steve and Mike for an epic day out!
To make a booking on True Blue;
Check out the website – www.truebluecharters.co.uk
Give Steve a call – 07967598669
Email Steve – firstname.lastname@example.org