I love my job, but as with any job, it can become tedious at times. A lot of people might think that professional bass fishing could never get old, but it can. The intense pressure to perform never goes away, especially when you’ve spent the Elite Series season bubbling on the Classic cut like I have and you’re just praying to get five bites each day. Endure five events in row like that and it becomes a monotonous grind that takes its toll and starts to suck the fun out fishing.
Several weeks ago I knew the grind was getting to me and I needed to put the fun back in fishing again. That’s just about the time my buddies back home called and said they were on some bluefin “foamers” in the offshore waters of the Pacific Ocean.
If you have never heard of “foamers” before, they are basically bluefin and yellowfin tuna schooling on the surface. Most of them are in the 30- to 60-pound class with some as big as 150 pounds mixed in. Their thrashing and boiling activity is so fierce that it produces big areas of white, foamy water on the surface – it literally looks like a saltwater volcano is erupting under water. This foamer phenomenon is the most impressive thing I’ve ever seen in terms of total full-scale fish-feeding destruction. And getting in the middle of some “foam” was just what the doctor ordered to rejuvenate my fishing.
With modern-day advancements in equipment and tackle, we are almost to the point where we can catch these ravaging tuna on bass gear. I say almost because fishing for tuna used to be something best left to trolling and live-baiting with big offshore gear. But now with braided line and lighter, stronger rods and reels we are moving towards a day when catching big tuna with bass lures will be a possibility.
Right now we’re pretty close to doing just that. While tuna fishing I used a Daiwa Lexa 400 reel and a 9-foot Diawa Proteus heavy action rod. I spooled this combo with 65-test braided line tied to an 8-foot, 50-pound test monofilament leader. This outfit is basically a beefed up bass-fishing combo that can cast lures in the 2- to 5-ounce range. The lures we used included big poppers, big Lucky Craft jerkbaits and surface irons. A surface iron is really just a big jigging spoon that is made to cast out and reel back as opposed to dropping straight to the bottom. Instead of being made of lead or zinc, a surface iron is made from aluminum, so it is lighter and made to “swim” and ride up high while reeling it fast.
Flinging a surface iron out into the “foam” and reeling it back as fast as possible produces the kind of rush that makes your hair stand up on your head. The tuna are ultra competitive, charging lures with raw fury to beat their schoolmates to the iron. In the clear waters of the Pacific, they look like dark submarines coming at your bait at Mach 1 – it will literally take your breath away. There is no finessing the lure or trying to figure out how to tease a fish into biting like with heavily pressured bass. Tuna are all in – 100 percent committed to destroying what’s on the end of your line. Once a tuna hooks up, the drag starts screaming and then you just hold on for the rocket ride, hoping to endure the pure, unabashed thrashing they dole out. It’s the kind of rush that reminds me of why I love to fish – period.