A couple of travel days spent listening to current radio reports following what has now become four months of the most incredible fishing for giant yellowfin tuna our fleet can imagine and I continue to be amazed. One might think that after such a long stretch of incredible action that I would become accustomed to this; a new world order where catches of thirty, forty, fifty, or even eighty yellowfin over two hundred pounds have become common. As long as this insane action on giant yellowfin has lasted, I fear that possibility exists.
Let me say to everyone, without being fatalistic, that every moment of this phenomenal season must be revered, as it deserves to be, but also understood as the anomaly it is. God forbid one man's victorious moment upon capture of a two hundred pound yellowfin tuna in future years be minimized because another man had five, seven, or even ten in years past.
In the meantime, while this outrageous action continues, I want every angler who is fortunate enough to participate to consider your catch. What quantity of fish do you want to take and why are you taking it? Before I continue I don't want anyone to confuse me with a bleeding heart environmentalist, or conservationist nightmare intent upon saving every last living thing on the planet. I firmly believe the population of yellowfin tuna and all the other pelagic species our fleet targets are healthy and can easily sustain all our fishing efforts. When fishing is this good however, we, as sport fishermen, need to self regulate maintaining a positive, respectable image both in and outside our industry. Now I have seen some very good examples of this during the past several months as well as bad, with, fortunately, the good side of the ratio in favor.
It can be very easy to become swept up in the moment during fantastic periods of fishing and become detached from what one has already landed and put on board. The fish are crashing - eating every bait; everyone has one hooked; it's day three; you already have eight giants in the hatch. You don't exactly know what you are going to do with them but what the hell, they are biting; they want a space in the hatch and you are more than ready to accommodate them.
My advice: don't become the proverbial weasel in the henhouse; teeth gnashing, blood flying. There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking your limit; you paid for a permit; it's your right to do so. I will state again that the population is not in danger either; there will be plenty of tuna for everyone whether you take your limit or not. But, it is irresponsible and obscene to take a gigantic quantity of fish simply for the sake of doing so. Think about it. I can recall many times now this season that I've asked an angler the question "Hey, _______ what are you doing up here (on the bridge), I think you'll get a bite with a bait in the water." Response: "You know Tim, I've got five in the fresh tank already and three in the freezer; I really don't need any more. I'm having a great time just relaxing and watching the show. Maybe I'll release one later." My hat is off to these individuals who are obviously aware of the big picture. If you have gone a little, or a lot, overboard this season so be it. Just keep in mind the next time that there is plenty at stake here and we want the privilege of being able to enjoy this fishery for a long time to come.
Finally, so no one confuses my motives, I am well aware of the dynamics of this fishery and the fact that the giant yellowfin tuna we are catching are at the end of their lifespan after living a full, productive spawning life. There is no better scenario to justify the quantities of fish this fleet is catching than the present. This fact, however, does not exonerate us from our responsibility to behave in accordance with our ethics as SPORT fishermen.
That said we will be arriving at Fisherman's Landing tomorrow at 0900 hrs. with another beautiful, FULL load of giant yellowfin tuna; in this case right at about one hundred fish or an average of just under six per man. With two tanks of fresh, RSW fish and one tank of brine frozen, and the average size of these monsters, believe me, no one is wanting for more.
Following our arrival tomorrow, Captain Randy "always get's 'em" Toussaint will be departing on Saturday headed back down south on our next seventeen day voyage. With reports on the "Beach" and out at "The Bank" both indicating nothing short of spectacular fishing on giant yellowfin, we are ready to get back on the grounds and relish in the glory of this indescribable action on big fish. Of course we now hope for good luck in timing as we are well aware that this remarkable fishing is certainly nothing one can bank on or take for granted.