Albacore tuna (Thunnus alalunga)
Female’s tuna produce between 800,000 and 2.6 million eggs, which hatch within two days. After the eggs hatch, the fish begin to grow fast and they remain close to this area for the first year of their lives. After their first year, they begin to migrate in search of larger food pray. Albacore tuna have a lifespan of 11 to 12 years, but they reach reproductive maturity at around five to six years. They can weigh over 60kg and grow to over 1.5meters in length. The best method is trolling artificial baited near the surface or at a certain depth. Behind the boat. Several lines can be trolled at the same time, by using outriggers, it keeps the lines away from each other and you can position the lures at different ranges to stop tangles as the boat is turning. Like most fish in the sea, albacore accumulates Methyl mercury in body tissue over time. It will naturally remove from the body, but it may take over a year for the levels to drop significantly after digesting by humans. With high and low levels of exposure to it, mercury can be extremely harmful to people. Infants with higher prenatal exposure to mercury than the FDA suggested level have delayed psychomotor development in baby’s that are developing in the womb, these include: loss of neurons in the brain lobes, blindness, deafness, and mental retardation. The Irish record albacore is 29.96 kg, Caherciveen, 2007 Specimen weight: 26.46 lbs (12 kg)
Using outriggers will increase your catch rate and with a bit of practice you can position your lures in a way that when you turn the boat in a slow ark they won’t get tangled
This year I got an invitation from mike Dennehy and James Walsh [Pedro] to go for albacore tuna aboard the silver dawn. As I was talking to the lads they gave me a list of what I needed and to be ready for the break in the weather. With all eyes on all-weather sights hoping for light easterlies winds. As the long rang forecast was looking good for the 5 to 7 September. The lads contacted me and said it looking go.With the trips, going ahead mike and Pedro decided to steam from kinsale to Portmagee, as it would be shorter and less fuel used for the second trip. As I had a fore wheel drive mike asked me could I bring down there bowser (which is a fuel tank) as it would be fare easier and neater than drums of fuel. With theSilver dawn docked at Portmagee it was time to refuel. With all crew members accounted for all was left was to get some sleep before our early start to the tuna grounds.
From kinsale to Portmagee in seven hours and with the boat refueled all was left was to get some sleep before a 3am departure
With the crew on board, we still had about four hours before we would reach our destination. With a mile to go we got our rods ready and out riggers set up, I still could not believe that I had a chance of catching an albacore tuna. As the boat slowed we put one rod out at a time, the diving baits first then the surface ones on the outriggers and middle rod holders.
As the lures were working, the sun started to rise over the horizon it was then the excitement started to kick in
It took just over an hour before the first run, which was on my rod and as the fish was peeling the line off my reel, it got off. I truly felt sick. With the lure checked and back out it only took a few minutes before Pedro rod was buckling. With the first fish landed, we were all looking at our rods as minutes turned into an hour I was wondering did I lose the chance of landing my first albacore, it was nine o clock when Robert and Ross lures were into tuna but sadly Ross lost his after a few seconds. As rob was fighting his fish it was giving long runs and diving hard. At that moment, I really wanted to land one.
Rob Vaughan with a hard fighting albacore tuna that took a surface lure that was set up to the outrigger
As the day was pushing on, I said to myself I still have tomorrow to catch one, when suddenly three rods sprang into action, paddy, Ross and mine. With Ross’s fish nearly betting it gave a last few head-shakes that freed it [sick]. With every other run and head-shake, our fish made, paddy and I were praying that they would stay on. After another minute or so of nerve- racking moments the fish were on their side and it was only when Pedro and rob got the tuna on board we could relax and enjoy the experience of Irish albacore tuna fishing. Sadly, there were the last tuna of the day.
Paddy and myself with our first ever tuna and even better we caught them in Irish water
With the boat back in Portmagee, it was time to refuel ourselves like the boat. With a huge burger and fries and a few pints of coke to wash it down, I could feel myself starting to relax and was looking forward to the next run at them. It was not long before my 2.45 am alarm was going off then the four lads from Dublin were on the pare. With the boat started and the crew on board we headed back out were we caught the tuna. As we were on the tuna grounds, I asked mike could I use my shark fly rod set up and he said if it is up to the job ok but if not put out your 30lb set up. Therefore, with the belief in my fly rod she was set up. With the rod locked into the rod holder, I could see the teaser skipping along the surface. It was a few hours before the magnum plug was hit and then the outrigger rod was slammed, then another three-rod. With the reels loosing line and the lads trying to avoiding there lines crossing, my fly reel stated to go. What a crack. What mike advised us to do was leave some tuna take line as two anglers at a time tried to bring their fish to the boat, this worked a treat.( you can’t bate experience). With all fish on board including my fly rod caught tuna,( that I believe is a first to be done in Irish water) it was time to take a picture.
From left to right Pedro, Joe Divito, Robert Vaughan, Dónán mac Domhnaill, Oisín Mac Domhnaill with some cracking tuna that gave a good account of themselves, I was unable to join them as I was taking the picture
My first tuna on my shark fly rod set up or should I say my new tuna set up what a crack and it may be a first albacore tuna to be landed on a fly rod in Ireland
As mike turned the boat to go over them again, we all scrambled to get out our rods. as we, neared the spot Anthony rod screamed off then robs and Dónán rod. With their fish, diving and twisting trying to shake the hook they soon got them under control and as they came to the surface Pedro and Joe was able to get them a board.
Rob Vaughan, Anthony Hudson (Normally known as HOOK) and Dónán with another three albacore that all took surface lures and as we all agree Mike and Pedro are some men to find tuna.
With the decks cleared there was buzz of excitement on the boat we put out the rods like prows and started to talk about how strong the tuna are. As we, trolling mike shouted there is fish marking and then my fly rod reel started to scream, as I tightened the drag mike put the boat into neutral. I started to wind hard keeping pressure on the fish, as the fish seen the boat it dove hard. I had the drag set quite tight on the reel that made the rod doubled over; it took all the pressure that the tuna was dishing out with ease.
My fly rod with ease was taking all the punishment that the tuna was dishing out what a feeling as it was diving
After a few hearth, thumping minutes I had the fish on board and we were off trolling again. With the day, all most coming to an end, Pedro changed the colour of his surface lure to see would it tempt one more strike. With only fifteen minutes left before lines in Pedro rod awoke with the sound of the drag, the line was peeling off his reel. As Pedro is experienced with much larger Tuna, he soon had it under control. As rob pulled the albacore aboard mick said it time to go. What a great way to end a day.
Pedro keeping steady pressure on the tuna and after a fun battle this 20lb tuna was the prize
My second tuna on my fly rod that is my new PB Tuna at 18lb well worth the money on spent on the set up (many thanks to Richard and the lad in village tackle that made the fly rod for me and to mike and Pedro who made it possible to go after them)
As we headed in the sun started to set on a clam sea I hope to see it again after another albacore tuna trip
Tips and gear
1 A 30lb class rod and reel out fit with the reel loaded with 60lb braid
2 80lb fluorocarbon for your trace attached to a strong swivel
3 good quality plugs that dive a few feet to plugs that can dive at least 30feet
4 some surface lures
5 a frothy foot boat or bigger with twin engines if you can’t afford one make sour when you are thinking about going you are on one
A picture of some lures that will work for albacore tuna I bought these from Dan in halfway angling I was surprised of how much tuna gear he had in stock