How To Get Started On A Tuna Charter Service

By Captain Bill Wilkerson
Owner/Operator of the Malihini in San Diego California

The MalihiniYou’ll call the landing of your choice preferably H and M landing.  You will then make your reservation deciding on 10 to 15 different boats for tuna fishing I would suggest a ¾ day, overnight, 1 to 3 day trips.

After you have decided on which type trip you want to take, let’s say it’s a ¾ day trip.
The ¾ day trips target yellow fin and blue fin tuna and Dorado from about the first week of July through the last week of September into the second or third week of October.  These are what we call stand up trips.  These trips typically don’t have bunks (beds) on the boat.  This trip would leave the dock at 5:30 AM and return between six and 7:30 PM.  

A Typical Day On A Charter For Tuna Would Consist Of

1.    You would need to be at the boat no later than live than 4:45am to ensure there’s ample time to buy your ticket board the boat gets signed in it and be prepared to leave
2.    Weather changes out on the ocean.  Dress warm because it’s easier to stay warm and take layers off then to freeze all day long, and not fish because you’re cold.

When fishing offshore for tuna there are hours and hours of boredom lots of driving and trolling around turning on sonar marks, stopping on kelps for nothing.  Then all the sudden you hear the captain say CHUM a line starboard side.  The anticipation of all that driving around the ocean comes to an abrupt stop as soon as you hear the trolling rods sing, and the deckhand on the bait tank yells HOOKUP!!!!!  You see anglers run for the trolling rods as they are pulling line of the reels. That’s when the chaos ensues.

Two Setups Recommended For Tuna Fishing

Diawa 30HSETUP#1:  The first would be 8 foot fishing rod medium to heavy action.  This rod, as you can see, is an 8 foot stick rated for 15 to 40 pound test line, it’s a good all-around bait casting stick. The reel I would use for this set up is the saltiest 30h I would recommend no less than 20 pound no more than 40 pound test for this particular reel.  If you feel comfortable with fishing Braid, 380 yards of 40 pound braid, a top shot of 10 to 15 yards of 30 pound should be sufficient for anything that you would catch on a ¾ day trip weather were fishing the Coronado islands or fishing offshore.

Combo Option 1

SETUP#2: The second stick I would choose would be a yoyo stick (rod).  This is a heavier stick as opposed to the 809H it is only 7 foot 2 inches long and it is rated for 40 to 100 pound test I would recommend at least 40 lb test.

This setup is usually used for bottom fishing and Yoyo Iron Fishing.  In Iron Fishing, use a lure or (jig) anywhere from 4 ½ to 8 ounces in weight and tie to the end of your line.  Prepare your rig while the captain is driving around looking for sonar fish.  

Combo Option 2

What Is The Yoyo Method Of Casting and Retrieving

Yoyo LureWhen the Captain finds a school on the sonar, he will notify everyone which side of the boat from which you will be fishing.  When the boat turns into the sonar fish, the deck hands will announce BAIT OVER, at which time you’ll drop your jig at the announced depth, crank 25 to 30 times as fast as you can, disengage your real allowing the jig to drop and repeat this process.  If your bait stops, you are hooked into a Tuna using the “Yoyo” method and the fight is on.

Your equipment is the critical part as your captain will advise what to use, when to use it and how deep to fish.  The gear described is basically good for most any trip in the ¾ to 2 day charter trips.  Most captains carry extra rods in the event you should have a problem.

Phenix RodsI think the key to any successful fishing trip is to have a great attitude, to have fun weather you catch fish are not, and to have understanding of the basics needed in order to be successful.  I know on the Malihini, we pride ourselves on customer service, we have no control over the fish biting or not, but we will do our best to put you in the right place and time to take advantage of our opportunities.  I fished a lot of boats over the years and I’m a firm believer that the crew, whether the fishing is good or horrible , makes a difference in a successful or disappointing  trip.  Hope to see you on the water

Bill Wilkerson, Captain The Malihini
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