Tuna trip is totally worth it

Anglers may have to work for them, but big yellowfin tuna are fun to catch.

“Where is the best place to get good sushi?” the stranger asked.

“About 120 miles that way,” Joey Davis said, gesturing to the southwest.

Less than 48 hours later, Davis, Colton Wood and Hussein Zayed, all of Ocean Springs, Miss., were drifting cut bait on the Lump, south of Venice, in Zayed’s 27 Conch.

Chumming up tuna on the Lump is a key tactic. Anglers looking to land a large yellowfin tuna can trailer to Venice and launch at one of the two marinas, Venice Marina or Cypress Cove.

“We left Venice Marina around 7 a.m. with 100 pounds of pogeys,” said Davis. “Upon our arrival at The Lump we began to chunk bits of pogey in an attempt to chum the yellowfin up to the boat.”

One of the drawbacks to chumming is the various species of fish attracted to the chum.

“As usual the bonito showed up with the occasional king darting in and out of the slick,” Davis said. “We were using cut pogey and chunks of bonito we had caught for bait.

“Toward the end of our first drift we spotted a few good sized yellowfin, but they seemed to be leader shy as they would swim up to the bait and turn away. After a few unsuccessful drifts we picked up and ran to some bottom numbers where we caught a few tilefish.”

Tilefish are caught on bottom in depths over 500 feet and make delicious table fare. Electric reels are a necessity for this type of fishing due to the extreme depth.

“When the tilefish bite slowed down Hussein decided we should give the Lump another try,” Davis said. “When we got there we noticed the water had gone from a clear green to a murkier green.”

On the first drift, Davis said they picked up a few bonito and a king mackerel. The murkier water had their hopes up that the leader-shy tuna would be more apt to bite, so they set up another drift through the same area.

“On the second drift we used a piece of the king for bait, which seemed to be the ticket,” Davis explained.  “I pulled off 50 yards of line or so and it took off.

“I urged Hussein to follow my line as the fish had taken the majority of it off the reel, so we chased the fish down and I slowly made my line back.

“After a short fight the fish was directly under the boat and we saw the knot for the 15ft leader come out of the water. I kept reeling and up from the murky green water came the huge yellowfin.

“All of the trash fish you have to deal with, sharks and kings cutting you off, are completely worth it when that big tuna hits the deck,” Davis said.

Chumming for tuna is a team effort. Someone has to be catching bait, someone has to be chumming and someone has to man the rod. Anyone who has fished this way knows the credit for a tuna goes to everyone involved, not just the angler on the rod.

“I think I deserve the most credit since I caught the king mackerel used for bait,” Woods joked.

When the crew at Venice Marina weighed the fish it came in at 200.4 pounds, Davis’ largest tuna to date.

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