Tenacious captains coax fat yellowfin tuna
As Capt. Hunter Caballero entered his target zone on Feb. 27 he knew the day would be different. His fish finder lit up like a volcano spewing out fish instead of lava — showing hundreds of finned bodies swimming below.
The fish finder foretold a catch like they hadn’t seen in months. It was the start of a 3- day frenzy that saw the three Paradise Outfitter boats land an average of four tuna a day — all of them weighing 100 pounds plus. But that’s not all, seven of the fish weighed over 150 pounds!
Trophy tuna have finally shown up on the lumps and the good news is they should remain there for the entire month of March before moving further offshore to the floating oil rigs.
Word of Caution: Don’t run a boat down the river if you don’t have radar and can’t run in fog. It’s been thicker than pea soup practically every day for the past 30 days.
“It had been real hit or miss the whole month of February, but that’s all changed,” Caballero said. He blamed the slow month of February on too much scattered bait, “There were pogie balls everywhere.”
But then on Feb. 27 everything changed. The pogie balls were few and far between and the fish returned to their favorite early spring haunt — mud lumps located just 25 miles south of Venice.
The captains caught their fish by chumming pogie and cut hardtails and freelining cut bait. “The bite has been starting mid to late morning so you need to wait it out.” he described. “But when they begin feeding, most everyone out there have been catching.”
Yellowfin tuna are not the only game in town — wahoo and swordfish are also willing players right now.
March is trophy tuna month and Caballero hopes the good bite on all three species will continue through April. His captains are already booked on the weekends by trophy seekers but he has a few days during the week still available. Those interested can visit his website at venicefishing.com.
For anglers planning to head out on their own, he suggests bringing 100 to 150 pounds of pogie for chum and plenty of muscle.
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