15 Minutes with: Capt. Mike hogan
Location: Cape Cod, MA
Tides: all tides, no slack
Approach: I don’t know what it is about busting tuna, large or small, otherwise good people can turn into colossal jerks. By jerks, I mean the boats that go blazing every which way and where plowing into schools of breaking fish to fire off a couple of good shots. It’s amazing to see. I chuckle when I think back to my charter boat days when I was guiding a psychiatrist who diagnosed the runner-and-gunners as “sexually frustrated.” He had waited patiently as we drifted into a school of well timed albies only to get his line caught by a runner and gunner. Now that you know how I really feel about runner and gunners, I do have a few tips I’d like to share:
Steady RPMs: I am convinced that it is the change in RPMS of outboards that spook fish. For that reason, I move up to fish slowly from a great distance to that dropping out of gear is a rather benign change to the fish. Often while I’m locating fish, I’ll cruise around 6-8 kts looking for fish. This speed will help me close a distance, but won’t spook fish.
Study Patterns: Often breaking tunoids will follow some semblance of a pattern. Often times, if your in an area with tide and a bit of structure, it will shape where the bait flows. Other times, there’s rhyme or reason that is invisible to us. In either event, you figure out a pattern, you’ll know where to set up drifts and have the albies come to you. You will always out fish the run and gunners if you find a productive drift.
Blind Casting: I catch as many bonito and albies blind casting as I do sight casting. Don’t forget, they do exist under water when you can’t see them slashing. Also, don’t forget you’re using bigger soft baits now, they will see them from a far and zero in and blast it! If you are not doing a lot of blind casting, you can up your bonito/albie counts. BIG TIME.
Rule of Opposites: Here’s another UN-scientifically proven tip. If you’re swarmed by run and gunners, go where they just came from. I’m convinced 100% that bonito and albies are spooked by this practice and I think they tend to go to where there is no running and gunning intentionally. Let the buzzing work for your advantage. Plus, think of it as a reverse jinx. How many times have you picked up and moved, only to notice fish jumping where you just came from.
I discovered using larger than usual soft baits by mistake when fishing in woods hole a few years ago for blitzing stripers. I heard crashes behind me so I did a back hand cast with out even looking. By the time I turned around, I realized I miss the school and cranked the bait in as fast as I could so I could re-cast. And that’s where the lover affair with the 7inch amber BEGAN… Two or three bonito zeroed in on my bait and one finally took it at boat side. I repeated the cast and caught about a half dozen or so in a very short period of time.
Rigging Selection: For a shallow water – weedless presentation, the 5/0 Unweighted Swim Bait Hook is perfect.
Bait Selection: The Hogy® 7inch Original.
Why this bait? It weighs ½ oz so it’s easier to cast. I pair it with the 5/0 weighted swim-bait hook for a total weight of nearly 1oz.
It also has a larger profile. You will notice that more times than not, bonito and albies are on very small bait. Lots and lots and lots of them! So the lure will stick out, especially when fished with the technique below.
Colors: Amber was originally my go to choice and it is indeed still my favorite color. However, as with any fishing method, there are certain situations where varying your method pays off.
When in doubt: Start with amber. It will ALWAYS work.
Cloudy Water: My two favorite colors in cloudy water are bubble gum and black. Bubble gum shows up because its bright and black shows up due to the contrast.
Very clear Water: Bone and amber. Use a long flouro leader or yozuir hybrid and you will always be a winner.
Retrieve: I’m mentioning retrieve before my preferred outfit because this particular method works in conjunction with using a longer rod. That said, the retrieve is pretty simple but may require some extra Strength Advil after a long morning.
Speed: Simply cast out, engage your reel and start cranking. By cracking fast, I mean really, really fast.
Rod Tip: More times than not, you’re always better off keeping your tip pointed toward the water. In this ase, you want your tip IN THE WATER, and if possible, you want 10 or 12 inches worth.
Action: So now you’re reeling as fast as you can and your tip is in the water. You’ll notice that as you reel like crazy, your rod will be dancing and darting, so much so that you can hear the tip in the water. While I can’t prove this scientifically, I’m convinced that this extra commotion elicits more strikes.
Now the net sum total of this retrieve is that that bait will “hum” through the water just under the surface. You WILL BE AMAZED at how well this technique works when multiple bonito or albies chase your lure.
Rod: I use a St. Croix Avid 8′ heavy fast action as I prefer prefer a longer, heavier rod than usual for three reasons:
- It will allow better casting range.
- Easier to manage lure placement with the tip in the water as you won’t have to reach from most boats.
- All small tunas will fight to their last breath and consequently small tunas taken on very light tackle have a very high mortality rate. The heavier outfit will be conducive to a fast landing and a lower mortality rate when you release the fish.
Reel: Any high quality reel with a high gear ration will do. I prefer a Sustain 5000 series
Line: Braid is my go to line for all fishing methods but this one. Any small tuna is capable of being a finicky eater enough to rival most 15month old babies. I feel so strongly about this that I worry that the knot between the braid and flouro leader will spook fish. My altime favorite line for this method is 12lb Yozuri Hrybid Mono/flouro line. I tie direct with a loop not. The one downside to this line is that it does not cast as well as braid. If it’s a windy situation, I will switch to 30lb braid with a 20lb flouro leader. I have had days where the Youzuri Hybrid outfished braid/flouro leader 2 to 1.