Author: Capt. Rick Pollock from Pursuit Charters
After visiting Prince Edward Island four years earlier and having an excellent experience in every way, I told myself it was most likely a “oncer”- how could I improve on great weather with fishing and company to match? The expertise of the Bruce Brothers coupled with outstanding hospitality was culminated with my good fortune in landing a grander tuna on stand up tackle-how does one improve on that?!?
Well, the chance came up again to join a group from the well-known BlueWater magazine this year. Initially, I dismissed it for all the usual reasons that is until my wife Lyn showed a distinct interest in going there. What the heck, “don’t fight it, join it!” is my motto here, especially when it would afford me another chance to fish in a special part of the world in their prime season.
Joined by another 11 anglers plus a number of wives we duly arrived at our accommodation right on the water and just a short distance from the harbour where the boats were berthed, Tignish. This is at the opposite end of PEI from where we had previously fished out of, North Lake. As the fishery is so entwined with the annual herring run the decision was made to relocate for our trip to put us closer to the “hot bite”!
The five days of fishing went very well with reasonable to good weather and fish landed each day-a veritable ongoing collage of action and excitement. As I elected to do the last trip, I held back until every one of our group had landed a fish before putting my hat in the ring. To that point, our highly diversified group had elected to use the chair, something I was reluctant to do unless it became necessary. Once it became my turn I thought I’d again try my luck standup. While I coped well enough four years earlier now I wasn’t in as good shape plus two snapped tendons in my right shoulder put some serious doubt in my mind! Still, I was determined to give it my best shot but keeping in mind there’s nothing more pathetic than a fool-unless it’s an old fool!
My first day in earnest couldn’t have gone any better. A perfect day of weather, Lyn electing to tag along, copious amounts of bait landed, another two tuna landed from the chair and then my turn. Didn’t take long for our third solid strike of the day, I was on!
The blistering initial run is what we all crave in fishing and I wasn’t to be disappointed this time around! My tuna took off at a great rate of knots, soon helping itself to half of the 60-kilo line off my International 80W. Of great comfort was being well equipped with a Black Magic Equalizer and harness the “secret weapon” of successful stand up fishing for nearly three decades now. Long story short in just 50 minutes I was able to get another XOS tuna, deemed another grander by length to the boat, acoustically tagged, revived and released – one happy angler! Needless to say, I felt that the Equalizer had everything to do with the successful capture.
The following day wasn’t nearly as nice weather but we all persevered with things settling down nicely as the day progressed. I was on a different boat this day but our fishing remained vibrant. Again two nice fish in the 300-400kg bracket were taken and it was again my turn. With only about 20 minutes to go prior to heading home we deployed a lively mackerel which didn’t take long to get inhaled! If I thought yesterday’s fish had a great first run this one was on steroids as it turned on the afterburners! Even though the water was less than 30m deep, it had me down over 3/4 of the spool in minutes. This was the first of many times I was fully aware I DIDN’T have the use of an Equalizer! Thinking there would be one on each boat I was horrified to see an Equalizer knockoff around my midriff! As the skipper slowly followed the fish I also slowly gained line but the top shot never came on the reel for well over an hour and it didn’t stay on the spool long! This marked the first of 17 times that the top shot disappeared back into the green water and not just trickled off the spool, it FLEW off! Even though the fish had progressively taken us into shallow water, it’s fighting was far from diminished as we went into the third hour.
With constant adjustments being made to my belt and harness, it continued to be a source of annoyance. If it wasn’t falling off it slid around and then one of the straps broke! Great! Over the next hour one of the crew was constantly trying to get it to function properly as I repeatedly cursed the maker by name!
With darkness almost complete I was not only getting tired but increasingly frustrated, mainly since I was unable to trust my belt/harness and consequently unable to exert maximum pressure on the fish, something I could take for granted were I to have the use of an Equalizer.
Anyway, luck was on my side despite a substandard piece of equipment hindering me all the way through the fight. Just as the last fading rays of sunlight were fading into the western sky the leviathan gave up, to be measured, tagged and released. Deckies estimation was 1150lbs; skipper said it was the biggest tuna he had ever seen in excess of 1200! Wow, how lucky can one angler get? Three PEI Bluefin, all granders! Still pinching myself and thankful for Black Magic Equalizers.