Tunas on Top

John Cochrane
Tunas on Top
Fishing for tuna off the Texas coast has always been popular among bluewater fishermen, but never as popular as it has become in the last few years. Fishing at night around the deepwater spars in 3000-plus feet of water for yellowfin and blackfin tuna is the normal routine. Techniques include chumming, drifting live and dead baits, jigging with diamond or butterfly jigs and casting surface poppers. Daytime techniques include trolling lures, jigs, dead bait, live bait and c asting surface poppers.

Of all the techniques used, the surface popper is definitely the most exciting. The night bite on a popper may be difficult to see unless you have lots of lights from your boat or the rig. However, during daylight hours it's a lot of fun for everyone and the bite is awesome. Seeing a big tuna come up and pile on a popper is very exciting and it's not uncommon to have several fish crashing on one lure. Every now and then you will even have a blue marlin or sailfish come up and whack it. When fishing poppers you can employ the cast-pop-retrieve method or, if the current is strong enough, you can ease the offering into the current and drift your popper back to gain greater distance in the presentation. You can even do selective popping while fishing for marlin.

The tuna are deep during much of the daylight hours so we spend our time live baiting or trolling lures for billfish. When the tuna come to the surface and explode on bait, we either cast into them or
just drop a popper back into the spread and drift it into the tunas. On good days you can catch several 60 to 100 pound yellowfins and still keep your big live baits in the water for marlin.

Now this may sound too obvious, but you want your popper to "POP!" A good technique is to twitch the rod tip abruptly upward.
With a bit of practice the lure should pop just about every time while throwing water and generally making a lot of commotion. Experiment with different brands until you find one that works best for you.

Our favorites are Strike Pro's Tuna Hunter, Rapala's Skitter Pop and Yozuri's Hydro-Popper. All of these will catch fish, but you will have to make sure they are rigged with heavy duty 4X to 6X VMC treble hooks. Tuna Hunters come factory rigged with these hooks while others require that you change them out. Good split ring pliers and heavy duty split rings are definitely needed for this application.
Also, these lures are built with heavy duty wire that runs through the body of the lure, if you choose another brand, check to make sure it is constructed the same.

Tie the popper directly to your main fishing line or use a flourocarbon leader to get the best results. Our favorite colors are blue/silver, green/silver and green/yellow. Bring plenty of extra lures! The tuna really hit these lures harda small price to pay for 40 pounds of tuna fillets. Be careful when removing these lures it's easy to get hooked if a fish is thrashing around. To find a good selection of surface poppers, check with your local tackle shop and you should be able to find everything you need.

The next time you head to the deep rigs, try popping
for tunas on top, we think you will agree it's an exciting way to fish and very productive as well. When you feel you're ready to compete against other anglers and enjoy the camaraderie and excitement of tournament fishing, then join us for Tuna Mania - Texas Tuna Championship, July 1-4 in Port Aransas. The top fishermen and boats from up and down the coast will be competing for big money and prizes. Test your skills and come fish with us in this new tournament celebrating our great yellowfin tuna fishery.

The 4th Annual Texas International Boat Show
will be held at the Corpus Christi Downtown Marina, April 22-25. It's a big Florida style "in the water" boat show and exhibitors from all over the nation will be there. At the show you will see lots of new boats, motors, accessories, trips, guides, tackle and electronics. Come see us at the Tops-N-Towers or the Fox Yacht Sales exhibit and talk about big game fishing or rigging your boat. This time of year many boat owners decide to sell their boat and move up to a bigger boat while there is still time before the fishing season starts. At Fox we have an extensive inventory of brokerage boats and we are the exclusive Texas Dealer for CABO Yachts. Come by and get a great deal on your next boat. For more information check our website www.foxyachtsales.com or you can contact John Cochrane at [email protected].