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We had an afternoon Sunset Trip on Sunday

I have always been an advocate of leaving early for the best fishing.

But there are times when leaving late is an advantage. When the blackfin tuna are around, they tend to bite early and late in the day. It’s not “etched in stone” and they might bite one OR the other instead of both, but a sunset trip can be productive. Usually, we leave late and come in at sunset or just after.  The other advantage is that my customers get to sleep in. For some people, that is a priority also, especially on vacation!

It was only a half-day 4 hr trip and we left at 2 pm. I’m always nervous on these trips because you are counting on the “bite” turning on at the last part of the trip. If you don’t catch anything before, it’s a “Hero or Zero” kind of scenario. All Captains love the “Hero” part but none of us want to be the “Zero”. Most days on these trips, I will start on the Reef just to make sure we will catch some fish, but today the Reef was too muddy so we had to start offshore.

It was slow for the first hour of our Sunset trip.

We had a couple of bites but never hooked anything. Eventually, I saw some small birds working the water that is usually a sign of fish feeding. It was getting late, we had to be back at 6 pm and it was already 4:30.  I trolled over to the birds and we started catching Bonitos. A Bonito is a member of the Tuna family, but unfortunately not a good eating member. They are fun to catch and many a Captain has saved his day by finding Bonitos for his customers to catch.

I learned a long time ago, It is more fun to catch a “something” that doesn’t taste good than a delicious “nothing”. It works with the size of the fish also. It’s more fun to catch a  small “something” than a big “nothing”. As a Captain, my objective is always to catch a bunch of big, good-to-eat things. At least that is our plan when we leave the dock every day.

The Bonitos were fun to catch, like I said, the are in the Tuna family and they pull like a Tuna, they just don’t taste like a Tuna. We kept catching Bonitos in the same area and more birds started coming to the activity. I saw some more birds out a little deeper and on my first pass every line on the boat got hit!! We had 6 bites, we hooked 5 fish and we landed 4 of them. All nice Black Fin Tuna. I think the one we lost got eaten by a predator. That is not uncommon.

Black Fin Tuna fight very hard for their size.

They don’t like to give up,(considering what is in store for them if they do, I can’t say as I blame them). Any fish fighting or struggling will draw the attention of predators. Sharks and Barracudas always like an “easy meal” and a fish struggling on the end of the line is just that. But we were happy with our 4 nice Black Fin Tuna and by the time we boated the last one, it was as time to head in. One of the “other” benefits of a late afternoon trip is to see the sun set on the water. I’m seen thousands of sunrises and sunsets in my 30+ years on the waters of Key West, but it never gets old.

I know how lucky I am!

Black Fin Tuna

Nice Catch of Black Fin Tuna and one bonito, (far right)




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