Brothers in Blue - Bluefin Tuna in Cape Town

Ryan Nienaber

Going Blue

A few days after our tuna slam spirits are still running high as we head out into the deep blue again. With no boats having been out due to bad weather, this was the first fishable day.  We headed out into a similar area of where we SLAMMED it a few days prior and set out lines.

But by 2pm we thought we were going home empty when suddenly a rod went and it quickly went from sitting still to having 3 younger 30-40kg Yellowfin on the boat.

The next minute Andrew shouted that there is a fish swimming in the chum that didn’t look like a yellowfin, but definitely a big tuna species.  A quick glance and the one tuna quickly turned into 3 big Bluefin swimming in the chum line.

Johan stripped a line and went tight, then Andrew also went tight.  We were now fighting 2 big Bluefin simultaneously.  We thought about trying to hook up the third but decided against it as we where not a full complement of crew, as many had headed up the west coast for the snoek run that had begun.

We though it safer to rather land the 2 we have on and keep the chum line going. We could always try for the 3rd afterwards.  The runs of fish were long and very strong, very much like a Yellowfin fight, but with longer deep runs before they settle into their circle and lay on their side to come up.

Tuna fishing is all about teamwork.  It’s not about who is on the rod.  Many days of prep go into a day’s fishing and each crew member has a role to play. In my opinion, the most important crew member of the day is the one that is chumming.  Without a proper chum line you will catch nothing.  It’s probably the most unrewarding task that deserves the most credit, as someone sits and separates hundreds of frozen sardines, then cuts them into tiny blocks, separating the heads and tail and keeping a steady line going into the water.

As the fight went on with 2 big fish, the tuna tango dance quickly popped into action as the lines crossed.  Over, under, over, under, rod tips together to keep the lines free.  This continued for some time until Andrew presented his catch to the boat.  We could clearly see it is a Bluefin and it had the weight to match as we tried to lift her over the side.  Once onboard I said to Andrew that this fish must be close to kissing 100kg.  Shortly thereafter Johan landed his.

As dark approached, the Yellowfin started coming up, and we started hooking up repeatedly with younger class Yellowfin in the 40-50kg size range.  I was on the rod and after a short initial run I saw the colour of my fish. Within a few minutes of hooking up it came alongside but it did not move at all. As a called for the gaff to load I saw the tail had been bitten clean off and the fish had already bled out. A massive mako shark appeared in in the chum line and took his tax out of the next 4 Yellowfin we landed.  An hour after dark and we head 32NM back to Hout Bay into a bumpy NW wind on a pitch dark night - never great but sometimes you have to stick it out to get the results.

Our spirits ran high as we knew we had two big fish in the box.  The next day they tipped the scales to triple digits at 101.5kg and 103.0kg. Our staff at the factory shared in the excitement all taking turns to take a photo with the impressive catch.

Cape Town has one of the most special tuna fisheries in the world and it’s right here on our doorstep for all to enjoy.  I believe we will continue to see great tuna catches for the following years as these fish seem to becoming more abundant. 



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  • Carol on

    Beautiful fish. Pity they must be taken out.

  • Lee on

    Hey Team Greenfish,
    What a great catch! I really don’t want to give you a hard time but according to the sassi list, blue fin tuna is a red listed fish and advised to stay away from buying.
    Can you tell me how your methods of catching is contributing to validate the sale of this fish. I try to follow the sassi list as much as I can and always check the list before buying any fish.

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