Bluefin Tuna

 Blauflossenthunfisch Mallorca

 

Bluefin Tuna/Thunnus Thynnus

Basic Data:

  • Length/Weight: This tuna can weigh up to 400 kilos and grow to lengths of up to 450cm.
  • Season: May to November
  • Fishing method: Spinning/Jigging/Chumming 
  • The strongest and toughest fish of them all

Bluefin Tuna off Mallorca – The Giant

Blauflossenthunfisch Mallorca: Die Blauflossenthune kommen hier weitaus häufiger vor, als die meisten NAgelr denken würden!
A happy and exhausted angler on board Pilar. We have our own strictly observed quota thanks to which we occasionally keep one of these impressive animals

When are bluefins around Mallorca and Ibiza?

BFTs stay in our Balearic waters all year. Contrary to what used to be believed some years ago only a percentage of the Bluefin stocks leave the Balearic group of islands

Ein Thunfisch vor Mallorca wird getagt – so helfen wir dieser Fischart.

We assist scientists and work in close cooperation with the local fishing authorities in order to better understand tunas and thus protect them more effectively from overfishing. This picture shows a tuna caught after a short fight being tagged prior to its immediate release.

A good percentage of the stock remains here all year more or less, chasing the fodder fish in this marine zone. The remaining percentage swims back to the Atlantic in September where they distribute widely. In April the following year they return through the Straits of Gibraltar to their Mediterranean spawning grounds.

Where do these tuna come from?

The large spawning areas surrounding Mallorca and Ibiza serve to maintain genetic diversity. Groups of Bluefin tuna from areas along the Spanish mainland mix with groups from North Africa and the South of France. Reproduction occurs from the end of May until mid-July. During this period we successfully target them around the Balearics at a time when the mainland fisheries have gone stone-cold.

Spaß im Drill eines großen Blauflossenthunfisches vor Ibiza

When one of these fighting machines has been hooked you really get down to business! You simply have to enjoy the fight…

The most successful method of catching a tuna

The high season for BFT fishing is from the end of April until the end of October. We frequently catch more than one every day during this period. The most successful method by far is chumming, also known as leaving a rubby dubby trail.

So angeln wir am erfolgreichsten auf die Thunfische vor den Balearen: Chumming

A Bluefin has followed the chum trail up to Pilar… our chumming machine can be seen to the right of the photograph

Chumming entails feeding chunks of sardine to the tunas. We attract them to the boat with these tasty morsels that tuna simply cannot resist.

Trolling for Bluefin tuna

Die Schleppruten stehen bereit: gleich geht es den Thunfischen mit Schleppködern an den Kragen.

The trip starts and the Rods are „unlocked and loaded“ …

An alternative method is trolling. This is challenging since it entails setting up as many as thirteen rods simultaneously, some on outriggers. This imitates a shoal of fish. While waiting for a bite we cover a large sea area which increases our chances of success. With a bit of luck we will locate a large pack of feeding BFTs.

Casting towards BFTs and jigging

This is where things get a bit hectic. Your pulse rate shoots up, h adrenalin courses through your veins and you have sweaty palms. Want to bet on that?

Once a pack of feeding BFTs has been located we change our technique and start casting and jigging. It’s not an easy job to outwit these feisty predators.

The right lures for catching hunting tuna

Various lures are used. We have found casting weighted Stickbaits to be most successful. These are long and slim imitations of fodder fish that we reel in fast on the surface. Speed is absolutely essential for this type of fishing. Frequently you will only have time for one or two casts before the BFTs are out of range again.

Die Spannung ist zum Greifen nah – das ist Spinnfischen auf Thunfisch im Mittelmeer!

Your eyes never leave the surface of the deep blue sea … where are the tuna going to attack the next shoal of sardines?

If BFTs are down deep we use metal lures imitating fodder fish, so-called jigs. Another alternative is to fish with slugs. These are soft plastic lures that also imitate fish. If it appears that the tuna are more interested in smaller morsels we swap over to flies and rubber twisters no more than 6cm in length. These can be cat out a good distance with the help of a sbirulino rig, a type of weighted float.  

Glückliche Angler mit einem Bluefin!
Bluefins make you happy – and a bit crazy at times ;)

As you can see there are manifold ways to target BFTs, some of them very demanding. But all the effort is worthwhile when a Bluefin tuna strikes and, with its brutal strength, demonstrates what a fish on the end of your line is capable of doing!

Photographs: J.Radtke/Balearic Sportfishing