Tuna fishing off the coast of Maine is immensely popular, with thousands of anglers heading out on chartered trips and privately owned boats each year in search of that once in a lifetime catch. Maine is not renowned for having a varied tuna population, with the bluefin being the only native species. However, bluefin tuna are highly sought after, particularly due to their immense size, power and swimming abilities. Once hooked, few fish will provide as big a challenge as a several hundred pound bluefin tuna.
As their name suggests, bluefin tuna have a dark blue coloring on top, graduating to silver along their sides and belly. Bluefin tuna have two dorsal fins, a single anal fin and numerous partial fins along its back and underside. Their bodies built for speed, with a streamlined shape and powerful tail. Bluefin tuna are renowned for their speed and power, giving anglers lucky enough to hook one the fight of a lifetime. In terms of size, large adult bluefin can reach lengths of up to twelve feet and tip the scales at well over one thousand pounds. More typical examples are around the eight foot mark and weigh in at nearer six hundred pounds.
Large bluefin tuna are fairly solitary fish, often traveling alone or in very small, dispersed groups. Smaller bluefin’s tend to travel in schools which may contain anywhere up to forty fish. Bluefin tuna are migratory fish, and are typically found off the coast of Maine between early summer and late fall. The best months for fishing are reputed to be between August and October.
Bluefin tuna can be caught using a variety of methods, with trolling and baitfish both widely successful. Popular baits for both techniques include squid and mackerel. Chumming with herring is also popular, particularly later in the season when attempting to land bigger fish. Given the size and power of these fish, heavy duty equipment is required to land them. Custom-built, harnessed rods coupled with 130 class reels and 200 pound test lines are not uncommon, and will suffice for the majority of bluefin present in Maine’s waters.
Catching a big bluefin tuna is largely about being in the right place at the right time. Tuna can be found at any distance from the shore, though the majority of chartered vessels travel some ten to thirty miles off the coast. Bluefin tuna can be found throughout Maine’s waters, though there are popular locations such as Jeffrey’s Ledge which are favored by many anglers.
In many parts, bluefin tuna are considered to be the ultimate game fish. Their large size coupled with the ability to swim at speeds approaching fifty miles an hour makes the bluefin tuna an exciting prospect for anglers. Add to that several-hour long fights, and you have probably the ultimate fishing challenge available in Maine.