Bimini Blackfins – Team Marauder Goes Bimini Bound

Well, what can I say? Its that time of year when the seas lay down and the weather beckons a bahama run. We scrambled our gear and made a last minute run to Bimini on Sunday morning after spending a good chunk of Saturday morning loading up on pilchards near bug light. The bait was consistent – but not thick like we had hoped.  Regardless, we blacked out our stern wells and filled the bow well to 2/3 capacity with bait.

The run across was smooth and we made it to the Sea Crest hotel in just under two hours.  We cleared customs in Bimini – mowed on some conch fritters and made a dash for the Gingerbreads on word that decent schools of yellowfins were moving through. After the ~ 25 mile run from north Bimini to the reefs, we took a much needed swim on some massive coral heads.  Yellowtails were everywhere – and the reef mounts were nothing short of a submerged utopia of coral awesomeness. After a quick dive around the reefs, we piled back in the boat and headed offshore.

Now, normally, we encounter large flocks of birds almost out of the gate – crashing and vortexing over schools of tuna.  This was just not the case this time around.  We traveled over 60 miles before we ran into a solid flock of birds working the surface in the evening hours. The first flock we came across was crashing the surface hard and we saw small pops blowing up all over.  Our hearts sank as the realization came it was likely a school of skip jacks. We ran ahead of the school and pitched a bunch of live baits – and the fish started blowing up behind the boat.  Lines in – chummers out – wait, wait…wait.  Nothing.  What gives?  fish blowing up behind the boat and nothing doing? Another boat crashed the party and started working the school with vertical jigs…to no avail.  As the birds moved off…so did we.  The other boat tore off after the birds and we went our separate way. Not 15 minutes later, we slammed into another floc of vortexing birds…chummers out – lines in…vertical jig down…WHAM! Walt, Todd, and I all hooked up immediately. Walt’s fish was big and started sounding – fishing our new Key largo custom vertical jig rods with Penn battle 8000’s. I hooked up on a live bait attached to our Connely custom rods paired with a shimano bait runner.  Todd fought his fish on a vertical jig and was the first to get his up – a football blackfin.  Walt stayed at the back of the boat while I remained on the bow.  My fish was deep but I was gaining – then all of a sudden the rod doubled over and started screaming!  I called for a knife to cut the line before i got spooled but whatever took my tuna had peeled about 150 yards in just under twenty seconds.  ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ — POP! There goes my tuna in the mouth of a shark.

Walt was luckier and battled this beefy blackfin up to the surface

Big Bimini Blackfin Tuna

Although it wasn’t a yellowfin like we had hoped – it was still awesome to get the skunk off the boat after such a long run.

Bimini Tuna Fishing Charter

Walt with a big Bimini Blackfin Tuna

As the sun went down and the birds disappeared – we started the long haul back to Bimini.  We ran well into the night, arriving back at the dock around 10p.m.  I was so exhausted after being behind the wheel since 7a.m. I just couldn’t keep my head up. While the crew wanted to make a quick stop for Muttons before headed back to the Sea Crest, I passed out cold on the coffin box and let the mosquitos go to town.

We woke up early the next morning but had to refuel before headed to sea.  Walt and I readied the boat while Todd, Nel, and Carlos went to breakfast.  We stopped to marvel at the head of a ~680 bluefin that was laying in the water suspended by a rope.  It was the largest tuna head i’ve ever seen up close – it looked fake – but the flies and stench made it very very real!

We headed out to sea once again, this time trolling our way north with the current past the Issac’s.  No action on the troll but we did break into another massive school of blackfins which we bailed with vertical jigs.  Another three footballs came in the boat and that was a wrap. Since it was the middle of the day, we made the call to head in towards Great Issac and stop for some reef touring. We anchored near the lighthouse and dove around some big rocks with the pole spear – missed a few groupers and relaxed while the seas kicked up.  Within two hours, the seas were building to 2 to 4 – and I made the call to fight our way back to Miami directly into the headwind.  The ride was rough and we got totally soaked the whole way back – fortunately we had a bottle of Johnnie Blue on Ice to make the ride a bit more comfortable, which Todd took the liberty of enjoying the entire way.

After three and a half hours slugging in out in rough seas, we made landfall at government cut – back in the ol’ USA. While the yellowfin fishing wasn’t so hot this year – at least we did boat a tuna. With fuel prices still pushing $5 a gallon and very scattered reports of yellowfin action from other Capts – I think our yellowfin dreams may be done for the year.  But the blue giants are still lurking – and I won’t soon forget that tuna head (pics soon).  Walt found this vintage footage from the IGFA to put a little perspective on the sport – enjoy!

Capt. Charlie Ellis

Capt. Charlie Ellis

Captain at Miami Fishing Charters LLC
Capt. Charlie Ellis of Miami, FL has 25 years experience fishing for big game species like Bluefin Tuna, Sailfish, Swordfish, and Sharks. Capt. Charlie is also an avid scuba diver, world traveler, writer, and entrepreneur.
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