Friday, April 16, 2021, Thomas J. Hilton, www.HiltonsOffshore.com—A week ago last year in early April 2020, 4 Texas boats with Hilton’s subscribers aboard each landed a bluefin tuna weighing between 599 pounds to 820 pounds (new Texas state record). They were landed off of surface structures shown on www.HiltonsOffshore.com.
Sea surface water temperature is critical this time of year, with fish (and fishermen) looking for the warmest water they can find – later in the summer, we will be looking for the COOLEST water we can find.
This past Monday morning, a friend of mine called asking for recommendations on where to head to find some tuna. Since I knew where some good tuna catches were made last year about this time, I went back in Hilton’s archives to early April 2020 to see what the conditions were where I KNEW good fish were caught – the archived shots showed that they were caught in water temps of 77-78 degrees.
I then looked at the latest Hilton’s sea temp shots in those same areas but the water temp was only about 72-73 degrees – a significant difference. I looked around at a totally different area that had the warmest water within range of Port Aransas and it was about 75 degrees so I recommended that they head to “X Marks The Spot”.
The result? Another new Texas State Record Bluefin tuna weighing 876 pounds! Hell yeah!
Congratulations to Capt. Justin Drummond and the crew of the Quantified on their great catch! It’s one thing to hook into one of these behemoths, but it’s an entirely different thing to LAND one (I believe it took 9 hours on an 80W)!
It takes skill and lots of preparation to catch a fish of this caliber – I have heard of captains that have been spooled by some BFT that weren’t even this large.
Bottom line: being able to look back in time is a GREAT learning tool to determine where to go tomorrow based on past results and the ability to log Fish Catch Location spots for future reference. This is where Hilton’s leads the nation’s fish finding industry in this respect with Hilton’s archives and Hilton’s Electronic Logbook Program (H.E.L.P.).
As a side note, it is illegal to “target” bluefin tuna as they come into the Gulf of Mexico to spawn each spring but a boat is allowed 1 fish/year if caught incidentally while targeting other species AND if they have the required HMS Permit.
NOAA Fisheries allows a certain quota to be caught then closes the fishery once the quota poundage has been reached. This fish represents probably about 1/4 of our allowed quota here in the Gulf of Mexico for 2021.