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to revealcurrentaction, Spenglerrelyon shearwaters petrelsto point out pastaction,and gannetsto reveal herrings."We get excitedwhen we seeblack-backed gullsoffshoreand on bait,"saidMoody. "lt seemsthat thereis alwaysa hot bite that accompanies that pattern." PeterGraeberat the SaltwaterEdgein Middletown, RhodeIsland,echoesMoody'sobservations. "Time and experience arecritical,"Graebersaid. "l've found that watertemperatureand tirne of year aren'tasimportant asconcentrated bait patterns. The concentrated bait will hold the fish for longer periodsof time. Off the RhodeIslandcoastwe look for seaherring,menhaden,juvenilesandeels,and peanutbunker."Havinga networkof reliableguides and friendsalsopaysbig dividends."The fish move so quicklythat knowingwhat the variousschoolsare doing is critical,"saidGraeber."Biggerbait tendsto fish,but if thereis enough bring out more aggressive smallbait the fish will getcrankedup. I watchfor feedingshearwaters and gannets,but I alsowatchthe water. Down herein RhodeIslandwe seebetter biteswhen the water is clear. Dirty waterkeepsthe fish deep." Underwaterstructuremattersto Moody, but he'sseen enoughvariationto know it's not 100percentreliable,asit is for other speciesof saltwaterfish. "l like to targetdrop-offs, particularlywherethere is slow water at a givendepth that is adiacentto fastercurrent at a deeperdepth. For instance,I'll

frequentlyfind fish on the seambetweena hundred twenty feet and a hundred-fifty-footdropoff. The currentvariationconcentratesthe bait, and the fastermoving waterbringsthe fish to the top.That said,Derekand I haveseenmany instances wherethere is an enormousschoolof fish on a flat ninety-foot terrain." While many anglersare catchingstripedbassand bluefish during the spring and fall runs,the schooltuna fishingkicks

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off in May and lastsuntil Novernber."We'refortunateto have sucha reliablefisherythat spansacrossa long season," said Moody. "While we arefully bookedin Augustand September, we havean excellentspringbite aswell asconsistentfall fishing. Weatherpatternsmay be a bit diceyin the fall,but the fishing is excellent.It'sa much longerseasonthan most arnglers realize."

Approachinga School Onceyou'vefound a schoolof any kind of fish,the tendency is to movequicklyand often to stayon the body of fish. The run-and-gunapproachseldornworksin any fishery,and it is particularlyineffectiveon tuna. "We find that the fish feedinto the wind," saidMoody. "Beingpatient,watchingtheir behavior, and gettingupwind from the fish helpsus put our clientsin the bestpossiblecastingposition."Graeberagrees, and likesto turn offhis engine."Sometimes fishcouldn'tcarelessaboutthe soundof an outboard,other timesthey getspookedby a quiet 4-stroke.Feelthem out to seewhat they will toleratethat day." Spenglerlikesa castthat is 45 degrees to the school."Excited anglersfrequentlycasttheir fliesdirectlyto a schoolof approachingfish,"he said,"but a forty-five-degree angleshowsthe fly to a largernumberof fishand increases hookups."Many times the schoolsthat havepassedby the boat will resumea similar feedingpattern. Ratherthan pick up and leaveaftera pod has passedby,wait a bit. That schoolmay return to continuefeeding, or theremay be a secondor third schoolfollowingbehind.

EssentialTackle Excellentgearis criticalto gettingfish in the boat. As anytuna anglerknows,the speedand strengthon a schooltuna breaks linesand meltsreels.Spenglerand Graeberboth favorthe 1480Sagewith eitheran Abel Super5 or a Tibor Gulfstream, loadedwith 50- to 60-poundPowerPro for backing. For fly lines,Spenglerand Moody workedwith JohnHarderat Rio to developthe Leviathan."Initially we usedlinesthat werecom"but we found they were mon to the industry,"saidSpengler, breakingduring the fight. The Leviathanhasa sixty-pound corethat withstandsthesetough fish." Moody and Spengler favor a 500- to 600-grainLeviathanline, while Graeberprefers the intermediate."The intermediateline is easierto pick up and recast. With thesefast fish, every secondcounts."

Pamet Special HookTiemco 600S8 sizes Z0ftrough 4/0. Ihrcad:3/0Monocore. TalhPolar BearUltaHair, tapered4toSinches long, overwhite arctic fox. green tflng: Emerald bucktailover pale asflatwings oversparse Fla$: Seven to 10 stands of " -Xryshl Flash asa beard. Eyc: 3/1O-inch-diameter llead:Medium PearlE-Z Body

greensaddlehackles, tiedin Krystalflashontopandred Prismatic eyes.

youcancolorfliffiltd"the E-Body ll&: lf youprefer, braidwitlroliveor permanent lavender marfers.ffiffh'ffifo*reJers toiietreflywitholive andbrown bucktail. U/VVWAMERICANANGLER. COM

Riggingand Flies Surprisinglyenough,riggingfor schoolbluefinisn'tso complex asanglersthink. At the end of the backing,tie a Biminitwist. At the end of the fly line,tie a triple nail knot arndcreatea loop-to-loopbetweer-r the backingand the fly line.At the fror-rt taper,tie arspeednail knot of 60-poundfluorocarbonand a palomarrknot in the line end systemand in the butt of the leader. Moody ar-rdSpenglerfhvoran 8-foot leaderof 35- to 50-pound fluorocarbonwith a Rapalaknot to attachthe fly. Graebertapershis leaders,and runs threefeetof 60-pour-rd fluorocarbonasa butt sectior-r ar-rdthreefeetof 40-poundfluorocarbonasa tippet. He connectsthe butt to the tippet with a doubleUni-Knot, and useseitl-rertr nonslipmono loop or an improvedcinch knot to attacha fly. Seatingar-rdtestingeach knot is important. As for the fly, Moody says,"lf I had to fish for school bluefin with one fly, it would be Rich Murphy'sPametSpecial. That fly consistentlyputs tuna in the boat." Graeberagrees, and addsthat a variety of sizehooks from 4/0 to 8/0 coversthe range. "Make sureyou useGamakatzuhooks,"Moody adds. "They don't break."With that, all you needis someopen water, a fastboat,and a good eyeto chasetheseamazingfish.S TomKeerwroteaboutlly rodding tunain theJuly/August for skipjack issueof American Angler.He livesin hmacountry.


Code Blue by Tom Keer originally printed in American Angler  
Code Blue by Tom Keer originally printed in American Angler  

The BFTs are in, and it's time to hit the water in pursuit of one of the world's toughest game fish.