Massachusetts

Every time I mentioned not having fished Massachusetts while discussing my state quest, the response was the same: fish for tuna. This was true before that TV show about tuna fishing came out, and it was especially true afterward. However, I initially ignored the call of bluefin tuna, choosing instead to focus on something I knew and loved very much: striper fishing. I picked Lou Biondo because of his big fish pictures and his proven success as a tournament winner. Additionally, working as a commercial fisherman part-time means it is not in Lou’s DNA simply to take you for a boat ride; he wants to find fish.

We fished out of Gloucester on one of its hottest days of the year (96 degrees, a record for that day). I started by jigging for Atlantic mackerel and pollock for bait, which I enjoyed quite a bit. The striper fishing was slow, so Lou’s unflagging desire to find fish came in very handy. I caught two stripers (28 and 37 inches) and had such a good time talking to Lou that I barely even noticed the slow bite.

Update August 2021: For my annual out-of-state trip in 2021, I chose bluefin tuna off the coast of Massachusetts with Taylor and Bryan Sears of Mass Bay Guides (https://massbayguides.com). The Sears Brothers have an amazing track record for giant bluefin, and I had an unforgettable trip with them.

I fished the first day with Taylor on For2na. After an hour or so ride to the fishing grounds, we jigged for bait. Shortly thereafter, I caught a 16-inch Atlantic mackerel, good enough for a trophy. Obviously we were after bigger fish, but it was nice to have officially made Massachusetts my 41st state with at least one trophy 90 minutes into the 20+ hours of fishing I had booked. I broke off a 300-pound porbeagle (which would have been another trophy), watched the humpback whales all around us, and waited for the big bite. And boy was it a big bite.

As this website can attest, I've fished all over America and have caught some amazing and hard-fighting fish. But nothing compared to fighting a giant bluefin. Fortunately Nick, the first mate, provided excellent coaching and stepped in periodically to give me some rest. After what seemed like forever, but what was about an hour and a half, I had landed the biggest fish of my life, a 900-pound, 115-inch bluefin tuna. It was unbelievable.

(The commercial season had closed after the quota was reached earlier in the month, so this fish was set free without being officially weighed. However, Taylor has seen enough monster tuna in his time to know the approximate weight based on the length, which we were able to measure.)

I fished the next day with Bryan on Line Shy. He had also caught an estimated 900-pounder the day before and we headed back to near where he had caught his. We jigged for bait and I caught another trophy Atlantic mackerel. But, unlike the one the day before that got released, this one was put right on a 9/0 hook and out in the water, where it was inhaled almost immediately by another massive bluefin. This fish pulled us about 3 miles at 2.5 knots and was every bit as feisty as the 900 pounder the day before. I was able to fight him better than I did the day before, and first mate Bill helped coach me through it and I got a good glimpse of it when it surfaced near the boat. It was every bit as big as the one the day before. Unfortunately, as we were trying to get him the last 30 feet to the boat, he broke off. Had this happened the day before, I would have been heartbroken, especially because I do not view a fish as officially caught unless it is photographed. But I had fought it, seen it, and would have had to release it anyway, so it was just as well that he swam off to fight another day.

In all, I could not have asked for two better days of fishing. Catching two 900 pounders on consecutive days was incredible, and I have the Sears Brothers and mates Nick and Bill to thank for their knowledge and coaching that enabled me to have one of the best fishing trips of my life.

The giant bluefin tuna and the caught-and-released 16-inch Atlantic mackerel meant that Massachusetts became the 41st state in which I have caught at least one trophy, as well as the sixth state in which I have caught at least one trophy in multiple species.