We spent 15 minutes on the phone with Capt. Cory Crochetiere to discuss various bottom jigging and top water casting techniques for targeting both Bluefin Tuna and Yellowfin Tuna with the Hogy Harness Jigs, Hogy Sand Eel Jigs and Hogy Epoxy Jig Lures. Here's what we learned..
Targeted Species: Bluefin Tuna and Yellowfin Tuna (late summer)
Location: Capt. Cory is based out of Saugatuck River in Westport, CT. He tries to stay mobile all season long as he is able to trailer his 23 Seacraft. That way, he can stay with the larger bodies of migratory tuna. In the early season, he launches out of Oceanside, NY and will fish anywhere from 20 to 65-miles offshore around the 20 to 40 fathom curves. As the season progresses, he will launch from Watch Hill, RI and target the same 20 to 40 fathom curves, south of Montauk, NY and Block Island. This can range anywhere from 10 to 70-miles offshore. In the late summer and fall months, he will trailer to Cape Cod, MA and launch out of Green Harbor and Saquatucket, with shorter runs to the fishing grounds, averaging 10 to 30-miles.
Tides: Moon tides are among the strongest tides offshore, and typically the hardest to target fish as they seem to bite better to a slack or slow-moving tide. They try to avoid moon tides when possible.
Approach: For Capt. Cory, it’s all about finding life, specifically congregations of different types of oceanic life, such as whales, porpoises, bait fish, birds and tuna. They will often be found within a few feet of each other when they are feeding aggressively. If you can find a few of these types of life together, it usually signifies that there are tuna in the area. If you can get all these together, this is when the bite can turn into a frenzy. Oftentimes, these gatherings occur around upwellings from drop offs or wrecks that also coincide with a warm water temperature break.
Rigging/Lure Selection: Some of Capt. Cory’s favorite lures for targeting tuna are the Hogy Harness Jig Lure (the 4oz and 6oz models are the best for getting the depth needed) and the Hogy Sand Eel Jigs (3.5oz, in both olive and pink colorations). For Capt. Cory, the Hogy Sand Eel Jigs are a must have when the tuna are suspended in the middle of the water column and have accounted for over 75% of their catch tally for the 2020 season thus far. Lastly, the 2oz Hogy Epoxy Jig Lure in silverside and olive is excellent for casting at fish that are feeding on the surface as well as subsurface.
Why This Bait?: For Capt. Cory, and most anglers, matching the hatch is the most crucial attribute to the lures they select. The action is secondary. All of these lures mimic the sand eels found offshore from the shape and size to the movement of the lure when retrieved or jigged. All these factors are key to triggering reactionary strikes.
Retrieve: It varies per lure.
The Hogy Harness Jig Lure is best fished with a long cast updrift. Once cast, allow it to sink very close to the bottom and being working the jig slowly, with short pops of the rod trip, and reeling in the slack to create a slow up and down movement. Most of the strikes come on the fall with this method.
The Sand Eel Jig is best worked through the entire water column after dropping to the bottom and using a speed jigging technique all the way to the surface. Oftentimes, Capt. Cory and the crew will hook fish a couple of cranks off the bottom that don’t even show up on the fish finder.
The Epoxy Jig Lure get the most strikes with a steady retrieve just under the surface while implementing sharp rod sweeps followed up quickly reeling in the slack.
Rod: Casting rods - Jigging World Ghost Hunters & Black Widows, 100 to 250 size blanks
Jigging rods- Jigging World Ghost Hunter Advantage & Black Hole Cape Cod Special, 250 & 350 size blanks
Reel: Van Staal VSB200 & 250, Daiwa Saltiga 14k & 20k, Shimano Twinpower 14k
Line: Daiwa J Braid, 65 & 80lb
Leader: Daiwa J-Flouro 60 & 80lb, also Yo-Zuri Pink Flouro 50 to 80lb.