Bluefin tuna in southwest France

In South West of France on the Atlantic side, there is a magical area recognized more for its gastronomy and way of life, and less for its extraordinary potential concerning blue fin tuna fishing. Close to the coast at Capbreton starts a submarine canyon named Gouf de Capbreton. This geological structure runs until 270km to reach a depth of 4000 meters in front of Santander in Spain.

Text by Fabrice Bergues – GL Power team France
Images by Álvaro G. Santillán –

This huge basin is a refuge for a lot pelagic species as mackerel, anchovies and of course blue fin tunas. Since several years, anchovies are coming back in very good numbers and then, behind , blue fin tunas, anchovies are the favorite feed for them. Tunas love anchovies, and often anchovies are close to the surface, so the show can begin! If we are lucky enough, we can see hundreds of Blue Fin Tunas feeding these little fishes, the scene is just crazy, but it’s not often the case.

Last fall we had the opportunity with my great friends Juan and Alavaró, to do some day trips in search of some good ones on a fly. All the equipment is ready on our boat, a 6 meter skiff powered by 115hp engine, it’s a great combo to be easily handled in order to come close to the tunas, without to be seen. Our equipment for this very special fishing is RSi rods 9´ #12 and Vosso 11/13. The reels are matched with floating line and intermediate tip, and are ready for use with the brake regulated at its maximum. No need to say that these fishes are among the most powerful in the world, but we love fishing challenge.

The strategy is to be very close, to be able to cast the line and present the fly in front of them, but not too close, because tunas have very good eyes, if it’s not frenzy, they can see or even feel the boat, and immediately go down, before even the first cast. Now it’s just crazy, the atmosphere is undefinable, we are in the middle of nowhere, between the waves and a dark grey sky, we have, in front of us, may be one hundred tunas breking the surface to feed anchovies, the boat is still dancing on the waves, it’s very difficult to keep balanced on the boat and cast on the tunas.

So we have been a little bit lucky to finally encounter a good numbers of bluefin tunas feeding on the surface, Juan and myself are in action, I managed to cast the line several times in the area close to the white boiling water, difficult to keep calm, after several attempts finally the line is brutally drawn tight by the fish.

I have only half a second to check if nothing in the boat can hinder the line loops and then, just wait, earing the reel howling, controlling the line tension. After an indefinite time, when the tuna finally stops, 250m or may be , 300m far away, I start to pump it. Then the hard job just begins, try to retrieve the line cm by cm, sometimes one meter or two, then he takes back 20 or 50m more… We have to start again, and again, applying the largest pressure the rod is able, the reel is able, and finally the man is able… The fight seems to never end but after may be half an hour, we can see the fish turning around the boat.

Few minutes more with the help of Juan, I can finally hold the fish in my hands. My arms are destroyed, I’m sweating, I can feel my groin crying, but I’m just happy ! Some seconds after doing some pictures, we can see him going back swimming in the depth of the Ocean. I would never have thought that it was possible to pull so much on a fly rod, it’s just so unbelievable to see the RSi rods doing the job so well. It was the only fish for this day, but ONE fish, on tuna fishing all the fish are deserved, overall on the fly.

If tuna fishing on a fly is probably the best flyfishing sport, the most extreme way to catch them, with the best sensations, it’s also the most frustrating ,when we don’t get the fly far enough to reach them, when we cast the fly in the boiling water and nothing happens, but may be it’s the reason we come back.

Text by Fabrice Bergues – GL Power team France
Images by Álvaro G. Santillán –

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