Crew member Bradley Gallant, from left, captain Kenny McRae, and the West Isle Enterprises Landlubbers team of, Dave MacMurdo, Rod MacNeill, John Hogg, Marvin Stewart, Al Watson and Mark MacEwen pose with the Bluefin tuna they landed Friday on the opening day of the MacLeod’s Ledge Bluefin Tuna Challenge. Participating teams entered a raffle to decide who could land a fish. All other teams had to practice catch and release. The overall winner of the challenge will be the team that measures the longest fish.
Eric McCarthy/Journal Pioneer
TIGNISH -- In fishing, it seems, the one that gets away is always bigger.
That was the case Friday, too, the first day of the second annual MacLeod’s Ledge Bluefin Tuna Cup. The derby, organized by Tignish Initiatives, is largely a catch and release fishery. The organizers, however, were awarded one tag this allowing one team to actually land a tuna.
The West Isle Enterprises team onboard Way Point ’04 won the raffle to land a fish. Other teams were already in port, waiting to have their pictures taken with the big fish, when Way Point ’04 and team pulled up to the dock.
Even before they got in, though, word over the radio was all about the one that got away, and how much bigger it would have been.
“It just snapped the line at the last. We were trying to bring him in. He was beside the boat,” John Hogg said after getting back on dry ground.
It had taken an hour to fight that fish. Twenty minutes after he got away, Way Point 04 hooked another one and brought him alongside after a half hour fight. That was the one they brought to port. At seven feet, eight inches, it was no slouch, just smaller, all team members agreed, that the first one.
“That was kind of good for us who were fishing,” admitted Rod MacNeill, “because we got to see it done twice.”
Captain of the Way Point 04, Kenny McRae, estimated the landed fish will dress around 600 pounds. It will be sold on consignment and the proceeds put back into the tournament. Holding on to the trend about the one that got away, McRae said it likely would have dressed 800 to 900 pounds.
P.E.I. native Stephen Christopher from Acton, Ontario, went tuna fishing for the first time Friday and was so impressed that he intends to use the photos he shot during the day to bring some of his Acton Golf Club buddies down next year.
“We just dropped one mackerel in and hooked up a line and got a strike right off the bat, but it didn’t take the hook. Thirty seconds later it took again and it took us the legal time (about an hour) to bring it in. He put up a good fight.”
Conditions were choppy though and one member of the team got seasick on the way out. Remarkably, said Christopher, once they started fighting the tuna, he forgot all about his seasickness. “The greatest cure for seasickness,” Christopher concluded, “is to get onto a big fish.”
Another boat in the competition had two fish get away and the team was fighting a third one Friday afternoon.
The Teams get to go out and do it all over again Saturday. The team that brings the biggest one alongside, based on length, will be declared the winner of the MacLeod’s Ledge Bluefin Tuna Cup.