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First Bluefin Tuna Hunt

Hungry to get a taste of some unfamiliar territory and hunting techniques, I sent my spearfishing sponsor a message asking about getting out with him on a tuna hunt. I was met with an immediate response of “Tomorrow, get down here now.”

Within 20 minutes I had thrown all my gear into my car and was on my way to my destination (650 miles away!) with little more information than to head toward San Diego. After receiving directions to the guest house, I arrived around 3 am and staggered off to bed. Two peaceful hours later, I woke up to help prep the boat and depart.

We motored out of the harbor for two hours in and out of Mexican waters. After arriving to the “spot” (open, flat & blue as far as the eye can see) we started scouting for terns. The captain told us to get fully geared up and wait on the back for his cue.

What felt like forever was spent sitting down, motoring around looking for birds diving or working a bait line with no diving. At last, the spotter found some heavy bird activity and we coasted into the line. The captain gave the word, and we punched into a 40’ dive. As soon as I hop in I start doing my breathe up, and heard yelling ‘go!’ I dropped down to 40’ and saw nothing but blue. Endless blue, in every direction – no fish. Once back on the surface, the captain tells us that as soon as we arrive at our spot the dive had to be immediate, and there was no time for breathing up.

More spotting and waiting, then we see heavy bird activity again. As before, I hop in, only this time I take one big breath and immediately drop. Doing a free dive without a breathe up is completely new to me, and was a bit more challenging than I expected. Around 20’ I enter my sink phase, and remain completely still trying to relax as I sink into more endless blue. 

Once I check my watch and see 40’ I slow myself down and starting looking around. Nothing. Again. Slightly disappointed, I slowly take a peek over my shoulder and see the most incredible sight I’ve ever seen diving. Hundreds, and hundreds of giant bluefin tuna. 


Disregarding all prior instruction in my excitement, I shoulder my speargun like a rifle and take aim at what appears to be the closest one. I pull the trigger with zero doubt in my mind that I was going for the ride of my life.


My first indication that I had messed up was the searing pain in my jaw from where I just got smacked with an incredibly powerful Bluewater gun … because I didn’t extend it. Disregarding the pain I look ahead to see a tuna spiraling off the school as I grab my line and head up, only to watch my shaft sink into the abyss. Confused on what had happened I hit the surface; nonetheless with the biggest smile on my face for the opportunity I had.


On the way back in we stopped at a kelp paddy, where I shot a 37 pound yellowtail. Not a bad consolation prize!



After reviewing the video it appears that I actually did land the shot, but since I didn’t close the distance or extend the shot, it didn’t have enough penetration to sink in. I drove home ecstatic, with an excellent reminder that it’s not always the catch, it’s the experience in hunting!



Video here:

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