Travel Tuesday – Why Should a Bass Angler Go Popping for Tuna?

By Pete Robbins – Half Past First Cast

I get it, you’re a hard-core basser. You drink Bait Fuel and breathe metalflake.

I was once in your shoes. I couldn’t think about, or even consider another species. I lived from derby to derby. All of my friends were bass anglers. It was my identity.

I was happy – but eventually, you get to a point where you’ve seen a lot and done a lot. I was never going to be Kevin VanDam, Brandon Palaniuk or even a lower-level tour pro. I was ok with that, but I needed something to fire me up about fishing again, and I found it in topwater tuna fishing.

Imagine the biggest strike you’ve ever seen on a Whopper Plopper or a Spook or a buzzbait and multiply it by a hundred. Make the fish 20 or 30 times bigger, too. And imagine acres of them blowing up everywhere. That’s my drug. I didn’t know it until I was 51 years old and had spent a lifetime chasing bass, but only after experiencing it multiple times did I realize how much it helped rekindle my love of bass fishing.

Remember the first time you found the winning tournament fish in practice? And then you drew out boat number one? Racing down the lake at 70 miles per hour, you knew you were going to have them all to yourself and it was going to be amazing. That’s the feeling I get when the captain in Panama sees birds diving on bait three miles away, yells “Hold on!” and guns the outboards to get there – heart pumping through my chest, can barely breathe, sweat behind my knees. Then you get there, and maybe you hook up on the first pop, or maybe the fish go down and you have to chase them another three or four miles, and then do it again.

All in a days work!

After the first trip, I told my wife Hanna that I’d sell my bass boat if I could do the tuna deal 30 days out of the year. Fortunately, it didn’t come to that, but it takes a special experience to even get me to say that. Even if you’re a hard core bass-head, I guarantee this trip will reinvigorate you and help you be a better tournament angler. Here are some of the lessons that got drilled into me:

  •  The critical importance of making the first cast count. Even when fish seem to be feeding indiscriminately, a simple change of mood can end the frenzy. Don’t push the panic button;
  • The value of matching the hatch. For the same reasons, sometimes it may look like the fish willveat anything that moves, but you’ll be surprised at how often they won’t;
  • The need to master spinning gear. I know you’re a Bubbafied power angler with a trained thumb. You may not even own any spinning rods. Now that I’ve conquered big tuna, sailfish and other far more powerful species with the old eggbeater, I know what they can do. I never would have caught my PB 6.40 pound smallmouth in October of 2021 if I hadn’t gone tuna fishing first; and finally
  • The need to keep fishing fresh and new. Seeing the sport through new eyes, in new places, where you may not have any expertise at all, makes it fun and keeps you mentally and physically ready. Besides, if you don’t like topwater fishing I don’t want to be your friend. I’ve caught big peacock bass in the Amazon on them, but they don’t hold a candle to a hard-charging 80 pound yellowfin.

I hope that my excitement is infectious. I’ve taken three groups of bass anglers to Panama and most have committed to go back, or are trying to figure out how to get there. If you’d like more information or want to join us in May of 2024 (PRIME POPPING SEASON) email me at [email protected] and let’s talk tuna.