God’s Will and the Ocean: Episode 59

God’s Will and the Ocean
True Father Speaks on: Why We Go Tuna Fishing, page 189-193
August 31, 1983, Gloucester
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Tuna Fishing Techniques

Those who have joined the tuna fleet for the first time raise your hands. This is your first season. You almost outnumber the experienced members. Do you expect to catch tuna? Automatically, just like that? I don't believe in that. If I left you to do things your own way, if I didn't care and just let you go out and catch tuna however you imagine it to be done, it wouldn't work. If I left everything up to you without giving you instructions and covering every detail with you, you would have never caught one fish. I know that; you know that. Every experienced fisherman knows the same thing.

Let's think about that. The first thing that is most important in catching tuna is the boat. The New Hope is an example of this. It is simply too big to catch tuna and I lost several tuna because of this factor. Once the tuna bites your bait, no one knows which way it will go. It will go one way and then turn around and go the other. The New Hope is simply too big to change direction and go with the tuna. It’s not fast enough.

There are two propellers in the back of the New Hope. When the tuna comes back and goes underneath the boat, it often catches against the propeller and cuts the line. The tuna is trying to escape and it's absolutely frantic. The New Hope is trying to move around and follow it, but because it is a bigger boat, it takes a long time to maneuver it. The lines get tangled, and when we are following the tuna, the propeller is also moving. So, the line just needs to touch it and the tuna is cut off, lost.

I thought about it for many years and I kept asking myself, "how can we improve this boat so that it's 100% able to catch tuna?" It was a very important question, because the result of those thoughts became the design for the One Hope. You can see that. You have already experienced the abilities of the One Hope. It can turn very quickly while following tuna. The boat is actually almost the same size as a tuna. You can move and fight the tuna, even going easily between many other boats. You simply cannot do these things with the New Hope. As you have already experienced, it is easier to manage when you tangle up the lines between your own boat and other boats.

We used to have to cut the lines all the time, but in doing that, catching a tuna came to almost $1,000. I wanted to prevent that loss, not only for ourselves, but for other fishermen. They can't afford to lose their equipment either. My major concern was how to avoid having to cut the lines after the tuna strikes. You could not work on the New Hope because of this problem. If you were on one side of the bow and the tuna went under to the other side, it was very difficult to get the lines around, especially if they were tangled. It became too expensive just to catch each tuna.

Before you plan or design a boat, you have to take all these things into consideration. The kind of fish you want to catch and the kind of boat you design must go hand in hand. We first worried about the problem of the lines. We had to design the boat with that problem in mind. My first thought was how to prevent or evade tangling, and then how to separate quickly after tangling. What you must do is make sure that when the tuna strikes, the line can be isolated from the other lines that are still in the water. Then, you don't have to worry as much about bringing in the lines. One person can get those other lines in while the first person works on the bow with the tuna line. Why is it so important? Most people, before we started fishing, used only one or two lines because they couldn't solve this tangling problem. I wanted to fish with five, six, seven, even up to eleven lines, because the chances of catching a fish are much greater. Now, I am confident to fish with that many lines because we have solved this problem.

To space the line according to the depth and current are the expert techniques. We developed these things. Furthermore, the line we are now using is a perfect set-up. The line will not snap, the hook will not straighten. All of these things, we developed. You may have wondered about the line. You may have wondered why it is constructed the way it is. The reason is so that you can untie it very quickly. If you can untie it, you can prevent having to cut it, and so lose your line.

The line, if you take reasonable care of it, will last ten or twenty years. You have to understand there is a technique to all these things. You have to develop the technique. I realize that this is your first year of tuna fishing. You didn't understand everything when you got on the boat, why things were set-up the way they were, but you fished that way and learned how. Now you have gained the experience of seven years. This means that after one season, you are in your seventh year of fishing, so to speak.

I have now explained to you how I considered the size of the boat and the tuna line technique. Thirdly, I considered the problem of the anchor line. If you put yourself in the position of the tuna underneath the water, you can see a great deal of things. There are all sorts of lines hanging down. There are many, many anchor lines. If the tuna hooks up, he will head in the direction of the anchor line. He will try to wrap around the anchor line and get loose from the hook.

The worst problem is your own anchor line because the tuna has such a little distance to go in order to get to it. Once the tuna strikes, you cannot let go of the line, no matter what. Often the tuna runs out and then turns back in, heading straight for the anchor line. If he can get to that line while it is still attached to the boat, he will cut the line holding him. We understood this by our experience. When this happens, you have to give some slack to the tuna, but you run a great risk of losing him from your line. If, however, you are already cast off from your anchor, the tuna just wraps the anchor line around its line. You have to get to the buoy and unwrap the line, but it will not cut the tuna line because there is not the same tension as when it is still attached to the boat.

Getting off the anchor line is one of the most important maneuvers that you will make fighting the fish. Once you drop the anchor line, you will have a much better chance, fighting the fish one to one, just yourself and the fish. You always have to keep the tuna line tight. Once there is slack, you can lose the fish so easily. The tuna may go up to the surface. Once the tuna bites, you keep pulling and the fish goes against the pull. But it does not always happen that way. Sometimes the tuna runs back directly against your pull, then it gives a jerk and tries to get the hook out of its mouth.

Whenever you make any maneuver with the tuna, you have to think about keeping the hook in its mouth. The New Hope lost six fish this summer and three of the cases were just like this. We lost it because the tuna was able to escape the pressure of the line and get off the hook. Once you can clear your boat from the buoy line, you have a 90% chance of bringing the fish in. Even though you are on the boat, you have to visualize the tuna underneath and analyze how it is behaving. I am trying to teach you everything about the techniques as well as how to think about catching the tuna. It is just like you are in school again. While you are learning, you don't understand it right at that moment, but afterwards you say to yourself, "Ah, that is what the teacher meant." By now, by the end of the summer, you should be able to understand what I am trying to teach you.

The last point to consider is harpooning. As you know, you harpoon the fish in order to insure that you can bring it to the boat. After you successfully harpoon the fish, your task is to bring the fish close to the boat in the minimum amount of time. In this one last moment, since the tuna is getting tired and you have been constantly pulling, it comes up to the surface of the water, close to the boat. And then, he gets a glimpse of what is going on. He sees the people, the boat, everything. It is completely strange to him. When this happens, the tuna often makes one last powerful move and heads again for the deep ocean. You should expect this. Don't pull, but give the tuna the line that he needs. Don't let it get slack though. This is the one last chance for the tuna to survive. Then, pull it back up to the boat. Often the tuna will go straight down deep again. This may happen once or twice, even three times or more. The Japanese members didn't understand this. Once they got a tuna harpooned and next to the boat, they thought it was a disgrace to let it go down again, but they should have done so. You have to handle the fish and expect what it is thinking to do next. If you don't do this, then you will lose fish more often. If you let the fish get away, it could mean thousands of dollars lost. Worse yet, it probably means the life of the fish as well.

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