Take a deep dive into the iconic P.E.I. sport fishery

Posted on September 02, 2022 | By Alec Bruce | 0 Comments

 

(Submitted Photo)

 

Snagging a giant bluefin tuna is a mythic experience according to anyone who’s done it. But can this bucket-list adventure survive the economic times? Atlantic Business takes a deep dive into this iconic P.E.I. sport fishery.

Troy Bruce knew the bays and inlets of Prince Edward Island’s Gulf shore like the back of his prematurely weathered hand. At 16, he’d been working on his father’s lobster boat for years. In the spring and fall, that meant setting and hauling hundreds of traps in the dense kelp forests that cluttered the coastal waters around North Lake. Most days, it was hard, precise work, and not a lot of fun. But, this wasn’t most days.

“It was on a weekend,” recounts the commercial fisher—who runs the family’s tuna charter operation with his brother Jamie—about that October day in 1982. “Me and Dad were trolling off Ballantine Cove just across the way there in Nova Scotia when … bang … we hooked up.”

Swift, sleek and silent, it seemed to come out of nowhere. And the size of it. He’d seen many Atlantic bluefin tuna before, but this was as big as a Porsche. He grabbed the rod and jumped into the metal-reinforced fighting chair, which suddenly felt like balsa wood, and strapped in.

Forty-five minutes later, the battle was over; they’d landed an 1,100-pound leviathan, its skin, the colour of gun metal, glinting in the sun. In those days—before catch and release became law in the sport fishery—the beast would have been destined for a dozen or more dinner tables. But at that moment on the water, “it was beautiful,” he says. “A lot of fun, too.”

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