As we set out I couldn't help but think that it had been too long since my last trip offshore. The smell of diesel fuel and thawing bait was almost welcome. I had started preparing for this trip during the winter when, in the tying frenzy that usually accompanies a big snowstorm, I began devising a fly pattern that would be effective on these early-season bluefin. From the onset there was no doubt that, since they're such an important part of any pelagic species' diet, a squid pattern was in order. It needed to be something with a lot of flash that could push water similar to the way most surface trolling lures do. After that, the pattern fell together without a lot of experimentation. The first flies I developed were pink and purple, chartreuse and blue and I tied one in pearl. All color combinations proved deadly on bass and bluefish in Rhode Island. In fact, the pattern produced a 36-inch striper the very first time it hit the water.
We left the dock that day armed with PTW (Pass the Wasabi) Squids in the colors above, plus some in pink and pearl and blue and pearl. Our plan was to troll around until we found a school of bluefin and then try to keep them at the boat by chunking bait as we cast the new fly at them. It didn't take long to hook fish, but it wasn't until our third hookup that we actually got one to the boat. When it got close enough we noticed it had company. I watched as my first cast flopped onto the water about 40 feet behind us. I had just started to strip when a small bluefin heading almost directly away from me turned and grabbed the fly. There was no need to set the hook. I cleared my line and watched in amazement as the fish made its first run about a foot below the surface and then disappeared from sight.