In Response to Pop:
First, I will tell you that the commercial guys do still fish the lump. There aren’t nearly as many as there use to be but that is gulfwide. Not just the lump. They are there to catch tuna, snapper, both, or anything that will bite. There have been several working the area this year. I have had tuna graded before from the lump full of pogies and deeper water where all they ate were flying fish and different sorts of live bait(including live pogies which is a normal part of a tunas diet). This is when my curiosity got the best of me and I had to find out if there was any difference in the meat with lactic acid build up, time of the fight, what they were eating etc. Anything from a 2 hour fight to a tuna that was brought in tail wrapped in under 5 minutes. To my surprise they never graded less than A. These fish were packed on ice and brought in to be graded the next day. I have eaten a lot of yellow fin tuna and I never could, and still can’t tell the difference from one fish to the next no matter where we caught’em and what he was eating. Every now and then I will get one that I think tastes a little fishy, but the guy next to me eating the same stuff says it doesn’t taste fishy at all. Go figure. From being around this business for a while and knowing some seafood dealers the last thing the seafood buyer asks a captain with a boat load of tuna is where did you catch them. Most will reply, in the mouth. It seems like they could really care less where they were caught. They are usually more interested in trying to figure out how much they think they can undercut you and make a bigger profit with your catch. I think it basically boils down to the price of tuna being bought along the gulf coast dropping big time compared to the west coast and east coast buyers. Not because of the quality of the meat but because of the demand. No one wants to ship seafood further than they have to. Therefore, I think a big portion of the commerc’s moved to where they can draw top dollar for their hard earned catch.
Since we are on the quality of meat subject another fish that got somewhat of a bad wrap in the past few years is black fin tuna. Black fin tastes every bit as good as a yellow fin. The only real difference is that you can’t cut them into the man size steaks that you can with a yellow fin tuna. Some people say their tuna didn’t taste good the next day at the dock, must be the pogies. After watching them clean it the day before and seeing how warm they were I wasn’t surprised. The biggest mistake someone can make with a tuna is to let him get warm. The colder you keep them the better they taste. If you go to pick up a loin that you have just cut off of your fish and your fingers sink into it. Your fish isn’t cold enough. Get him in the ice quick. You should be able to squeeze the meat, at least enough to get him in the ziplock without your fingers leaving a mark. I will say that in mid-July with 100 degree heat it is hard to clean a big tuna without him getting a little warm. Best thing to do is wait until dark or early morning to clean him if your schedule allows it.