Targeting Giant Tuna... with a Harpoon | Local Knowledge


Tuna are incredible creatures. If you’ve had the chance to come into contact with them, you know damn well just how powerful they really are. When you hook a giant tuna, it feels like you’ve got a submarine on the end of your line.

S3:E10 - “The Cape”

Targeting tuna is exciting regardless of where you are or how you’re fishing for them, but targeting them in Cape Cod with a harpoon has to be one of the most unique and exciting ways to experience it. The Local Knowledge crew recently did just that. Here’s what Ali Hussainy had to say about the trip:

“It takes precision and patience when harpooning for giant bluefin and there are few places better to be hunting than Cape Cod! The Cape is widely considered as the Bluefin Capital of the Western Atlantic. It was in Cape Cod where the harpoon fishery was originally developed. The modern harpoon fishery is true throwback to days long past. With a little help from technology, it remains very viable and one of the most selective fisheries on earth with zero bycatch.”


The Harpoon fishery is an artisanal fishery. Approximately 30 open access artisanal Harpoon Category permits have been issued annually in recent years. The harpoon technique is a vestige of the old New England whaling tradition. These vessels selectively harvest Large Medium (73- 81 inches) and Giant (81 inches +) Atlantic bluefin tuna with traditional harpoon gear only. The annual fishing quota and minimum fish size limitations are set annually by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).
Due to the fact that harpooners are “sight fishing”, they are always able to determine the species of fish they are targeting. Therefore, bycatch of other species is unknown. Harpooning is therefore considered to be among the most “sustainable” of fishing methods. It just makes sense.

Watch “The Cape” episode from Local Knowledge below, where Ali and Rush head to Cape Cod to ride along and experience what it takes to harpoon a giant tuna from a “stick” boat.

If you have thoughts or questions about harpoon fishing, feel free to drop them in the comment section below.