In close, tuna reports seem to vary by the day and location, last week schools of tuna busting were visible from the cliffs at Thunder Point in Warrnambool, while off Port Fairy Scotty Gray and Salty Dog Charters caught kingfish and tuna together, fishing not far offshore. Off Portland there has been plenty of action around the 50m depth area, behind Lawrence Rock across to the lighthouse. (Also some talk of some bigger fish seen/hooked in this area) There are obviously plenty of well spread out different schools that move around following the baitfish and krill – it would seem from many reports that Portland is perhaps fishing a bit more consistently, however since more boats tend to launch from Portland than Port Fairy/Warrnambool/Port MacDonnell, this can result in more reports and a perception of more fish, while all of the other mentioned ports are seeing good numbers also. However, these fish in close seem to be a day-by-day proposition, there one day and gone the next, then back on the go again. They can also tend to be finicky. Most of the in-close success has been around surface action and birds working, although the Alston boys in their Seacruiser 7000 last week caught several off blind strikes in 45m east of Warrnambool.
If you’re willing to do the miles, and have confidence in your boat, engine, fuel capacity and conditions, out wide (just inside or over the edge of the continental shelf) is pretty much a guarantee at the moment, regardless of whether fishing out of Port MacDonnell (roughly 30kms to shelf edge), Portland (roughly 45km run to the Horseshoe), Port Fairy (50-55kms to shelf edge), or Warrnambool (60-65km to shelf edge). Much of the fishing out wide has been blind strikes, although generally there has been plenty of birdlife milling around. Albacore tuna, otherwise known as “chicken of the sea”, are extremely plentiful at the moment – these fish are generally only found out at the shelf but some have been caught inside. While many of these fish are only 5-8kg, there are some bigger ones around the 15-28kg mark and they can get up to 30kg. Amongst the albies are also bluefin, with a pretty standard day out at the shelf resulting in as many albies as you want to catch, along with a few bluefin. It makes for excellent fishing – and eating – at the moment.
What generally follows the average discussion about tuna, are the inevitable questions of if/when/where the barrels will/have turned up??? There has been a couple of reports of big fish lost at Port Mac, and an unconfirmed second-hand facebook comment (hey – that’s enough to excite most of us!) of one that came in late last night off Portland… Yesterday’s 64kg model (a generally unusual size for these areas – but recent times have seen more in the 40-70kg bracket) caught at Warrnambool was in 300m of water and definitely won’t be the only one out there…
All-in-all, the South-west tuna season is in full swing and shaping up to be a belter. For those fortunate enough to get out and get connected, we have some great recipes here to enjoy it. Feel free to email us with your culinary suggestions and photos!
One thing that makes a HUGE difference when keeping fish for the table, is bleeding them at the very least (gutting is also helpful) and getting them immediately in a saltwater ice slurry. The best ice is our subzero flake ice which we provide at $10 per large 15kg bag, or the regular fishos love our $250 annual ice membership which allows unlimited ice for personal use.
There are plenty of great lures on the market that catch fish. We do stock a select range of Jaks, Black Magic, and Samaki lures, all in a range of sizes and colours that have been going well on the local tuna.
Hope this info has been helpful. Please keep your pics and reports coming in, with as much or as little info as you like. Submit them via the button on the RHS of this website, or this link.
As far as bottom fishing goes, inshore off Warrnambool has seen really good numbers of pinkies in recent days along with a few gummies. Around the small pinkies will sometimes be thresher sharks, which are an amazing animal. There haven’t been big numbers of these in recent years – so it’s encouraging to see a few encountered around Warrnambool. Adrian Straw caught and released a couple last week.