Last Saturday we headed wide off Ulladulla in search of Bluefin tuna. After several hours of trolling for only a few albacore we finally marked some big fish on the sounder and moments later hooked up solidly on a Marlin Magic baby hard head lure. Whilst Hayley fought the fish we began cubing pilchards and soon had a huge school of Bluefin at the back of the boat. What followed was hours of fun catching tuna every which way and by the end we were happy to just sit back and feed them. We even took the hooks off our poppers and stickbaits so that we could just enjoy watching the surface explosions as the Bluefin fought over the lures. For the record Hayley’s fish ended up being the best of the day at a very solid 75-80kg. Not bad for her first ever southern bluefin tuna!
- Run a mix of lures in your spread. We run a mix of skirted lures and hard bodied diving lures to cover all bases.
- If you hook one on the troll, keep driving for a short distance as you may hook multiple fish.
- Have pilchards cut up and ready to go so that you can start cubing as soon as you hook up on the troll.
- Call other boats in when you hook up. It can be hard for one boat to keep a big school of tuna around the boat so get on the radio and call in any boats in the area to help cube them and hold the school (the more boats the better).
- Tuna tend to fight straight up and down and get into a pattern of doing circles on their side under the boat. Ensure the angler keeps constant pressure on the fish at all times and keep pumping them up. My mantra is ‘If you’re resting, they’re winning’.
- Take your time and wait until the right opportunity presents itself when trying to land them. So many tuna are lost at the boat from people rushing it or grabbing the leader too early on fish.
- Tuna are often a long way offshore and every year we hear multiple boats running out of fuel or having engine issues.
- Have a good working VHF radio - you won’t have phone service most of the time so your VHF radio is your only form of communication.
- Know your boat’s sea going capabilities.
- Have sufficient fuel - keeping in mind you may need to use more if the weather takes an unexpected turn for the worst.
- Check multiple forecasts to ensure it’s fishable and safe for your boat and crew.