SA's Tuna Run 2017

By Jamie Crawford

Each year here on the Eyre Peninsula we have a seasonal migration of southern bluefin which provides a real boon for trailer boat anglers. The extent of the migration varies seasonally depending on numbers of fish crossing the Bight, and how close to shore the warm water will extend.

This year was a good season for us here on the Peninsula, but quite different in some ways to previous years. We had a lot of fish holding around a couple of near-shore islands off Cape Carnot early in the season, but these fish were quite restricted to this area and didn’t extend much further eastwards, meaning when small boats could safely beach launch they were into superlative fishing just a short distance from shore.

Traditional areas around Low Rocks and Neptune Islands were very much hit-and-miss, which was a bit disappointing given the fishing on offer in this area over the past 4 to 5 seasons. But luckily our reliable grounds of the Cabbage Patch, Hummocks, Greenly and Rocky produced plenty of fish right throughout the season for larger boats. The tuna weren’t feeding every day though, so there were some quiet days mixed amongst the good ones. 

Later in the season throughout March, the islands wide of Coffin Bay were ever-reliable for tuna, and although they were only averaging 10 to 14kg, there were plenty of them. We had our annual tuna competition, the Teakle Tuna Classic on the first weekend of April, and despite average conditions, there were a lot of fish caught.

I was fishing aboard Rolf Czybayski’s 51ft Viking Broadbill, and despite a heaving 4 to 5m swell running throughout the comp our boat managed some 80-odd tuna over the two days. Of these, only 37 were qualifying bluefin (meeting the minimum fork length of 78cm), with the rest made up of small bluefin and skipjack.

We’ve taken quite a few fish on skirts this year, with cup face 5” skirts in pink and also in green being effective lures. The skirts have been a good option when the tuna have been dispersed. We have had a couple of days though where the tuna have been actively feeding on bait on the surface, and in this situation diving hard body lures in the 110 to 140mm size have been really good. We’ve also managed to peg 40g metal slugs into the feeding masses too.

For trolling skirts, I have been using the ever reliable TLD15 matched with a Backbone Elite 10kg roller tip rod. This is an affordable outfit that has stood the test of time, and continues to perform. For trolling hard body lures I have been using a Socorro 10,000 matched to a T-Curve Deep Jig 400 rod, and for casting slugs I have been using a Saragosa 6000 matched to a T-Curve Revolution Offshore 6 – 12kg. These outfits, when rigged and ready to go, cover all bases for a day on the water chasing our school bluefin.