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How to Catch Tuna : 8 Tips for Catching Big Tuna

With all the tuna action going on around Sydney, we thought we’d ask the tuna experts how to catch these fighting machines!

Most anglers will have seen or heard about the mad Tuna bite off Sydney at the minute. If you live on the Eastern sea board of Australia don’t think you will have missed out. THE FISH ARE THERE. Southern Bluefin are off our coastlines in fantastic numbers. The Team PENN boys are still into them down in Tasmania, they are off Eden, Bermagui and now Sydney.

Here are some tips from Team PENN International. They say “if you are thinking of a trip the key word when looking to have fun and success is PLANNING”.

 

WEATHER

The first thing to do when putting a trip together to chase Southern Blues is make a plan. The Hot Bite off Sydney at the minute is fantastic, but the distance you have to go dictates a bit of forethought and preparation. When traversing out to the shelf and further it’s more about a weather window than the weekend. No one wants to be out there when it is too windy and rough. Study the weather and take some time off if needed. If you can manage some time off for good behaviour you will avoid weekend bottle necks at the boat ramps and when you do get on the water it won’t be a Regatta!

Team PENN out in a typically calm afternoon

 

PACK THE BOAT

Pack your pride and joy early, not the night before. When shooting for a weather window to go green on, the boat should be rack, stacked and sorted. This also goes back to planning. If you are going to target a species on a hot bite don’t take every rod you own and every piece of tackle. This is about taking the gear you need and some spares. 5 squid rods and a few Flatty bashing outfits is not what you want rolling about the boat when hooked up to a Southern Bluefin. Make sure you have the gear packed nicely and everyone knows where it is stored. When three reels go off on a three way hook up, the last thing you want to be doing is screaming out ”where’s the harness??? Where’s the gaff???”.

Worse thing you can do is to have busted them off turning the boat upside down looking for gear.

 

SET A COURSE

The amount of assistance on line these days to help plan a fishing trip is insane. If you are not paying a subscription to a sea surface temp site, make that a priority. There is far, far too much ocean out there to be driving around aimlessly. The days fishing can be planned at home in the comfort of your lounge room. Get the laptop out and study the SST and the current directions. Get a feel for where the up welling’s are forming. These all lead to a build-up of nutrients that will have pelagic bait fish forming up looking for a feed. Little do they know that they are about to become the menu.

Forums and Facebook can also be used to see where the fish were recently and provide an idea of where to begin. Once you pick a spot to start, plot a way point on your sounder and set a course. When you arrive if you have not seen any surface sign or bird life start doing some figure eights with your lures set. Gradually increase the size of your figure eights and occasionally do a straight run through the middle both ways.

 

KEEP YOUR EYES PEELED

Bird life is only one of the significant signs you should be looking for when trying to find feeding Tuna. Surface disturbance and or current lines should also be investigated. Anything floating in the water may be of interest to bait fish so in turn could have some bigger predators hovering about as well. Concentration and attention to detail is most important. By all means have fun and have a laugh, but be systematic with your sweeps of the ocean and surroundings. It is a long way to come to miss a group of feeding Tuna a nautical mile to your starboard.

 

MIX IT UP

Trolling skirted lures is the traditional domain of the Bluefin hunt, but if you close your mind to other ideas you will miss a lot of opportunity. There are a number or reasons to use other tactics at your disposal and try some sub surface lures. SEBILE lures manufacture a number of lures that are attractive in this space. Quality and strength is paramount and Sebile have this in spades. Just as important is function and fit for purpose. The Sebile Bonga Jerk is a fabulous lure when running skirts over the top. The Bonga will handle skirted trolling speeds of 5-8 knots with ease. We have run one right under the prop wash on short corner with a lot of success. To maximise the lures deeper running potential you can run them well back in a shotgun position just out of the prop wash. The idea of the sub surface lure is to raise those fish within striking distance. If they are being stubborn and you feel you need to get deeper down to them, look no further than the Sebile Koolie Minnow range. They are a premium deep diving lure that will run sweet to 5knots. We find that once a decision has been made to raise fish we have seen on the sounder, slowing down and presenting divers over skirts works well.

 

CHECK THEIR TUM TUMS

If you have put it all together and found some fish, one of the best things to do is check a fish’s stomach contents. This will give you some idea of what bait the fish the Tuna are on and may give you some ideas on what lures place in the spread. Tailoring your lure presentation to colour and size of the bait being fed on can maximise your success.

 

USE YOUR TECHNOLOGY

Having a solid understanding of your sounder and how it operates is paramount. There are a huge range of YouTube videos and words online to have everyone an expert in the use of their sounders. We are very lucky to have a SIMRAD unit and it is very intuitive and with the added features of touch screen is a delight to use. The ease and speed of changing settings and tuning the unit on the fly is superb and laying down a waypoint is effortless. Set the sounder to scan the top 80 meters (40 fathoms) any fish deeper than that are dead to you, but with a little bit of effort you can work fish up. In rough conditions they will come up to see what all the commotion is as the boat moves through the sea. If it is calmer and you can hold over them don’t be scared to try and drop a jig or livey on a breakaway. Use your UHF radio. Say hello to a boat that is near you. Ask them how they are going and offer up how you have done. Let them know where you have been and strike up a chat about working together. It’s a massive area and sometimes working together can be of great advantage. If you come across fish you can call them over to keep the fish up and on the chew and vice versa.

 

DON’T PANIC!

Once you have hooked a fish the hard work has been done. You have found the fish. Have the skipper put a way point down and settle into the battle. There is no need to try and rip the fish’s head off and get him to the boat in 10 seconds flat. Get a sense of the size of the fish and play it out. Let the fish run if it wants to, it is hardly going to wrap a pylon or reef section out off the shelf. Tire the fish and it will be easier to land later. Work together with the skipper and keep the battle over the rear corners of the boat. Tuna won’t tend to fight on the surface. Once they know something is up they will fight deep and hard. The skipper will need to be on his toes to keep the fish in the best position and circle around to keep the line away from the gunnels. If you sense the fish tiring, work the Tuna up closer to the boat but watch for it circling under the boat. The angler must be ready for this and have the rod out of the gimble and tip in the water should they need. You can use a Tuna’s propensity to circle at the end of a fight to your advantage. No need to leader the Tuna over to you roughly, just allow the fish to circle around and as it comes into range fire a gaff shot. If you miss, stay calm and hit him on the next lap

Here we have an example of what not to do…. Skipper is on Facebook while angler “has a bit on!”

 

HAPPY DAYS

Get out there with a plan in mind. Set a date, sort your crew and get them organised. A great day on the water awaits so get amongst them.

The author with the result of a well-planned trip!

Have a great day from the lads at Team PENN

 

Ps. DON’T FORGET THE ICE!

Words of wisdom by: Kelly “Hooch” Hunt – Team PENN Australia