The run of tuna along the West coast has been good over the last couple of weeks, the main dilemma has been getting a break in the weather to get out and chase them. In saying that, clear skies and light seas have made for some frustrating fishing with plenty of fish in fairly close and working through bait schools near the surface. In this scenario many anglers are spooking the schools by trolling too close, and with 'standard' tuna sized skirts in the 6 - 8" size many of these fish will refuse to bite. Most of these schools have been feeding on small bait such as whitebait, frogmouth and the occasional small saury or pilchard. In this scenario an engine-off drift with the wind, casting smaller lures like stickbaits, plastics and even jigs to the school can produce results. Sinking stickbaits are a good choice as they can be cast well and worked aggressively across the surface, and if no bites have come they will sink with a seductive flutter through the school and get the bite.
Keep stickbaits and jigs small for finicky surface - feeding tuna, 70 - 130mm is the best size range.
James from Unreel Fishing Charters has spent a few weeks down around Portland and Port Fairy catching tuna with customers, with loads of school sized fish to be caught. James has been finding natural coloured hardbodies and skirts have been more consistent of late, and after a lure top up at the store James was off catching fish again.
Customer Ben fished out from Port Fairy recently with some mates, where they caught some nice bluefin to around 18kg. The better performing lures in the spread were XRAP30's in the 'dorado' colour, with depths around 60m holding good numbers of fish. Customer Mick also fished for the tuna aboard a charter recently to land some school fish in the 10kg size range. Trolled skirts and hardbodies in dark silhouettes were the best on the day.