Bluefin Tuna season has well and truly hit the states' west with good numbers of fish hitting the cleaning tables from from Apollo Bay right through to Portland. Rumors of fish a lot closer to home have surfaced as well, with reports sketchy and evidence even sketchier - but worth a look locally by the sounds of things.


Down along the west coast, James from Unreel Fishing Charters has seen good numbers of school fish to around the 15kg mark around both Portland and Port Fairy. James has been finding plenty of fish between 40m and 120m, with fish right out towards the shelf in 400m+. Hot lures at the moment have been smaller skirts from 4 inches through to 6 inches, with weighted and jet head styles holding a very consistent catch rate. Skirt colours in pink/yellow/brown and also lumo/mackerel have been real standouts with natural blues and blacks not far behind.


Out in the same area customer Mark has been catching school tuna to around 10kg on a few different methods. Trolling small skirts in squid patterns has been an easy method of hooking up but Mark has also been catching fish casting and trolling stickbaits. Mark has found the Megabass stickbaits dynamite on the fish, with their awesome castability really getting out to the fish without getting too close to them.

 

 

 

While the weather hasn't really been all that flash around Melbourne and the West coast, the tuna fishing has been fairly consistent when anglers are able to find a break in the weather. With some better patches of weather coming through over the next week conditions look like they might let anglers get out and into the fish again!


James from Unreel Fishing Charters has been down along the West coast over the week and has been catching tuna up to around 15kg with customers. James has been reporting numbers of fish from as shallow as 50m with the 60-100m contour holding good sized schools. Out wider just inside of the shelf numbers of fish are patchy but there. James has found small skirts in either bullet or jet head styles have been the most productive lures, with lumo/mackerel colours along with brown/pink squid and also white. Running a mixture of these along with natural blacks and purples will cover most bite scenarios should you encounter them. 

 

 

 


The bread and butter species like gummy shark are an excellent option during the winter months, as you are able to catch them shore based in the bays, from the surf beaches, boat fishing the bays and also offshore. The best part about this style of fishing is you don't have to go overboard, for a landbased session a surf outfit of your choice is the way to go, along with a sturdy rod holder and enough tackle for the session. 

Staff member Dylan did just this last week, took to the the ocean beaches in search of a gummy or two. A nice gummy of around 7kg hit the sand during the first hour of the run in tide, and took a fillet of freshly caught grass whiting on a single 8/0 circle hook. Picking your preferred beach during the day can give you the advantage in spotting the more likely gutters and rips, and taking the guesswork out of your fishing.  Programs like Google earth can also help you identify similar features from the palm of your hand, but just be mindful that these conditions can change subtly between aerial shots.


If the boat fishing for gummies is more your thing, then the offshore fishing at the moment has been worth getting in to. The gummy fishing just offshore from Western Port has been exceptional, with much better average sized fish coming in. Among the gummy sharks, you will also have other species like snapper and flathead to keep you busy offshore, so you can really bring back a mixed bag at times.


Frogleys Offshore Victorian Rep Gerry took his new boat out for a spin last week in search of a gummy or two while offshore conditions were good and he wasn't disappointed. Gerry landed 2 lovely fish destined for the table using the lightweight Atomic Arrowz offshore model rods.

Customer Steve also got out offshore in the same region to land a nice fish just under 11kg. Steve fished a patch of reef that he normally tries for gummies and found multiple fish around it. Locally caught couta was the best bait for the day, which were thick mid water and easily catchable on small sabiki style rigs.

 


With the excellent weather over the weekend there were a few anglers out making the most of the calm weather in search of bluefin tuna along the west coast. Angler have been out from Apollo Bay, Port Fairy and Portland and all locations have been producing fish. While there have been fish caught out along the edge of the shelf and areas like the 'horseshoe' there have also been plenty of fish in much closer. The depth lines from around 50m out to around 150m have been holding a lot of school fish, with the shallower areas always a good chance for a 'barrel'.


James Rogers from Unreel Fishing Charters has been out from Portland having fun on school tuna with customers. James has been finding plenty of fish in the 10 - 15kg size range which are fun on the lighter gear. James has been catching a lot of fish on skirts lately, with 6 inch sized lures a good starting point. Lumo has been an excellent colour choice along with pinks, browns and reds, while back along the Apollo bay/big reef area blues, silvers and reds have been good.


Customers Damien and crew all fished out from Portland over the weekend during their annual tuna trip, and even though the seas were almost too calm plenty of fish were caught. The fish were fairly good in numbers, from around 60m right out to the shelf, and were all over small jet head style skirts in the 5 inch size range. The guys had a friendly competition with Jason the lucky winner of a brand new Shimano Stella. Jason would obviously be grinning if he knew his tuna was going to win himself a new reel!

 


Australian salmon have really been on the go this past week, with heaps of anglers getting amongst them - whether it's been on the surf beaches or from many of the local piers and rocks. With the more recent weather the fish have slowed off a bit locally, but a big blow and rain band will see them return within many angler's shore based reaches soon enough. For the pier fisherman Mornington has been one worth looking at, especially early morning or later in the afternoon.


Customer Patrick has been enjoying the sporting aspect of the salmon from Mornington pier recently, with small metal jigs getting the bites when conditions are quiet. 'Shore jigging' is fairly under utilized here in Victoria, but fish like salmon can be absolute suckers for small falling jigs when a normal fast retrieve doesn't get spark their interest.


The ocean beaches have been producing good bags of fish for anglers persisting. While the lure casting has been a bit hit and miss, there still have been some nice fish landed. The real key for turning the odds in your favour on the beach is to fish a quality berley. Berley will bring the salmon from a good distance away on the beach and hold them in your area for long enough to capitalize.


Staff member Don experienced just this at Gunnamatta over the weekend, with only a few fish seen along the beach. After setting a good berley trail, and knowing at which stage of the tide to deploy it, Don ended up with a bag of fish to around a kilo.


Customer Mark fished Venus bay beach number 4 with his kids over the weekend to land some ripper salmon. Mark landed fish 2kg + on both pilchard and bluebait, and also surf poppers in blue/white combination.


Staff member Dylan lure fished a few of the surf beaches along the west coast over the weekend. While not every beach produced fish, many were only fished for a few hours and not on 'ideal' tides. Most beaches around Torquay, Lorne and Apollo Bay were holding numbers of smaller fish to 30cm. Further west past Cape Otway the beaches were producing larger fish around 1kg. Dylan and mate Jordan walked the gutters spinning metal lures and stickbaits and caught over 20 fish per session, with assist hooks the trick to keeping fish hooked in the shorebreak. The salmon were coughing up medium sized pilchards so the stickbaits were the ideal imitation. Sub minnows and bungy casts were the most successful.


 


The tuna reports from the west coast are starting to make the headlines, and should improve over the weekend with slight northerlies forecast for Portland. Reports from Portland have been good, with the odd one coming from Port Fairy also. Most anglers seem to be fishing west of Portland towards Bridgewater, and depths anywhere from 55 - 70m through to 200m being the talk. A good number of fish have been caught shallower through the 60m line so that is good news for everyone not in an 8m boat.

Customer Tony fished Portland last weekend to land his first bluefin on some tackle and outfits purchased just recently. Tony was fishing threadline gear and with fish in the 10kg range this gear makes for more fun and is less tiring to fight fish on.


The most productive lure for the day was a Richter 'soft grassy' in lumo. Lumos are definitely worth packing at the moment, with a good number of fish falling to this bright colour pattern. Other recommended colours have been squid (dark red/orange/brown) and couta (black/silver/purple). Like always a spread of different options is the best way to approach these fish.


James from Unreel Fishing Charters has also been fishing out of Portland with customers. James has managed a couple of slightly larger fish amongst the school fish, however most have been in the 8 - 14kg range.


Hot colour patterns for James lately have also been lumo and squid, with small 5 inch jet heads performing when things are a bit quiet. The jet heads can be run a long way back in shotgun position and also hold in the water much better when there is more swell and chop, and track nice and straight so that the fish can line them up easier.

 

 

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.

 

Tuna reports from the west of the state have still been good, with fish caught from Port Mac through to Apollo Bay. There have still been school tuna caught from around 80m right out to the edge of the shelf. A few 'barrel' tuna have also been lost and landed over the last few weeks too. Customer Michael fished with a couple of good mates recently picked up a Shimano Tiagra 50 and headed off in search of that 100kg+ tuna. After his fair share of heartbreak with a few big tuna Michael needed to get the bug off his chest, and his wishes came true last week at Apollo Bay. Searching around in the 70m area out from Apollo Bay, Michael was 10 minutes into trolling around a bit of likely looking water when a big fish was spotted on the surface. Seconds later his Tiagra screamed into life and after a solid 90 minute fight Michael had his 'barrel' in the boat. The beast of a fish weighed 134.4kg and took a red/white/black skirt run at shotgun.

James from Unreel Fishing Charters has still been getting a few nice fish for customers out from Portland, with bluefin tuna to around the 20kg mark taking small skirts. James has also had some more action on the dolphinfish with a double hookup earlier during the week and one lovely fish of around 8kg landed.