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. 

 

 

 


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!

 


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.

 


Tuna reports have been a been quiet, but mainly due to the fact that there haven't been many anglers out in search of them yet, even though there have been fishing hanging around parts of the west coast for a few months now. Most reports have been coming from the west of Portland, just beyond Cape Bridgewater. Fish size has been varied from under 10kg right through to 30kg+ school fish, and a few 'barrels' about also. Many anglers have been reporting large numbers of squid and small redbait, so lures in the 6 inch size have been perfect. Colours with a mixture of pink/red/brown through them seem to be getting the attention of the fish.

Customers Thao and Damien fished west of Portland on Tuesday where they managed a nice fish just shy of 20kg on the troll. The successful lure was a small 'jet head' style skirt in a redbait/pilchard pattern.


Customer Warren fished with some other clients aboard 'Red Hot Fishing Charters' with Simon Rinaldi recently where there were no shortage of fish caught. Plenty of school fish to 10kg were active from just beyond Lawrence Rock, with multiple hook ups a common occurrence once a school was found.

 

While there haven't been too many reports posted on the kingfish front, there are still some numbers of good fish around. The rip is still holding fish, with some larger fish making their presence felt to anglers still out chasing them. The offshore fishing around Eden has been very good for the kingfish, and if conditions are similar to last year the fish could still hang around for another 6 weeks or so.


Gawaine Blake took a trip up to Eden over the Easter break in search of a few kingies, and he wasn't disappointed. Gawaine purchased a new Shimano Tranx 301 reel to try on these fish, and knocked them over with it easily. The Tranx is a 'low profile' style baitcaster but with serious grunt! Gawaine found most of the fish out along Mowarry Point and jigging was by far the most effective method on these fish, with some nice fish also caught on 2oz weighted soft plastics fished around the reef. Most of the fish that were caught were in the 10 - 13kg mark, which are excellent sized fish.

 

It seems that some of the kingfish 'crowd' has died off somewhat with the weather over recent weeks, but make no mistake there are still heaps of kingies about. There are no real 'hot spots' but in saying that a little bit of local insight on gear and rigging can pay off. The Rip has been producing fish, along with most of the usual headlands and offshore reefs, and the average size of the fish around is really at present - with plenty of 7 - 11kg fish and a good spread of bigger 'hoodlums' up to 15 or so kg.


Friend of the shop and Victorian EJ Todds representative Mitch fished out from Welshpool just recent in a 'product testing' day trialing some new jig designs and it is fair to say that the jigs did the job. Multiple smokings and fish upward of 10kg along with flat seas made for an awesome session. One of the standouts of the day were 'slow fall' style jigs - and these normally get overlooked by kingfish anglers. The slow fall advantage really comes in to it's own when the fish are a bit unsure or not super aggressive. Slow fall style jigs 'flutter' their way to the bottom like an injured baitfish and spend more time in the strike zone to tempt otherwise uninterested fish. If you are unsure about this style of jig or interested in trying them on the local fish then talk to the guys in store, as there are some good options that are worth a look.

Customer Marty also had another good session on the local kingies, with fish to 8kg out from Phillip Island. Marty fished out around the eastern entrance and got these fish on a mixture of baits and lures, with slow fall jigs working well. The ever faithful squid and yakka baits also got a few fish too.


There have also been some serious salmon moving about amongst the kingfish school as well. Some of the fish have been as large as 4kg, which will have you calling them for a kingfish. The average sized fish have been around a kilo, and have been smashing smaller live baits along with stickbaits and plastics. Customer Frank got into these nice fish that were moving around the rip recently on small metal lures and stickbaits.

 

 


The local kingfish have been good! Maybe not so much in crazy crazy numbers, but in size there have been plenty of great fish about. Plenty of fish to 10kg on the local headlands like Cape Schank, Woolamai and Pyramid Rock. The rip has also been producing similar quality fish for anglers who are persistent and able to try different techniques. A mixture of options have been working lately, with stickbaits, jigs and baits all getting fish. Customer George fished with some mates over the weekend in the rip where some nice fish were landed. Live squid were the pick of the day, with a jig always present in the water to attract fish up from the depths, and occasionally hook one. Jig weights vary for this part of the world as the depth also does, but having a mixture between 100-200g will see you getting down to the fish.


If you want to pick up on all the 'small things' that will make you a more successful bluewater angler then make sure YOU BOOK in for Gawaine Blake's Local Kingfish and Tuna info night. THIS THURSDAY 8th Feb at 7pm. You must book through the store to secure numbers, which you can do on 03 9794 9397.


George with the best kingie for the day taken on a large live squid.

 


There has been some quality fishing out around the entrances to both bays and in Bass Strait over the last week or so. Reports of acres of Bluefin tuna hanging around, kingfish in good numbers off the headlands and reasonable shark fishing as well. While the tuna have been getting caught, most anglers aren't keeping their eyes peeled for signs that these fish are about. Water temperature and colour changes, seabirds hovering or shimmering 'slicks' of baitfish can be enough of an indication that the larger predators are around, so it's not just a matter of throwing a lure out and driving around until you hook up. Smaller lures have been working better than larger offerings lately as well, as most of the baitfish in the area are small pilchards and whitebait.


Customer Justin got outside over the weekend and went around towards Cape Schank where he managed 2 nice kingies. Justin caught one of the fish on a fresh squid head near the bottom and the other on a 'Slither' jig in 165g.

Customer Marty has been catching both tuna and kings down at King Island recently. Marty has found casting to be the most productive method on both fish, with soft plastics like 'sluggos' working well rigged on a jighead, and small surface stickbaits like the nomad 'madscad' also doing the job. Natural, baitfish colours are tricking the fish when conidtions are calm.


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There has been plenty of talk of bluefin tuna over the last week or so, which is good as most anglers only assume tuna season is May-June. Yes they are certainly about during late autumn and winter, but some of the best tuna fishing can be had right now no matter where you're fishing for them. While many anglers may find the thoughts of finding tuna locally quite daunting, there are normally fish around within reach of offshore anglers during the summer months. These fish can be very flighty however, and trolling straight through bait schools with big lures very rarely cuts it. A lot of these fish are feeding on schools of small whitebait and pilchards or similar sized prey, so scaling down your gear and lure choices is the way to go.


James Roger from Unreel Fishing Charters has spent some time last week down fishing around Portland where he has caught some nice bluefin tuna with his sons. The tuna have been around in small numbers along the west coast, with the inshore reefs and contours holding fish.

A fair bit closer to home the tuna have been making their presence felt, with a ripper bluefin caught by James' son Dylan amongst some nice kingies just earlier this week. This nice fish was caught on a small pilchard patterned stickbait on a 3000 sized stradic reel, and took nearly 2hrs to land! The best part was this fish was caught just out from Flinders, where a few fish have been hooked - even by locals fishing from the pier.