Rocky Carosi profiles the popular Albacore. Rocky runs a charter fishing outfit, Professional Charters from St Helens. He can be contacted on 03 6376 3083 or 0419 383 362.
As the warm waters of the Eastern Australian current begin to arrive off Tasmania's East Coast, one of the first game fish to show is the albacore Tuna (Thunnus alaunga). Tasmania's salt water game fishers eagerly await the arrival of "˜Albies"which are the mainstay of Tasmania's temperate water game fishing season.
Albacore are oceanic fish and wander the open expanses of the North and South Pacific as well as the Indian and Atlantic Oceans - generally concentrating seasonally along the continental shelves of land masses. Their distribution is related to oxygen concentration and water temperature. Off Tasmania they are usually present in sea surface temperatures of 16 to 22 in association with oceanic temperature fronts. Albacore feed at the surface, but otherwise live at the thermo cline - the sharp temperature between warm surface water and the cooler deep water. This is usually from 50 to 150 metres deep.
The majority of Albacore taken off Tasmania are juvenile fish 40 to 90 cm in fork length and are around 1 to 3 years old. Albacore grow to around 40 kg and currently the Australian "˜All Tackle"record stands at 25.4 kg and was caught off Tasmania's East Coast in 1993.
As a rule Albacore prefer water around 200 metres deep, however many fish, especially off Tasmania are caught within a mile of the shore. The average size of Tasmania's East Coast Albacore catch would be 6 to 12 kg. This size makes them ideally suited to 6 to 10 kg tackle on which they show their typical, hard fighting tuna like abilities.
The most popular fishing methods are trolling small to medium lead or metal heading skirts, bibles minnows, jigging or fishing unweighted live or dead baits in a berley trail.
Unlike other species of tuna that form large horizontally arranged school, Albacore tend to form vertical stacks. Those stacks move freely up and down the water column, making them good targets for cubing and strip baiting in a berley trail.
Albacore meat is light pink and turns white when cooked. It is too soft and low in oil content to make good sashimi or sushi, but is wonderful when cooked - being some what more delicate and less dry than yellow fin. This good reputation as a table fish is enhanced by taking care in handling as they bruise and deteriorate quickly. Those fish intended for eating should be killed and bled immediately, then put on ice or in a cool box.
The Albacore's terrific fighting ability on light to medium tackle, combined with it's superb table quality make this fish a very appealing package.