The bluefin comethCool currents
As the weather cools and sea temperatures slow start to decline, preparations (and hopes) turn toward the possibility of another good blue fin tuna run. Digressing momentarily, I received a phone call from Leroy at Big Fin Sports fishing. The result of conversation was the Land Based Game article, I previously mentioned was placed in the hands of "Simon" who without doubt has LBG miles on the board both here and interstate. Simon has had some fantastic captures including a few good Kingfish captures from places here in Tasmania and is indelibly qualified on the subject matter.
So again at short notice I was again asked to stab my little sausages on the keyboard and come up with an article for aspiring anglers chasing blue fin tuna. The article is a follow up with technical information and is again aimed squarely between the eyes of the more beginner, novice or inexperienced blue water wanderers.
Tuna, (unlike some humans) can be particularly picky about what they shove in their mouths at times and this is true to all forms of fishing. The best approach is to match the hatch or match bait colour and size which is native to the area.
There are literally hundreds of choices available and modern day lures include soft plastics like the blue water "Squidgy" range and similar. There hare skirted lures and various types hard body options like "giant Tremblers", "Mack bait" and bibbed lures to name a few.
If you're not catching fish don't be afraid to remove the blinkers and try something a little different. Running a combination spread of lures of different types and styles is a good idea and tends to narrow the field. By this I mean running lures both skirted, bibbed hard bodies at the same time. Trial and error adjustments might have to be made to boat speed and placement to get to a happy medium.
This should also cover lures high in the water column if the tuna are on top and down if they are sub surface at not to greater depth. Fish low in the water greater than 20 meters should be tackled with down rigging.
For the surface jet style or pusher face lures are great. Pushers leave and enticing "smoke" bubble trail and jets lures stream seductively through the outboard wash. I like to run the jet type lures like the mighty "Zuka" close to the wash while I prefer to place to place the pushers out and back a bit in cleaner water.
On 24kg outfits or lures larger than 10 - 12 inch I like to use 250lb to 400 lb traces and 37kg gets 400lb straight up. Both are not much longer than 2 meters. This allows you to manage the fish at the side of the boat much easier. I must mention this is not ideal for bill fish however they are not likely to be found in the cold water blue fin tuna frequent.
If your only catching smaller fish around the 20kg - 30kg mark you can downsize the gear however the run of large fish last year saw plenty of demoralized anglers holding shredded 24kg and larger outfits.
Terminal tackle for 24kg and 37kg rods should be 400lb snap swivels goods quality crimps and armoring tube for trace eyelets. I secure the snap to the double with a Uni knot. Unlike a cats paw a Uni knot will still hold if one leg of the double breaks.
Another and much better approach is to use 400lb wind on leaders and I have found that the "Gillies" brand are very good value for money. They attach directly to the double and are also not too long and allow a fish to be brought boat side for tagging etc. without an inordinate amount of tracing. The reason for this is the "hordes factor" that comes into play when a bluefin close to the boat.
Last year in several places it was not uncommon to see up to 50 seals at the rear of the boat just waiting for any opportunity to snack on the tuna. The heavier gear allows you to man handle the fish quickly and gives the fish a lot better chance of getting away after tagging as generally they come in a lot greener on heavy gear.
Again look for current lines, flotsam and perhaps the best indicator of all the humble bird. Working birds are the sign posts of the sky and will mark either directly above or slightly behind schools of feeding fish. As a general rule the higher the bird is in the air the lower in the water column the fish are.
Stand up fishing on big blues on 37kg without a good quality harness and gimble belt is really only great for your chiropractor. With this said I recommend cracking open the piggy bank and investing in one as it is a much cheaper option in the long run. Again I must add that these fish are immense commercial pressure and a boat and personal possession limit applies so again I advocate tag and release when ever possible.
Winter in Tasmania can be cold and the weather rough. No fish is worth dying for so always safety first. Now don the thermals wait for the snow on the mountain and a decent gap in the weather and turn the nose of the boat toward the big blue (or green in this case) and head out fishing!.
The "R" word
You caught a fish - a BIG fish. It is by far the biggest you have ever caught, or maybe the biggest you have ever seen for that species. Your family is excited, people nearby are coming over to see what the commotion is all about. Then somebody says the "R" word - "record'. Is it a record? If it is, what do you do?
World records are held and managed by the International Game Fishing Association (IGFA).
Tasmania is well placed for anglers to chase world records for at least two game fish - mako sharks and southern bluefin tuna (thunnus maccoyi).
There are eight current world records for southern bluefin tuna caught in Tasmanian waters.
There are over 7,100 categories, from fly rod to conventional, freshwater and saltwater. One of the record programs is for junior anglers. There are records for "smallfry" (10 and under) and "junior" anglers (11 to 16). Junior anglers can compete against those in their own age group and also set records in the "adult" categories as well.
For people who want to try to set records for the first time, the first thing we tell them is to know the IGFA rules and application form backwards and forwards. The only difference between junior rules and "adult" rules is that a junior angler may weigh his or her catch on the boat with a certified scale in order to release it. That angler will qualify for a junior record only, as long as the fish is heavier than the current record for the angler's category. If the junior angler weighs the fish on land with a certified scale, then he or she could qualify for any record - line class, all-tackle, or fly rod.
To submit a record, you must fill out the record application and submit it, along with photographs and the line or tippet sample, to the IGFA. The application form must be filled out completely. Any information left blank may slow down the application process. Photographs must be clear, and show the fish on the scale, the side of the fish with fins extended (for identification purposes) and measurements (for size verification). Also, a clear picture showing the angler, rod and fish should be included for publication. The line sample must include the leader if one was used. Measurements will be made to verify that leader and tippet length rules were followed. The line or tippet might be tested if the fish may qualify for other records. The application process takes about 6 to 8 weeks, sometimes longer depending on the number of records in the process at any given time.
It is important to follow all rules and regulations. Oftentimes a record is lost because of a rule violation. The most common reasons for losing a record are late applications, hook violations and scales that are not certified or not certifiable.
Sometimes anglers find out too late that they had caught a record. Perhaps they did not know about IGFA, or they did not realise it was a record. Anglers who catch fish in U.S. waters have 60 days to submit a record. Anglers in international waters have 90 days. The only exception is for all-tackle records where there is no time limit. Any application submitted beyond the 60 or 90-day limit is subject to rejection.
The rules may be found at IGFA.ORG
You don't need to be a member of any game fishing club, or the IGFA to apply for a world record. To view world records though you do need to be a member and this gives you access to the restricted area on the IGFA website.
Are they coming?
If the SBT reach Victoria it is a great sign that we will get them in Tasmania. This is an extract from wildblue.com.au (28 March 2007).
"Numerous groups of fishermen have put time in on the southern bluefin tuna at Port MacDonnell and here locally (Portland, Victoria). Last week, the Port Fairy boys caught a 132kg S.B. tuna out of Port MacDonnell and Brett Wakely caught a 33kg S.B. tuna with numerous other smaller ones and plenty of albacore to 26kg.
Over the last week, we have had albacore to over 30kg, S.B. tuna up to 50kg and numerous small S.B. tuna from 20kg to just over 50kg.'