Massive tuna off Apollo Bay
  |  First Published: June 2011

My first tuna trip for the year will be one day that I’ll never forget.

Fishing with Dean Candy and Troy Janssens of Ballarat we set out at first light hoping to find a sign that the annual bluefin tuna run had arrived.

After some hours on the water searching for feeding birds, seals or tuna we had all most given up hope of not only catching, but even seeing a tuna for the day. This all changed as we approached the back of the Big Reef some 38km offshore of Cape Otway when we sighted a flock of birds diving on a bait ball.

A couple of seals were getting stuck into the tiny bait fish from below as birds dived in from above when all of a sudden tuna burst up from nowhere scattering bait fish in all directions.

Sending out two Rapala X-Rap lures and trolling around the edges of the remaining bait ball soon had both rods doubled over and the reels howling as line was striped with ease. One fish was lost only seconds later so all effort was then focused on the remaining fish as it headed for the horizon at warp speed.

As the hours went on we all took turns in fighting the fish and driving the boat to chase it down. Once the sun set below the waterline the fish started to show signs of slowing down and we gathered our remaining strength to lift the tuna from the deep and within range of the gaff.

Several attempts at hauling the beast aboard finally saw the fish in the boat and we could finally see just how mammoth it was. Back at the ramp the beast pulled the scales down to a whopping 153.5kg and it didn’t take long for the word to spread.

The next day saw more boats out in search of the monster bluefin and another big tuna of 122kg was captured by Brandon Cole of Colac. With this fish proving the first wasn’t a one off capture boats descended on Apollo Bay in huge numbers.

More big tuna

With calm days now seeing over 100 boats on the water the big fish have kept coming in to the ramp with 10 or more fish over 80kg being reported on a good day and many more lost. No one knows how long the big tuna will hang around for, but if reports from Portland are any indication, then a smaller run of fish should be here for the next few months.

If these school-sized fish follow last year’s path then anglers can expect to encounter large numbers of tuna anywhere from Marengo to Cape Otway in 40m of water. Trolling a spread of diving and skirted lures while looking for birds and seals is the best method of searching out the bluefin tuna schools.

Other ocean species such as King George whiting, flathead, salmon and gummy sharks are still around in good numbers but be prepared of a long wait at the boat ramp as most anglers in this part of the state have a bad case of tuna fever.

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