There is now no doubt about it the southern bluefin tuna are back in a big way.
These days anytime from January to August could see you come across schools of southern bluefin tuna offshore of the South West Coast. However if you were going to pick the most reliable month to try to tangle with a SBT then May would perhaps be it. The reliability of the fish in the deep water near the shelf, which have been consistent since mid March, still exists. Schools of fish should have also have began to spread through closer inshore areas bringing them into contact with those in smaller boats.
Actually last season these inshore fish were so well spread in the 40-70m range water between Warrnambool and Port Fairy that long trips to the shelf were often not required. The major difficulty encountered by tuna seekers last season as not finding the fish but getting them to bite. Many were frustrated by trolling through masses of jumping fish without hooking up.
Downsizing lures and line classes, fishing lures significantly further than usual out the back, as well as casting lures at these fish, often turned the tables on the fussy fish. Perhaps the major question of tuna season these days is not if they school fish will arrive but where, and if, the big fish turn up. The other major consideration is timing your with suitable safe weather and sea conditions to target theses fish.
The recent weeklong Shipwreck Coast Fishing Classic competition began with some fantastic offshore conditions before the weather turned for the worse over the final few days. However by then plenty of good fish had come to the scales. The heaviest game shark was a hotly contested section with numerous makos between 30-80kg coming in. They were all topped by Jackson Wilson’s 103kg mako.
The tuna section was also hotly contested with a few tuna around 20kg, but the biggest was a 22.7kg SBT taken by Paul Dumsney. Paul also put his new Seacrussier boat to good use by taking out the heaviest flathead and snapper. The heaviest scale fish overall was a magnificent 10.2kg cleaned yellowtail kingfish taken by Nick Murrell.
The biggest gummy shark taken was 18kg cleaned weight fish taken by Clayton Smith. Gummy shark are often a good May target for those sick of, or not interested in the tuna. In fact the tuna frames and left overs make for some sensational gummy berley and bait.
The Hopkins River remains closed at the time of writing, but good late autumn rain might change the situation.
Bream are beginning to pick up in numbers but the lack of really big fish remains. The good sign is the amount of really tiny bream in the shallows, evidence of a good recent spawn. May is also a good time to target the local trout as the waters cool and the spawning urge begins to take hold.Reads: 851