Jumbo tuna are the focus of game fishers
  |  First Published: April 2013

The late great Marc Hunter, lead singer from Dragon, used to sing about the “April sun in Cuba”.

Not so much of that for us down here in Tasmania. The days are shorter and the breeze starts to find some bite.

There is some joy though for the offshore angler as it’s this month that something else comes on the bite.


Jumbo is the game fishers nickname for big southern bluefin tuna over 80kg. These fish are to be found in good numbers from the bottom of Maria and all the way down to the prehistoric and hallowed ground at Pedra Branca. This month is time to check your fishing gear and make sure it’s up to the battle. Jumbo Bluefin will test all your equipment, and with a stand-up fight that can last for hours, these fish will find any weakness you may have missed.

The world class bluefin fishery in and around the Tasmanian Peninsula allows smaller boats to try their hand at a fish of a lifetime. There are many options to find fishable areas in most weather conditions.

The Pirates Bay boat ramp at Eaglehawk Neck can cater for any size boat and has recently had an impressive upgrade. If however you don’t mind towing on a small amount of gravel road launching at the ramp inside Fortescue Bay is a good option for those with smaller vessels. There have been good size bluefin caught right in the mouth of the bay, so if you are un-practiced at setting a 5 rod spread you can do so in the calm waters of the bay and as you broach open water you are ‘green light’ for go.

There is, and always will be, a lot of discussion about what lure to have in your spread. Options for a troll speed of around 6-7knots include two Mac Baits in grey or blue. These are a sub surface lure that add a bit of shape to any spread. Out of sanctioned competition a recreational fisher will achieve a bit more depth from them by spooling with braid.

The traditional skirted lures fill up the other four spots. Here you have options to mimic the localised bait fish or try something that catches your eye in the tackle shop. Red bait is the food of choice for bluefin so in that regard it is very hard to go past Zacatak lures in skirt colours Frigate and Kon”. Interestingly bluefin will also be drawn to lures with a golden brown hue. That leaves one that can be a wild card and for that roll I love the Zacatack Thunder in skirt colour Wasp.

It’s a long position lure that pulls a massive smoke trail. Dangle these out the back on good quality rods with overhead reels and you are in the game. I say overheads in this instance because it is April and we are talking Jumbos. Overheads get the nod due to their ability to hold good yardage of 24kg line. That line class is about where you want to be when there are big bluefin about that may pull the scales down to 80kg or better.

The area around the Lanterns is the first place to try, followed by a run out to the Hippolyte Rocks if weather permits. Once out at the rock a lap or six can and often produces good fish. If the seals give you too much curry come back into the lanterns and head south along the spectacular cliffs of Munroes Bay.

It has to be seen to be believed and it is a drawcard in itself. There is no need to try and over think where they might be or how far out you have to go. A boat of 5.5m can find itself hooked up tight to some massive tuna right in close under the protective and spectacular cliffs of Munroes Bight. There is not too much rhyme or reason to this area. Keep your eyes peeled and switch from sounder to skyline because you are looking for any sign of a “feed on”

The bottom of Munroes will find you at Cape Pillar and a decision to be made. The area in and around Tasman Island is a fantastic holding ground for bluefin tuna, but it demands respect. Swell from the south has paid little respect to anyone on its way from Antarctica and normally arrives angry. Check forecasts before you go and listen to the radio for updates.

So service the gear, study the weather and go find that fish of a lifetime.

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