Longtail tuna leap into action
  |  First Published: May 2007

Cooked drags, spooled reels, popped leaders … it must be longtail time in the Bay again! So far this year the large amount of bait in Moreton Bay has attracted good numbers of spotty mackerel and longtail tuna. The huge volume of bait has even made it difficult to get the tuna to bite on some days. The tuna have so much food to choose from it’s like they just cruise around with their mouths open eating as they go.

Tuna are usually pretty happy to snap out of their baitfish trance and chase down a well-presented fly or soft plastic.By well presented I mean putting the lure or fly in a position where the fish can intercept it not just casting to where the fish was. Working out where to cast can be done by observing fish behaviour on the day: are they balling up bait, just cruising and occasionally sipping off the surface in ones and twos? Or is it a combination of both? Are the fish making a few quick hits on the surface then diving down and popping back up 50m away?

The other key is to combine fast and accurate casting with a little bit of luck when predicting which way the fish will go. When longtail have bait balled and are causing a big bust up on the surface, it can be as simple as just lobbing a 4-5” plastic or fly in to the middle and holding on. Often though, more positive hook-ups and less bust-offs are achieved by casting to the edges of the melee or picking an individual fish and leading it by a couple of metres. Usually the fish will eat without hesitation; the hardest part is putting the lure in the right spot.

When the fish are cruising around and picking off the odd bit of bait it can be a lot harder to present the lure or fly. You cast left, the fish goes right or accelerates just as you cast so the lure or fly lands at its tail. Fish will also occasionally double back and hit microscopic bunch of bait. However when it all comes together, there is nothing better than watching a big longtail inhale your lure and take off for the horizon.

If single fish are working all over the place but you can’t get a lure or fly on their nose try blind fishing down deep. There are often more tuna down below than on top. Position the boat for a drift in the general area where the most tuna are working. Let the plastic sink most of the way to the bottom then start a slow hopping retrieve similar to that used on snapper. When flyfishing, choose a large fly that moves well at slow speeds such as a polar fibre Minnow or Deceiver. Sink the fly down as deep as possible and then start a long slow-stripping retrieve. It takes patience but can really pay off.

Popular retrieves for tuna will depend your lure. Metal lures will work but often spook wary Bay tuna. For the best results with metal lures work them wound flat out. Popular lures include Spanyid Raiders and Snipers and Sea Rocks in the 14-40g range. I replace most trebles with Decoy Plugging Singles or Jigging Singles as these usually provide more secure hook sets than the original hooks.

Soft plastics have become popular for most species and longtail are no exception. They work well dead drifted underneath bust ups, slow hopped across the bottom and twitched at a slow to medium pace on the surface. Popular lures include Assassin 5” Slurps and 7” Shads, Zoom Superflukes and Berkley 5” Gulp Jerkshads. Best colours are light colours such as baitfish and rainbow shad as well as the odd fluoro such as electric chicken. The most productive flies have been larger profile flies such as Hologhosts, Bush Pigs and Polar Fibre Minnows.

Aside from tuna, there are plenty of snapper around this month, from Mud through to Macleay Island. Mid-afternoon through to dark has been a productive time in 2-5m of water around the islands. Bream and flathead are in good numbers along the Redland Bay shoreline as well as the lower end of the Logan River and Redland Bay Channel. Tailor are starting to return to the southern Moreton Bay too.

Until next month, tight lines, or for more information on the southern Moreton Bay area, come and see me at Fish Head (Cnr Broadwater Tce and Stradbroke St, Redland Bay, www.fishhead.com.au) or call us on (07) 3206 7999.

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