Flyfishing Moreton Bay
  |  First Published: June 2006

Moreton Bay’s northern bluefin tuna have finally returned after a strange and unpredictable summer season that saw them disappear in January. Now is a good time to share a few tips for extracting some northern bluefin from the southern parts of the bay.

Landing tuna on a fly rod involves a lot more than being able to handle 10 weight tackle with confidence. Gone are the days of flocks of terns and mutton birds hovering over schools of pelagics and crashing into bait like there is no tomorrow. Now tuna tend to quickly push the bait into a ball and then feed for a short amount of time before the birds realise what is happening.

These hard pulling tuna tend to inhabit certain areas at different stages of the tide so it is important to consider this when planning your trip.

Calmer weather is better as tuna will struggle to keep the bait balled up for long in tough conditions. If you don’t believe this watch a school working some bait over – they don’t even stay up for ten seconds sometimes. This is why surface action on rough days tends to be shorter than when the sea is like a mirror. It’s also difficult to sneak up on tuna when the boat is making a lot of hull noise in choppy conditions.

tides important

When there is a decent light wind I like to fish either the 8am flood tide or the 10am high tide. There are a couple of hot spots where tuna tend to congregate when the flood tide starts to push to the south. I like to call these areas ‘rips’. They are not rips in the true sense of the word, but during the first hour of flood tide the water whirls into a current and creates an impression of a rip.

A great location is the current line that forms at the western end of the spit on southwestern Peel Island. On a calm morning, with a little offshore breeze a 7.30am flood tide is a great spot for tuna.

Another prime spot is the outer edge of the Chain Banks, just adjacent the beacon southwest of the Harry Atkinson artificial reef. The current line, formed where the depth lifts rapidly from 10m of water extends to the west for at least 300m, in calmer conditions, from the beacon where tuna patrol the current chasing hapless bait fish.

Another great spot to find feeding fish is in the current line area stretching east of the Hanlon Light, on the outer reef edge between the Hanlon Light and the beacons marking the Lazaret Gutters entrance.

These three so called ‘rips’ are all worthwhile areas to fish in the early morning or late in the afternoon if the tide has turned around 3.30pm. The fish won’t be that easy catch so the slower the approach the better. If an electric motor is fitted to the boat then charge the battery the night before and rely upon it to sneak in close for a shot.

If the northern blues aren’t on the job there is an excellent chance that some fat mack tuna will be any way. Can’t eat these blokes? Wrong. Curried fish is the way to go with mack tuna, just bleed them well upon capture and then remove all blood areas before cooking.

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