During April a massive run of southern bluefin tuna broke all Victorian records and looks likely to challenge a few Australian ones too.
Ken Hines, fishing with Cameron Ordner on the continental shelf off Port Fairy, opened our eyes with his history-making 85kg southern bluefin tuna. This activated local boys Brett Wakely, Jason Oakley and Brent Murray who bought the first big bluefin of the season into Portland, breaking Ken Hines’ day-old record with their 90kg tuna.
All this has sent the fishing community into a frenzy, with anglers from all over Australia arriving to attempt to land one of these monsters of the sea. Rob Zynevych and crew have come in with the biggest tuna to date caught out of Portland and Victoria, weighing in at 120.71kg and measuring 210cm. This is nearly four times the 1979 rod and reel record in Victoria of 32.75kg and just short of the Australian record by 5.04kg in the 37kg line class.
Fishermen are now going out much further than the traditional 8-11 nautical miles zone, travelling around 24 nautical miles southeast of Portland to chase the bigger fish. Out here around the continental shelf the water depths range from 200 to 1000m, and if you’re going to travel out this far you need to be prepared. Make sure you have enough fuel and a radio in good working order, and keep yourself fully informed of current weather conditions. This is the Southern Ocean you are taking on, and it should be treated with respect.
Most anglers are using 24 and 37kg gamefishing outfits with more than 1000m of mono line but they’re still being ‘smoked’ in a single burst by some of these powerhouse fish. Well over 100 tuna have been weighed in with an average weight of 70-110kg, and the battles have regularly lasted up to four hours. You’d think you were off Cairns black marlin fishing! These are big, fast travelling fish and you’ll need a minimum of 24kg gear plus marlin lures, leaders and hooks if you’re serious about nabbing one.
It’s great to see that some anglers are releasing the bigger tuna, as these big breeders are the future of the fishery. The southern bluefin tuna fishery is in a lot of trouble and considered by some to be endangered.
The cycle is set for May for the normal size tuna to come through; some have already been weighed in, along with good size albacore. That means most anglers won’t have to go much further than the 100m depth and only 8 to 11 nautical miles off the mainland. If the action over past years is anything to go by, the tuna run should last until mid July, with the average size hovering around 20-26kg.
In other news, land-based anglers fishing the Lee Breakwall having been bagging out on 30-35cm snapper, and whiting and gummy sharks have also been landed. Off the marina, trevally, whiting, snapper and calamari have also been keeping anglers happy. Black bream, mackerel, mullet and pinkies are coming off the crayfish wharf in the canal. Off the trawler wharf, snapper have been the number one catch along with the odd whiting. Along the north shore, schools of 1-3kg salmon have been appearing at the cleaning tables along with whiting, pinkies and gummies. The odd school shark has been landed off the beach in front of the Fitzroy river mouth. There has been the occasional mulloway caught along the North Shore as well.
At this time of year haddock should start appearing in the bay and harbour area, providing great fun for all.
For all your latest fishing reports give the boys at Portland Bait & Tackle a call on (03) 5523 5213 or (03) 5523 1225. We are open 7 days a week from 7am to 7pm at our new store located at 111 Bentinck St, Portland for all your fishing gear and marine supplies. Our new outboard mechanic will take care of any services and repairs. And if you want to check out all the live action on the boat ramp, log on to the live web cam at www.wildblue.com.au.
1) Rob Zynevych with his record-breaking 120.71kg southern bluefin tuna (photos courtesy Bob McPherson).
2) Tim Otter, Rocket Harris and Kevin Dark with their 83kg bluefin.
3) Brett Murry, Brett Wakley and Jason Oakley with their 90kg bluefin.Reads: 3413