By Mark Gercovich.
The Southern Bluefin tuna season is in now in full swing along the South West Coast of Victoria and just across the border into South Australia. Big barrels are seeing seasoned game anglers all head to Port MacDonnell, plenty of school fish and albacore are coming from the shelf region along the coast and the inshore fish between Port Fairy and Portland, that have been around since February, are still going strong.
The part I like best about tuna season is chasing these inshore school sized fish in smaller boats. Rather than trolling spreads of heavy game tackle, like most larger boats are set up to do, actively casting at schools or trolling just a couple of diving minnows on spin gear that can be quickly deployed or brought in when chasing fast moving surface school, is the method we use to try tempt these notoriously fickle fish. These school fish, usually in the 10-20kg class, are fantastic sports fish when pursued in this way. Stick baiting these fish is a technique that is definitely growing in popularity as a productive method of catching these fish. Even though they are often on small baits usually best replicated by a small metal lure or soft plastic, these fickle tuna do like to run down and smash a cast stick bait, even when they have been ignoring trolled diving lures of a similar profile in size.
The Daiwa Overthere Skipping is a great lure for this. A lure that casts well is always an important factor when chasing surface feeding pelagics for a couple of significant reasons. The longer the cast, the longer the retrieve, the more time a fish has to intercept it.
There’s nothing worse than running out of room as a speeding pelagic veers away at the last minute, as your lure reaches the boat before they catch up to the lure. Also the closer you need to get the boat to the fish to get a cast in, the more likely you are to spook the school. Many smaller stick baits require a refit in hardware before you begin throwing them at things like tuna. This is not a problem for the Overthere Skipping. The hooks on 130 in particular are quite heavy gauge and very strong for a stick bait of this size. The Saltiga Dorado Slider is another effective stick bait that although it doesn’t cast as far as the OS it can be worked slower near the surface, something that on some days is the type of retrieve the fish are looking for.
Of course when targeting fish of this size on spin gear, and with the ever present danger of a much bigger fish getting in on the act, it is essential that your spin gear can stand up to the test. It’s not only the fish that are hard on your gear. Fishing in open boats aids for spotting and casting to fish, but often results in plenty of spray coming in contact with the reel during a session. My Sol 4000, Blast 4020 and Saltiga 4500 never let me down with just a quick rinse in freshwater all that’s required for the next session. I’ve used Daiwa Demon Blood rods for a number of seasons for this type of fishing The 64CJ for trolling and the longer 72MH as a casting rod. The rod is light enough to comfortably cast all day but has enough power in the midsection to break a stubborn tuna doing his circles under the boat.
So look for the windows in the weather, keep an eye on the birds in the sky when you get out there and use your Daiwa gear to help you get into some exciting sportsfishing action with the inshore SBT.