30 September, 2015

Adam Todd and Lance fished in South Australia today for an incredible 10 hours, whereby they caught, tagged, and released 9 (YES – NINE!) big tuna, ranging from an estimated 70kg to 140kg. What an epic, awesome, day’s fishing!
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Randol and son Noah Tucker had their persistence rewarded today when they finally caught their first barrel which went right on 100kg – congratulations!  They fished out of Portland, which has seen several barrels caught in the last few days.IMG_8880

And the big news was the two barrels caught by Proline Charters out of Sorrento (YES – SORRENTO!) in Victoria fishing out the heads – weighing 164.5kg and 119.4kg.  So basically, pick a boat ramp within approximately a 500 kilometre stretch of coastline – and you’re a chance!12006581_968646093198312_1893221901782939174_o 12087658_968646103198311_5233036816814001117_o

28 September, 2015

Barrels – catch and release

On one hand, the numbers of big bluefin tuna being brought in by anglers spread across hundreds of kilometres in recent weeks, and indeed throughout the whole year, highlight an extremely healthy and well-managed fishery that continues to go from strength to strength.  What anglers are currently experiencing in South-West Victoria and the south-east of South Australia is nothing short of world-class game fishing.  These tuna are great fun, albeit challenging, to catch, and fantastic table fare.  One fish provides an awful lot of food – and there are various ways for family and friends to enjoy it – sashimi, steaks, smoked, tonno soll’ito (see our videos page), and more.  We certainly love being a part of sharing the elation of the anglers, and at the same time providing information with regards to where fish are being caught to help others catch that fish of a lifetime, and in doing so there are, and will continue to be, plenty of pictures here of tuna and other species that have been caught, and kept, and enjoyed to eat.  There’s nothing quite like a feed of fresh seafood that you have enjoyed getting out and catching yourself, looking after, and serving at the family dinner table.

More and more anglers, however, are choosing to catch and release these large tuna, which they describe as giving an equal (if not better) thrill than bringing them aboard, and certainly promotes the sustainability of recreational fishing.

Fishing Fever’s Lee Rayner explained to me recently that he loves seeing the big fish swim away, and an added benefit is the ability to then be able to get the lures straight back in the water without having to deal with a huge fish on the deck – giving crew members more fishing time and a greater chance to encounter multiple fish in a day.

YoufishTV’s Brendan Wing, a long time catch-and-release advocate, recently released a large one at Port MacDonnell, SA, the footage of which will be seen on an upcoming episode of his TV show.  He said he did everything possible to make the fight time as short as possible so as not to have the fish totally exhausted.

Dennis Heinicke has tagged and released 8 of these barrel bluefin tuna this season alone, out of his 7-metre Seacruiser boat “Drum Beat”.  We look forward to the day when one of these are recaptured, which will provide valuable research information into this amazing species.  The more swimming out there with tags in them the better.  To take part in the tagging program you need to be a member of  GFAV.  Locally here in Warrnambool, the Warrnambool Offshore & Light Game Fishing Club are GFAV-afilliated and actively promote and reward tag & release fishing.

 Dr Paul Hardy-Smith is a veterinarian with over 20 years’ experience in fish health, and also a keen recreational angler.  The following are his words, and will hopefully help anyone looking to catch and release one of these world-class fish.

Some basic tips for releasing a big tuna:

Before you hook up

- Catching and releasing a big tuna needs good preparation. These are powerful, strong animals. The more you have prepared, the less time you will spend when you get the fish up to the boat. If you are planning to tag the fish, have the tag and applicator ready before you set the lures in the water. Also have on hand items such as pliers and hook removers. Don’t be rushing around trying to find these when the fish is alongside the boat. Fighting one of these fish can be very tiring. If you are not fit, think about getting fitter in the off season.

Possibly the worst thing you can do with a big tuna after a hard fight if you want to release it is to take it out of the water – if you do, you will make it hold its breath as it can’t breathe when out of the water. It is far better to keep it in the water at all times.

The fight

Minimise the overall fight time by driving the boat. Try keeping the fish on the Starboard bow and drive in big circles around the tuna as you work line back on the reel. Keep some distance between the fish and the boat early on in the fight to help keep the line pressure on the hook, especially for when the Tuna charges the boat.  Try to keep the angle of the line at 45 degrees, and avoid ending up in a straight up and down fight. If you end up in the situation where the fish is deep under the boat, try driving off it and plane the fish back up to the surface. If the fish wants to take a big line burning run, stop the boat and let him. A fish pulling full drag from a stationary boat will tire out much quicker, and hopefully should help keep the fish up high in the water column. Once the run stops, drive the boat up to him as the angler works hard to get all that line back on the reel as quickly as possible. Always keep tight line on the fish, be ready for them to charge the boat! Work hard to get the fish in to the boat as quickly as possible, but know your own capacity. If you get too tired, it can increase the possibility of mistakes when the fish is near the boat.

End game

Certainly the toughest part of the fight on a big fish is that last 10-20m or so from the boat. Keep the boat driving forward so the tuna is up swimming along side the driver, so the driver can clearly see the line angle on the fish and be ready to change directions if the fish tries to dart under the boat. -Don’t forget most good game reels feature low range gear. This is a really helpful feature at the end of a fight on a stubborn fish so you can just slowly gain small amounts of line back and bring the fish close enough to leader. -with the use of wind on leaders, the angler can wind the line right up to the swivel which should leave the tuna swimming only 1-2m away, along side the boat. -Now’s the time to put a tag in if you’re wishing to tag your fish, get a couple of quick pics and send the big tuna on its way home. -Don’t try and slide the fish into boat, as it’s not going to be good for the fish and will greatly reduce its chance of survival. As mentioned above, taking the fish out of water means that you will be making it hold its breath, just when it is really needing oxygen. Avoid using a gaff to lip gaff the Tuna because of the location of major blood vessels in the throat region, gills and other vital organs so easily damaged with even a small gaff that the chance is very high the fish will suffer long slow death after release. Work is being done on techniques to be able to hold under the jaw – when we find out about this work goes, we’ll let you know.  Once you’ve got your photos and said your farewells it’s time to send the Tuna home. If you can reach the hooks to flick them out then do so. The use of a hook out gun makes this quite simple. If the hooks are too hard to reach then simply cut the leader as close to the hooks as you can. Some other key points:  Leadering a 100kg Bluefin is pretty daunting if you’ve never had any experience leadering a big fish before. If you want to attempt it make sure you use the correct techniques to take wraps, use quality gloves and have a knife or sportsmans release knife ready in case it goes badly. Fish heavy tackle, minimum of 24kg. Have good gear and check your drags before you go out.  Use steel hooks that will rust out of the fish. Remember that these are superb fish and animals to be respected. To catch one can provide the thrill of a lifetime – to let it go and see it swim away is something that will never be forgotten.

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And now onto some more reports from the weekend, which saw a mixed bag of catches.

Paul, Inga and Alisha Guy came in with a really nice feed off Warrnambool, with 9 snapper and 3 gummies, also dropping a big gummy boat-side.IMG_8859 IMG_8858 IMG_8857

Peter Goode and Jan caught blue-eye to 7.85kg and a 5.55kg ling out deep at Warrnambool.IMG_8852 IMG_8851 IMG_8850 IMG_8849

The South Australia Fish seem to have moved further west, with catches from Beachport, thanks to the report from Peter and 4Shore Fishing and Giftware.  There were, however, several barrels caught off Portland on the weekend.12030501_894661933902261_4237541674616388508_o

Shane Abbott caught this ripper early season snapper, at 79cm and 5.5kg, off Warrnambool on Saturday.IMG_8860

Salty Dog Charters’ customers went home with a good feed of flake at Port Fairy yesterday.IMG_8839

Terry Beasley, Peter McSween, and Anthony McKenzie fished about 75kms offshore from Warrnambool in 350 metres depth, catching school shark to 15kg, gem fish, and this porbeagle shark.  IMG_8862 IMG_8863

Yesterday the crew of Drum Beat, with Adam Todd on the rod, landed a 148kg barrel, with the intention of tagging their 9th for the season, however unfortunately the fish died in the fight so was brought aboard.DSC_0094 DSC_0067


27 September, 2015

The big news overnight was the pending Australian record southern bluefin tuna barrel of a whopping 178.00 kilograms caught by Shannon Xuereb and crew yesterday at Port MacDonnell.  An amazing fish well done guys, and it just shows the size of probably some of the fish that have been unstoppable by anglers’ gear in recent weeks! IMG_8835 IMG_8834 IMG_8831 IMG_8830

Dennis Heinicke continued both his great form in catching these barrels off Port Mac out of his Seacruiser 7000HTD “Drum Beats”, and also his great form in releasing them to swim away with a tag in them. IMG_8829

Frank Galea put in plenty of trips to finally catch his first barrel. Well done mate!IMG_8836 IMG_8838

Darren Bradshaw caught this nice morwong fishing with Rhooky off Warrnambool.IMG_8820 IMG_8819

Scotty Gray, in his 5600 Seacruiser, caught some ripper gummies off Port Fairy.IMG_8828

Mick Meric had a fish out of the diesel Seacruiser 7000HTD yesterday – catching a nice feed.IMG_7840.JPG

Peter Goode and Jan caught a quality feed of gummies, flathead and pinkies off Warrnambool yesterday.IMG_8823

Al Sharp and Clayton didn’t get their barrel at Port Mac – but plan B was pretty darn good!IMG_8825 IMG_8824 IMG_8826

Jason Taylor, fishing with Randol and Noah a few days ago, ended up with a bruised groin after a 3.5 hours battle (which was ultimately lost) on spin gear.IMG_8821

Terry Scicluna put another crew member onto a barrel at Port Mac.IMG_8827

Ed got a bit sentimental this morning, as he re-acquainted with an old friend – his original Seacruiser 7000HT. Taking it through its paces once more, he said it is going as good as ever!IMG_8818