Tactics for tempting tuna

Where there is one there is more

Once the word gets out that the elusive Tasman Bay albacore tuna are getting caught, it becomes a hot topic at Hunting & Fishing on where and how to catch these tasty ‘chickens of the sea?

Tuna are targeted by trolling skirted lures at a speed of around 7.5knots, relatively close in behind the wake of your boat. The more lures you have in the water, the more chances you have at hooking up. It also pays to have a range of colours in your spread as different colours fish better on certain days. Lures such as Black Magic Jetsetters, Maggot XT and Fleas have proven to be a popular variety this season and are available in many different colours.

If you do happen to catch a fish, mark it on the sounder and continue trolling the same area to see if you can pick up an extra fish, as tuna are a schooling fish and where there is one there is often more!

Tuna are often caught in Tasman Bay from January to March. Keep an eye on the sea surface temperature as you are looking for 17.5 degrees and above and look for that deep blue, purpley looking water as that is where you are most likely to find the fish. Swellmap and Rip-charts are great sources of information to find this out.

An ideal setup for trolling for tuna is a small but grunty overhead setup, similar to what you would use for jigging for kingfish. Reels like Shimano Talica 12 are perfect for this, as they have good line capacity, lever drag and a nice loud clicker for when the fish strikes. Loaded with 50lb-80lb braid and a leader to match, attach a heavy clip swivel so you can then clip on your lures.

Tuna hit hard and often do a fast, decent run on their first hit—you can pretty much tell when it’s a target species.

Tuna spoil quickly so, once landed, quickly dispatch the fish by iki spike to the brain, bleed the fish by cutting behind the pectoral fin and through the gill before placing into an Ice slurry

to cool it down as quick as possible. For optimum eating quality perform the shinkei jime method by severing the spinal nerves of the fish with a metal wire, this allows the fish to relax and the blood not to run into the meat. They make excellent eating so look after them well.

Although it’s hard to turn down the fantastic snapper season we have had in Tasman Bay, albacore tuna are only around for a short period of time so, if you’re looking at another species to add to the chilly bin, it’s time to chase the tasty albacore! For more info, come and see the team at Nelson or Richmond Hunting & Fishing.

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