Tuna time – that precious season all Victorian anglers look forward to. Located about four hours from Melbourne along the west coast lies the pretty, yet very busy town of Portland. In the cold months of winter there is only one thing on anglers’ minds as they head down this way and that is southern bluefin tuna.
The colder months from April to July are prime time to target tuna. When the water cools down, the fish seem to move in and create havoc. I wouldn’t want to be a baitfish at this time of year, that’s for sure!
Stand up 15-24kg overhead set ups are great to target tuna with. Over the past couple of years, quite a few anglers have made the change from overhead to spin gear, as it is a lot more fun and easy to use. Anything from the 8000-20,0000 range is ideal, just make sure whatever reel you are using has a good smooth drag.
Whether its 15kg or 24kg line, the most common way to rig your rod is to run a double from your main line and cat’s-paw a 150-200lb wind on leader through the Dacron loop on the leader to the platted double. At the end of the leader, crimp a loop and heavy-duty snap swivel and then you’re all set. All you have to do is clip your lure or skirt with about 2m of leader to the snap and put it in the water.
Hardbodied lures and skirts are the preferred way to target tuna. Rapala Xraps in 20’s and 30’s and 5-7” skirts seem to do the damage. Apex Predator skirts are worth a try as well. If you don’t have a few of each in your lure selection then get onto it!
Trolling lures is by far the best method. A decent spread of lures is best with both hardbodies and skirts in the mix. Run a skirt in the shot gun way out the back and hardbodies or River2Sea killer vibes in close in the motor wash is always a good way. Once you get a hook-up, keep the boat in gear and troll a little further as a lot of the time this will result in multiple hook-ups – this is when all hell breaks loose!
Fishing on weekdays is definitely the way to go as using boat launching facilities in Portland during tuna time can be worse than a Melbourne boat ramp in the middle of snapper season, with up to two hour plus waits. On weekdays the boat traffic isn’t as intense and stressful. Keep an eye on the weather and try to avoid the weekend if possible.Reads: 200