Bluefin battles continue down south

AS Fisho reported a couple of weeks ago, a run of big southern bluefin tuna is in full swing off the Victorian coastline. As a result the ports of Apollo Bay and Portland are buzzing with big tuna fever – see related story here.

In our previous report we mentioned the meritorious capture of a 153.5kg SBT by the trio of Dean Candy, Troy Jannens and Daniel Kent. Fisho today spoke to Dean Candy who related some of the details of the catch. He told us the crew headed out from Apollo Bay in Candy’s almost new (purchased last September) 620 Bar Crusher/Suzuki 175 at around 6am for what would prove to be a very long day. At around 58kms offshore – the continental shelf is around 100kms seaward in this part of Australia – the Crusher was in troll mode with Rapala X-Raps running astern. It was very quiet until around 2.30pm when the sighting of a seal alerted the crew to a large baitball that had attracted a mess of free jumping barrel-sized tuna. A troll run nearby to the baitball soon saw things hot up… 

“We had a couple of hits and dropped hookups,” said Dean. Eventually another strike turned into the solid hookup the boys will be sure to remember for a long time to come.

“The tuna dicated terms,” said Dean who eventually passed the 24kg stand-up gear to his mates. The absence of a rod bucket on board was making it too physically uncomfortable for him to last in what was shaping to be a very drawn out fight. 

The tuna led the boat and crew a distance of around 5kms, surfacing “ten to fifteen times” according to Candy. He says at one stage the boat had to travel at around 25kph to stay in touch with the SBT. At one stage while still travelling at a rate of knots the tuna surfaced only 10-15m from the Bar Crusher. The boys really knew what they were dealing with then…

The big bluefin was eventually boated at around 7pm. It was around a two hour run back to the ramp for the successful crew. Dean Candy told Fisho that back on land the SBT was cut up to make several tasty meals for himself, Jannens, Kent, their families and friends. Candy said the crew tried to follow up their success over Easter but were unsuccesful. He said the area their 153.5kg SBT came from was littered with around 70 boats from trailer boats to big game cruisers over the holdiay break. The word was well and truly out… 

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Dean Candy and the 153.5kg beast that kept him and a couple of mates very busy!

Others to report SBT success include Matt Boulton who’d headed up to Apollo bay last weekend with his mate Brad. After a full day on the water for two SBT hook-ups, with both lost, the crew headed out again next morning with mates Travis McIntyre and Rick in tow. After only half an hour on the water Travis hooked up on a fairly unsuitable 8ft GT popper rod and 6500 Daiwa. They soon realised an epic battle was about to unfold…

After about five hours the crew were almost were almost ready to cut the line as the likelihood of landing the tuna on such light gear. The crew persevered though, and after eight hours it was finally boated! It had been hooked about 60km west of Apollo Bay at 8:30am and led its combatants along a memorable 30km journey. The SBT spun the local butcher’s scales around to the 115kg mark.

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SBT success for Matt Boulton and his mate Brad with their 115kg fish finally boated after a monumental battle.

The following day Lee Rayner and the Adventure Bound crew accounted for a 107kg SBT after a two hour tussle. Stay tuned for all the action on a future episode of Adventure Bound.

Others to account for 100kg+ tuna off Apollo Bay include Darren Buttegieg who landed a  106kg model on the first Sunday of May. Four other fish won their freedom through various ways on the day.

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Lee Rayner (left) and the Adventure Bound crew with their 107kg tuna.

Matt Cini of Reel Time Charters is experiencing a flurry of bookings with many fishos keen to get involved in the SBT off Apollo Bay run while it lasts. As well as reportedly losing a monster last week after the hook pulled 30 minutes in, Cini and crew have accounted for several solid bluefin to 40kg.

Apollo Bay isn’t the only source of SBT action with the waters off Portland again featuring in the now-annual run. The tuna off Portland are reportedly thick and in more manageable sizes with many reports of fish in the 10-15kg size.

Matt Hunt Of Matthew Hunt Fishing Services has reportedly been catching plenty of bluefin lately on small skirted lures and X-Rap 30 minnows. 

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