Southern Bluefin Lures
As many of Tasmania's saltwater game anglers await the annual southern bluefin tuna "run', lure choice is usually the prime topic for discussion. With the past two years being particularly good, anglers are waiting in anticipation for the next few weeks - will Tasmania be blessed with a "hat trick" of productive tuna seasons?
Many an hour has been spent searching the water, fine tuning all different sizes and styles of lures. Obviously, like most facets of fishing each individual has different views on technique and tackle used - some anglers prefer to patrol the shelf, others in close. Some choose to troll at 7 knots others around 10 and so on- Due to these extensive hours patrolling the rugged Tasmanian coastline local game angler have now managed to accumulate the knowledge to put together a very respectable number of fish catching lures. Following are some local lures that the Southern Tasmanian class as favourites, that more often than not get the desired results.
Black Magic - Flea These New Zealand lures have been on the market only a short time compared to some of the more popular "tuna takers'. Designed with only a short pusher head of 30 mm these create a small but very defining trail as they crash through the surface. In comparison to some other southern bluefin tuna lures, these are reasonably small, only having a length of 200mm. The obvious benefit of this is they will also be gratefully accepted by the over zealous albacore tuna - and with recent captures of albacore to around 20 kgs, these are an impressive by-catch if they decide to stay a little longer! I would suggest running this lure on one of the outside rods, being careful not to set it to far back in the spread, often the biggest "Blues" are caught right in the wash (as long as the lure takes it's fancy!) Dark colours are normally suggested with purples, blacks, green and olives being popular.
Zuker This particular lure has been a favourite lure of the local game angler for many years, there most likely being at least one rigged up in the tackle bag on most boats. The Zuker has evolved around a traditional feather style lure with a short skirt surrounding it. It has a small elongated head, constructed of a hard head underneath is a reflective prism tape. The colour combination is endless, although the red and white under - body feather is a popular choice. This lure also has been productive on albacore and other tuna species.
Salt Shaker This series has been out on the market for quiet some time and has proven itself, even when the southern bluefin were harder to come across three or four seasons ago. The dominant part of this lure is the unusual looking head, which encompasses a huge dished face with a series of jet holes through the perimeter of the head. The resulting effect is the huge bubble trail that is created by such a lure. These particular lures can be used effectively at a great range of trolling speeds and will handle rough water conditions at speeds between 6 -18 knots. These lures are available in various sizes, the Salt Shaker #2, #3 and #4 are the most appropriate sizes for southern bluefin tuna. Popular colours are brown and pink, and a green and yellow combination.
Lively Lures/Mack Baits These were a secret amongst a select few game anglers originally, but now are commonly used on all species of tuna caught around Tasmania. These Mack Bait lures have various positive points. Firstly, unlike most lures mentioned so far they are not a surface lure and dive down to varying depths, this being a big bonus if the fish are a little reluctant to come to the surface. Secondly they can be trolled effectively at the same speed as other trolled skirted lured which is normally not the case with diving lures such as these. These lures are also very durable and will handle the numerous strikes by couta, being a hard-bodied lure the paint will "chip" way, but the will still continue to catch. They are available in three different sizes, being a 4", 5" and 7" which will all take southern bluefin tuna. With a large colour range available there is plenty to choose from for even the hardest to please angler. A couple of tips with these lures is that you may find a better capture rate with double hooks rather than the standard trebles they come with, also they "track" very straight in the water at the correct speeds and are perfect for a short line just behind the outboard.
Black Magic Saury This lure has a real soft spot with me it being a lure that has performed well for me on many occasions. Unlike the other Black Magic lure mentioned this model has a longer head length of 35mm, but the body remains at the same length of 200 mm. With a smaller profiled head compared to the majority of other pusher style lures the saury runs nice and straight, being an effective lure to run long in the spread. Similar to other lures a huge colour variation is available. In this lure we have had more success with bright coloured lures, a personal favourite being the blue, yellow, pink with black dots up the length of the body. Other more standard colours such as blue and silver and green and gold are I am sure also effective in the right fishing circumstances
Pacific Squid Skirts These unlike all the other lures mentioned are a little more affordable on the "hip pocket', and still I must say catch just as well if not better on some occasions. Unlike the pusher lures these are just a straight soft squid/octopus imitation lure that is rigged with a weighted head. "Deadly" combinations can be made up by the individual angler who is willing to experiment doubling up skirts rather than using single - some very attractive colours combinations often being the end result. With out dwelling too much on colour - the two colours that should always be included in the artillery are silver and brown. The silver skirt in large or small sizes is an effective lure when southern bluefin tuna are feeding on the surface, crashing through schools of redbait, this is when they are often there hardest to intice. The brown skirt is an old faithful, perfectly emulating the natural diet. This lure run in the centre of your spread along way back will often be the first to "go off'. Try to keep these skirts a little smaller than your larger pushers, them often being a more manageable meal, as I prefer to think of them a light snack for the unsuspecting "Bluey'.
I hope the above selection can bring you some success on these wonderful sportfish, but always remember not to be scared of trying new lures and techniques, it's always nice to stay one step head of your fellow anglers! N.B I strongly suggest catch and release of this particular species.