The Fun of Albacore on Fly
by John Orchard
When Ron Crowden from Georgetown rang to ask if I would like to have a trip out chasing tuna with Rocky Carosi I just couldn't resist the opportunity to test out the new entry level Driftwood salt water fly rod made by Blackridge. Rocky & his wife Angela run a charter operation out of St. Helens called Professional Charters and Rocky was confident that he could put us on to some Albacore without too much trouble, so the scene was set, weather permitting, to attempt my first ever tuna on fly.
We had arranged to meet Rocky at Burns Bay boat ramp at 7am sharp.
There was to be four of us fishing; Ron and one of his fishing fanatic mates by the name of Chris Theile, a newcomer to the tuna game called Joe, whom none of us had met before, and myself.
It turned out that the largest fish Joe had previously caught was a small Mackerel so he wasn't quite sure what to expect, but was keen to give anything a go, and fitted in well with our team.
Once we hit the water, our first quick stop was to catch some Mackerel for live baits, just on the off chance we happened to come across a Marlin or some Yellowfin tuna. With half a dozen baits happily swimming around in the live bait tank we headed off to a spot where Rocky had had success on his previous outing, then it was down to business.
With seven lines and a teaser out we commenced a zig zag trolling pattern over the area where the Albacore were expected to be, and we waited expectantly for one of the reels to scream that wonderful sound that only a game fisherman can fully appreciate. We waited, and we waited.
After an hour or so we were all starting to doubt our skippers ability but he just shrugged and said "They'll show" and broke out the hot coffee and some of Angela's cookies.
We barely had time to finish our coffee when Chris's reel started to howl in protest as a fat little Albacore did his best to head for International waters - excellent! One less hand in the cookie barrel as Chris bounded into the fighting chair with the enthusiasm of a true fishing fanatic.
With our first fish aboard, Adosinda II was nudged into gear once again, we had barely reached trolling speed when off went one of the reels again, time for Joe to get a taste of something bigger than Mackerel - and boy, did he enjoy it!
Once again the boat was nudged into gear and this time three of the reels started to sing in quick succession, the day was definitely improving!
Time to break out the fly rod.
Since I didn't have any salt water flies of my own, Ron's youngest son Mitchell (who ties flies under the name "BAZ's Flies") offered to provide me with some of his creations.
Guaranteed to catch he said - I liked the sound of that so I took him up on his offer. He wasn't joking!
The fly no sooner hit the water and I was on!!! If I thought the game reels howled in protest, it was nothing compared to the fly reel, it fairly screamed as the line just flew off it and I all I could do was hang on and grin from ear to ear - now this was fun with a capital "F".
Until it broke my tippet off.
Back to the drawing board, heavier tippet, another one of Mitchell's flies and I was back in business - until I had my whole leader totally removed from the fly line by the next overzealous "Alby".
Time to get serious, with no spare leaders in the tackle box I tied a piece of 24 kilogram mono straight onto the fast sinking "shooting head" line that I was using and out with a third one of Mitchell's flies.
It wasn't long and I was hooked up again, and once more the reel screamed, as another Albacore tried its best to leave Tasmanian waters in a hurry. After 15 minutes of adrenalin pumping fun the fish was boated and I had at last landed my first tuna on fly.
The Driftwood 9 wt had been put to the ultimate test and had proved to be a great rod for the budget conscious fisherman looking to get into salt-water fly fishing, leaving you with a bit of extra cash to invest in a good quality reel. A must when fighting these powerful pelagic fish.
Over the next couple of hours I was fortunate enough to land another three fish and although they were only in the 3-4 kilo bracket the fighting ability of these fat little torpedos on fly has to be experienced to fully appreciate. I for one will definitely be going back for seconds in the near future and I can highly recommend it to anyone. We finished up catching 31 albacore for the day, some destined for the table, and some Rocky released to fight another day. By 3pm, with Rocky's reputation well and truly restored, we headed for home with some excellent memories of a day on the water with Professional Charters - a day to remember!