Record Bluefin caught out of Batemans Bay! Well there you have it! Andrew Hooch Turner and Richie Rich caught one of the biggest bluefin tuna on a rod and reel in Australia! Coming in at a massive 168kg you can say that is a true jumbo. The bluefin bite has been a bit patchy but still has been worth the effort especially if you catch and land a monster like a 168kg fish. There was a hot bite on Thursday the 29th of June not far out on the 150 30 line wide of Bermi with thick schools of fish around the 30 to 40 kg mark then we were hit with a bit of weather which kept the boats in till the following Sunday July the 2nd; a date that will be etched inside these boys heads for life. The Batemans Bay lads woke up early that morning in hope of some bluefin action and uncertain if the fish would be there as these fish are known to move quickly with the currents from place to place, finding food and oxygenating their gills. These fish have a high oxygen demand and that’s why they swim with their mouth open forcing water past it’s gills in a process called ram ventilation. Whereas other fish have a separate pump that stream water over the gills. So the bluefin have to keep swimming to allow water to pass over the gills which is 30 times more surface area then other fish. The water temperature can be important also as the oxygen concentration in the water changes with the temperature, being lower at higher temps. The bluefin are comfortable in 17 to 20 degrees and are known to endure as low as 3 degrees and as high as 30 degrees when spawning. Bluefin also require water to be relatively high in salinity in order to keep equilibrium of the ions within their body. Due to the bluefin's high metabolic need ions must be taken up relativity quickly to ensure sufficient concentrations for cellular function and they do this by drinking the water that is high in salinity. This regulation of internal ion concentration classifies southern bluefin tuna as osmoregulators. And the boys that morning, as they were fuelling up, kept this in mind. They knew those pesky osmoregulators could be anywhere by now. But what always helps during bluefin season is lots of boats on the water with radios. So after a couple of days of bad weather the boys were out there and the search was on. It wasn’t too long and they were found just east of the northern sea mount. Hooch and Richie were close by and so were quite a number of boats which meant it wasn’t too long before a heap of pillies were dumped into the water. Immediately, the most important thing to do is to start cubing pillies. The bluefin can be a bit flighty at times and may come to a couple of cubes and then go down and can disappear. Once they are getting fed and there’s more food to grab and the rest of the school begins feeding they can settle into a feeding mode which can keep them up for hours. So our boys Hooch and Richie were amongst the action having the time of their lives but after a not-too-long while the bite turned off. Some say Pino on “Freedom” scared them off, some say the divers scared them off, some say Jem Abbott's loud heavy metal music scared them off. I’m not here to start rumours but I reckon it was Justin Westbury. He wasn’t there but the thought of him heading out would of scared the bluefin away. I don’t know why he isn’t called banana by now hahaha. Anyway the bluefin bite seemed to have switched off just as the wind started to pick up a bit. The fish seemed to have bit on the tide change and I don’t know but I never seem to catch bluefin when it’s rough, yellowfin yes, they love the rough. But I only seem to catch bluefin on calmer days and I have noticed the tides are to go by also. Fish are like humans; they have breakfast lunch and dinner. They don’t feed all day long, they feed at particular times and the tides can play a major role in this... so fish around the tides. So once the bite died down Hooch and Ritchie decided to pull up and start trolling again. As they trolled away Richie decided to grab the biggest ugliest black and purple lure he could find rigged with double hooks and looked at Hooch and said "Lets run this"... , Hooch was like,” Aww I don’t know man, looks pretty bloody big, if anything hits it then we are in trouble”. So Ritchie likes trouble and tossed it in the spread. As all the other boats are burning towards where the action was in hope of there still being a fish wanting to play the boys were trolling the opposite direction away. It’s known for the bigger fish to be swimming around the outside of the smaller school fish so it makes sense that once they got some distance away from the main school the reel started to scream and they saw it was the massive lure that was hit and they instantly knew they were into something big. An hour later it was boat side and found to be hooked in the side. So when this big bluefin came up to take a swipe at the lure it must of missed and copped it in the side and being so big with thick skin the lure stayed in. The boys were over the moon once the gaff was in but next was the task of getting it in the boat. With help from another boat and Pino jumping on board they eventually got it on deck. The boys were elated and were not quite sure of the enormity of the fish. First thinking about 90kgs, then over 100kgs then finally estimating around 150kgs. It had a head on it the size of a 44 gallon drum, it was a big puppy. Once it got to the weigh station it pulled 167.8kgs and the heaviest southern bluefin world record is 178kg after that its 167.5kg so if Hooch was affiliated he would of taken second heaviest southern bluefin tuna caught in the world. Fish of a life time boys.
One of the commercial boats caught one weighing 158kg cleaned. So we definitely are experiencing some larger models this year but in saying that the main size being caught is 30 to 40kg and the average fish coming off the commercial fleet have been 40kg so as the season continues into August hopefully we will see some of those 60 to 80kg schools cruising wide of the Tollgates, fingers crossed. Other than a great bluefin encounter those who are in boats inshore can expect the snapper to continue to have a good to average bite. Off the stones drummer have been good. The beaches have had good runs of salmon and the tailor have been in numbers and in very good size still. Some big green backs cruising around this winter. Fishing the beaches at night have seen plenty of big sharks and the odd mulloway. Estuaries are still fishing reasonably well considering its shut down time of the year with bream and flathead still wanting to play. Come in to the shop if you are in the area for anymore reports of what’s going on, on the south coast.
Stay warm! Anthony Stokman Compleat Angler Batemans Bay.