Scott’s Species – southern bluefin tuna, a migratory speedster

In this week’s edition of Scott’s Species, Western Angler editor Scott Coghlan takes an in-depth look at southern bluefin tuna.

Fish: Southern bluefin tuna, Thunnus maccoyii
Eating: 4 stars
Identification: Yellow bar on tail fin. Blackish-blue backs, and a silver belly with rows of light dots and lines.

Growing to almost 300kg and 2.5m in length (living up to 40 years) but not encountered at anything like that upper size in WA, southern bluefin tuna have made a remarkable comeback in Australian waters in recent years and become a key sportfish, especially along the lower east coast.

Big fish to 100kg are popping up far more regularly and there are now a band of SBT addicts that devote their time to chasing the big fish during the annual east coast run, off Victoria, NSW and Tasmania.

The SBTs encountered off WA are not as big as those found along the east coast. Picture: Perth Fishing Safaris

Highly migratory, southern bluefin tuna can be found from our North West and across the southern half of the country to lower New South Wales.

Here in WA, we usually get small fish migrating from where they were spawned in the north-east Indian Ocean and making their way across to the east coast.

Most southern blues caught in WA will be 3kg to 8kg, although fish to 20kg are not uncommon and the occasional bigger model up to 100kg does show up, but again nothing like the east coast thumpers.

Southern blues show up off Perth in good numbers most years, and schools can be found quite regularly offshore, especially during the warmer months.

They are also a common catch along the south coast, with fish caught off Albany and Esperance at the same time of year.

For boat anglers, southern bluefin are usually caught trolling, either by working likely locations or by spotting fish busting up.

Bibbed minnows around the 12cm to 14cm range are very effective on southern bluefin, as are skirted lures, and when encountered, multiple hook-ups are common.

They are a ball of muscle and fight hard for their size, with speedy runs and that typically stubborn tuna circling when close to the boat.

SBTs fight clean so heavy tackle is not required if you are prepared to be patient and indeed they can be an excellent sportfishing target on the right gear.

I would only use 6kg to 9kg line when chasing southern blues and no wire trace is needed, just a heavier shock leader.

If they are around and you specifically want to target them, then burleying up does work. Their flesh makes first-rate sashimi.

Ashley Prescott with a southern bluefin tuna from the south coast. Picture: Western Angler

Continue Reading

February 28, 2024

Salmon Slam is back for 2024!

Scanning waves off  epic southern beaches for large black patches, launching lures out the back of the surf and doing spectacular battle with tough-fighting fish – yep, it’s salmon time again! It’…

Read More

February 28, 2024

Keep up to date on South Coast Marine Parks with Recfishwest updates

We were on the South Coast last week talking to local fishers like Mitchell Waideman and hearing their concerns about the State Government’s South Coast Marine Parks proposals. Hear what Esperance Land Based…

Read More

February 27, 2024

Great monthly prizes up for grabs in 2024 for Recfishwest members!

As a thank you to our cast of thousands of Recfishwest free and premium members for their support, we’re giving away some cracking prizes every month courtesy of our partners Shimano!  Shimano has not only…

Read More

February 27, 2024

Tuna already tuned in to Recfishwest’s new exclusive members’ lure – the Fish Catcher 3000!

Recfishwest’s latest membership lure started its journey from inside the creative mind of a ten-year-old, then travelled to the Halco lure production team before finding itself inside a tuna’s mouth in…

Read More

February 27, 2024

Cherished South-West fishing platform reopened thanks to Shire of Dardanup’s heroics

A big Recfishwest shout out to the Shire of Dardanup for restoring a much-loved and popular jetty for the South-West community and recognising how important it is for the well-being of fishers.  Back in May of 2023…

Read More

February 22, 2024

Metro southern garfish ban lifted

In good news for metro anglers, the ban on southern garfish from Lancelin to Myalup is due to be lifted from Friday 1 March.   The ban was implemented in 2017 after an assessment by the Fisheries Department showed…

Read More