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

June 18, 2024

Senior Police Sergeant says fishing safety angel ring saved man’s life at Quobba

A Carnarvon senior police officer at the centre of a risky rescue of a fisher washed off the rocks on our Mid-West coastline said the man would not be alive had he not been kept afloat by an angel ring –…

Read More

June 07, 2024

Gascoyne’s spectacular fishing on full display at Carnar-Fin Fishing Competition!

Hundreds of local community members and more than 250 fishers flocked to Carnarvon to experience the highly anticipated Carnar-Fin Fishing Competition.  Since its inception in 1992, Carnar-Fin has become an annual…

Read More

May 31, 2024

Get your marine park submissions in by June 16 to defend access to our cherished fishing spots

Recfishwest is urging ALL FISHERS who care about protecting access to cherished fishing spots to make a South Coast Marine Parks submission before the June 16 deadline. Whether you live and fish on the South Coast…

Read More

May 30, 2024

Fishing families flock to Denham for 2024 Shark Bay Fiesta!

For the 29th year running, the coastal town of Denham swelled in size for the hugely popular Shark Bay Fiesta that celebrates the fantastic fishing on offer in the Gascoyne region.   Recfishwest joined the Denham…

Read More

May 29, 2024

Popular fishing jetties around WA set to benefit from the budget

Jetties are the heart of local coastal communities, providing accessible fishing for everyone and essential nearshore habitat for a range of important fish species.   In good news for fishers, numerous jetties…

Read More

May 22, 2024

The past, present and future of WA’s artificial reefs and Recfishwest’s role!

Ever wanted to know the history of how artificial reefs became so successful around the world and the future reefs set to make a splash off our coastline?   Recfishwest’s Programs Manager James Florisson also…

Read More