CHASING TUNA FROM A KAYAK
As kayak fishing soars in popularity, yak fishos are chasing larger and larger species. It was this train of thought and the allure of taking some really big fish yak side, that brought me to Maroochydore on the Sunshine Coast.
My friend had described to me the rush of the battle with tuna. They were lengthy yarns including tail thrashes, submerged rods and broken hooks. As you can imagine, this peaked my interest more than anything and I had to try it for myself.
ELUSIVE TUNA FISH
I had a week off work and planned to fish every day, knowing that tuna can be an elusive species and can disappear as quickly as they appear. Persistence and patience were key in the hunt for Tuna, more so than any other pelagic species I have chased.
The best way to find them would be to play them at their own game. In a kayak, you can also use stealth to your advantage. I would scout the horizon for diving birds feeding off a school of baitfish. Then get near enough so that I could identify which direction they were pushing the fish. That way, I could position my yak in the area they were going to be and rather than paddle up to the frenzy making all the noise in the world, I could let the fish come to me.
WHAT FISHING GEAR FOR CHASING TUNA
The first thing I would say about yak fishing for game species is that balanced gear becomes even more important. Get lures, rods, reels and lines that work together. Don’t mix match a bunch of different gear and sizes and hope for the best. When you are chasing Tuna, you might only get one strike every few hours, so you want to make sure when it comes, nothing will go wrong and you won’t end up with a dropped fish.
Most fishos think of game species like Tuna and think they need a heavy setup. But this isn’t the case. I took an 8-10kg rod out with a 5000 reel, with a 30lb braid line and a 30lb leader. You just need a setup you can cast a good distance with and is strong enough to handle the first couple of runs once you’re on.
I would recommend a 5000 reel because you want something with enough line on it to let the Tuna run. A 20lb or 30lb braid line is fine, I use a 30lb leader too because Tuna aren’t that toothy but speaking to some fishos on the Sunshine Coast, some like to use a 50lb or 60lb just in case they take some toothy by-catch.
I used lures which most closely resembled the baitfish. It was a pearl coloured 3.75-inch paddletail on a jighead and a 2/0 hook. But poppers will also work. I have heard that paddletails usually catch the larger fish. The bigger Tuna hunt under the smaller, nippier fish and take still paddletails that resemble stunned baitfish.
TUNA FISHING KAYAK TECHNIQUE
I used two rods, one fixed on the back of the yak and one that I was constantly casting with. The trick is to cast in front of the school of baitfish and retrieve quickly through the water. If you are using paddletails you might want to leave it sitting as Longtail Tuna will feed on scraps and larger Mac Tuna will also hit on falling baitfish.
When you are on a fish, Tuna will usually make an initial run out to sea. You need to make sure you get your hands on your rod and are ready for the fight while they make this run because they will turn and run back at you after their first run.
My week on the Sunshine Coast was unforgettable. I ended up taking five Longtails, all around the same 9kg size. They weren’t huge by Sunshine Coast standards but I was pleased nonetheless. Needless to say, Japanese cuisine was on the menu every night. Not a single scrap of meat went to waste. I returned a home a satisfied man in every sense.
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