For saltwater anglers who love a bit of a sporting challenge, it’s hard to go past longtail tuna. Their long, sizzling runs and tendency to be a bit finicky with what they will eat attracts skillful anglers, and their habit of coming into sheltered waters to feed means they are accessible even to small boat anglers, and sometimes even land-based anglers!
While it’s exciting to happen across a marauding pack of longtails getting stuck into bait, getting close enough for a cast can sometimes become a bit of an art. In pressured waterways such as Moreton Bay and Hervey Bay, schools can appear and disappear in the blink of an eye, and anglers are left wondering what went wrong.
The first thing to ascertain when chasing these flighty speedsters is what they are eating. This can range from small mackerel species up to 40cm long down to jelly prawns smaller than a pinky finger! Some larger presentations worth having in your box include Nomad Design Riptide 200mm 90g Floating Stickbait and Nashy’s Custom Lures Slow Sinking Stickbait 130mm 70g. On the smaller scale, Lazer Lures Metal Lure Australian Made in the 10, 15 and 20g sizes can get you out of trouble if smaller bait is on the menu. If you toss a 200mm stickbait at fish that are gulping mouthfuls of tiny prawns, they’ll likely turn their nose up at your attempt and spook. Matching the hatch - as with many other forms of fishing - is the key here.
Creeping up to a longtail bust-up can be tricky, but there are a few tricks to make this a lot easier. Firstly, birds are your biggest ally when chasing longies, and as a general rule, birds in the sky are a good indicator as to how deep the tuna are at that time. Higher birds means deeper tuna, and lower birds means they will be closer to the surface.
Once a bust-up occurs, it’s worth remembering that longtails usually feed into the wind, so positioning yourself upwind of any feeding tuna will put you in line for a good cast or two as they work their way toward you.
Something else to remember is that excessive noise won’t help you, so banging in the boat should be kept to a minimum, and if your outboard is on, resist the urge to turn it off, as the sound of the engine turning off can cause feeding tuna school to go deep!
If you want to chase these incredible sashimi torpedoes, make sure to prepare yourself properly so you can execute a stealthy approach, and you’ll be hooked up and losing line in no time!
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