West coast barrels

Barrel tuna have been on everyone’s lips over the past week. Now that Melbourne’s COVID-imparted boundaries are gone, anglers are wasting not time and travelling down the West Coast in search of these monster tuna. While there have been school fish about, they have been on the smaller side with fish of 5 – 8kg showing up – but providing much else than a distraction amongst the 100+ kg giants.

The main area of interest has been wide of Big Reef out from Apollo Bay. While there has been boat activity searching for the fish, the region that the fish have been in is roughly 100km from the closer ramps, so not for the ill-prepared trailer boat. The area has been a hive of activity with whales, dolphins, seals and birds all feeding up on the abundance of bait. The main bait in the area has been redbait or red rockets, which are miniature protein pills for the larger fish. Anglers like James Rogers from Unreel Fishing Charters have been getting amongst the fish and enjoying success with his sons Dylan and Tristan with multiple ‘barrels’ caught in single sessions.

Tristan Rogers has had his fair share of barrel tuna whilst fishing with father James. Red bait patterned lures have been what the fish have been actively eyeing off. Skirt colours like the one showed have been effective, with dark back/silhouettes and a splash of pink/purple/red really matching the redbaits’ noticeable highlights.

Anglers able to catch the redbait and ‘cube’ it back down to the fish unweighted have also found success, also these large fish are cued onto an unnatural sinking bait and will generally swim straight past it to eat another.