Young Nelson angler Flyn Jack was on board a three-day bluefin charter out of Tauranga in mid-July. Under the command of skipper Andrew Grant, they headed towards Waihau Bay the first day, landing a bluefin late in the afternoon out the back of White Island. Overnighting at Waihau, they reversed their track early the next morning, slowing making their way north towards Mayor Island.
“We got some co-ordinates off another boat who’d just had a quadruple hook-up, so we worked the area known as the Mayor Knolls for some time without any luck, despite marking tuna down deep,” Flyn recalls.
“As the light faded, we ran lumo lures to no avail, so rigged a swordfish bait and dropped that down while we had dinner.” Conditions were glassy calm, so they decided to stay out the night.
He says they were marking some ‘strange bait’ on the sounder 200 metres down so dropped all manner of lures and sabiki rigs to try and work out what it might be.
Although they were in 1200 metres of water, Flyn, who is passionate about his jig fishing, thought he would give his jig a shot.
He grabbed one of the boat’s outfits – A Catch! 400 Acid Wrapped rod with an Accurate 30 Wide reel spooled with 80lb braid – armed it with a Catch! 300g Double Trouble White Assassin jig and dropped it down.
“I made a couple of medium-speed retrieves without a touch so decided to ramp it up a bit to create a faster lure movement – after all, tuna are a pretty quick fish.”
His theory proved right, and he immediately hooked up, the fish heading straight for the surface out of 50 metres of water.
“At this stage I had around 15kg of drag on it and was playing the fish without a gimbal, just digging the rod butt into my hip.”
In a relatively short time, they had colour. Up until then there was plenty of guessing as to what he was hooked into – everything from a big albacore to a giant squid.
“When it first came into sight, I could see the yellow caudal fins and the yellow in the fin tips and I knew what I was hooked up on – a southern bluefin, the target species.”
At this point Flyn was a little nervous and the fish was putting a bit of hurt on the angler so a gimble was called for, and then a Black Magic Equaliser harness. Luckily the Accurate reel had harness lugs! The fish made a series of runs, some as long as 100 metres, but as the fight progressed, they became shorter and shorter. The fish eventually was restricted to the usual tuna tactic of tight turns, and Andrew worked the boat hard to counter these.
The next issue was going to be tracing the fish. The leader was only 130lb and just 1.5 metres in length – not enough to get a decent wrap on. Flyn would have to wind the fish to within gaffing range.
“The first flying gaff shot was not a particularly good one, so a second was placed and the fish was ours. The cockpit just erupted in celebrations. We just went mental.”
With the fish on the deck after the hour-long scrap, the jig hook fell out, having had very little purchase in the roof of its mouth. If Flyn had given it a moment’s slack, he would likely have lost his catch, which went 65kg when weighed on board.
As far as he is aware, it is the first jig-caught southern bluefin tuna in the country.
Flyn says jigging is his favourite form of fishing and the tuna was his best effort to date, just heading off a 60kg bass caught on a Catch! Squidwings lure at the Ranfurly Banks during a recent trip there.
– Grant Dixon
29 July 2021