Longtail Tuna by Kayak
It was an average Thursday morning. I was at work, out on my usual run delivering and installing signs around the Sunshine Coast, when I drove over the headland around mid-morning and looking out all I could see was a massive flock of birds diving into the ocean. Being the keen angler I am, this got me pretty excited. I pulled the car over and jumped out to get a better look at what was going on. Tuna were going absolutely berserk and they were only a few hundred meters off the rocks. At this point I knew as soon as I’d finish work I was going to head out there in my kayak. I figured out where I was going to launch then set off to finish my day’s work as quickly as I could. All I could think about was hooking into some Tuna. I was so amped!
Being my first time offshore I didn’t want to tackle it alone so I called up my mate Justin and he was just as pumped to get out there as I was. I got home from work at 2:00pm and quickly got my gear ready, packed a few metal slugs and stick baits, scoffed a meat pie down and we were out the door by 3:00pm. On our way we talked about how sick it would be if we caught a Tuna or Mackerel but at the same time we were so unsure what was going to go down.
We arrived at the launch spot and couldn’t see much happening out there but we decided we’d paddle out anyway and hope something popped up. The kayaks we set off in were the 304cm Dream Catcher 4 kayaks. These are designed and made by Dream Kayaks and they handled the choppy conditions and two foot swell with ease as we paddled out towards the horizon.
We would have been around 500 meters out when all of a sudden Longtail Tuna started exploding out of the water everywhere in front of us. We both fired off a couple of casts and on Justin’s third cast his stick bait got smashed on the surface and the line was being ripped from his spool at a serious rate. We were both yelling and cheering and as Justin got towed off out to sea I couldn’t help but laugh! I followed closely behind him and about 30 minutes later he had landed a big Longie around the 12kg mark. We were both so stoked and after a couple quick pics it was speared back into the ocean to live another day.
Alright now it was my turn! We could see the school had started up again a few hundred meters away and I was determined to get a shot so I paddled over as quickly as possible, while Justin caught his breath and reflected on what just happened. I got within casting distance and on the first cast my stickbait landed right in the heart of the bust up and within two cranks of the reel, bam! I got smashed! The drag was screaming and the battle was on! Man these things go off! With daylight fading and being a good kilometer out to sea I was a bit worried to be honest. I managed to knock it over in half an hour. I had landed my first Longtail Tuna and my first tuna from a kayak. I was over the moon! Again a couple of high fives and a quick picture and the fish was released and the race was on to get back to the rocks before darkness set in so we could safely time the breaking waves and exit the water.
We were completely stoked with how the afternoon panned out and over the next few afternoons we were back out there having great success each session.
We found that being in a kayak allowed us to get extremely close to the feeding fish without spooking them, at times even having them bust up all around us, giving us a massive advantage over the boats trying their luck at the feeding fish.
The gear I was using was a 10000 Shimano Biomaster on a 6-10kg Lox Iridium-King 7.4ft rod running 30lb leader. The 105mm Duel Adagio sinking stick baits cranked just below the surface or across the surface have been the standout lures with 40g metal slugs also getting the bite.
Last thing I’d like to touch on for people thinking about doing this kind of fishing is to consider your safety out there. Always wear a PFD and if you’re new to offshore kayak fishing definitely don’t go it alone until you’ve got a bit of experience. Keep an eye out for boats and always check the weather forecast before heading out. If you’re unsure or feeling nervous about the conditions just give it a miss!