Welcome to the Tuna Fishing Guide Victoria. Tuna is a remarkable fish species with a worldwide reputation for speed, size, and power. True blue water missiles of our local oceans and real bucket list fish species for many anglers. Tuna have remarkable fighting qualities and unparalleled eating qualities. Locally Tuna fishing goes into a frenzy throughout the winter months in Victoria in areas such as Portland and Port Fairy. As these locations are close distance to the continental shelf. Tuna have unparallel speed and power and high-quality spin outfits or game outfits are required to tangle with these mini millies. Catching them using unique methods such as trolling big skirts and hard body lures. All of this has been detailed below for you.


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Tuna Facts & Catch Limits

  • Tuna has the scientific name of Thunnus maccoyi
  • There are several different types of Tuna the Bluefin, Yellowfin, & Albacore all of which grow to massive sizes.
  • There is no minimum legal size limit for Tuna
  • However, there is a daily bag limit of 2

Best time to catch Tuna ( Seasons )

In Victoria, Tuna can be caught all year round. Historically their peak time is in colder months ideally between winter and Spring. However, we are seeing more frequent catches even in summer. 

Tuna Fishing Calendar


How to catch tuna

Tuna is a prized sportfish that requires specific boats and game fishing gear and terminal tackle ( Game rods and reels such as Shimano TLD and Tiagras ). Successful techniques to catch tuna involve trolling skirts and large hard-body lures. Generally, these are trolled behind the boat at a steady pace between 5-10 knots. Skirts between 6 and 12 inches and hardbody lures such as Rapala X-Rap in sizes ranging from 6 inches to 12 inches have become popular options. Trolling allows you to cover great distances and tools such as outriggers or extended angled rod holders can help avoid tangles and improve hook-up rates. It does take some time to master this technique and there are experts which can come on your boat to help you grow your confidence in handling these waters, navigating, and improving your skills to land Tuna regularly.

Other successful techniques include stick baits, large metal lures as well as large soft plastics that imitate the baitfish that tuna are actively feeding on. This works particularly well when casting towards a school and working it back at a fast pace. This form of fishing is rapidly growing in popularity and allows you to fish with much lighter gear. Keep an eye out for birds congregated, fish holding on your sounder and splashing water which can often be a school in a feeding frenzy.

During peak Tuna season it’s a good idea to fish on weekdays as boat ramps in Portland and Port Fairy can be worse than local Melbourne boat ramps during peak snapper season.

General tips for catching Tuna

When trolling keep a keen eye on your sounder for marks as tuna will be easily identifiable. Also, watch your sounder for big bait balls of school fish. Tuna will often be chasing the schools of baitfish which is a great sign that a hook-up isn’t too far away. Also, keep an eye out for a congregation of active birdlife or birds diving into the water which is a sure sign of baitfish in the area. Use your eyes as a tool as Tuna will often break the surface and this can be your best indicator of Tuna in the immediate area.

Plan your trip carefully and watch, the weather forecast. Targeting tuna in Victoria will see you in areas such as Portland, Port Fairy, and Bass straight which are dangerous waters and can present challenging conditions to get to. If this is new to you then seek the assistance of an experienced angler or charter operator. Avoid windy and rainy days which will bring large swells with them. Tuna will feed at different depths. Some days there down low and some days there actively take lures off the surface. Just mix up your options and adjust accordingly on the day that you fishing. Smaller boats should consider fishing closer to shore where you can catch plenty of smaller size tuna.


Best Soft Plastics and lures to Catch Tuna

Tuna respond particularly well to skirts trolled at the back of the boat. Trolling lures is the most effective method. This is generally a spread of skirts, and hardbody lures. You can also have rods rigged and ready with surface poppers and stick baits. Keep an eye out for large bait balls and active birds diving into the water in a frenzy. That’s when it’s time to get the poppers and stick baits ready.

Soft Plastics

  • Skirts ( typically 5-6 inch sizes )
  • Rapala X-Raps
  • Nomad Rip Tide 105 stick baits
  • Daiwa Saltiga Dive Star stick baits
  • Large soft plastics 1200mm and above. Large paddle tails and whip bait in natural colors
  • Halco Laser Pro 190
  • Nomad DTX Minnow
  • Angry Panda Hanzo Stickbaits
  • CB One OZMA Stick Baits

Best Baits to Catch Tuna

Tuna respond well to live baits pinned perfectly to give them a natural swimming action. A live well becomes an important tool to ensure your live baits are ready when needed.

Bait Choices

  • Pilchards
  • Mullies
  • Mullet
  • Sardines
  • Mackerel
  • Squid


Rod and rig setup for Tuna

Before buying your terminal tackle to target tuna you must really understand whether your targeting small tuna which we know as schoolies or big tuna which we know as barrels. To give you an idea Tuna locally can range from 20-pound all the way through to 200 pounds so it’s important to ensure you have the right gear. With Tuna fishing, you often get what you pay for so do ensure your reels can handle enough line when trolling has adequate drag capacity and stopping power and is quality that can handle the power of a tuna whilst being durable to last.

For Tuna in the smaller size, you can use a high-quality offshore spin reel such as

  • Shimano Stella SWC
  • Okuma Makaira spin
  • Daiwa Saltiga
  • Shimano Twin Power
  • Daiwa Certate SW
  • Shimano Saragosa
  • Daiwa Saltist

We have even had days out on the water catching smaller size Tuna with lighter terminal tackle such as a Shimano Saragosa 8000 spooled with 50lb braid attached to a 10-15 kilo rod casting hard body lures at Tuna busting up the surface. It’s truly a fun way of targeting smaller versions of these powerful sports fish.

Then there are Targeting barrels which are amazing and this style of fishing is growing from strength to strength. Battling a big barrel can last for hours and hours. For bigger tuna, we would recommend using a heavy-duty offshore reel such as the below options.

  • Shimano Tiagra
  • Penn Squall
  • Okuma Makaira overhead
  • Shimano TLD
  • Shimano Tyrnos
  • Abu Garcia Ambassaduer c4
  • Shimano Tekota


Locations to target tuna

  • Portland
  • Apollo Bay
  • Port Fairy
  • Bass Straight

Best times to catch Tuna

Tuna fishing comes into its own during winter specifically from May through to July. This is when the water temperature is below 15 degrees and the Tuna are active and feeding. Surrounding areas such as Portland as packed with local anglers trying to land a big one. This usually aligns with local whale-watching times.

When heading offshore always ensure all your safety equipment is active and ready for any emergency. Ensure you carefully check the conditions, have your boat serviced reguarly, have the right life jackets, extra fuel and EPIRB.

If you feel this Tuna Fishing Guide Victoria is missing key information or needs any corrections. Then please let us know by emailing our team at enquiries@fishingmad.com.au with specific details in the email. You can obtain a free Victorian recreational fishing guide from the Victorian Fisheries Authorities weblink