Tuna Q&A with Mike Bonnici

June 21, 2018

Spending more time on the water than most, Mike Bonnici knows a thing or two about finding and catching winter tuna. In his latest Q&A, Mike passes on some key knowledge to help you catch more tuna this season.

How do you know when Tuna are around? What time of year? Any specific locations? Specific water temp?


Generally speaking they are normally around for a short period in summer around March/April with the blue marlin run. And also the winter/spring run which can be anywhere from May till September depending on currents and water temps.


They are caught pretty much on the whole east coast and the time of year varies on area. The summer run are normally in warmer water around 23-26 degrees, with 21 degrees best in the winter.


When preparing for a day out chasing Tuna, what gear do you prep? Rods, reels, line, lures, bait if cubing? How many lines in the water if trolling?


I try to be as prepared as possible, and that’s with all fishing I do. I spend a lot of time at home rigging and getting gear sorted.


I would run 5 x 24kg outfits and take a stick bait rod. If cubing I will take about 10-15kg of pilchards.


When would you cube vs trolling?


Normally I would troll around to find a good area will lots of life, whether it be bait, birds, temp breaks or marking fish and not hooking them on the troll.


Once on the water, how do you use your sounder to locate fish, or what are you looking for?


It’s my eyes under water. I mean you can only mark them if you’re on top of them, but being able to tell the difference between small frigates, stripe tuna and yellowfin/gamefish is a great benefit.


I don’t do a lot to the NSS evo3 sounder they are very user friendly, I run it in auto gain with a +1, set the search depth to 150m, TVG on 1 and colour about 80.


They are generally caught from the shelf out to the abyss so looking at a chart and planning were you’re going to go before you head out can save a lot of time. Hearing where they were caught the day before is a good start.


My main thing to look for is birds they are always onto it before you are they have to find bait to live. But being able to tell whether they are just traveling and looking as opposed to feeding and following fish is what you need to learn.


Any more hot tips?


If you hear they’re getting caught there’s no better time to get out there and have a crack. There are no rules with fish as they can turn up any time of the year.



- Mike Bonnici, Simrad proteamer