Big boom for yellowfin

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THE best yellowfin tuna season in years has made 2018 an early hit with big game fishers in Whakatane.

The Whakatane Sportfishing Club has weighed in 12 yellowfin so far, and roughly 20-30 have been caught in Waihau Bay, according to Waihau Bay Sportfishing Club president Clyde Fraser.

“It’s been great seeing so many; we’re hoping it’s a trend that’s going to carry on,” Mr Fraser said.

Pursuit Charters skipper Rick Pollock has labelled the season as the best for yellowfin since 2005.

According to the New Zealand Marine Research Foundation, the Whakatane Sportfishing Club registered more than 500 yellowfin catches annually between 1995 and 2000.

This number dropped to less than 200 from 2000 to 2005, when the number climbed briefly back to over 400. From then, it has been a massive decline.

During the previously named “Whakatane Tuna Tournament” there were no yellowfin caught from 2009 to 2014.

“It’s been very good,” said sportfishing club manager Wayne Hunt of the recent game fishing.

He hopes yellowfin will make a comeback to the Surtees One Base tournament following the dwindling to non-existent number of catches over previous years.

He attributes the presence of the yellowfin to warm waters this season.
Ezyfishing Charters owner and skipper Lindsay Hunt who has been making the most of the warmer waters around White Island agrees.

“We’ve had some good weather this season, great for the fishing,” he said.

Mr Pollock is also hopeful the conditions mean some yellowfin will be caught at the current New World Junior Fishing Tournament.

He and other anglers said catches “dropped off” a bit following last weekend’s storm.

“Before the storm, fishing was superb; now it’s patchy … [but] for big game fishing, I can only see it getting better,” said Mr Hunt, reporting a “much better” season than last year.

However, Diveworks skipper Phil van Dusschoten reported “business as usual,” other than dirty, debris-filled waters out near White Island due to the storm.

“It will improve,” he said, disappointed with the current water quality.

While some anglers believed the water conditions may affect this year’s one base tournament on Auckland Anniversary Weekend, Mr Pollock said it would not be a problem.

james.sandbrook@whakatanebeacon.co.nz