Hundreds of boats full of keen fishermen gathered in Waihau Bay to join in the successful Bluefin fishing during 2017’s migration in July.
Every year, Bluefin tuna migrate past the East Coast, passing through the Bay of Plenty. However, they often travel too far off shore for recreational fishers to have a go at them. This year, thanks to the correct bait fish and temperature closer to the shore, they were drawn well within range of the average game fisherman, something that happens rarely in the area due to the natural conditions.
The tuna were first seen in such large quantities in Hicks Bay, noticed predominantly by commercial boats who were willing to share the coordinates of the action on social media platforms, such as Bay of Plenty fishing groups on Facebook. This caught the attention of the Bay of Plenty locals, who quickly dived in to get a piece of the action.
As the Bluefin Tuna made their way along their route, fishermen followed and news of the size of the action spread.
The Bluefin Tuna this year have been nothing short of impressive in size, with many catches surpassing 100kg. Members of Facebook Bay of Plenty fishing groups can scroll through the feed to find many pictures of catches and weigh-ins displaying the sizes.
In a recent mass email to Tauranga Sport Fishing Club members, it was noted that many club records on Bluefin Tuna fishing were broken, some by very large scales.
They also mentioned the large amount of tagged fish they saw, and the quantity of boats fishing. ‘I don’t think we have ever had so many boats actively game fishing over these months as ever before,’ was a comment in the mailout.
Fisherman and successful tuna catcher Graham Beaufill was impressed by the number of people who were seen fishing for the tuna. “There must have been 100 boats out there during its peak. No one wanted to miss out,” says Graham. This fisherman claimed a 100.3kg Bluefin Tuna.
Social media and community has been a big part of the success of this year’s fishing, with many posting on public forums about how and where others can join in on their accomplishments. Members of the community have noted that the comradery and willingness to share has played part in so many people being able to catch fish this year.
As well as the fishermen and commercial boats sharing information, businesses specialised in fishing equipment were quick to jump aboard, posting updates about the tuna migration and fishing on social media. This wasn’t just excellent for getting more people on board, but it ramped up sales in fishing gear for New Zealand brands.
With all the noise on Facebook, news of the successful fishing reached far, luring in enthusiastic fishermen from all over the North Island. Big boats from Auckland, the Coromandel and Wellington were noted getting involved during the peak days.
Wednesday, July 16 was reported to have been one of the biggest days this year, with an estimated 100 boats at sea wanting to get involved and perhaps land a fish. Many fishermen happily took days off work to have a go.
For now, the Bluefin Tuna have passed through the Bay of Plenty region, but they will be back next year, hopefully with similarly excellent conditions and success.