Commonly referred to as Stripies!
The skipjack tuna is a species of smaller tuna that has gained the reputation of being a feisty little rough sea battler with poor table qualities. They are commonly encountered by anglers trolling skirted lures and make for great sport when hooked on ultra light line classes. Stripies are full of blood and it is said that if they grew to larger sizes would be practically unstoppable due to their incredible stamina. Tuna are the only species of fish in our entire oceans that are designed to produce perpetual motion from birth until death. As long as their hearts are beating so are their tails! All tuna species need to swim at least 3 times their body length per second to survive.
Skipjack tuna can be encountered in W.A waters from as far south as Albany right up to the Shark Bay region as well as N.S.W., S.A., VIC and Tasmania. They prefer water depths of around 20 – 120 meters.
Skipjack tuna can grow to around 10kg in weight and measure around 90cm in length although most stripies encountered throughout the southern half of Australia average around 3 – 4kgs.
Skipjack tuna prefer cooler, southern waters and are most commonly encountered feeding along the edge of current lines, bait schools and deep reef ledges. Smaller fish can also be found in shallow bays with large numbers of bait fish present.
Skipjack tuna can be easily recognised by their short, football shaped bodies that are blue, black across the upper half and silver to white along the underbelly. There are horizontal black lines marking the belly section and bright bio luminescent streaks throughout.
Stripies are better recognised for their exceptional sporting abilities rather than their eating qualities.
Skipjack tuna are a fantastic small game fish species that will test most anglers on light tackle and fly!
Ultra light lever drag trolling outfits or spinning combos are best suited for targeting small tuna in most situations. Rods and reels capable of holding large capacities of 2 – 6kg line are most commonly used and are attached to wind on leaders of around 60 – 100lb in breaking strain. When trolling skirted lures for smallish tuna try running small chromed, jet head styled lures at boat speeds of around 9 – 12 knots. Larger fish respond better to trolling or deep water live baiting or cubing techniques and require heavier stand up tackle in the 10 – 15kg range.
Live and fresh dead baits such as gar fish, small mullet, flying fish, pilchards and mackerel are all ideal baits for targeting most tuna species, with small to medium jet head or resin head, skirted lures also proving to be quite effective on most pelagic species including tuna. Stripies are a fantastic species to cast lures such as metal slices and surface lures into with the visual aspect of this technique proving to be very hard to beat!
Try to ensure all baits, lures and tackle used are of premium quality, there are no second chances when it comes to tangling with smart, fussy tuna!
Most pelagic game fish species including tuna prefer low or high tide changes and new moon phases.