Travis Hogan holds a passion for hunting big pelagic species like Dogtooth Tuna, wahoo and yellowfin Tuna on the Great Barrier Reef. Travis is the owner of Aimrite Australia and we spoke to Travis about his passion for Bluewater hunting in North Queensland and what it takes to have success chasing these powerful fighting fish.
Travis explained to us that bluewater hunting on the GBR is seasonal, generally September through to January. I must admit this came to some surprise to me as I thought the warm tropical waters were always productive for pelagic species.
The current runs from North to South and is essential for finding dogtooth tuna and other pelagic fish.
Travis firmly believes that the front edge of the reef where the current hits first is by far the most productive area of the reef for pelagic species. So much so that he is adamant you will be wasting your time anywhere else.
“You’ll see a lot more fish on that front edge then if you were drifting off the back of the reef. Don’t jump into no mans land. You’re better off being where the fish are.”
He recommends to keep moving and searching for the fish. Particularly bait fish that pelagic’s will feed on. It makes sense to locate their food source. The bait will often sit on the front edge attracting the larger predatory species like wahoo.
“If you’re drifting along the edge of a reef and you’re off the back of the reef get in the boat, get all yourshit in the boat and go back out for another drift”
Another technique that Travis employs is to venture off the continental shelf and look for floating debris. He says the debris attracts Dolphin fish (mahi mahi) and wahoo.
Every year there is an aggregation of big eye tuna and yellowfin tuna schools in Travis’ area. Travis will look for baitfish being schooled up by predatory fish on the surface. He calls this surface action “bust up’s”. Bird’s dive-bombing the surface for baitfish is another give away known as “birds working the surface”.
“It’s literally an aggregation of Big Eye (tuna) and Yellowfin Tuna but unfortunately you’ve got to be ready to go when it’s on and know where it is”
Travis will watch the school and try to pre-empt where the school is moving then move in front of the school and dive. Unfortunately Travis says they can do this all day and sometimes never shoot a thing but insists persistence is the key. Often a very difficult thing to maintain when there’s so many tasty reef fish in the area
“We try to get in front of it then jump in and do a dive to ten- fifteen metres and hope a couple of Yellowfin are swimming through it.”
“Doggies love current”
We all want to shoot a trophy dogtooth tuna and North Queensland is a great place to do it. Travis stresses that to improve your chances of encountering a dogtooth tuna you should engage a guide or at least someone that dive’s the area regularly. He says it’s one thing to know there’s dogtooth in the area but it’s another thing to know exactly where they are going to be in the prevailing conditions. According to Travis it comes down to currents and finding that front edge where the current is.
“If you’re on the back of the reef you’re literally not going to see a thing”
Travis recommends early morning and late afternoon for the best chance at a dogtooth tuna.
The Ribbon reefs are sections of the Great Barrier Reef known to North Queenslanders as the Ribbons. According to Travis the Ribbons become more productive later in the year. He recommends the incoming tide that brings with it the clean blue water. It also brings with it large pelagic species like wahoo. The reverse is true for the reef species.
“On the outgoing tide it’s the reverse, all your reef species are up and alive”
The dogtooth tuna is famous for being a dirty fighter and will uncover any weak points in a spearo’s equipment.
Travis recommends using a rigline and two or three floats when targeting big pelagic’s. The floats he uses are Aimrite two atmosphere floats with Riffe braided floatline and his own bungee for extra confidence. He uses an Aimrite King Venom or double roller as he needs the range in clear water as well as the penetration power for these large fish.
“We’re always using rig lines and two or three floats”
The setup he uses is simple and robust and gets the job done.
After speaking with Travis it’s clear he has spent substantial time out wide searching for large pelagic species on the Great Barrier Reef. One of the clear points is finding the impact points of current on the reef. It takes time and patience to find these productive fishy spots and you need to stick to your guns to make it happen but the rewards are definitely worth it.
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