Joel Ryan shows THE CAPTAIN how an open mind and flexible plan can improve your chances of landing on the fish.

Public holiday. Tick. Brilliant weather forecast. Tick. Tuna biting. Tick

Our plan is perfect. Except for one thing. The tuna are biting all along the coast. From Tathra in New South Wales to Beachport in South Australia, the barrels are sliding along the decks. The question is: what part of the 1200km coastline should we fish? Our game-fishing plan will change four times in 10 hours!

Thursday, 9am. 8 hours to departure. 

The boat is packed, the best lures are handpicked and accommodation is booked in Tathra. Some mates call in to say they’d bagged three for the day – and hadn’t seen another boat all day. Tathra here we come!

Thursday, 10am. 7 hours to departure.

Reports filter through of a hot bite of jumbo bluefin from Beachport. The crew convenes for a think tank. We decide to stick with the yellowfin plan. Tathra, we’re still coming at you!

Thursday, 12am. 5 hours to departure.

News just to hand: barrels in bulk from Lorne to Portland. Another team meeting. The plan changes. Blue is the new yellow. Accommodation cancelled. Portland, we’re coming at you, now!

Thursday, 5pm. Departure.

Just as I’m hooking up the Edencraft to the Ford Ranger, the mobile goes off in my pocket. A mate fishing out of Lorne has hooked five jumbo Bluefin, tagging three. Lorne here we come. We’re already heading west, so it fits our plan. Better cancel the accommodation. Barrel fever rises even higher.

Thursday, 6pm. One hour on the road.

The phone rings again. Confirmed reports of an angler hooking eight barrels out the front of Torquay. That’s unheard of. It’s also only an hour away. We hit the electric brakes on the Easytow and swerve left at the Geelong turn-off. Looks like we’re going out The Rip. After all this and we’re fishing in our backyard. Oh, can someone please cancel the bloody accommodation!

Friday. On the water.

Found the bait holding under a school of gannets. Boats are hooking up around us. A whale joins the feeding frenzy. It’s only a matter of time, surely? Nope. We don’t get a single bite. Maybe we should have gone to Beachport. Or Lorne. Or Portland. Or Tathra. Who knows? At least we were on the fish, giving ourselves the best chance of hooking up. Game fishing in a trailer boat when a hot bite is on is where it’s at for me.


Joel’s Top 5 Travel Tips for Game Fishing


  1. Don’t overcommit to a plan or destination. Keep your options open.
  1. Keep your ear to the ground (and be sure to return the favour when you find the fish).
  1. Have flexible mates and partners.
  1. Mow the lawns and put the garbage out. You might need a leave pass.
  1. Remember to cancel the accommodation (apologies to all the hotels and caravan parks between Tathra and Portland!).