Andrew Westlake caught a barrel on his first mission, using military-like planning and skill – not to mention endurance – in his seven-hour fight. His talents are matched by his great attitude and generous nature.
Andrew Westlake is a thinking man’s fisherman. He treated his first barrel-fishing mission like an SAS operation, meticulously planning the trip around tide times and water temperature, sourcing the perfect weaponry to do the job. He researched his prey and consulted experts in tackle and lure manufacturing.
In an epic feat of patience, skill and tackle durability, Andrew and his crew spent 7.5 hours landing a 114kg bluefin tuna. Fishing south of Lady Julia Percy Island, 25 km from Port Fairy in Victoria, they hooked up at 10am. The fish was a wild bull, charging the boat and diving deep. It hit the afterburners at the side of the boat when they thought it was subdued. Andrew reckons the boat driving and communication was a critical factor in their success. The GPS track tells a tale of perseverance and unpredictability, with long runs and tight turns. In between cranks, the crew fed Andrew lunch and Coke to keep his sugar levels up.
When The Captain asks Andrew how it felt to catch a 100kg tuna, we expect a cliché about ‘fish of a lifetime’ or an early retirement with his one-from-one record. His response is surprising. “This tuna is a social occasion for me, bringing people together. The experience is to be shared by everyone in the community. Not just the crew, but everyone”. It’s a refreshing attitude, someone unconcerned with records or Facebook likes, who genuinely wants to share the occasion.
It’s not lip service. When Andrew learned of The Captain’s quest for a ‘barrel’, he generously lent his spread of lures, each one personally chosen and rigged by Peter Pakula. It proved a godsend as only days earlier we’d lost a jumbo tuna – and our favourite Evil Angel lure. Andrew threw in his Tiagras for good measure.
The Captain salutes you, mate!
Name: Andrew Westlake
Lives: Warrnambool, Victoria
Boat: 2005 Whittley, Sea Legend 700, with 250 Suzuki 4-stroke
Favourite fishing product: Pakula lures and Shimano TLDs in any size – an absolute workhorse.
Best tuna tip: Birds, birds, birds! Just one bird can put you on fish.