What Wicked Fishing star Dave Marciano thinks of Australia’s tuna capital

Men fishing with Dave Marciano

Peter Nugent

Posted August 12, 2019

How the world’s most popular fishermen got hooked on Aussie tuna hot spot, Portland.

Captain Dave Marciano is a leviathan of the fishing world. The star of National Geographic’s Wicked Tuna is watched by millions of viewers in more than 150 countries as he battles bluefin tuna up to two metres long and weighing more than a large fridge.

On a recent trip to Australia, for the RACV Marine 2019 Boat Show, Captain Dave had the chance to try his luck in Victoria’s premier southern bluefin tuna fishing spot, Portland. He enjoyed the experience despite the fish being somewhat smaller than his usual catch.

“It was awesome, it was a lot of fun. They’re definitely not as big as the ones we get but they’re a whole lot of fun catching them with the gear that we’re using, and that’s what matters,” Captain Dave said.

He was joined by Boat Show competition winner Ben and his mum Debbie for a two-day tuna fishing charter in the waters of Bass Strait.

“It was great day, absolutely fantastic, fishing with these boys was just a dream come true,” Ben said. “I was rapt just to meet Dave at the Boat Show, so to go out fishing with him was just unreal.”

Captain Dave is not the only fisherman to be hooked by Portland’s promise of tuna. Game fishing is now big business in the town that clings to Victoria’s far south-west coast, with the latest figures showing the pastime pumps up to $12 million into the local economy every year.

Fishing rod at sunrise

“Portland has well and truly established itself as the tuna fishing capital of Australia, with keen anglers travelling from right across the country to reel in a record-breaking tuna haul off our shores,” boasted Portland mayor, councillor Anita Rank. 

Andrew Horn from Pro-Line Fishing Charters, one of the captains who makes a living taking fishing parties into the sometimes wild waters of Bass Strait, explained from behind the wheel of his 60-foot-long boat.

“We’ve got fantastic launching ramp facilities, fantastic marine facilities, they’ve got everything down here and it’s just a great place to spend a weekend or a week,” Andrew said.

Fair weather or foul, everyone on board for the two-day fishing odyssey gave Portland the thumbs up, with the months of May, June, July and August the best times to fish for southern bluefin tuna off Victoria’s south-west coast.

“Most of the fish are school bluefin between eight and 12 kilos,” Captain Horn explained. “If you haven’t caught a fish of that size before you’ll enjoy it, you’ll get to take home some really good table fish, and you’ve also got a chance of catching a 100 to 150-kilo barrel, as we call them.”

Wicked Tuna’s captain Dave gave Portland his full support, “You guys have a pretty good handle on your fisheries here, and from what I’ve seen it’s a pretty robust fishing scene.”