Other names: stripey tuna, stripey
Scientific name: Katsuwonus pelamis
Minimum size: None
Bag limit: 10
Possession limit: 20
Identifying features: A smaller tuna, skipjack can be identified by 3-5 dark horizontal stripes on its lower half and sides against a silvery white belly. The dorsal fins are narrowly separated with 14-16 spines in the first dorsal fin. Skipjack have a thickened scale patch near the pectoral fin base and virtually no scales on the posterior half of the body.
Grows to: Up to 1 metre and 35 kg.
Habitat: Skipjack tuna are found in similar habitat to albacore but come into slightly shallower waters. They travel to Tasmania on the eastern Australian current from sub-tropical waters and are found from shallow coastal waters out to the continental shelf. They form tight schools in offshore waters off eastern Tasmania and are caught from late January to April.
Fishing information: Often found with other tunas such as albacore and yellowfin. Caught by trolling a variety of hard and soft bodied lures at varying depth ranges. At times they can be seen feeding on the surface and then can be taken on fly and light gear using small lures.
Responsible fishing tips: Avoid long playing times by using heavier line. Use a large dehooker or pliers to remove hook. Use barbless single hooks on lures. Minimise interactions with seals and other wildlife. Don’t dispose of fish frames around boat ramps.
Handling: If practising catch and release, keep tuna out of the water for the minimum time possible and handle with wet hands or cloth. Don’t use a gaff. Larger tuna should be released without removing them from the water. If photographing, hold horizontally.
Cooking: Tuna need to be correctly handled after capture to retain the best eating quality. They should be killed using a brain spike, bled, then cleaned and chilled shortly after capture. Tuna has a high oil content, distinctive flavour and firm, dark flesh which lightens when cooked. Use as fillets or steaks.
Recipe: Tuna and Pea Pasta Bake:
450g tuna, cooked and flaked; 400g pasta; 40 g butter; 2 tbsp flour; 2 cups milk; 1 ½ cups frozen peas; 1 ¼ cups grated cheddar cheese; ½ cup grated parmesan.
Cook the pasta in salted water, drain and set aside. Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat, add flour and stir until mixture thickens. Gradually stir in milk until sauce becomes thick, and then add cheese and peas. Combine sauce with cooked pasta and tuna and put into a shallow ovenproof dish. Sprinkle with extra cheese. Bake at 180°C oven for about 20-30 minutes or until brown on top.
Fish illustration by Peter Gouldthorpe