The best way to describe jigging for doggies is "Everyone is keen as until they hook one".
Jigging for these deep monsters is one of the most frustrating yet addictive types of fishing that you can do. The dog tooth tuna aren't actually tuna, they are they the biggest of the bonito family. They have a large swim bladder which allows them to go to unknown depths and also can be found in the shallows as we have caught them in as shallow as 7m of water and the deepest we have caught them was in 290m.
PNG reefs do hold a lot of monster class specimens but can be difficult to find as the sheer drop offs here are ridiculous. Going from 5m straight down to 500m. I don't care who you are, that stuff’s hard to fish. You will usually find them around the rainbow runners but they will eat just about anything. I had one spew a 5kg red bass up once. It was horrible.
I love to target them around the 60m range and drift out to the 250m range. One of the most important parts of jigging for them is setting your drift properly. I always tell my clients that sometimes it can take me up to an hour before finding the rainbow runners as I know the pain of jigging for water with a 400g jig. When I set up a drift I usually set it up to drift through 3-4 schools of rainbow runners. It takes a lot of time and effort but is always worth it.
The size of jigs always depend on the current, wind and the speed of your drift. I like the flutter jigs the best as I'm a lazy bastard and if I'm lucky enough I get smashed on the way down, BUT, there is a big downside to using flutter jigs, sharks love them and they usually hit the jig before it reaches the doggies. There are some good jigs on the market that are going to cost you an arm and a leg but doggies will pretty much hit any jig when you place one in front of them. Best way to avoid the sharks is to use big long jigs as the sharks seem to leave them alone a lot more. Don’t worry about the 170g jigs and lighter. Bring 200g – 400g jigs, and maybe sneak in a big long 500g jig. My personal favourite would be the 300 – 350g jigs. Again, jig brand doesn’t matter, so buy affordable ones so you can buy more!
Now for the gear side of things, the best spinning combo would be a Stella 20,000 with an aftermarket 25,000 spool on it as when you get in a fight with a big dog, line capacity is everything. You just got to let them run. It still won't stop everything but will stop most. I saw one of my clients get spooled on a Stella 20000 in about 30 seconds with 19kg of drag, and it also melted all of his drag washers, it was ridiculous. The biggest mistake I see people make when hooking onto a monster doggie is that they think they have to tighten their drag. Nine times out of ten they end up losing the fish to P.E failure, tackle failure or just a plain mystery of the sea. Just sitting here writing about it frustrates the f#@k out of me as I have lost some big doggies to unknown reasons. Anyway, before a big trip please do yourself and your fishing guide a favour and replace the line on your spool before you go on your charter. Fresh line will always have a leg up on your 5 year old braid. OK, back to gear. If you can grab yourself an Accurate overhead reel (no, they are not a sponsor hint hint) the drag systems are amazing and can hold a lot of line also you can lean your rod against the rail when that big dog decides to take its tenth run and another 100m of line. All the big doggies that I have guided have been on Accurates and have been pretty successful. Also, you would want to load up your reel with 80 - 100lb braid with 140 - 170lb monofilament leader. Jigs may not matter, but your line does. Make sure you load up with the best quality line you can buy. Remember, most lost fish are due to P.E. failure.
A lot of guys ask me “what is the best way to jig? Do you speed jig or do you slow jig?” I personally love to speed jig but really it is whatever you feel comfortable with and keeping a rhythm, so turn up the beats and jig like an epileptic who has seen his first strobe light.
The only thing that I don't like about doggie fishing is the release rate on them so a good tip is if it's not a p.b or record just un-hook it next to the boat and they will usually swim away. Best I ever released was 21 out of 23 doggies so it can be done.
And for the ones that you can't release they are actually pretty tasty, a bit of lemon and butter, chuck them in the oven for 20 minutes and bobs your uncle.
If it's not your thing there are plenty of other less fortunate people out there that never get the chance to eat fresh fish, we give most of our doggies to the orphanage here in port moresby.
If you are keen to hook up to these awesome fish by using the most painful but fulfilling fishing technique here in PNG, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Jed Hokins - email@example.com
Sport Fishing PNG Fleet Captain and Pro Guide