The Inaugural Port Douglas Marlin Challenge 2010 conducted over four days mid November played host to 10 classy Formula One vessels that competed for a pool of $40,000 in prizes and trophies.
It was an historic event for the town, which has not seen a tournament of this calibre take place before. The Port Douglas Fishing Club that had remained dormant for many, many years was resurrected and the event was deemed a great success.
The format for the tournament was the first of its kind with two days of fishing, a ‘lay day’ on the golf course, followed by two more days of fishing. Those who competed enjoyed the concept that offered a more socialising environment and a laid back approach.
Over 60 seasoned anglers and crew came from far and wide to compete, including visitors from Hong Kong, Bali, Sydney and Port Lincoln. The tournament was a tag and release competition over all four days with the vessel completing the most tagged marlin awarded the winner.
The tournament sail past was a definite highlight. Helicopter aerial footage was filmed as the boats lined up at Port Douglas on a glassed out morning and then stormed out to the marlin grounds two hours away.
Tactics were rife as boats spread out covering waters as far north as Ribbon Reef No. 5, The Linden Bank, Jenny Loiuse Reef to the south, and as far wide as The Seamount and Holmes Reef 160km offshore.
Over the four days the marlin fishing was rather slow but picked up momentum towards the end of the competition, which saw Spartacus and Gorilla pull free of the pack. These vessels ended up tagging six and three marlin respectively. Gorilla had a three strike hook-up that could have easily changed the face of the tournament, but unfortunately for them only one fish was eventually tagged.
Matthew Dorrian aboard Calypso Mango snared himself the biggest fish of the tournament with an estimated 1100lb black marlin tagged on Opal Ridge just north of Linden Bank. There were also a couple of sailfish tagged but they were ineligible for points as it was a marlin tournament.
The weather overall was superb, considering it had been a tough year in this department, and all involved gave the inaugural competition a big thumbs up. Plans for 2011 are already underway which promises to be bigger and better.
In other news, local beaches began to fire in recent times with the arrival of the jelly prawns. These prawns are a calling card for all types of predatory species including blue salmon, tarpon, giant herring, snub-nosed dart, trevally, queenfish, grunter, barramundi and shovel-nosed ray.
The early morning rising tides on a calm day have been boiling with activity and is a-must fishing experience to see fish feeding in a frenzy metres from the water’s edge.
The rivers and creeks are also seeing a plethora of a fresh new bait in the systems and as with the beaches, they are offering some handy action on the water. Barra, jacks, trevally, queenfish, flathead, fingermark and grunter are fattening up on the abundance of food and now is the time to target them before we are inundated with heavy tropical rain.
Low light periods are fishing the best and if coincided with a tide change you are right on the money to see a bend in your rod.
The reef fishing has become a tad tougher as to be expected with rising water temperatures. Nevertheless if you pick a calm day with a change tide in the middle and fish as deep as possible you’ll see some pretty reasonable action.
The trevally schools are in full flight, especially the good eating gold spot variety, and there’s been some really cracking catches of large mouth nannygai to 9kg and barcheek trout to 6kg. You can also expect to pick up your usual suspects such as stripeys, sweetlip and spangled emperor.
The Spanish mackerel still seem to be around in good numbers, so a floating pilchard or live bait out the back while fishing is well worth the effort.
We’ve seen plenty of action up our way and the million dollar question is how long it will continue. That is up to the weather gods as we delve into our traditional wet season.
Final results of the Port Douglas Marlin Challenge 2010
Champion Boat:Spartacus six tags
Champion Angler:Ralph Czabayski three tags (aboard Spartacus)
Champion Skipper:Jimbo Bladin (aboard Spartacus)
Runner Up:Gorilla three tags
Runner Up Angler:David Sweet two tags (aboard Spartacus)
Overall Top Five