The Coffs coast’s sensational blue marlin run continues, although the fish are exhibiting some pretty odd behaviour at times. Double hook-ups, while not unheard of, have been recorded more regularly and a 180kg fish was caught in just 35 fathoms, which is very shallow for these wanderers of the open ocean.
The mahi mahi that have been such an important aspect of this game season, are less numerous but bigger and wahoo have increased in numbers and weight.
Some quality yellowfin tuna between 35kg and 60kg have been tagged or captured and this augurs well for the Winter ahead.
To tap into this good run of fish, the Solitary Islands Game Fishing Club held its inaugural heavy tackle tournament at the start of April and the strictly tag-and-release event was a raging success.
Ideal seas that just got flatter and flatter greeted the competing boats.
Most of the activity was beyond the 400-fathom line and some boats even ventured out beyond 2000 fathoms.
Triton had five marlin bites for the day, including a double header on blues, both of which fell off, but they managed to stay connected on another blue for club president Sultan Linjawi.
Foreign Exchange took day one honours with a blue marlin and a mahi mahi tag to Nick Brunyee and just about every competing boat had a marlin bite or two (except for mine — hmm). There was also a healthy mix of wahoo, mahi mahi and yellowfin tuna hitting the lures, which is what you want to liven up the time between billfish bites.
Unfortunately, Mother Nature brought an early close to fishing late on Saturday afternoon when a southerly change to 25 knots and rain squalls came whistling through. This made for a lively trip home from the shelf and an even livelier one for those boats that fished north.
Conditions were less than pleasant the following day and were only just fishable. The tournament was wide open with all boats in with a show.
The rougher conditions had the marlin hitting the lures more aggressively, in marked contrast to their timid approach on the Saturday.
Darkside slipped away to an early lead with a blue marlin tag for Andrew Mainey to go with their yellowfin tuna tag from the previous day. That yellowfin was estimated at 50kg and the crew were berated by their sashimi-loving friends for not keeping it. Suddenly setting it free with a tag looked a smart tactical move.
Foreign Exchange had their chance to seal victory with another blue but lost it to a mystery break-off, while On Business stayed in close looking for a black or a stripe but found a blue for Mike Sasson in just 55 fathoms.
Seaborn discovered a nest of small yellowfin up near South Solitary Island for junior angler Nic Edwards and needed only an elusive marlin to put them up near the top.
Alcatraz ran into a pack of striped marlin (a species absent from these waters for five months or more) but, as is the way with stripes, the crew came away with nothing to show for all the excitement.
Triton came good with a striped marlin, though, which was enough to secure the champion boat trophy and the champion angler trophy for Sultan Linjawi.
Maddison McGinty was champion female angler, and Nic Edwards champion junior.
A good time was had by all, despite the torrential rain on Saturday night. The event will definitely be on again next year.
And in a great show of generosity, Triton’s crew donated their cash prize and the Calcutta money (around $2500) to the Solitary Islands Game Fishing Club’s designated charity, the Leukaemia Foundation.Reads: 1917