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‘Tis the season to be Jolly
  |  First Published: December 2011



So here we are… Christmas 2012. It feels like I was wishing people Merry Christmas only a few months ago and now we’re set to do it all again. Most have been through a bloody hard year in 2011 so if your mate looses their wallet at the gas station or the boss is taking an even bigger bite out of you; just brush it off as Christmas Blues.

Instead concentrate on what for most will be a well-needed break, full of good friends, tolerable family members, some legendary BBQs, camping grounds, exotic locations or maybe a relaxing time at home…. and hopefully, some epic fishing adventures.

This time of the year is a cracker in the South Pacific. Everything seems to come to life, from the smallest of creatures that start the life cycle through to the big fellows that stop it… and I suppose we’re at the top of that list. It’s heartening then to see so many anglers now putting trophy fish back to fight another day, and even the ‘kill em all’ boof-heads are starting to work out the benefits of catch and release.

Often there is a temptation to look back at this time of the year but not me. I’m totally focused on what 2012 is going to bring, or more to the point what me and the team at Tightlines TV are going to make happen.

We’ve got some awesome adventures planned to Queensland and South Australia, as well as irons in the fire for the Cook Islands, Niue and a place I’ve dreamt of visiting for a long time: Halifax, Nova Scotia. The tuna that are getting caught up there are worthy of a Hemingway novel and I cannot wait to get amongst those beasties and live out a few pages of my own.

We’ve also got some awesome adventures planned for NZ with trips to the Coromandel, The Bay of Plenty, Taranaki, the Far North and more. We’re just about to start game fishing season here and everything is pointing to an early run of blue marlin. Bring it on!

So 2012 is going to be full of adventure, hopefully some incredible fish, good times with good mates, maybe I’ll make a few new ones, and I can’t wait. Until next year, stay safe over what is normally a bit of a mental time, look after your family, set a few personal records and above all else… Keep ‘em tight!

How to: Catch a marlin

With gamefishing upon us I thought a good basic ‘how to’ for those fishos who might be keen on having their first go, or perhaps those who are a few seasons into game fishing and are yet to taste success.

Rule 1. If you like spending thousands of dollars on fuel driving around the ocean then simply launch the boat and go for it. There are few things in life that I can guarantee but if you just ‘go for a look‘ then I can guarantee that’s about all you’ll get.

So, shelve your pride and go and ask someone where the fish are. The local tackle store is a good safe first step and they’ll normally tell you the truth. Join a club and ask the charter skippers, older anglers and other members. Also if you find the food, you’ll find the fish.

Rule 2. You’ll need good gear, and that includes safety gear, but you don't have to go overboard. Get a good quality rod/reel with good line; ensure your knots, crimps, hooks, swivels are up to standard. Communication equipment, spare fuel, knives and gloves are all essentials.

With the plethora of gear on the market now, be selective and choose quality brands; there is no excuse for loosing a fish through gear failure. You will kick yourself if you break a hook because you brought the $6 one instead of the $12 one. Always buy the best you can afford and if this is your first go, see if you can borrow some.

Rule 3. Work out a game plan before you hook up. Have a basic spread of lures, as lures are easier for newbies than live, skip or pitch baits, and they certainly catch fish. For first timers you’re better to have longer stints in the chair/harness so that everyone can get their heads around the various jobs if/when you hook up. You don’t want four guys looking at each other when a reel starts cracking out wondering who’s doing what. A slick team will catch more fish than a lucky team and even newbies will do well if everyone’s got a clear defined role.

Rule 4. If you didn’t catch a fish, work out why. Was your location wrong? Were there fish there but you didn’t raise one? Were other boats around you hooking up? Did you hook up and drop the fish? Did the skipper turn left when he should have turned right?

There are a lot of things that can go wrong but equally you can get away with a hell of a lot as first time anglers/skippers, which will keep it fun. Marlin fishing is a thinking game, so make sure you keep your mind open.

Rule 5. So you got a fish, now what are you going to do with it? If you throw the curved tag pole into its shoulder will the fish really get eaten? Do you have the freezer space or enough friends to share it around to? Will that picture of you at the marina with your fish, still do it for you in five years time? If yes to all of the above then go for it, but do consider the options.

Think about the pics you see in quality magazines like this one, often it’s anglers who have just caught their fish… they are awash in the elixir of the catch and everything is genuine happiness. These days, that is the real trophy, and the best part is that by releasing the fish you get the chance to do it all over again.

The final rule is think about it; don't kill the animal for the sake of your gantry shot. Kill it if you’re going to eat it and share it with friends, otherwise take some photos that will probably go down as some of your most treasured memories, and do it all again next season.

Marlin fishing is a real buzz and nowadays far from the elitist sport that many think it is. It’s accessible to basically everyone... if you do the basics.

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