After a fairly gloomy report last issue, the world is now spinning on its correct axis and is a much better place to be. The infernal hot blue current has backed off to below three knots, bringing the marlin out to play big-time.
The rain has disappeared, the water is clearing up inshore and some bait is turning up. There’s even the danger of a mackerel season but nobody’s holding their breath on that score.
After the previous month’s outing was cancelled due to lack of interest (floodwater and pouring rain will do that to even the keenest game fisher!) eight Solitary Islands Game Fishing Club boats hit the water a fortnight later.
New entry Gameful Employment recorded their first marlin tag and release with a 100kg blue for Peter English, done the hard way with a small rod bucket and no harness.
Aboard Foreign Exchange Ib Mortensen tagged a feisty 60kg fish that fought out of all proportion to its size, even on 37kg tackle.
Most other boats at least saw blues but the hooks failed to stick. A monstrous afternoon storm cell powering up the coast made the trip home interesting for those who tried to beat it, with hail, horizontal rain and howling winds from every direction.
The rest of us chickens who loitered out on the shelf were treated to an amazing sound and light show, courtesy of Mother Nature, and the trip back in after it had blown through was uneventful.
Foreign Exchange fished again at the start of the following week and after visiting the FAD and fitting some mahi mahi with pinger tags as part of Steph Brodie’s research work into the species, they headed out into slightly deeper water. Two bites from blue marlin in just 60 fathoms confirmed that the blues were back and hiding up in the shallows once more.
Inspired by this, on Big Thursday, as we’ve since started calling it, three boats – Triton, Kestelle, and Wicked Weasel – worked what has become known as the ‘blue marlin car park’ inside the North Coffs Canyons in a super hot blue marlin bite.
Triton went 3-2-1 on blues including a double-header, one of which fell off; Kestelle had a 3-2-2, and on Wicked Weasel we had an embarrassing 5-5-0. All this activity took place in 70 to 90 fathoms in a patch of water only two miles square.
The word was soon out and the following weekend an armada of boats hit the water. Secret Men’s Business went 7-7-2 on a mix of blues and smaller blacks, with the blacks proving difficult to pin. Kestelle had a 3-3-0 and a couple of other boats recorded bites but not tags.
I felt the magic wasn’t there like it was on Thursday, so after a quick tour through all my new waypoints decided to fish south. Three miles north of the Nambucca Canyons, we finally got the first marlin monkey off Jarred Flynn’s back with a 130kg blue, then repeated the dose with a 100kg fish in 60 fathoms at the Sawtell Canyons on the way home.
Both fish ate the shotgun lure, a small Harbord Tackle Supply-era Marlin Magic Tube. On the previous Thursday the marlin wanted only the outrigger lures.
Other boats reported the fish showing a marked preference for shotgun lures, too. Strange fish, these marlin.
Meanwhile, Triton was making its way down to the Interclub and their hot streak continued as they tagged two blues at the Nambucca Canyons, then pinned another two from three bites south of Smoky Cape.
Three of their fish were caught on a single modified circle hook run well back in the lure skirt. Working on the principle of when a circle hook goes in, it stays in, this rig just might have addressed the marlin-on-lures problem although only time will tell.
The North Canyons and the Blue Marlin Car Park did fire in the afternoon – quite clearly the magic was still there but I failed to notice it. Slimy mackerel schools really started to stack up, top to bottom in places, and boats recorded multiple bites but the rubber-hook syndrome was rife.
Maybe the fish were just too well fed to be bothered chasing down a lure with any gusto.
Amid all this, however, Elise Currey, manager of the Coffs Harbour International Marina, stayed attached to her first marlin, a 110kg blue caught on Kestelle. Rosanna also hooked a beast of a blue, which they fought for four hours on 24kg before breaking it off.Reads: 1283