Gamefishing is ideally suited to gadget lovers. They say that you can tell a game boat from a cruiser by the little accessories that the game boat has been fitted out with by its owner.
I’ve been fortunate to have been game fishing all my life. The excitement of pursuing big fish is accentuated by the build-up to each trip as you prepare your tackle and boat. Let’s take a look at the gadgets and gizmos that move anglers closer to success on often elusive fish. that typically have a good chance of becoming a ‘the one that got away’ story.
From afar you can tell if a boat is fitted out for trolling by the outrigger poles that point skywards at various angles. Outriggers, and their release clips, give your lines greater spread (width/separation) when trolling and may also offer drop-back to allow a fish to eat a big bait.
Big boats and big ‘tuna’ towers are part of the gamefishing scene. The towers have driving stations ‘upstairs’ and are used for spotting birds, fish and peering into the water to see underwater structure. Towers are typically the mounting point for electronic equipment, rod holders and sometimes outriggers.
While trailer boats are not suited to towers with driving stations; the concept of a mini-tower, targa top or T-Tops (such as on this centre console) on which to mount aerials, lights and rod holders to get your rods up and out of the way is a great space multiplier on any craft. These smaller superstructures can also provide mounting points for shade covers and bimini tops, which is great in summer. Small, ‘junior’ model outriggers may be mounted in conjunction with or on T-Tops and Targa Tops.
Targa Tops go on half cabin boats and have largely replaced the old-style bimini tops. Queensland boat builders lead the way in combining sun protection and Targa Top storage options.
Heavy tackle game outfits are big, heavy and fancy looking. These handles behind the reel offer a better balance point that makes manhandling the outfits much easier.
Up until the mid 1980s, the Queensland gamefishing scene was all about either livebaiting or trolling dead baits that were carefully rigged to swim through the water when towed behind the boat. Crews had to be pretty experienced bait riggers in order for constant success to be achieved. It was one of the factors that set the pro crews apart from the rest. However the development of the blue marlin trolling scene out from Brisbane saw many Hawaiian lurefishing techniques and equipment adopted by Queenslanders. The advent of easy to run lures as well as the availability of professional standard pre-rigged trolling lures enabled everybody to take a short cut (if they wanted to) in this one area. Lures are trolled from both flat lines and outriggers. The collection of lures is called a pattern or a spread.
Bent Butts on rods enable the angler to obtain leverage advantage with their tackle when using it from the chair. The bent butt rod in this photo was made in 1974 by Australia tackle legend and family friend, the late Jack Erskine. The Aftco butt in the photo is the modern storable hollow aluminium butt. These days most chair rods are of the bent butt style.
Big fish require big tackle and big tackle will overpower many of the rod holders and fish fighting equipment fitted to turn-key boats. The properly set-up chair is typically bolted through to the keel and becomes the centre of the boat’s angling effort. One of the big advantages is that rods can be fished on strike drag out of the chair. Anglers can also use the chair, its footrest and a seat harness to exert pressure on their quarry during the fight. Rods are often placed in the rod holders in the chair when the lines are trolled or fished from the outriggers.
The chair isn’t always used just for sitting in and/or trolling rods. Because the chair is in the centre of the cockpit it becomes a perfect storage spot (for tackle and equipment), as well as a bait rigging workstation and rod rack. Note the rocket launcher mounted on to the back of this chair in the photo for upright storage of light tackle rods.
Throttles and gear levers in the cockpit are ideal for short-handed crews, especially families. When the big fish is close and the skipper needs to be close to the action (down in the cockpit rather than up on the bridge) to lend a hand, then he can still drive the boat from beside the angler.
It is common to tag and release your gamefish these days – but even so you can still get a mount of the fish. Many taxidermists have fibreglass moulds from which you can order a replica of your fish.
In parts of the world were the deep currents run in close to volcanic islands and barrier reefs, such as in the Pacific Ocean, small boats get out and amongst the biggest of game fish. This isn’t so typical in Queensland. However the Great Barrier Reef does provide opportunities for small boats to be based from islands and super large black marlin have been caught from small trailer boats out from Cairns and Cooktown. In Southern Queensland larger trailer boats get amongst the blue marlin from time to time in good weather.
You may not want to invest in a gameboat, but you can still go gamefishing. A group of mates can take a booking on a gameboat and chase the big ones a couple of times per year. It’s much cheaper doing it that way than owning your own boat. Also, when chartering you will get to learn all about how to employ all the equipment that has been covered in this article. Chartering is also a great day trip option when you are travelling on holidays. In some island locations a family charter trip (with the works) compares favourably to a family theme park pass with the works. One of the best ways to select a holiday day-charter is to go for a walk around the commercial side of the gamefishing marina and look for the advertising boards. This way you can get to meet the crew and get a look at the boat before you make your booking.Reads: 1819