Well the blue marlin have finally arrived and right on cue for the Solitary Islands Game Fishing Club’s Heavy Tackle Challenge.
After a bit of an indifferent summer, where deep water fishing effort was interrupted by small blacks, wahoo and of course mackerel inshore, the blues have really stepped up the pace lately, with multiple bites in a day being the rule rather than the exception. Best result to date was Matador with a very tidy 3-3-3 for a morning’s fishing.
They’re not massive blues, mostly between 90 and 140kg, but there have been some real bubbas in the mix also, with fish as small as 60kg. This is quite unusual for Australian waters, but they still go hard. They’ve also been somewhat more aggressive in their approach to a lure than in the past, with less swishing and swiping and more of the crashing strikes that we know and love.
We mostly expect to find blues along the shelf edge and wider, but lately there’s also been a couple caught in 50-70 fathoms. This can prove a rude start to the day for a sleepy crew just setting the lures up!
The nice thing about game fishing is putting a newcomer onto their first marlin, and the past month or so has seen a number of Solitary Islands GFC members and guests get their names on the honour roll. Jason Werrett, Andrew Mayo, Mark Kirkman, David Clarke, Brendan Wong, Tara English and Fiona McGinty all made the list, and most of them only had to wait a couple of hours (not days, weeks or even years!) to do it.
The water remains blue and super warm at 27-28°C. The current, which has been meandering about, not flowing at all, or even going uphill along the shelf has finally picked up, pushing down south at 3-4 knots. This is what we’d expect to see in early summer rather than autumn, but the good thing is that it regularly brings a host of fresh blues down from Queensland waters and the Coral Sea.
The little blacks remain a viable option inshore, but most of us have thrown the light tackle back in the shed and wheeled out the heavy artillery for blues. It’s worth swapping out the big lures for smaller ones on the way home as you cross the shelf though, as a bonus black can really cap off a day — or save it. Just don’t fish them on full strike or you may have an angry little green fish trying to stab someone boatside or even climb aboard.
There have been a couple of brave little 30kg souls encountered in deeper water, but they have proven hard to hook — they probably can’t fit their mouths around a 14” lure and an 11/0 hook…
The odd sailfish has turned up anywhere from the mackerel grounds to 1000 fathoms and given anglers an opportunity to cross another species off the bucket list, usually leaving just spearfish and swordfish to go.
The mackerel remain marvellously consistent for those chasing them, and it’s been another bumper year for both species. I haven’t heard of any real monster bar-ees, and the spotties have been all over the place size-wise, but they certainly taste good.
The wahoo bite has tapered off, but again, it might be as a result of the fleet fishing wider, whereas Doctor ’Hoo has been most active in depths of 30-70 fathoms this year.
Photo courtesy of Andrew Mayo.Reads: 985