I have just returned from an extended holiday, which included stops at the Sunshine Coast Gamefish Club Sailfish Shootout Tournament, the Hervey Bay Boat Club Gamefish Club Albermarle Gamefish Classic and the Mooloolaba Gamefish Club Billfish Bash Tournament. TNQ’s Mission Beach Tournament and the Half Moon Bay Tournament have also been run and won.
During the SEQ tournaments the boats I fished from had some good luck and some terrible luck. In the Sailfish Shootout aboard Ymer, Daniel Brooks attached to a black marlin only for a leader to give way after the first jump. Then, in the Billfish Bash aboard Fin Atic, we did an engine impellor right at the mouth of the Mooloolah River on the first morning of the tournament, leaving us limping around on one motor for most of the day. This event was won by Ian Copeland’s big plate boat Splinter, with three billfish tagged from Outer Limits and Cheethah, a couple of outboard powered Kevlacats.
Diesel-powered game boats have been having a hard time of it off Mooloolaba lately but we appreciated the ride and range of the diesel powered Black Watch Ymer in the Albermarle Classic. It allowed us to fish outside of Breaksea Spit for two of the three days of the tournament, tagging four black marlin to win.
This tournament was contested in 20-25 knots of southeast wind each day. To get the boat there we had to punch into 33-knot northerlies and to fish the boat back home to Mooloolaba we had to fish in 20-25 knots of southeast again. Local 18’ Hydrofield Nag Free did well in the under 7m class, and was one of only four boats to venture across the bar.
The fishing inside Hervey Bay was quite good, with most boats in the tournament tangling with one marlin at least. Our trip south after the tournament presentations was very productive, with another four black marlin tagged and a few dedicated reef fishing sessions producing red-throat sweetlip, red emperor, pearl perch, coronation trout, grass sweetlip and Maori cod.
State-wide, the heavy tackle action for black marlin off Cairns and Cooktown seems to have slowed dramatically, with many boats having already ended their seasons. The big news of the season was the weighing of a 1290lb fish by Diamond Girl skippered by Kim Andersen (www.kimandersensportfishing.com), wired by Stretch and Dougy and assisted by cook Nat Grima for their Japanese client. The other great fish was the 1091lb black marlin caught by 14-year-old Alex Johnston out of his father’s charter boat Shikari for a pending Junior World Record. Both of these fish came from Linden Bank off Cairns.
On the light tackle side of things, there has been no pattern at all. Townsville club anglers still had a good bite going at Cape Bowling Green during October, and sailfish and small black marlin were all through the Whitsundays at the same time. Peter Stevens, the local charter boat operator out of the town of 1770, was catching a couple a day for his customers only two miles off his local headland. Stephen Cheng of Tropic Angler Lures (www.tropicangler.com) doing R&D off 1770 has been catching quite a few black marlin as well.
The strange thing is there have been sporadic bites off the top of Fraser Island and inside of Hervey Bay as well as off Mooloolaba, yet at their local tournaments not a lot of fish were seen. Maybe these fish are being swept up in strange eddying currents and taken out into the Coral Sea, as a lot of people thought occurred last year.
The good news is the odd juvenile black marlin is being caught off the Gold Coast. Japanese angler Ken aboard Monroe Howser’s Deep V 310 Fair Dinkum was one such person in the right place at the right time.