Busy on the Bluewater
  |  First Published: August 2007

Apologies for no report last month. I attended the Toyota Fraser Island Fishing Expo, the first time in quite a few years and thoroughly enjoyed it. I picked up a couple of daily prizes for a Spanish mackerel one day and a wahoo another. This gave me only a couple of days to get my report in and unfortunately it just did not happen. Even though winter is traditionally slow on the gamefish front, combining two months worth of news makes some worthwhile reading.

The end of May saw the blue marlin continue to bite between the Noosa Canyons and Cape Moreton. The Dog Leg proving to be one of the more reliable spots. A smattering of sailfish mixed in with the blues was moving-in and this indicated something good.

The sails did not disappoint and turned up on the Sunshine Coast grounds en masse. For a short period, their numbers were the largest seen for a couple of years. The bait looked good and everything was set to explode, but unfortunately the hot bite only lasted just over a week.

Mixed in with the sails were small black marlins on a ratio of about 3:1. Travelling with the schools were numerous wahoo that proved expensive on skirts/hooks and mono leader. Boats to capitalise on this bite included Scotty Trafford’s 36’ Black Watch, Watch Ya Problem, Felix Yeh’s 34’ Black Watch, Outside Edge, driven by son Captain Andrew Yeh, and Christopher Yeh’s AMM centre console, No-name.

Young Darren Lee aboard the 5.2m half cab, Misty, seconded mum Diane into driving him down to the boat ramp and between them tagged around 17 billfish. Other boats to get in on the action were Steve Turner’s Kevlacat Reel Turner, Jeff Oates’ Mustang, Mustang, Adrian Traynor’s home built custom centre console, Evolution, CJ Maycock’s Bertram, Fin Atic and Scott Baker’s Cairns Custom Craft, Xtasea.

The bite coincided with the first of many deckhand schools conducted out of Mooloolaba. Deckmaster David Granville charted Captain Andrew for a couple of days for his students. The first morning of the fishing school saw a catch of 13 billfish on light tackle. In the afternoon they moved to the shelf and saw a blue marlin and a sailfish out there. That would have been a pretty good outing for the students.

Reel Turner reported the next best with a 4 from 9 day on billfish plus a number of wahoo. Nevertheless, the young Christopher and Darren certainly held their own. A late charge by Rod Fett’s 43’ Obrien Palagero, Misty, performed the best for the champion boat Heavy Tackle for the Sunshine Coast club.

The tail end of the bite was during the Bribie Island Tournament. The starboard engine on Ymer, the 34’ Black Watch ANZAC Day failed, leaving owners Lee Bradford and Steve Brooks to fish out of Lee’s plate Fisher, Serial Fisher in the Bribie Tournament. Nine-year-old Daniel Brooks tagged a black marlin, a sailfish, a yellowfin tuna and weighed five wahoo between 10-11kg to scoop the pool. His father, Steve, tagged a black marlin to ensure the result. Dan walked away with Champion Junior, Champion Tuna Angler, Champion Light Tackle Angler and the team won Champion Team under 7.5m.

The same weekend Captain Luke Fallon bought the 47’ Obrien, Kekoa, back from fishing the waters of Fraser Island with world record chaser Gary Carter aboard. Gary chartered the boat for 18 days straight and chased the blue marlin World Records on 3kg, 4kg and 6kg line. The boat fished from the tip of Fraser Island to Ballina, NSW, and clocked up over 300hrs and nearly a 1,000nm. Gary was presented with a couple of world record fish nearly every day but just could not convert for the team. Along the way they looked like setting an Australian wahoo record on 2kg line and yellowfin tuna record on 3kg line. The May Day holiday Monday did not bring them fortune, after a 9hr battle they eventually lost the fish.

That same week on the same Mooloolaba grounds, Brett Vercoe speared a black marlin. This possibly makes him the very first Australian to spear all three marlin species available in Australia. He even did it the hard way with the blue marlin caught before the more accessible black.

In other news, the Sunshine Coast Team that competed in the IGFA Cabo Rolex Tournament finished mid-field. The tournament attracted 62 teams from around the world and was by invite only. I can just imagine that the crew spent too much time checking out the sights of Cabo San Lucas than being focussed on their fishing!

For the next few months’ gamefishers can expect sporadic action. Black marlin and sailfish are still being caught on both coasts but the blues have gone quiet. The water temperature is still quite high for this time of year so who knows what might happen.

On the Gold Coast, target striped marlin anywhere from the 18s out, with the 42s to 50s being ideal. Yellowfin tuna are also a prospect. Lure maker Peter Pakula had them worked out last year by cubing for them. That is something a lot of Queenslanders do not seem to try. I am sure places like Noosa Canyons would find the yellowfin in target-able quantities.

Through winter you may also find some of the larger private boats making trips out to the row of seamounts 100nm offshore. Sunshine Coast boat, the 40’ White Cap, Keneka, has already tried a couple of trips with limited success. After trolling or reef fishing, more boats should try putting in the time targeting broadbill swordfish on those calm winter nights. I understand that Mick Keeling from the Gold Coast, who owns the 40’ Black Watch, Black Bart, is the only recreational angler to have targeted and caught a swordfish in South East Queensland. I have seen pictures of them as incidental captures, but not many anglers who target them have caught them. By catch will include such species as big eye tuna. Mick reports he has caught quite a few from his boat over the years.

Winter is also the time of year to catch your gar ready for the next season. Putting in the time at places such as the basin in the Mooloolah River can see a possible catch of 100 per session. If you go 3-2-1 on gar, it should see you with 30 tags or captures on gamefish. Big sessions that are cryovaced or stored in zip lock bags will have you set-up for the light tackle season. These are mostly small 3x2 gar with the odd river gar. The biggest models are worth keeping to try on the heavy tackle grounds.

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