Finally the weather subsided for some gamefishing action to occur.
The weekend of March 8 and 9 saw the running of the Surfers Paradise Game and Sport Fish Club Couran Point All Tackle All Species Tournament. This was contested in reasonable weather on the Saturday but Sunday saw a strong wind warning issued during the course of the day. The trailerboat, Katerin, was in the lead after day one with a blue marlin tagged on 24kg and one other species also tagged. I fished on Nauti Suzanne the ex-Townsville 33’ O’Brien. We tagged a blue marlin on 37kg line with me as the angler and a dolphinfish tagged on the same line class to Bruce Morgenstern. This had us in second place from Game On the 47’ Riviera of Mark Donaldson on a time countback with the same fish species tagged though their dolphinfish was a cracker of around 27kg.
Day two dawned with the wind up straight away. We got to the 100m contour before turning around and coming home even though we were in contention. Others like the Riviera Reel Deal got to the blue marlin grounds before doing the same thing. It just wasn’t worth it. Some boats did stick it out with Game On hooked up to a blue when cease fishing was called once the strong wind warning was issued. Wayne Thomsen from Springwood Marine was in the same situation with a black marlin hooked up aboard his 5.2m Kevlacat Kitty Kat on the light tackle grounds on 8kg line. Both boats tagged their fish giving the tournament to Game On and helping Kitty Kat secure most of the light tackle awards.
Next cab off the rank was the Little Ship Tournament which was able to go ahead with dubious weather seeing the smallest fleet in ten years. Being the week after the Couran Point Tournament saw a lot of Gold Coast boats pull out and being held the week before Easter didn’t help which was unfortunate. MGFC boat the 35’ Caribbean Luna was the only boat to head out from the port of Mooloolaba with most of the fleet out of Moreton Bay and the Gold Coast where the weather forecast was slightly better. Some northern trailerboats elected to launch at the Gold Coast as well. GCGFC boat, the 44’ Southern Cross Five Star did it again for owner John Faulkner. They left it to the second day of fishing to come through with the goods tagging a couple of light tackle black marlin to secure the win. The Brisbane based 34’ Deep V Watchdog had their chances fishing heavy tackle and were in the lead after the Friday with a short billed spearfish along with a tagged blue marlin but on the Saturday they lost three blue marlin in a row and Five Star snuck in on more points by fishing a lighter line class.
Through the month two hot bites occurred which was good to see in what is proving to be a very quiet season. Craig “Sparrow” Denham’s towered C&F charter boat Square Bear had been record fishing for 28 days solid out of Mooloolaba for the one client and when the weather was too rough to get to the shelf to chase the blue marlin on fly records they was chasing, they contented themselves playing around on the inshore grounds finding reasonable numbers of sailfish and black marlin in all the usual places. Sparrow has had at least three blue marlin to the transom on fly in gaffing range which is a mighty fine effort for anyone who has ever chased these fish even on conventional tackle but so far they are yet to get one during this charter. Anyway the news of the light tackle fish they had been seeing leaked as no-one had been out fishing during the atrocious weather.
I was lucky enough to be invited out on Luna the Wednesday after the Little Ships Tournament to get into these fish. I thought the Luna crew may have copped too much of a flogging from the weather the previous weekend to contemplate going out in the 20 knots of wind forecast for us but we went anyway and we were sure glad we did. The first fish we had up was a billfish of some description that played around with the lure for ages before hooking up then spitting it a millisecond later. A run of tuna of various species ensued till one of these tuna jumped into the boat showing itself as a sailfish. We lost that one then I tagged two in a row for Nathan Douglass before we lost some more. We must have seen six or seven billfish for the day and were hooked up tight and fighting four of them. The tuna were a menace and to make matters worse so were the sharks who delighted in either eating our live baits or eating the hooked tuna.
This action continued for the 34’ Black Watch Ymer who tagged a billfish on the Thursday for Daniel Smith, which was the third one I had tagged in two days. Then they tagged two on Good Friday with their own crew. The 30’ Black Watch The Animal was also in on the bite along with X-t-sea the trailerboat from Kingaroy, Wasabi the SCGFC Kevlacat trailerboat and John Longhurst’s big Precision driven by Russell Caporn, Tenacious. The Saturday after I scored my first billfish on charter for some New Zealand holiday makers. It made a nice change for them having caught striped and blue marlin before. The one we got was part of a triple hookup with a cobia on one bait which we landed straight up and two sails on at the same time to two lady anglers. Unfortunately the one fish rubbed the other off but we would have had our work cut out for us landing the double.
While this action was going on the blue marlin turned on down at the Gold Coast. Barry Alty’s custom 49’ Mistress was in the thick of the action tagging 3 one day. So far this season Barry has seen 3 of his 5 biggest blues after many seasons of fishing. Get out the big guns. One they called 750lb and the other 650lb. Watchdog was into them again tagging at least 4 the one day then the bite continued for Craig Summerville’s little 36’ Steber Tsunami tagging 3 the same afternoon then going 4 from 10 two day later. That day Ross McCubbin’s charter boat the 40’ Black Watch Adrenaline went 3 from 9 on blue marlin. Andrew Yeh and myself heard about this bite and ran our trailerboats to the Gold Coast to capitalise on the action but it fizzled for us. Andrew raised two on his Kevlacat charter boat Inside Edge and we tagged one on my boat Triton IV with renowned Deer Hunting Guide Clark McGee on the rod.
On the local charter boat front masses of school size cobia have moved in over all the usual Caloundra grounds. These proved great for when the I-Fish TV crew turned up to shoot a segment recently. After a late start in drizzling conditions we secured a pile of live bait then tried a few spots before jagging one location that produced a fish per drop after I anchored on it properly on the second time round. Paul Worsteling was a hoot and we should have secured some great TV coverage.Reads: 2499