By October Cairns’ heavy tackle black marlin season will well and truly be in full swing. Let’s hope it is a good season so these magnificent fish get a chance to spawn and produce millions of progeny. Hopefully, I’ll be in the thick of the action fishing out of Cooktown during October and November.
If you want to get into gamefishing or go out on a proper gamefishing boat with some of the biggest names in the business you can do this at a fraction of the normal cost. At the end of the Cairns heavy tackle season, a lot of the charter boats offer ‘sleeping bag’ trips. You’ll need your hat, sunglasses, camera and sleeping bag as you fish and cruise south with the boat from port to port.
These trips are very flexible and you can get on and off at all the major ports on the way south like Cairns, Townsville, Hamilton Island, Yeppoon, Bundaberg, Hervey Bay, Mooloolaba and the Gold Coast. Even though these modern gamefishing vessels can do more than 30 knots top speed, they are most economical at idle revs trolling along where the big diesels are ticking over hour after hour doing it easy. The idea behind these trips is they are super cheap for potential customers as the boats are only after some petrol money to get themselves south for the summer season. If they don’t have any fare paying charters aboard and they still have deadlines to meet, it can end up costing the owners quite a bit for diesel just to shift the boat around.
You won’t be fishing the best grounds during peak seasons but the boats do head wide to pick up the southerly moving East Australian Current. This puts you over great fishing locations like Lady Musgrave Island and the Capricorn Bunker group along with Breaksea Spit at the top of Fraser Island and the grounds between Wide Bay Bar and the Gold Coast.
Boats that offer these types of trips are Bill Billson’s Viking II (www.australianmarlin.com), Alan ‘AZ’ Zavodny’s Top Shot (www.azgamefishing.com) and Tim Richardson’s Tradition (www.traditioncharters.com). Tradition’s previous owner was Kiwi rugby league international player Jared McCracken hence its old name, Crackers.
On the local fishing front, Mooloolaba boats Rissole, Reelee and Cheetah have been catching and scaring a few. If they do fire off Mooloolaba, a boat to consider chartering with is The Phantom (www.thephantom.com.au) owned by Ian Walker and decked by his son Daniel working out of Scarborough. This boat has runs on the board and Black Watch 12m boats are certainly no slouches when it comes to travelling. Sandy Cape is having its usual run of September sailfish. I am sure there will be a wrap up in Rob Wood’s Bundaberg report. It sounds like he and Damon Olsen have found a few sails in recent weeks.
On the Gold Coast, the end of year trophies have been handed out and local boat Fair Game (www.fairgame.com.au)owned by Danny Simons scooped the pool with most of the local awards. Local tinny Salt Shaker cleaned up with the small boat awards and Graham McCloy of Black Watch fame who owns the magnificent Pleysier Inkwazi and his friend Carmen Darcy ended up with a table full of trophies for their trip to Lizard Island during the black marlin heavy tackle season.
Townsville’s Jim Dalling has continued his excellent season with 112 billfish releases from 12 days of fishing. One day alone Reel Chase managed to release 19 black marlin, 17 another and a couple of days of 10. All of this action is occurring at the Cape Bowling Green grounds that Jim knows like the back of his hand.
INXS founder Tim Ferris with his first release (image courtesy Kelly Dalling).
The crew on Reel Chase have been catching blenty of billfish of late (image courtesy Kelly Dalling).Reads: 2155