Marlin bonanza for gamefishers
  |  First Published: July 2008

Quite a bit of productive gamefishing has occurred recently. Barry Alty’s custom 49’ Mistress is up to 23 blue marlin tagged so far for the season, and Sunshine Coast anglers have also found the sailfish.

Tournament wise, the Mooloolaba Gamefish Club conducted their Billfish Bonanza Tournament incorporating AIBT (Australian International Billfish Tournament) during late April. A good roll up of boats made use of the Mooloolaba Yacht Club, which was given a spruce up by the MGC members. While the future of the Yacht Club is in limbo, the venue itself is great for conducting a game fish tournament.

The weather forecast ended up being quite fishable and some fish were found by a couple of boat. Simon Christidis’ big outboard powered Kevlacat Outerlimits was looking good to win on countback all weekend with one blue marlin tagged early on then another dropped soon after. A few other blue marlin were tagged but the light tackle fish were proving elusive. Jim Dalling’s custom sportfisher Reel Chase had three marlin up during the course of the day but he couldn’t get a bite out of them. Later in the day Wayne Finlay’s 40’ White Cap Keneka finally tagged a Sailfish then had to limp home on one motor from way wide of Noosa.

Day two would prove interesting to see who could secure the second fish to win. Keneka went out very wide for light tackle fishing having four sailfish, striped marlin and black marlin on for the day. In the final wash up however, they only got one tag away. The inshore ground fired up a bit better on the second day with local Mooloolaba charter boat Flatdog, skippered by long time Mooloolaba skipper Alan Harvey at the helm, right in the thick of the action. Harvey found a sailfish for his Townsville anglers at the 10 mile mark then sat on that bait for the rest of the day hooking up on a second sail with two minutes of fishing time left. With no overtime allowed it would have been a miracle to get it tagged in a minute and a half and unfortunately for them they radioed the tag in about too late.

Late in the day Gary Holt from New South Wales aboard his Newcastle based Riviera Diversion tagged his second blue marlin to scoop the win with his son James winning most of the angler awards. Debbie Dahl fishing on Keneka scooped most of the light tackle awards and ladies prizes. I fished my charter boat again to try and defend the AIBT title but it wasn’t to be for us. We didn’t turn a reel all weekend but at least we got to fish heavy tackle once again in glamorous conditions.

Mention should be made of the Sunshine Coast Gamefish Club boat Baron, a 4.4m centre console tinny who during the course of the weekend, but not fishing in the tournament, hooked four billfish from the inshore grounds and tagged three in amongst all the big name boats. Good going Jase! That would have won the tournament easily in the final wash up if he had entered.

The inshore fishing kept going after the tournament off Mooloolaba. Baron was in the thick of it along with the towered sportfisher Kajki and Craig McCulloch’s five-meter Quintrex centre console Action Men. The consolation has been the mahi mahi I have found for my customers. During the recent Toyota Fraser Island Fishing Expo my crew and I didn’t get on the scoreboard and I clearly missed out on some super hot fishing action out of Mooloolaba. It really fired up for Action Men with a three from four day, a four from six day and then Keneka went six from eight one Tuesday. They have been a mix of sailfish and black marlin.

Following the AIBT was Bribie Island Game Fish Club’s “Tournament of Champions”. Ian Walker’s 51’ Riviera The Phantom tagged a blue marlin early to secure the win on countback. The Phantom is the ex-Riviera corporate boat Fascination II – the enclosed wheelhouse, internal spiral stairway model. Plenty of boats had their chances during the course of the weekend to challenge for the lead. Long-time Scarborough gamefish skipper John Green driving the towered 40’ Black Watch In the Black (the old Castille from the Gold Coast) had four blue marlin on the second morning but couldn’t stay connected to them long enough to get tags in.

The tournament after Bribie’s was the Gold Coast Gamefish Club’s Blue Marlin Cabo Classic sponsored by Cabo Yachts. Cabo’s are a beautiful American sportfisher imported by long time game fish stalwart Graham McCloy from the Gold Coast who is a very generous sponsor for this tournament.

The fish played the game to a certain extent but it was contested in trying weather conditions. After landing on a postponed date falling on Mother’s Day, many crews didn’t fish the Sunday which was forecasted for stronger winds. Thirty-seven boats fished and Barry Alty's Mistress rose to the top of the pack with three blue marlin tagged for the two days from four hooked. Congratulations must go to Barry, Brett Alty (skipper), Jeff Flentjar (the number two angler with Barry who was on two of their tagged fish) and Rocket the deckie. Boats who tagged two included the 40' Carribean Game Time, 40' White Cap Dream Catcher II, 36' Riv Maverick and 34' Deep V 100%. The 40' Obrien Obsession tagged a spearfish and some mahi mahi to get ahead of a fair few other boats on one fish each with the bonus field goal points. The angler from Maverick got the angler prize on count-back from Owen Hancox off 100% from Jeff Flentjar.

I fished on Nauti Suzanne, the 33' Obrien of Van Karas'. We lost one blue marlin early due to the dacron bedding down on the layers below then got one for Bruce Morgenstern, his first marlin.

Day two I got to fish on Mistress. It was good timing seeing they were in contention to win after the first day. It was a pleasure to watch a gun crew in action and I got to clear some rods and steer the chair on the fish that did bite us. The 40' Black Watch Black Dog, ex. Bolero from Vanuatu, copped a wave while trolling that rolled up through the bridge and knocked out the perspex windscreen. They saw four for the day and if they had stayed connected could have been right up there on the scoreboard. Well done to the committee and Shari on the radio seemed like she had been doing it for ages.

I can not finish this report without mentioning the crew from the Gold Coast based 29’ Blackfin Reel Kool who were sent to the IGFA World Championships held at Cabo San Lucas in Mexico after winning the SCGFC Sailfish Shootout. Most people in the gamefish scene will know these guys, maybe not so much for their fishing prowess, but more for their dockside antics. The boys made a late charge in that very prestigious tournament setting a new daily record of eleven striped marlin and one sailfish released for 3400 points. That bought them to 3700 points with the leader on 3900 points overall. Unfortunately, they had a fishless last day and finished fourth overall. They also got up to all sorts of mischief everywhere they went, as only the crew from Reel Kool can do.

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