Game On!
  |  First Published: February 2009

Many people are calling this the best season in over a decade and a return to how it used to be. Certainly the results from the Mooloolaba Gamefish Club Billfish Bash were the best figures for a tournament in recent memory. The other extraordinary thing is the fish distribution seems pretty equal between Fraser Island and the Gold Coast.

On any given day one area will see a big bite but all areas will have boats getting up to four fish a day most days. Usually one of the coasts is fishing much better than the other one but not this year so far. From Fraser Island to the Sunshine Coast there is the added bonus of tangling with more sailfish with some days seeing nearly equal numbers of sails to blacks and other days five to one or ten to one ratios in favour of the marlin.

I guess the action on the Sunshine Coast culminated with the running of the Billfish Bash. At the event 18 boats tagged 67 billfish for the weekend. Luna (Wayne Douglas's 35foot Caribbean) won the tournament with 12 fish tagged over two days, nine of which were tagged on the first day. The boys rigged close to 100 gar baits for the weekend.

Second place went to Rum and Coke with nine tags skippered by Russell Caporn.

I decked on Andrew Earle's 40foot Precision Reefhunter II. We had four tags (1 sail, 3 blacks) plus a mahi mahi on the first day and tagged three blacks on the second day for seven tags and third place overall.

Hats off to Luna who got off to a rampaging lead early in the morning on the Saturday. Rum and Coke gave them a fright on Sunday until they pulled it together again and tagged a couple more fish to secure victory.

There haven’t been many tournaments going neck and neck and fish for fish in recent times with good numbers of fish but it sure makes things exciting when it happens. I believe it was a common occurrence back in the good old days when fish numbers were more plentiful.

Social fishing in the middle of the pack on the Sunday of the tournament was young Jeff Oates the new President of the Sunshine Coast Gamefish Club. He went 4-4-4 livebaiting, two blacks and two sails in the 16foot Mustang, Billistic II. That is a good advertisement for circle hooks as the five from five he has tagged solo in the last little bit have had slack line at some time during every fight dealing with the cable steer steering and the half cab layout of the Mustang solo. The 40’ Black Watch Yvonne livebaited on the Sunday of the tournament as well and went two from five. The bite on the Sunshine Coast has really switched to livebait ever since with the odd boat here and there doing ok on the troll.

Fish sizes are all over the place at present, from midget 10-12kg blacks to the stock standard 20-25kg specimens and the odd fish up to around 80kg lurking around. The sails are across the full spectrum too. One of ours during the tournament was around 18kg, the other 30kg and Yvonne had some on around 50kg. Throw into the pot the 300lb fish Luna were attached to for several hours on 8kg line before losing it whilst social fishing one recent weekend and you don’t know what size fish you are going to tangle with on any given day.

Unfortunately for the Bribie Island Gamefish Club and their Tournament of Champions, they hit a day where the billfish were on holidays and the weather came in on them reducing it to a one shootout the Friday after New Years Day. Russel Fairey’s Riviera Hard’n’Up won with a tagged black marlin and a tagged sailfish over Black Pearl with a tagged black marlin. Geoff Harris’ Haines Signature Going Off won the under 7m section with a tagged black marlin.

The next two tournaments on the gamefish calendar are the Gold Coast Gamefish Club’s Riviera Light Tackle Masters mid January and the Sunshine Coast Gamefish Club’s Classic in early February.

Sunshine coast offshore

I am sure David Green will cover all the action that has occurred off the Gold Coast and Rob Wood and Scott Bradley will let us know what has happened off Fraser Island and inside Hervey Bay so here is what has happened off the Sunshine Coast.

David Granville skippering David Blank’s new Cabo Express Cabolito has gone 18 from 20 in recent weeks fishing heavy and light tackle as well as trolling and livebaiting on the inshore grounds. In Dave’s own 15 Formula Gotimon he has racked up at least four solo during the same period.

Jeff “Phill” Oates when not fishing solo in Billistic II has had days of two from four a couple of times and a three from three day. Wayne Finlay’s 40foot Whitecap Keneka is on fire at the moment with a nine from eleven day and a seven from seven day. Going hammer and tongs with Wayne’s boat is Scott Trafford’s 36foot Blackwatch Watch Ya Problem, which has had a few three and four fish days since the fish turned up. Other boats in the thick of it include Luke Carter’s Kevlacat Nothing Yet having a six from ten day plus plenty of fish on other days out and Ian Walker’s 51’ Riviera The Phantom (www.thephantom.com.au ) having a four fish day and a five fish day.

There is no holding back Steve Dahl’s new 43foot Bring it On after getting his first tag away the family team have got a few more fish under the belt. Continuing the run of guys fishing solo Matt Withers in Evolution tagged two from four the day of the solo trailerboat challenge with AJ Wright getting his first solo for his little boat, the Spearfish Little Bangalee.

Other boats having good days locally include the Lee family’s half cab Misty, Scotty Baker’s Cairn Custom Craft X-ta-sea. Up at Noosa Owen Hancox and Megan Withers had a six from nine fish day, two up aboard Owen’s 6.2m Haines Hunter Flatline. Hot on their heels were the Stasiaks and their Sportfish centre console Abu with six from six another day.

Down in the Trench Cape Moreton area the bite went wide open a couple of times but it was very hit and miss depending on which spot you chose to fish. Estiva the Deep V 340 of Ian Zappalla the importer of Bahama lures was able to capitalise the best having a five from eight day and plenty of boats over those couple of days when it did go off saw up to ten a day.

I am now back and chartering our local waters for game and sportfishing charters, jigging trips and reef and deep sea fishing. Give me a call at South Queensland Charter Services on 0407 574 868 or check out the website at www.sqcs.com.au .

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