After a great bite on the Australia Day weekend the gamefish went off until mid February on both coasts. However, the Gold Coast was definitely fishing a bit better and had big schools of fat slimy mackerel turn up.
The start of that bite occurred during the Pakula Friendly Tournament (PFT) held out of the Couran Point Resort. This no-rules tournament is held to raise money for Breast Cancer Research. This was the first year it was held on the Gold Coast, as it had traditionally been held at Port Stephens in NSW the week before the NSWGFA Interclub, but 2009 saw the running of two PFTs for the first time.
Lucky Strike Skippered by Ross McCubbin showed everyone how to do it, once again. They had three on and tagged two black marlin both days in weather that was verging on sloppy for the trailerboat contingent.
Unfortunately, the poor fishing also coincided with the running of the Sunshine Coast Gamefish Club’s Gamefish Classic on the first full weekend of February. A reasonably poor weather forecast kept many away but hardy anglers from 22 boats ranging in size from 5.5m half cabins to 56’ flybridges turned up regardless.
George Rehua, who owns Reelax the outrigger company, got away to a good lead on day one with a tagged blue marlin from the Noosa Canyons at around 1pm fishing on his immaculate Pleysier called Pacemaker. On day two Wayne Finlay’s 40’ White Cap Keneka and Joel Hautala’s 35’ Gamefisher Witchdoctor also caught light tackle billfish but nobody could get multiple fish to beat Pacemaker.
Pacemaker went on to win the boat awards and its crewmember Dave won the angler awards and heavy tackle awards. John Green, onboard Witchdoctor, won the light tackle awards as angler and for the boat itself. Darren Malequin, the President of the Gold Coast Club, made the trip up in his 6.85 Cruise Craft Wet Dream and went away with the small boat prize with a couple of mahi mahi that exceeded line class. Ben Stasiak aboard the 35’ Caribbean Bangalee won the other gamefish category with a barracuda that weighed 23kg caught on 8kg breaking strain line.
Mid week following the Sunshine Coast tournament, the CNC Espadon (New Caledonia) versus Moreton Bay challenge was held out of Scarborough Boat Harbour Redcliffe. This received much more favourable weather which saw 16 boats front up for a mid week exchange fishing program with each boat having New Caledonians aboard.
Dream Catcher, a local Redcliffe outboard powered Whitley trailerboat, cleaned up all week just north of Hutchison Shoal. At one stage on the Tuesday afternoon they even had a quadruple hook-up of sailfish, only to finish with one tag for their effort. Each day they tagged a couple of sails as well at tangled with wahoo, mahi mahi and the plague numbers of striped tuna out there that week. A few black marlin were mixed in but they seemed to turn up a lot better in late February. As I found out when I took Scott Hillier for a fish.
I had the great pleasure of taking out Scott Hillier of Creek to Coast in February for a film shoot, and what a day we had in magnificent weather.
We had a slow start chasing mackerel but I knew the tuna would still be there. We knocked filming over in about ten minutes flat as the tuna were everywhere so we upgraded lures to slightly bigger ones to get away from them and to try for a marlin, a sailfish or a wahoo. We didn’t have to wait long and I marked a big fish 21m down in 48m of water. Sure enough it ate the shotgun and Scotty was on a nice black marlin. Steve Doyle, the boss of BCF, was onboard as well and he got smoked by a nice amberjack on one of my top spots on the Stella and knife jig he bought along. That topped off a good morning and we were in by 1pm.
The peak February bite lined up with the running of the Little Ships tournament held out of the One Mile at Dunwich on North Stradbroke Island. The 44’ Southern Cross, Five Star, from the Gold Coast took this out once again. The owner, John Faulkner, gets Townsville skipper Alan Zavodny down every year for this event and Al really makes use of the Furuno sonar it has onboard. The crew tagged two black marlin on the Friday and eight on the Saturday. This was a great effort on 8kg line.
The crew on Tony Painter’s Gold Coast based 36’ Caribbean Amigo wished they were fishing a higher line class on the Friday when they took nearly four hours to tag one of their black marlin. That added to the six fish they got on the Saturday to come in second.
Ace High, Dan Smith’s 4.75m centre console tinny also hooked a fish a bit too good for 8kg line class and lost it after a four hour battle. Conor Lynch and Dan Smith, fishing aboard Ace High, ended up taking out all the angler prizes by tagging four black marlin and winning on countback by two minutes. They also won the small boat section.
Suzie Douglass aboard the Mooloolaba Gamefish Club vessel Luna won the ladies category and Luna started off well and lead after the Friday with five black marlin tagged off the Sunshine Coast.
Michelle aboard the 40’ Black Watch In the Black out of Redcliffe took out the heavy tackle prizes. Matt Thompson’s 35’ Bertram Kanyana also caught a heavy tackle blue marlin for the weekend.
I fished aboard Pacemaker for the weekend and we made the bad choice of fishing heavy tackle on the Friday while all the light tackle fish were going off. No heavy tackle fish were caught off the Gold Coast that weekend and only a couple were seen. We went light on the Saturday and had a blinder tagging five from seven marlin in an action-packed day but too far off the pace to trouble the scorers.
Private and charter boats in on the bite that weekend included Mark Moreland’s 34’ towered Black Watch charter boat Skippered by Ross McCubbin, Lucky Strike that tagged 10 on the Saturday on 15kg line, and Barry Alty’s 50’ custom, Mistress, Skippered by his son Brett with deckhand Rocket aboard. Mistress ended up with six tagged, all on 8kg line.
After those 10 fish, Ross from Lucky Strike was sitting on 94 marlin for the season – A great effort!
A little bite started to happen on the Sunshine Coast the same weekend with Tony Kemp’s Bertram Take Time tagging five, Craig McCullough’s tinny centre console Action Men got two, Steve Dahl’s 43’ Bring it On got three and every second bottom-basher that weekend floating a pillie hooked one!
Some poor weather set in immediately following Little Ships but the action reached a climax the Tuesday after when the wind abated on the Gold Coast. Craig Somerville’s 36’ Steber Tsunami, Skippered by Cairns season deckie Griffo, did the unbelieveable and tagged 18 for the day. Having the grounds to himself along with only Lucky Strike in attendance certainly helped.
These are the biggest one day figures I have heard about in South East Queensland for what has got to be nearing 10 years. The word got out and the weather was better on the Wednesday so around a dozen boats fished on the plentiful bait schools.
The honours went to Tsunami again with around seven fish tagged, Jason Rhodes hung in until dark and ended up with seven as well aboard his 25’ Black Watch centre console Beetlejuice. The guys got four of their fish after 3.30pm and a lot of the fish Tsunami got on the 18 fish day were late.
Plenty of boats finished on five for the day, including Lucky Strike, and Ian Eberhardt’s 5.2m Kevlacat Shikaree and Mistress. Others in on the fish were: John Renton’s 340 Deep V, 100%, with four tagged; QFM writer David Green’s Sportfish, Gemma III, ended up with four at least; and Rob Stevens’ 4.3m tiller steer, Mackmauler got into the action with three caught.
Fish sizes have been all over the place on deep Gold Coast bait schools. Fish have ranged from our normal summer size 25kg black marlin to lots of 40kg fish and then 60kg, 80kg and even up to 150kg fish to keep you on your toes. Let’s hope they keep going into winter for us.
If you want to get in on some of this hot billfish or mackerel action or even general sportfishing charters, jigging trips and reef and deep sea fishing trips give me a call at South Queensland Charter Services on 0407 574 868 or check out my website, www.sqcs.com.au .Reads: 4610