After a great a little bite on the Australia Day weekend the gamefish went off until mid February on both coasts it appeared. The Gold Coast was definitely fishing better and did have big schools of fat slimey mackerel turn up. The start of that bite occurred during the Pakula friendly tournament 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. Lucky Strike skippered by Ross McCubbin showed everyone how to do it once again having three on and tagging two black marlin both days in weather that was verging on sloppy for the trailerboat contingent.
Unfortunately the poor fishing co-incided 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 with a tagged blue marlin from the Noosa Canyons at around 1:00p.m. on the first day of 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, Dave aboard it won the angler awards and heavy tackle awards and John Green the angler on 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 prizes with a couple of weighed 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 the Scarborough boat harbour Redcliffe. They 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 hookup of sailfish on, only to finish with one tag for that 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.
Lucky they did turn up as I ended up taking out Scott Hillier of Creek to Coast who is also an author in this magazine on the Thursday 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 so that is where we tried. 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 aboard as well and he got smoked by a nice amberjack on one of my aj spots on the Stella and knife jig he bought along. That topped off a good morning and we were in by 1:00p.m.
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 and Al really makes use of the Furuno sonar it has aboard to its full potential marking fish and bait schools and leading them to victory about three times now in recent years. 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 fishing aboard it and a Sunshine Coast Gamefish Club member like Dan ended up taking out all the angler prizes tagging four black marlin and winning on countback by two minutes. Every fish Dan was on they lost so it was good luck for Conor all round and a good decision to fish off the Gold Coast for the weekend. 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 leading after the Friday with five black marlin tagged of the Sunshine Coast. Michelle aboard the 40’ Black Watch In the Black out of Redcliffe took out the heavy tackle prizes and 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, who tagged ten on the Saturday on 15kg line and Barry Alty’s 50’ custom, Mistress, skippered by his son Brett with deckhand Rocket aboard. They ended up with six all on 8kg line for Barry. After those ten fish Ross 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 two, Steve Dahl’s 43’er Bring it On three and it seemed every second bottom fisherman that weekend floating a pilly 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 unthinkable 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 ten 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 3:30 p.m. to their credit 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 to take his season tally to well over 100 billfish, Ian Eberhardt’s 5.2m Kevlacat Shikaree and Mistress. Others in on the fish included the boat I fished on, John Renton’s 340 Deep V, 100%, with four tagged, QFM writer David Green’s Sportfish, Gemma III, must have ended up with four at least and even Rob Stevens’ 4.3m tiller steer, Mackmauler got into the action with three caught. Fish sizes have been all over the place on those deep Gold Coast bait schools with fish ranges from our normal summer size 25kg black marlin with lots of 40kg fish and then 60kg, 80kg and up to 150kg fish to keep you on your toes. Lets 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).