Once again the fishing has been dominated by the weather. Luckily a bit of good weather has lined up with the tournament weekends with Bribie Island Club the only one to reschedule their dates.
First cab off the ranks was the Gold Coast Riviera Light Tackle Masters. In total there were five black marlin and one striped marlin tagged the first day, the same the second day and three black marlin on the Sunday which was a shorter day with a cease fishing time of 2:30 p.m. Five boats ended up with two marlin each and rounded out the top five boats. Reel Deel the 37′ Rivieria won overall as well as best placed Riviera boat. Freelancer the new red 48′ Riviera Express came second from the Pleysier Pacemaker then the Deep V Watchdog from John Palermo driving the towered 36′ Riviera Maverick. All places were decided on the weight of weighed fish exceeding line class as well as tagged other species. There were 56 boats competing with around eight under 8m. Ian Eiberhardt’s 5.2m Kevlacat Shikaree won the boats under 8m category with a tagged black marlin on the first day from Billfish Cowboys. Shikaree’s fish was also the first tagged marlin of the tournament. Monroe on the boat I was on, Fair Game, tagged the last fish of the Tournament. Most fish came from water 80-90m deep. One boat went wide and played with the blue marlin and lasted 20secs on 8kg tackle. Freelancer went wide on the first day and cleaned up on big gamefish with a 20.5kg wahoo and a few 12kg dorados. Daniel Walker won male angler with 2 tagged black marlin and some other species fishing aboard George Rehua from Reelax’s Pleysier Pacemaker. They got off to a good start and were leading with those two fish after day one.
The weekend after the Gold Coast was the Redcliffe Billfish Challenge held out of the Moreton Bay Trailerboat Club at Scarborough. This tournament attracted 36 boats and was fished in pretty atrocious weather. Most gamefish competitions only cancel or postpone days when a strong wind warning has been issued so that means a lot of days are fished in 20-25knot winds, just under a strong wind warning. Black Pearl tagged a black marlin at 7.20am, just 20 minutes after start fishing. There ended up being 4 black marlin tagged for the day. The 30’ Black Watch The Animal accounted for two of these which had them in first place and Hey Mate the other. Big Business weighed in two nice wahoo going 18.0kg and 16.9kg. The second day of the tournament was fished in better conditions but no marlin or sailfish were tagged for the day. Liberty captured a line class wahoo of 8.05kg but it was one of only a hand full of captures. Other than champion boat under 7m which was won by Aquasistion, The Animal scooped the pool, they took out Champion Team Overall, Champion Boat Over 7m, Champion Angler Overall, Champion Skipper to Stephen Jensen, Last Billfish Tagged, Champion Female to Kellie Jensen, Most Billfish Caught, Champion Angler Day 1. Stephen also won the major lucky door prize of an outboard motor. It just goes to show that when your luck is in it is really in. This was also a great effort for a two person team to have this success out of a flybridge boat where one person has to be on the bridge driving a lot of the time. They must really have their systems sorted out for clearing rods and tagging. Kellie must one busy lady at times.
The first weekend of February saw the running of the Sunshine Coast Gamefish Club Classic in their 26th year. Keneka, Wayne Finlay’s 40’ White Cap held out on count back from Scott Trafford’s 36’ Black Watch Watch Ya Problem with 2 tagged blue marlin a piece, both from the first day. In total eight blue marlin were tagged from the 25 boats in the tournament. Not a single light tackle billfish was tagged nor a single point scoring fish for boats less than 6.5m. Most of the blue marlin seen this weekend were small ones but David Hine’s first heavy tackle stand up fish aboard Keneka was called a 350lber on 37kg breaking strain line taking over 2 hours. No fish were caught by any of the juniors either but Lachy Tuckwell on the 6.5m Kevlacat Ofishal Business fought a blue marlin for over two hours and had it bust off on the leader when they were tracing it to tag it. 40’ Precision Reef Hunter II had their chances on the last day going one from three with one of their rods running dacron bedding down on itself and popping off. The fish they did tag helped them secure Champion Female Angler to Kylie Hancox. George Borg aboard Watch Ya Problem took out Champion Angler Overall as well as Champion Male Angler. Watch Ya Problem actually saw four marlin the first day, hooking three and tagging the two to George so they also had their chances. Light tackle fishing is still proving very poor this season. We dropped a light tackle black marlin aboard my boat Triton IV during the course of the weekend that could have won us a few trophies and we even dropped a certain line class wahoo earlier in the weekend in 145m of water just out of gaffing range. From now on I think most boats will concentrate on fishing out over the shelf for a bit more consistency. The Gold Coast had been experiencing a run of blue marlin in the lead up to the tournament and with a bit of reasonable weather, the Sunshine Coast boats actually got to chase them and find a few in their home waters. These fish should hang around into May-June with March and April often the best months.