It is the start of the busy time of year for the gamefish tournaments. Allready some have been run and won. Pity no-one told the fish to turn up in any numbers. The results so far have all been quite poor but that just leaves everyone in the field up there with a chance. Take the boys from Reel Kool recently during the Sailfish Shootout held out off the Sunshine Coast. Skipper Scott Macdonald and regular crew of Darren Malaquin, Darren Spackman and Paul Lehman fish Scott’s Gold Coast based 29’ Blackfin Express at most tournaments in South East Queensland and took only a single Sailfish tagged in the last couple of hours of the tournament on the Sunday afternoon to scoop the pool. Well done fellows! Just proves that perserverence wins in the end and if you show your face at enough of tournaments the luck will come your way eventually.
Held at the same time in tropical north Queensland was the 21st Annual Lizard Island Black Marlin Classic though held over six days. The crème de la crème of Marlin boats assemble for this tournament each year and a win here looks very good in your skipper’s resume. Young up and coming skipper Chris “Sharky” Miles nearly pulled off the remarkable feat of winning it three years in a row but came up one fish short to Captain Dave Pemberton driving Kanahoee with gun deckie Wade Allyn running the cockpit and Townsville Club stalwart Greg Gilbert aboard as angler. The Townsville based team of Kanahoee finished on nine fished tagged from a host of boats on eight with “Sharky’s” charge Maritimo 55 winning runner up on countback. The amazing story there is the original Maritimo 55 caught fire, burnt to the waterline and sank off Dunk Island on its way to Cairns only a couple of weeks prior. Chris and crew had to get back to the Gold Coast, fit out only the second Maritimo game boat out of the moulds, restock all their tackle and make their way north again and to be seriously competitive against the best in the business is a true credit to them. The fishing was still pretty quiet for the tournament and the strong South-Easterly weather and sea didn’t make things enjoyable for the smaller craft in the fleet for the tournament with plenty of stories of fish hooked and fought but who were super hard to tag in the conditions without jeopardising people or boats.
The bite is yet to start in earnest up there with 3 tagged fish a day the best you could reasonably hope for. Captain Luke Fallon of the 47’ Obrien Kekoa (www.kekoa.com.au) has been the man to fish near this season. He seems to have an uncanny knack of finding the fish when everyone else is struggling. It could also be the new 47’ Obrien is a fish raising machine like no other. Luke has had a couple of American record setters aboard already this season putting them onto fish that would go weight but after some epic battles some of the fish are finding their freedom. In between times he seems to be putting his charterers onto a better class of fish than the rest of the fleet is seeing and actually getting a few. November was when the bite started in earnest last year so there is room for improvement for the rest of the fleet. Mr. Consistancy Jim Dalling and his vessel Reel Chase is still chipping away at them for his charters and you can read all about his exploits on his daughter Kelly’s excellent blog (www.blackmarlinfishingblog.com) which is worth reading daily as the season progresses.
The big news to hail out of North Queensland this year was the grander black marlin caught out at Myrmidon Reef off Townsville. This fish smashed the grand mark, it in fact went 1,109 lbs many hours after being caught. People always knew they were out there and had fought them but this is believed to be the first Austrlian grander marlin weighed south of Cairns. The skipper was Townsville Club President Tom Hatrick and he was driving his old Rivieria which was renamed Rose Red for new owner and Magnetic Island resident Mark Hislop who happend to be the lucky angler at the time.
On the local front things look good with a bit of bait out the front waiting for the gamefish to arrive. There threatened to be a small bite off Mooloolaba late September with Rodney Marks and CJ Maycock getting into the sailfish action. Scott Trafford and Mark Bird hooked striped marlin with Scott’s boat Watch Ya Problem successful and Mark missing his right at the boat. I think the trophy is still open on the Gold Coast for the first fish of the year but I know Mick Keeling had one up behind his boat Black Bart on a trip to the shelf wide of Pt Lookout but it didn’t stick. The water has been unusually cold for this time of year coming off the record cold winter with the waters at the top of Fraser the only consistent place to venture for Billfish action. Andrew Earle’s Precision Reef Hunter II has been seeing fish every trip along with Rob Wood’s Watch Tower and Kingaroy local Scott Baker shot out in his trailerboat Xtasea recently tagging two sailfish from a swag seen for the day and were back in the harbour by 5:30 p.m.
Upcoming tournaments to place in your calendar include Hervey Bay which I am sure Rob Wood will have spoken about in his column, the Mooloolaba Billfish Bash which is now an official AIBT (Australian International Billfish Tournament) to be held on the weekend of the 24-25 November, The Gold Coast Light Tackle Masters on the weekend of January 18-20 in 2008 and the Moreton Bay Billfish Challenge on the 24-28 January 2008.