The South East Queensland Tournament Season is in full swing as I write this report. So far we have had the Sailfish Shootout, The National Pacific Real Estate Hervey Bay Game Fishing Classic, The Mooloolaba Billfish Bash incorporating the Australian International Billfish Tournament and the Jamie Fairey Memorial Bribie Island Junior Tournament.
The big news out of Hervey Bay tournament was the weighing of a 412kg black marlin by Mojo a 40’ Black Watch from New South Wales. This fish was 90 pounds short of weighing in at an imperial grand of 1,000 pounds. A good run of heavy tackle fish to this boat as well as some tagged yellowfin tuna saw them streets ahead of the competition during the National Pacific. I am sure Rob Wood and Scott Bradley have written more about this in their reports.
What was disappointing was the non-appearance of the run of juvenile black marlin we are used to at this tournament. I did not hear of one being tagged from within inside the bay which has got to be a first for that event though a mahi mahi did come from the Wathumba Creek area. The main light tackle action outside of the spit consisted of sailfish and mahi mahi. Plagues of juvenile wahoo were also conspicuous by their absence.
The following weekend saw the running of the Mooloolaba Billfish Bash incorporating the Australian International Billfish Tournament. Boats could berth at the Mooloolaba Yacht Club for this event with the sign-on and dinner being held at the Fish on Parkyn restaurant. Conditions the first day started out rough to frightening with strong winds and rain squalls. As an example, my 6.0m boat took nearly two hours to get to the twelve nautical mile grounds out of Mooloolaba. Fishing near the FADs all day nearly paid off for us with a wahoo missing out being line class by 300 grams and a mahi mahi a bit over a kilogram. The hard luck story of the weekend goes to Jimmy of the 6.85m Haines Hunter trailer-boat Aquastition whose boat jumped a black marlin off both days of the tournament. At the end of the first day a few weighed mahi mahi were all that separated the whole fleet with no-one tagging a billfish. The first afternoon calmed off quite nicely but the swell stayed up.
Conditions the second day were a bit better and everyone was hunting for that one elusive fish that might make all the difference. I believe the Riviera Hardnup and the 40’ Black Watch The Phantom saw one each but later in the day the 30’ Black Watch Reelax had their chances on a couple of Blue Marlin. An hour from the finish saw my trailer-boat hookup on what was to be the only billfish tagged during the weekend. It was a great way to start the ball rolling for the new boat, tagging a billfish on only its third trolling day in what is looking like a very quiet season and to win a tournament to boot. Conor Lynch was on strike and Mark Bird eventually got the tag shot away. There should be photos hereabouts. At the presentation Conor walked away with the Mal Ramsay trophy as Champion Angler and our team from Triton IV took out the EW Palmer trophy.
The Jamie Fairey Memorial Bribie Island Junior Tournament also found the fishing quiet with no billfish recorded tagged by any of the juniors. The junior fishing aboard Graham Haylock’s 34’ Black Watch Bugalugs did the best but as is the nature of the tournament, everyone walked away with a prize and trophy of some sort.
In general fishing news, I have nothing positive to report unfortunately. It is still very quiet with heavy tackle fishing nearly presenting more opportunities than light tackle fishing at the moment. Tainui the Pleysier on the Gold Coast tangled with what could quite possibly have been Australia’s first grander blue marlin but lost the battle after five and a half hours when the rod snapped at the reel seat. The first fish of the year did finally go off down at the Gold Coast and Tony Painter’s 35’ Caribbean Andiamo was the boat to do it with a striped marlin out on the 100fathom line. Chad from the club with his trailer-boat tagged the first black marlin of the year just before all the low pressure systems came in at Christmas time. On the Sunshine Coast, local charterboat Outside Edge (www.outsideedge.com.au), fresh back from the Cairns heavy tackle season had a day on the shelf and tagged a striped marlin, lost a blue and had a lot of mahi mahi bites. The trailer-boat Magic Pudding on it’s first attempt heavy tackle dropped a blue marlin and nearly every boat that has tried out wide has seen some action. Inshore on the Sunshine Coast has been very quiet with Jeff Oates fighting one solo from the trailerboat Billistic II but tagging it two up when a tag man swam across to assist one weekend then seeing one dropped the next aboard Action Men. Stephen and Kellie Jensen fishing two up out of their fly-bridge Black Watch The Animal got the shock of their lives recently when an 85 plus kilogram black marlin jumped on whilst they fished the normal close Mooloolaba grounds. A fish of that size was totally unexpected in that area on the eight kilogram breaking strain gear they would have been using and after some tears and two and a half hours the fish was finally tagged successfully.