I finally have a bit of good news for anglers chasing gamefish in South East Queensland. This past month two major gamefish tournaments were held and a couple of smaller ones and fish were seen during all. Whilst light tackle is never going to be as good as last year based on the results of the Townsville and Hervey Bay Tournaments there is some hope but the big news is that we might be in for a good season heavy tackle.
The first tournament during this time was the Bribie Island Juniors tournament. Whilst no marlin were tagged, a couple were hooked and dropped by Jim Mackinnon’s 680 Haines Hunter Encore Aquasition and a couple of others seen down along the front of Moreton Island. Boats fishing around Hutchison Shoal reported a few wahoo and mack tuna. Around the same time SCGFC boats were reporting wahoo and mahi mahi from the Barwon Banks but no marlin were tagged for over a month.
Hervey Bay’s Ramada Classic was the next cab off the ranks and I am sure QFM writers Rob Wood and Scott Bradley should have a bit about it in their reports as well. It was a great roll-up with the most number of boats ever and from as far afield as Gladstone and the Gold Coast. Doug Sanderson and committee should be very proud of how the tournament has grown back to where it started from the lean years of less than ten boats and hardly any visitors competing to nearly thirty and from most of the southern clubs.
The tournament was blitzed by Wayne Finlay’s 40’ White Cap, Keneka. Wayne is a Sunshine Coast Gamefish Club member and has had a bit of tournament success at Sunshine Coast and Mooloolaba Tournaments the last couple of years so expect him to be going for a few dollars in the next few calcuttas. Keneka had a look around before the tournament and that is what set up the victory. They fished light tackle off the 13mile gutter the day before the tournament but were fishing in a brown algae soup. Wayne then decided to fish heavy tackle in the competition to get away from the algae and after recent good reports of heavy tackle fishing up there. In the preceding weeks the 48’ Express Riviera Fascination IV from the Gold Coast, Banshee a 60’ Riv from the Sunshine Coast and Watch Ya Problem a SCGFC 36’ Black Watch had either had lots of blues up or tagged one or some. This proved a good move for Wayne and his team as they secured the first billfish of the tournament and ended up tagging four blues for the day. Wayne has got some good mojo or rigging going on at the moment as he ended up seven from ten for the weekend which is a great statistic for lure trolling for marlin. Two of the missed fish didn’t even really hookup, just popping the rubber bands. This secured a host of trophies for Keneka and Kevin Charteris and crew aboard his old Pride trailer-boat Whitehorse II took out the small boat division tagging yellowfin tuna, wahoo and mahi mahi. About four light tackle blacks were tagged and one sailfish seen but not hooked. All in all pretty quiet for Breaksea Spit on the light tackle front. Sandy Cape Shoals was alive with wahoo, rainbow runners and unusually, green jobfish on lures whilst Spit Bommie was alive with yellowtail kingfish of all sizes.
The big news was the heavy tackle bite with most boats venturing to the Waddy Canyons off the Gardner Banks rewarded with hook-ups of good size blue marlin up to 400kg. No big ones got tagged but a few were hooked. On Ymer the 34’ Black Watch which I fished on we tagged a 200kg blue marlin for our junior angler Daniel Brooks. Dan spent one hour and thirty five minutes on this fish before the tag was placed. We had it on the leader about 5 times before Scotty Baker wrapped it boatside. That is a phenomenal effort on 37kg breaking strain stand up tackle for someone who would weigh 40kgs wringing wet. Dan fished up to the full strike drag of twelve kg when we were over the top of the stubborn fish and backed back to about eight kg when we drove off to try and plane the fish up. It was a very unusual, straight up and down close quarters fight for a blue marlin that fought more like a big tuna. We only got into the dacron twice and fought it on the mono top shot most of the fight. The lure that did the damage was a Bahama Mama lure which are being imported by Ian Zappalla and are for sale at The Tackle Wharehouse and Doug Burts Fishing Tackle World.
Along with Keneka, Rob Wood’s 36’ Black Watch Watch Tower and Grady White skippered by David Granville fished the same area on the first day giving them a good head start for the three days of fishing. Other boats to get into the heavy tackle action were the 30’ Deep V In Deep from the Surfers Paradise Club who had their chances going two from ten, Yvonne the towered 40’ Black Watch of Keith Young who got a couple of heavy tackle fish, lost a couple and also a light tackle fish from inside Breaksea Spit and also Steve Morley’s trailerboat Trophy with a blue and a few lost. On Ymer we saw five for the day and a half’s fishing only getting the one and then also missing a blue in the Noosa Canyons on the way home from the tournament on the Monday. Grady White did the best of the final half day fishing but the action dropped off significantly compared to the Friday and Saturday.
The weekend after Hervey Bay, Moreton Bay Boat Club conducted their Redcliffe Ladies Tournament. It seemed the blues had made their way south and a few boats tangled with them with Shane Steer skippering the towered 40’ Black Watch In the Black to victory with two blues tagged on countback to Dave Trask’s 51’ Riviera Big Business also on two. Shane dropped quiet a few on the Saturday so it looked like being a good blue bite off Cape Moreton but the weather has since conspired to keep us in port. Only one light tackle black was seen which was disappointing for this time of year. A 9kg wahoo was weighed by Cool Runnings and a blue was dropped by the 26’ Whitley Dream Catcher hot on the heels of their Cairns campaign where they got four big marlin up to and over the magic 1,000 pounds mark.
Also having lots of success at the moment is George Rehua’s legendary little Pleysier, Pacemaker. With two fish tagged on the Sunday, George and crew took out the Mooloolaba Gamefish Club, Billfish Bash Tournament the last weekend of November. His son Raymond took out the junior category which added to their haul of trophies on the night. George who is a great supporter of gamefishing through his sponsorship of many tournaments by his company Reelax will now be hot property in the calcutta auctions when fishing on the Sunshine Coast after wining the SCGFC Classic and nearly winning the AIBT a couple of years ago. In conditions that were forecast to be very average to say the least MGFC managed to attract 26 boats from all clubs in the southern zone. Saturday ended up fishable all day depending on the size of the boat but a storm warning forced many home. The storm blew itself out once it passed the land hit the water which was lucky for those that stayed out. Surfer Paradise Club trailer boat Something Fishy was looking the goods after a tagging the only black of the fleet Saturday. It was like a switch was flicked on Sunday for the fishing or the black marlin just happened to turn up on the day compared to Saturday and Townsville’s and Hervey Bay’s results. Along with the eight tagged there were a couple disqualified and there must have been around 30 seen for the weekend but lots of boats were dropping them, us included on Liberty II! Compare that with Townsville where a 30 plus fleet tagged 12 over four days comprising heaps of Cairns charter boats and Hervey Bay where four were tagged light tackle it is certainly not 100% doom and gloom like it had been looking. Along with the black marlin tagged a few mahi mahi went better than eight kilograms for points and certainly lots of sub eight kilogram mahi mahi and wahoo were caught. I only heard of a couple of sailfish dropped and they can turn up anytime of the year.
Just a reminder to anglers to scrub up on the GFAA rules if fishing for club points or fishing in tournaments as there seems to be infringements of the fishing rules at every tournament these days. Not fishing in the tournament new SCGFC member Graeme Edwards put his wife Leighann onto a 22kg yellowfin tuna on 8kg line the same Saturday. Heath and Jay on the 5.2m Kevlacat Tanjian bought a 21kg mahi mahi to the scales the Friday of the tournament and down in Moreton Bay it seems the cobia run is late with pictures of some monsters surfacing all through the past month.
Down at the Gold Coast all of the action has been heavy tackle. If boats aren’t seeing or getting blue marlin they are into a stack of large mahi mahi. Hot on the action is Chad Holmes’ Signature trailer-boat Addixion. Chad had a two blue marlin day one day and has dropped a few more all the while ticking over the esky fillets with a 31kg wahoo one trip and a five from seven mahi mahi day all high teens to 23kg. Boats getting blues down that way include Lucky Strike skippered by Ross McCubbin, Barco and the usually consistent 49’ custom game-boat Mistress and the 28’ Salt Shaker.
This past month on charter I started my mahi mahi and wahoo campaign and was still getting snapper on soft plastics. The mackerel were yet to show but by the time you read this they should be on. To experience some fishing action give me a call at South Queensland Charter Services on 0407 574 868 or check out my website, (www.sqcs.com.au).