Quite a bit of productive gamefishing has occurred recently. Barry Alty’s custom 49’ Mistress is up to 23 plus blue marlin tagged so for the season and Sunshine Coast anglers have found the sailfish pretty consistent if you can find out which bit of bait they are holding on any given day.
Tournament wise, the Mooloolaba Gamefish Club conducted their Billfish Bonanza Tournament incorporating AIBT (Australian International Billfish Tournament) during late April. A good roll up of boats made use of the Mooloolaba Yacht Club which was given a spruce up by the MGC members which was good to see. While the future of the Yacht Club is in limbo, the venue itself is great for conducting a game fish tournament. The weather forecast ended up being quite fishable and some fish were found by a couple of boat. Simon Christidis’ big outboard powered Kevlacat Outerlimits was looking good to win on countback all weekend with one blue marlin tagged early on then another dropped soon after. A few other blue marlin were tagged but the light tackle fish were proving elusive. Jim Dalling’s custom sportfisher Reel Chase had three marlin up during the course of the day but he couldn’t get a bite out of them. Later in the day Wayne Finlay’s 40’ White Cap Keneka finally tagged a Sailfish then had to limp home on one motor from way wide of Noosa. Day two would prove interesting to see who could secure the second fish to win. Keneka had its chances fishing very wide for light tackle fishing having something like 4 sailfish, striped marlin and black marlin on for the day but in the final wash up they only got one tag away. The inshore ground fired up a bit better on the second day with local Mooloolaba charter boat Flatdog skippered by long time Mooloolaba skipper Alan Harvey at the helm right in the thick of the action. Harv found a sailfish for his Townsville anglers in at the 10 mile then sat on that bait for the rest of the day hooking up on a second sail with two minutes to cease fishing. With no overtime allowed it would have been a miracle to get it tagged in a minute and a half and they radioed the tag in about 15minutes after cease fishing unfortunately for them. Late in the day Gary Holt from New South Wales aboard his Newcastle based Riviera Diversion tagged his second blue marlin to scoop the win on count-back with his son James winning most of the angler awards. Debbie Dahl fishing on Keneka scooped most of the light tackle awards and ladies prizes. I fished my charter boat again to try and defend the AIBT title but it wasn’t to be for us. We didn’t turn a reel all weekend but at least we got to fish heavy tackle once again in glamorous conditions the first day out of a trailerboat.
Mention should be made of the Sunshine Coast Gamefish Club boat Baron, a 4.4m centre console tinny who during the course of the weekend but not fishing in the tournament hooked 4 billfish from the inshore grounds and tagged three in amongst all the big name boats. Good going Jase! That would have won the tournament easily in the final wash up if he had entered.
The inshore fishing kept going after the tournament off Mooloolaba if you found the right bit of bait at the right time. Baron was in the thick of it along with the towered sportfisher Kajki and Craig McCulloch’s 5m Quintrex centre console Action Men. I’ve been out there a bit but am picking the bait schools loaded with tuna or am losing the odd Sailfish. The consolation has been the mahi mahi I have found for my customers. Whilst fishing the recent Toyota Fraser Island Fishing Expo, where we didn’t do as good as last year, with none of our crew getting on the scoreboard, but plenty of fillets in the freezer all the same, I missed out on some super hot fishing action out of Mooloolaba. It really fired up for Action Men with a three from four day, a four from six day and then Keneka went six from eight one Tuesday. They have been a mix of sailfish and black marlin.
Next cab off the rank tournament wise following the AIBT was Bribie Island Game Fish Club’s “Tournament of Champions”. Ian Walker’s 51’ Riviera The Phantom tagged a blue marlin early to secure the win on countback. The Phantom is the ex-Riviera corporate boat Fascination II, the enclosed wheelhouse, internal spiral stairway model. Plenty of boats had their chances during the course of the weekend to challenge for the lead. Long-time Scarborough gamefish skipper John Green driving the towered 40’ Black Watch In the Black (the old Castille from the Gold Coast) had four blue marlin on the second morning but couldn’t stay connected to them long enough to get tags in.
The tournament after Bribie’s was the Gold Coast Gamefish Club’s Blue Marlin Cabo Classic sponsored by Cabo Yachts. Cabo’s are a beautiful American sportfisher imported by long time game fish stalwart Graham McCloy from the Gold Coast who is a very generous sponsor for this tournament. The fish played the game to a certain extent but it was contested in trying weather conditions. After landing on a postponed date falling on Mother’s Day, many crews didn’t fish the Sunday which was forecast for stronger winds. 37 boats fished and Barry Alty’s Mistress rose to the top of the pack with three blue marlin tagged for the two days from four hooked. Congratulations must go to Barry, Brett Alty (skipper), Jeff Flentjar (the number two angler with Barry who was on two of their tagged fish) and Rocket the deckie. A tournament win was due to them with their success social fishing and time on the water. Boats to tag two included the 40′ Carribean Game Time, 40′ White Cap Dream Catcher II, 36′ Riv Maverick and 34′ Deep V 100%. The 40′ Obrien Obsession tagged a spearfish and some mahi mahi to get ahead of a fair few other boats on one fish each with the bonus field goal points. That picked up Lee the lady off it the Female prizes. The angler from Maverick got the angler prize on count-back from Owen Hancox off 100% from Jeff Flentjar.
I fished on Nauti Suzanne again the 33′ Obrien of Van Karas’. We lost one blue marlin early due to the dacron bedding down on the layers below then got one for Bruce Morgenstern, his first marlin. Previous to that he had mostly been the driver on them since his first sailfish caught with us on Shikaree his 5.2m Kevlacat and now Enticer his 7.5m Sailfish Cat.
Day two I got to fish on Mistress. That was good timing with them being in contention after the first day then going on to win. It was a pleasure to watch a gun crew in action and I got to clear some rods and steer the chair on the fish that did bite us. We got smashed the first day once again in the smaller boat (I think I may have even broken a rib! While driving, a wave I wasn’t watching put me into the steering wheel while hanging up the overhead microphone!) and like a lot of boats did not fish day two on the same sort of weather forecast and the boys went off and did Mother’s day stuff. If we had have been in contention we would have been out there as the OB is raising fish at the moment and anything touching my hooks is staying connected. The 40′ Black Watch Black Dog, ex. Bolero from Vanuatu copped one while trolling that rolled up through the bridge and knocked out the perspex windscreen. They saw four for the day and if they had stayed connected could have been right up there. Well done to their committee once again and Shari on the radio especially seemed like she had been doing it for ages.
I can not finish this report without mentioning the crew from the Gold Coast based 29’ Blackfin Reel Kool who were sent to the IGFA World Championships held at Cabo San Lucas in Mexico after winning the SCGFC Sailfish Shootout. Most people in the gamefish scene will know these guys, maybe not so much for their fishing prowess, but more for their dockside antics. Well the boys made a late charge in that very prestigious tournament setting a new daily record of eleven striped marlin and one sailfish released for 3400 points. That bought them to 3700 points with the leader on 3900 points overall. Unfortunately they had a fishless last day finishing fourth overall. They also got up to all sorts of mischief everywhere they went as only the crew from Reel Kool can do.