An introduction first: my name is Rob Smith and I’m a member of the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast Gamefish clubs, fishing most of the local tournaments put on by these clubs on a number of vessels. I also go out of my way each year to do the Little Ship Club Tournament at Dunwich and the Hervey Bay Tournament off Fraser Island. I have been fishing seriously in various forms since my uni days but I didn’t really fall into gamefishing until I did my first game tournament at the top of Fraser Island in 1999. I also got to experience a couple of good days on the Mooloolaba bait grounds in 1998-99 when they were at their most productive, and since then I’ve never looked back!
Now onto current news. Townsville and the Cape Bowling Green grounds are right in the middle of their light tackle season. It will be interesting to see if anyone can experience a 30+ billfish day like Jim ‘Reel Chase’ Dalling (www.reelchase.com) did a few years ago.
Princess C, a privately owned 26’ Black Watch from Townsville skippered by tackle developer Mick Meares, recently went 9-7-5, and Romulus, which is a 5.5m plate boat, also tagged five. This bodes well for the TGFC Billfish Challenge Tournament to be conducted from September 1 to 6.
Locally, Barry Alty’s Mistress (www.fishingmistress.com), a charter boat out of the Gold Coast skippered by his son Brett, has been into some good yellowfin tuna.
Captain Clynt Braithwaite and owners Mark and Stephanie Ripper of the Hope Harbour Resort boat Castille (www.castillecharters.com) continue to sniff out the blue-eye trevalla and hapuka cod on the shelf off the Gold Coast.
On the Sunshine Coast, club boat Misty took out the last and first billfish of the year quinella over two consecutive days fishing (June 30 and July 1). Most club boats seem to be concentrating on bottom fishing this time of the year. One boat that caters for that and gamefishing is Andrew Yeh’s Inside Edge (www.outsideedge.com.au). The only consistent action has been off the town of 1770, with local charter operator Peter Stevens putting his clients onto four and five black marlin a day on the way in from bottom fishing. Let us hope the sailfish will turn up off Mooloolaba in time for their Sailfish Shootout Competition to be held on October 7-8 out of the Kawana Waters Hotel.
September sees all of the southern charter boats heading north to commence the Cairns Heavy Tackle Season. The exception is Shaka (www.shakamarlin.com), the 60’ Assegai skippered by Jared Weir who is returning from an exploratory mission to Vanuatu.
There will be plenty of new faces in new boats, old faces in new boats, new faces in old boats and old faces in old boats this year, with the Cairns Black Marlin 40th Anniversary Tournament attracting many people out of the woodwork for what promises to be one of the best tournaments ever. Some old faces returning with new rides this season include former Reel Chase decky Ben ‘Notso’ Bright, now in charge of his own boat Wild Turkey, and Ross Ansell heading north with Laid Back, an American import. Speaking of American imports, Geoff Lovett International is the dealer for Hatteras boats so look out for their display boat Hatterascal doing the east coast this season.