The 17th Lizard Island Black Marlin Classic held over seven days of fishing from 19th to 25th October 2003, once again proved beyond doubt that this event is the World’s premier heavy tackle Marlin tournament. Although Striped and Blue Marlin are eligible species, Black Marlin (Makaira Indica) are the species that aggregate along the Ribbon Reefs of the Great Barrier Reef at this time of year and not surprisingly were the only marlin species hooked.
Fished in the best week’s weather in living memory 29 serious battle wagons started fishing on various sections of the Ribbons, as provided in the rules, the spread on Day 1 being 17 boats on Number 10, 4 on Carter, 2 on Yonge and 1 on each of Number 5, 6 and 7, No Name, Day and Hicks. As the week developed this changed dramatically.
Day 1 there were only 15 tags and the honours went to the team on “Reel Chase” with 2 tags, Captain Jim Dalling, fishing Number 10.
Day 2 saw a de”nite change in the location of the fleet, with all but 3 fishing on Number 10 and 1 each on Number 6, Carter and Yonge. There were 28 tags this day with the honours going to “New Moon” Captain Kim Andersen, fishing Number 10, with 5 tags to angler Shiro Kubo. Shiro was never to be headed the rest of the week. Janice Eggins took “rst place Lady Angler with 1 tag on “Athaldo” with Lachie Eggins on the wheel.
What turned out to be the biggest fish of the Tournament was weighed at the Lizard Island weigh station on Day 2 to angler Murray Hansen fishing on “Striker” with Captain Bruce Smith, a magni”cent 565kg (1245 pound) Black Marlin, the second biggest weighed in the history of the Black Marlin Classic. “Striker” also sailed under her own power from New Zealand to take part in the event, no mean feat. “Kiama” angler, Jay Meyer, weighed a 1018 pounder on a mother ship. Unfortunately, the fish came up dead and of course was not counted in the tournament.
Day 3, all boats on Number 10, except one each on Number 7 and 8. The day’s tally of 14 tags was headed by “Tenacious” with 2 tags on a count-back from “Iceman”, “Reel Chase” and “Mauna Kea”. Champion boat was still “New Moon” with 5 tags on a count-back from “Reel Chase”. Champion Male and Lady Angler unchanged.
Day 4, and for the “rst time ever in living memory every single entry was chasing the hot bite on Number 10. Talk about the black marlin aggregating â€“ what about the crÃ ̈me of the game fishing battlewagons. There were 80 strikes, 57 hook-ups and 27 tags, a sight not to be missed, with fish jumping on and o% all around us. Honours for the day went to “New Moon” with another mighty e%ort to Shiro Kubo of 5 tags. This put “New Moon” in clear “rst place with 10 tags from “Reel Chase” with 7. Male and Lady angler placing unchanged.
Day 5, and only one boat deserted Number 10 to try their luck at Yonge â€“ it didn’t work! The day’s tally was 27 tags with honours going to the last 2- year winner, “Viking11” with 4 tags to the brothers Maddocks, Jim and Cli%. “New Moon” was still in “rst place with Shiro Kubo on 12 tags and a new Runner-Up team, “Viking11” on 9 tags. Janice Eggins was still Champion Female with 2 tags on “Athaldo” on a three way tie count-back from Jeannette Shi on “Wild Turkey” and Candice Meyer on “Kiama”.
Day 6 and the crowd were too much for Deano on “Mauna Kea” who deserted Number 10 to try his luck on Day and Carter. He was rewarded with 1 tag, but not enough. The day’s total was 24 tags and the daily award went to the team on “Billfish” with Tiger on the wheel and 3 tags on a count back from “New Moon” and “Lucky Strike”. Champion Male Angler, Shiro Kubo and “New Moon” were now very clear winners on 15 tags from Runner-Up team “Viking11” on 10 tags. However, the new Champion Female Angler with 4 tags was now Jeannette Shi on “Wild Turkey”.
The last day, Day 7 and the whole fleet back on 10 again, in what appeared to be an impossible task to catch the team on “New Moon”. The bite was a little o%, with only 22 tags, but big fish were the order of the day. The daily award went to “Moonshine” Captain Scott Browning with 4 tags while “New Moon” cemented their place with one more.