ShellCove 23rd LIZARD ISLAND BLACK MARLIN CLASSIC
If there were any concerns about this year’s 23 Annual Lizard Island Black Marlin Classic – whether they be economic due to a smaller competing fleet or fishing related after two less than stellar years – they were erased quickly once the tournament got underway. Indeed the number of boats competing were less than usual with only 27 making the starting line up, but the fishing more than made up for any short fall. And, with the progress of modern technology making almost instant reporting possible, the gamefishing community world-wide kept vigil along side the fleet as the lead changed hands throughout the competition and were even more enthralled by the size of fish that were being released.
The team on Castille III were first out of the blocks with the first point scoring fish for angler Chris Caron on Day 1. They also marked the first grander of the competition later that day with a fish for angler Parke Berolzheimer, who has fished Lizard Island for 16 years running. Originally called in at 950lbs+ on the sked, upon reviewing the footage an application was submitted for the elite Lizard Island Thousand Pound Tag & Release Club. At cease fishing, MV Joe Joe was still hooked up. The next morning we discovered that they successfully released the number 2 grander, an 1100lb-er for angler Clayton Allen fighting well into the dark. (Clayton later celebrated by shaving 1100 into the back of his hair!)
On Day 2, Top Shot skippered by Captain Ross Finlayson took over the lead adding three to his tally for Japanese angler Tomonori Omi fishing at Number 5 Ribbon. Ross also kept the fleet entertained by making tournament director Bob Lowe repeat his anglers name over and over again on the radio with varying degrees of success on the pronunciation. Also on Day 2, Askari, the new 55ft foot Assegai skippered by Captain Corey Hard released another grander (1050lb for owner/angler Shane Sipthorp). Two granders in three days.
Day 3 began a tussle between private boat Spartacus owned and operated by well-known Port Lincoln shark fishing identity Rolph Czabayski and son Ralph, and the Port Douglas based MV Joe Joe skippered by Captain Barry Cross, which would continue for much of the remaining competition. On the grander count, Hattitude with Captain Kim Andersen on the wheel added a 1000lb-er to owner and angler Mike Dobbins and once again Joe Joe was hooked up at cease fishing with another fish at 1100lbs for angler Paul Brown. Three days, 5 granders.
Day 4, the first fish of the day was a grander for angler Peter Britt fishing with Captain Trent Vischer on Iona. If that wasn’t good enough, the second fish of the day also hit the mark at 1000lbs for Jim Wild on Viking II with Captain Bill Bilson. What an amazing count, four days, 7 granders.
On Day 5, the brand new Maritimo 55 Kalira, skippered by Captain Ashley Wallis, released the maiden grander at 1050lbs for owner/angler Geoff Lindrea. Meanwhile, as Sparatacus and Joe Joe continued their tussle for the lead, Capt. Chris “Sharky” Miles on Mauna Kea was beginning a stealth climb up the leaderboard
On Day 6, it began to get crowded at the top of the leaderboard and a number of boats were well in contention. KEKOA released the biggest fish of the tournament, a massive 1200lbs for angler John Wildberger, more than making up for the disappointment of not adding another point scoring grander the day before when Captain Luke Fallon made the decision to break the fish off on the leader without a tag rather than possibly loosing it to sharks.
And while Day 7, the final day of competition was almost an anti climax in terms of the number of fish (only 6 tags for the day), it ended on another grander high. With only 30 minutes to cease fishing, Kanahoee, skippered by Capt. Dave Pemberton, reported the fish angler Bill Borken has been fishing the reef for since 1990 at 1000lbs! 7 days, 10 granders.
In the 7 days of fishing 125 black marlin were tagged and released. With 25 of these fish over 600lbs the tournament has certainly re-affirmed its status as the premier big black marlin tournament in the world.
Not to be overshadowed by the big fish, Captain Chris “Sharky” Miles achievement to bring his team home, adding another fish on the final day to bring his tally to 11 tags should be applauded. Mauna Kea taking home both the Champion Boat and Champion Angler gongs for Daryl Mosely. Spartacus took out Runner-up Champion Boat with 9 tags and the Champion Female went to Karen Weaver on Maitai with 2 tags.