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25th Lizard Island Black Marlin Classic Tournament Report (2011)


The 25th Annual Lizard Island Black Marlin Classic by Kelly Dalling Fallon

This year’s silver anniversary Lizard Island Black Marlin Classic was held from the 1st to 8th of October, just a week in for many of the fleet fishing the Cairns marlin season, and so it was a real barometer for the rest of the marlin season ahead. And thankfully, we can say that the early indications were very good with one of the best results the competition has seen in years. From the 24 boats entered to fish this year, with anglers participating from all over the world including anglers from Australia, USA, UK, Russia, Japan, China & Sweden, a total of 125 fish were tagged. If you consider this number of fish on a per number of boats fishing average, this is the best result since 2004, which is well considered the best marlin season in recent history!

Despite eventual runner-up Little Audrey (with the competition’s youngest captain Daniel Carlson at only 23) making an early charge, it was Capt. Corey Hard’s Askari that ran away with the competition, taking the lead on Day 4 and only extending further it for the final three days fishing to win with 16 tags, 6 tags clear of Little Audrey on 10. And among the 16 fish, 10 of which were released by Askari’s Ray Camilieri giving him the Champion Angler award, there were a couple of giants. One for Ray that Capt. Corey estimated at 950lbs (photo) as well as a particularly huge fish at 1100lbs for Ray’s team-mate Mitchell Liddall that gave him entry to the Lizard Island 1000lb Tag and Release Club.

Once again the size of the fish tagged during the competition put the rest of the world on definite notice that this is the world’s premier giant black marlin tournament. In the first four days of fishing alone, I counted 17 fish over 700lbs tagged. These included another big fish released on Capt. Tim Dean’s Calypso for US angler and IGFA Trustee and Vice Chairman Bob Rich Jr., that Capt. Tim put at 1100lbs also. Champion Female Angler Amanda Thompson on Kanahoee with Capt. Chris “Sharky” Miles caught all of her team’s 9 fish to claim the prize which also included a couple of big black marlin at 850 and 950lbs.

As there are every year, there were also several hard luck stories about the fish that got away. Tournament newcomers on the Gold Coast based Game Over fought a fish that owner Darren Sandy put at over the 1000lb mark well into the dark on Day 4 before she was lost. But they made up for it on Day 6 with another big girl that they put at 950lbs for angler Mike Savage, to put them on the board. Another notable mention is 14 year old angler Connor Craven fishing on Viking II with Capt. Bill Billson who released 8 fish for the week – a great effort for the junior!

As a side note to the main competition, tournament sponsor Peter Teakle this year also purchased 5 satellite tags to monitor fish movements over the next 4 months. The satellite tagging program was inspired by a challenge made by the LIGFC team at this year’s Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament that our black marlin would outdo the blue marlin in the “Great Marlin Race”, a tracking competition that is run in conjunction with the HIBT each year. The winner of course being the ‘owner’ of the marlin that travels the furthest.

These tags are due to ‘pop up’ in 120 days and the information will be received and disseminated by Dr. Randy Kochevar of Standford University. With the leading blue marlin in the Great Marlin Race at the time of press having covered 1053nm, they have a fair bit of travelling to do it. But Peter (Teakle) is quite confident of a result in the black marlin’s favour telling me of a fish he had previously satellite tagged on the reef that made its way to Peru, almost 8000 nautical miles away!

(Three of the five satellite tags were deployed during the main competition and the remaining two the week after.)

Next year’s tournament will be held on October 20-27, 2012.

Day 1,
Sunday, 2 October, the opening day started with a spectacular sail past of the Battle Wagons in front of Lizard Island Resort in Anchor Bay, followed by a race to the outer Reef and start fishing on Day 1. The weather was good with about 15 knot winds and there were 21 strikes, 13 hook ups for 8 tags and one self disqualified, from 6 boats, with Amokura winning the day with 2 tags on a countback from Kanahoee. Champion Male Angler was Phil McCloy on Amokura with 2 tags and Champion Female Angler was Amanda Thompson on Kanahoee with 2 tags, one being estimated at 850 pound.
Day 2,
the weather was again good and there were 25 strikes, 17 hook ups for 13 tags, plus 1 self disqualified. The day was won by Spartacus with 2 tags on a countback from Hattitude. Champion Male Angler remained Phil McCloy on Amokura with 2 tags on countback from Ralph Czabayski Jr with 2 on Spartacus and Andrew Harvey on Hattitude. Champion Female Angler remained Amanda Thompson on Kanahoee with 2 tags. Craig Reagor on Calypso tagged an estimated 950 pounder. Amokura retained Champion Team status.
Day 3,
the weather was again good and 43 strikes, with 31 hook ups delivered 21 Tags and another 1 self disqualified. The day was won by Little Audrey with 4 tags, Champion Male Angler became Tomonori Omi on Top Shot with 4 tags on countback from Ralph Czabayski Jr on Spartacus with 4. Amanda Thompson remained Champion Female with 2 tags. Champion Team was now Little Audrey on 5 tags.
Moana with angler Andrey Grigoriev deployed one of the 5 Satellite Tags donated by Peter Teakle in an estimated 900 pounder to be the first away in the Great Black Marlin Race. All 5 SAT Tags are set to release in 120 days and when data is then downloaded from the satellite, Stanford University Professor Randy Kochevar will be able to determine which travelled the greater distance and an enormous amount of other information for us to better understand these magnificent Black Marlin and help in the management of the species.
Day 4,
the weather got even better and there were 60 strikes, 50 hook ups for 38 Tags and another self disqualified. There were some really big fish today with Amanda Thompson on Kanahoee and Ken Kline on Little Audrey each tagging an estimated 950 pounds and Phillip Scott on Reelistic deployed the second of the 5 SAT tags in a 250 pound fish. The day was won by Askari with a great 5 tags, which jumped them into Champion Team with a total of 9 tags. Champion Male Angler changed once again and Connor Craven on Viking with 6 tags, led on a countback from Ray Camilleri on Askari and Ralph Czabayski Jr on Spartacus, both with 6. Champion Female Angler remained Amanda Thompson with 4 on a count back from Lydie Magers with 4 on Tradition. Champion Team changed once again, with Askari jumping into first place with 9 from Little Audrey with 7.
IGFA Trustee and Vice Chairman Bob Rich, tagged an estimated 1100 pound on Calypso, which enabled him to apply to join the prestigious Lizard Island Game Fish Club Thousand Pound Tag & Release Club.
Day 5,
was won by Askari with 3 tags which also kept them as Champion Team with a total now of 12 tags and a commanding lead. Champion Male Angler remained Ray Camilleri on Askari with 9 tags and Champion Female Amanda Thompson on Kanahoee increasing her count to 6. Chris Caron on Castille deployed the third SAT tag in an estimated 850 pound fish. Askari increased its hold on Champion Team with a total now of 12 Tags. 21 of the 24 boats entered had now scored.
Day 6,
close to a glass out at sea resulted in 43 strikes, 31 hook ups producing 22 tags, the best day so far. Askari once again took the honours for the day with 3 tags, giving them an almost unassailable lead as Champion Team with 15 tags. Champion Male Angler was still Ray Camilleri on Askari with 10 tags, closely followed by Tomonori Omi on Top Shot with 9. Amanda Thompson on Kanahoee increased her lead score to 8 to lead Lydie Maggers with 5 on Tradition. 23 of the 24 entries had now scored.
Mitchell Liddall on Askari tagged an estimated 1100 pounder to qualify him into the Lizard Island Game Fish Club Thousand Pound Tag & Release Club.
Day 7,
A magnificent Glass Out day to finish this great event produced 18 strikes, 14 hook ups and 8 Tags for a Tournament Total of 264 strikes, 200 hook ups and 125 Tags from 24 boats. With another 2 entries into the Thousand Pound Tag & Release Club this absolutely justifies the claim that the Lizard Island Black Marlin Classic is indeed the Best Heavy Tackle Black Marlin Tournament in the World.
Reely Black took the dayTMs honours with 2 tags and Champion Male Angler remained Ray Camilleri on Askari from Runner up Male Angler Tomonori Omi on Top Shot with 10. Amanda Thompson on Kanahoee kepy her lead as Champion Female Angler from Runner Up Lydie Maggers on TraditionTM with 5.

Champion Team on Askari was led by Team Captain Shane Sipthorp with a fantastic 16 tags with Runner Up Champion team led by Team Captain Phil Webster with 10 Tags.
Champion Boat Captain Corey Hard on Askari accepted the Champion Boat Award with the most memorable and hilarious and long acceptance speech in the 25 year history of this great event.
Runner Up Champion Boat Captain Daniel Carlson on Little Audrey collected the second place trophies.

Overall Tournament Stats:
264 strikes for 200 hook-ups delivered 125 Tags which included 3 SAT Tags.
2 SAT Tags remain with the fleet for deployment as soon as suitable fish can be tagged.
The size range of fish tagged was:
0 to 100 pound = 3; 101 to 200 = 38; 201 to 300 = 31; 301 to 400 = 16; 401 to 500 = 5;
501 to 600 = 5;
601 to 700 = 2;
701 to 800 = 4;
801 to 900 = 14;
901 to 1000 = 4; 1001 to 1100 = 3. GRAND TOTAL = 125

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