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27th Lizard Island Black Marlin Classic Tournament Report (2013)


The 27th Annual Lizard Island Black Marlin Classic by Kelly Dalling Fallon


The 2013 Bertram Lizard Island Black Marlin Classic was held from October 12 to 19, 2013 out of the Lizard Island Resort Marlin Bar. The number of boats competing swelled to 30 this year, for the first time since 2008, with a number of private boats once again joining the professional charter fleet to contest this world class event. Most notably representing two of the tournament sponsors and arguably the largest and the smallest boats in the fleet, Ernesto Bertarelli from the Bertarelli Foundation fishing on Kalira with Capt. Ashley Wallis from the 97m mothership Vava, and Tailored Marine, competing from a 8m centre console TMA from their own mothership, Lady Carmen.

The event also had its first solo competitor, with John Vandenheuvel fishing alone from his vessel Carolyn. Another overseas vessel and team from the USA also competed on board Bill Pullman’s Viking Billy The Kid.

Once again, the Black Marlin Classic is a participating event in the 2013 Great Marlin Race, after winning the race in 2012 with a black marlin tagged aboard Kekoa. Long time Lizard Island GFC member and supporter Peter Teakle, once again sponsored 5 satellite tags for the event, while the Bertarelli Foundation came on board with another 10 tags to make a record number of 15 Satellite PSAT Tags available for deployment.

For many years the radio schedules for the tournament have been difficult however this all changed in 2013 as well with the installation of a Repeater Station at the top of the island’s ‘Cook’s Look’ enabling the skeds to be carried out on channel 82 without a hitch. (With thanks once again to Mr. Peter Teakle.)

Fishing was consistent over the course of the event with several big fish recorded but only 4 teams in a position to submit applications to join the Lizard Island 1000lb Tag & Release Club. The first of those came on Day 2 with Capt. Daniel McCarthy on Moana III satellite tagging a 1000lb black marlin for angler Sergey Kuplensky. Later in the event, Sergey’s teammate Andrey Grigoriev, already a member with a grander black marlin in 2010, tagged another big fish at 1100lbs to gain himself a second entry.

This fish for Andrey was hooked up just before 5:30pm and cease fishing when Capt. Dan ran a bait over the fish which he saw free feeding on the surface nearby. 3 hours and 40 minutes later, the fish was tagged in the dark. Dan says that much of the fights was fought in the shallows in 60m or less of water. Talk about site fishing for marlin!

Likewise on Day 4, Capt. Bill Billson’s team on Viking II tagged a 1000lb black marlin for angler Rick Pawluk (whose team-mate Jim Wild is already a two-time member as well). This fish was one half of a double header, with Jim Wild taking the other fish which was unfortunately was self-disqualified after Jim took a tumble on deck causing the rod to hit the covering board. The day was not over for Rick and big marlin though. He tagged a second big fish later that day that Capt. Bill put at 850lbs as well.

On Day 6, the team on Iona II tagged the final ‘grander’ of the tournament for angler Jay Strako. Capt. Trent Visscher, returning to the tournament and the wheel of Iona after a few years absence from the Great Barrier Reef showing he still has plenty of big fish mojo to go around.

Granders aside, there were still plenty of giant marlin tagged and released throughout the 7 day event. Lucy West, a classic old lady of the sea (most likely the oldest vessel in the fleet), had several encounters with big fish throughout the tournament. We would hear a dejected deckie Donald Cook calling in ‘lost fish’ time after time and after a few reasonable fights. But on Day 4, one finally stuck and after a fight of over an hour, the tag went in to a fish that Donny conservatively called 999lbs for angler Brendan Holland. (Why 999? Donny is from the old school of captains and crew who believe the motto ‘if you don’t weigh it, don’t say it’ should apply.)

The Sydney and Port Stephens based charter boat Onsite, skippered by Glen Hunter, was also another that got among some really big fish. Among those one at 700lbs on Day 1, 900lbs on Day 2 and 950lbs on Day 4 and they fought another monster fish that did some spectacular jumps among the fleet before unfortunately pulling the hooks before the tag could go in.
The tournament was also noteable for some small fish mixed in, with the smallest fish tagged also recorded on board Moana III at a tiny 30lbs with several more in the 100lb range.

And although the event was hotly contested throughout, it was evident already by day 2, that the 2012 winning team on Capt. Ross Finlayson’s Top Shot would once again be present at the top of the leaderboard. They lead for the next 5 days of fishing with only Lake Macquarie GFC private boat Althaldo closing the gap to 1 tag on Day 6 and an adding an early tag on the final day of fishing to put them on level pegging with Top Shot. But they were also pipped at the post with a late run from both Moana III and Top Shot in the last few hours of fishing for Moana to slip in front of them to take the runners up spot.

Champion Boat was Top Shot with 9 Tags from Runner-up Moana III with 8 tags and Althaldo with 7.

Champion Male Angler was Tomonori Omi on Top Shot with 9 Tags from Runner-up Ralph Czabayski on Kanahoee with 6 Tags.

Champion Female Angler was won by Janice Eggins on Athaldo with 6 tags from Runner-up Sharon Poulter on Think Big with 2 tags.

The dates for the tournament in 2014 are 11th to 18th October 2013.

Overall there were 217 strikes with 144 hook-ups resulting in 94 tags + 4 tags self disqualified.

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