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2014 Lizard Island Black Marlin Classic Day 1


Tournament Report Day 1:

Well the radio skeds weren’t too bad yesterday and I was able to get each tag up for those following from other locations.  If you want to join in and follow the reports fish by fish you can do so on via my Twitter feed. Just click on my Twitter handle below. And for those who were following yesterday, thanks for the nice comments and support!

Well another year, another Lizard Island Black Marlin Classic and even with the challenges the event has met this year firstly with the relocation to Cooktown (due to damage from Cyclone Ita. And Cooktown Fisherman’s Wharf and 1770 and the whole town did such a great job for the briefing and sailpast. It was lovely to see so many people come down to see us off! ABC Open’s Gemma Deavin took some great shots of the festivities you can see on the ABC Far North’s Facebook page here.)  The other challenge has been the radio skeds also due to damage from the cyclone to the repeater station, but we managed even if we did have to use 3 separate channels to do that!

A shot of Little Audrey's 650lb-er. They were unlucky not to get a tag into a third fish.
A shot of Little Audrey’s 650lb-er. They were unlucky not to get a tag into a third fish.

As for the fishing, well, its been many years since the event has started off on such a high. The first fish was reported only 40 minutes after start fishing – a 200lb black marlin for Sarah Jackson fishing on Capt. Steve Ahlers’ Hellraiser – and it was pretty much non-stop throughout the day from there.  Capt. Brett Goetze’s Amokura has streaked to the lead with three nice fish at 800, 850 and 400lbs all for angler Frank Padoin. They also missed a fourth later in the day.

A regular from the private fleet, Lachie and Janice Eggin’s Althaldo (150 & 400) leads the group on two tags on countback from Capt. Daniel Carlson’s Little Audrey (650 & 250), Capt. Brad Craft’s Castille III (300 & 900), Capt. Ashley Wallis’ Kalira (700 & 950) and Capt. Ross Finlayson’s Top Shot (80 & 150). Boats on one tag a piece are Hellraiser, Moana III, Think Big (another nice fish at 850lbs for Sharon), Iona II, Reel Easy and Duyfken.

A photo of Phil’s fish on Castille III below that Capt. Brad put at 900lbs.  As Brad says, “Phil the Pom comes good!” :-)


It’s worth noting that Ash’s anglers on board Kalira are representing the Bertarelli Foundation this year – and while I’m not sure if these were first marlin for Daniel and Marco Meister, they were certainly very nice fish. This year once again, the Lizard Island Black Marlin Classic is taking part in the IGFA Great Marlin Race and satellite tagging program and for the first time (world first), every member of the fleet has been issued with one Satellite Tag free of charge
which will hopefully enable the scientists to learn more about these magnificent creatures.
These PSAT Tags cost Aus $5000.00 each and is funded by the enormous generosity of The Bertarelli Foundation and The Peter Teakle Foundation.

Heading north

I had a quick report from another Cairns season regular who is currently on route north from the Gold Coast to join the rest of the fleet.  Capt. Jared Weir on Shaka reports that he had 10 blue bites off Sandy Cape straight lining north. Two were doubles and all of them had multiple shots. They only caught 2 as the rest either never hooked or jumped off with the biggest around 450lb. Jared says that it would have been fun to stay in the area and switching them as they all kept coming back.  So some fun ahead for boats who have time to spend out there.

Another Coffs Update

Richard O’Ferrall with more from Coffs: After a quiet winter, the Coffs Coast game fishing has started to wake up from the doldrums with more promise than we’ve seen for some time.

The East Australian Current was missing in action for several weeks in late winter, and is only now starting to flow normally again. So far, it’s brought masses of bait into the northern NSW coast, and with it, one of the best early striped marlin bites seen for some time. The stripes are still proving to be a bit erratic, but if you can find some mid-water or surface bait and work it for a while, the chances are you’ll raise striped marlin. This spring, the stripes are working in large packs, and a high proportion of multiple hookups on lures have been a feature of striped marlin fishing here for the past month. In the last three weeks alone, my records and reports from the game fishing community here show 49 striped marlin raised, which for this time of year is well above average, and is almost certainly not the full picture.

Captain Rob Lang has been doing well with the striped marlin on Black N Blue, working Coffs’ “Marlin Alley” out on the edge of the continental shelf with good results, going 3 from 10 over the last couple of weeks. As late as yesterday, Rob had striped marlin grabbing live baits meant for dolphin fish while doing a bit of sportfishing (which didn’t quite work out on 6kg gear and only a 20kg trace), but when they stopped working the dollies and put the heavier marlin gear out, they went 2 from 2 marlin in the same spot, including one big striped marlin of about 220lbs.

Ian Kemmis has been fishing his new boat Juggernaut pretty hard this spring too, and has racked up several striped marlin in his last few outings, raising about 15 fish over a couple of memorable days, including two from a double hookup that he shared with crew (and wife) Deb, successfully tagging both fish.

Skipper Marcus Blackwell’s new boat Hemingway has been proving that there are also some early season blue marlin out beyond 2000 fathoms already by going 2 from 2 on blues of around 300lbs to angler George Blackwell in their last three trips, as well as picking up the occasional stripe and a steady collection of YFT on the way to and from the deeper water.

Solitary Islands GFC President James McGinty had a big day when he went out in perfect weather last week with Pete Mallia as his only crew member, and they went 3 from 10 on striped marlin around 170lbs, including a double when they tagged both fish. The lower tag rate is typical of the striped marlin on the coast this spring, with multiple fish appearing in the lure spread and then swatting lures with abandon but no serious attitude for a few minutes, generally resulting in a pretty low hookup rate.

Curiously, this early in the season, there’s almost no luck to be had with striped marlin and live baiting here off Coffs. The striped marlin are clearly preferring to dither around playing with skirted lures and even ignoring live bait and switch-baiting when it’s been tried. There are various theories behind this, but the most popular seems to be that with some much good bait in the water to feed on, the marlin are much more interested in coming up for a look at skirted lures simply because they’re a bit different. For example, the boys on Black N Blue were out switch-baiting and live baiting around bait balls one day recently and couldn’t buy a bite no matter what they tried. So when Juggernaut cruised past just a couple of hundred yards away and hooked up a striped marlin on a lure, that more or less put an end to live baiting enthusiasm off Coffs for a while.


Late last week, Foreign Exchange took a couple of new crew out for a training run targeting striped marlin, and lucked into a double hookup – which almost became a triple hookup. Uncharacteristically, the first two marlin – both about 170lbs – jumped straight onto the lures they liked, and when we were clearing the other rods, a third larger stripe of about 100lbs came charging up behind it, and the lure had to literally be pulled jerked out of its mouth just a couple of metres behind the transom. To the great credit of the newbies, Jess Thompson (pictured) and Damien Paraire, we got both fish sorted and tagged off that double hookup.

Overall, the season’s really starting to look good, with better striped marlin numbers than we’ve seen so far for a few years, and blue marlin already turning up out wide. Also, the dolphinfish never left during the cooler month and are here in bigger numbers than anyone can remember seeing in the past, wahoo are already being caught, and when the first 24C water that the EAC brings rolls down the shelf in another week or two, the blues should show up in good numbers and the real marlin action will get under way.

It’s shaping up to be a great game fishing summer.

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