The 28th Annual Lizard Island Black Marlin Classic by Kelly Dalling Fallon
28TH LIZARD ISLAND BLACK MARLIN CLASSIC 2014
Due to the damage incurred by Cyclone Ita earlier in the year, with the resort at the island currently undergoing major renovation and repair work and unable to host, the 2014 Lizard Island Black Marlin Classic was relocated for 2014 only, south to Cooktown – considered the gateway to the middle Ribbon Reefs.
And while the relocation presented more cyclone related challenges (radio communications were also affected) it was also a welcome change of scenery for the fleet. The Cooktown community came out in numbers in support of the event and the morning sailpast from the Endevour River was watched by scores of locals who lined the foreshore to farewell the 23 strong fleet with start fishing signalled by the shotgun blast from two bayonets fired by gentlemen in old colonial attire.
In another first for the 2014 event, the combined sponsorship by the Bertarelli and Teakle Foundations of a satellite for every boat in the fleet enabled all to participate in the IGFA 2014 Great Marlin Race and will also helping our scientists to learn more about these giants.
Day 1 – the fishing started in ideal weather conditions and unlike recent years, the fishing was hot from the outset with the first fish tagged only 40 minutes into fishing, and one of a total 19 tagged for the day. As always, there were several good quality fish in the 8-900lb range. Capt. Brett Goetze’s Amokura, who remained a contender for the entire competition, streaked to the front with three for the day, all for angler Frank Padoin.
Day 2 – once again the fishing fired from start fishing with the first boat hooked up within 15 minutes. A total of 23 tags were added with several more giants including 2 fish at 1000lbs (Castille III & Moana III), 1 at 950lbs (Little Audrey) and 2 at 900lbs (Althaldo & Kekoa). Many of these big fish were satellite tagged and should be good contenders in the Great Marlin Race also!
Day 3 – with the first tag reported just 10 minutes after start fishing, Day 3 was also the biggest day of the tournament with 27 tags recorded. The team on Little Audrey were the big point scorers of the day tagging 5 fish to take the daily award and shoot to the top of the leaderboard.
Day 4 – Lady angler and tournament regular Sharon Poulter, fishing aboard her and husband Paul’s Think Big, had a very big day. Sharon fought and tagged two fish that Capt. Laurie Wright put at 900lbs each in short succession (the second fish giving her a two hour workout) before husband Paul tagged their third fish for the day (another big one at 850lbs) giving them the daily award. Overall it was a quieter day of fishing with only 13 tags added for the day.
Day 5 – Despite the Day 4 lull, by early in Day 5, numbers had already surpassed the results of the previous year’s tournament and it was more than apparent to everyone that this was a good year. Some more very big fish were reported although not making it onto the scoreboard. Both Iona 2 and Althaldo released fish over the 1000lb mark that were self disqualified due to the anglers needing help to fight the fish all the way to the boat. Another 13 tags were recorded.
Day 6 – Capt. Ross Finlayson’s Top Shot, tournament winners for the previous two years, had been tiptoe-ing their way through the leaderboard and sitting in 2nd place at the end of Day 5. On Day 6, again, the second biggest day on the water with a total of 26 tags recorded, Top Shot’s angler Tominori Omi accounted for 5 fish up to what Ross called 999lb++ for the day to streak to the front. There were several more big fish recorded including another at 950lbs for Capt. Bob Jones’ Iceman while local Cooktown boat Bite Me, also fought a big fish for four hours before losing the battle.
Day 7 – with the fishing time adjusted to 8am to 2:30pm to allow for the longer return travel to Cooktown, and the weather, which had been mostly very comfortable during the week blowing out to 25-30knots (and felt very much at the higher end), Day 7 was a mostly quiet day on the water. A few teams chose not to fish in the conditions, and for those that did, staying connected in the big swell was a real problem. Of several more hook-ups, only 4 tags were recorded bringing the tournament total to 125 tags.
Champion Boat was Top Shot for the third year running, with 15 tags from Runner-up Little Audrey on 13 in a very tight race for most of the week.
Champion Male Angler was Tomonori Omi on Top Shot with all 15 tags from Runner-up Frank Padoin on Amokura with 10.
Champion Female Angler was won by Sarah Jackson on Hellraiser with 6 tags from Runner-up Janice Eggins on Althaldo with 5.
The dates for the tournament in 2015 are 17th to 24th October 2015.