The Exmouth Game Fishing Club’s annual GAMEX tournament was held in Exmouth from March 13-18, 2016. A total of 226 competitors from all Australian states and as far away as Japan, South Africa and New Zealand fished from 52 boats during the six day tournament which is Western Australia’s premier game and sport fishing event.
The billfishing was unusually tough by Exmouth’s lofty standards throughout the week, with many crews reporting fish raised being very half-hearted in their attacks on lures or baits. The final billfish stats for the tournament reflected this, with 426 billfish raised, 285 hooked and 119 tagged. The total tag & release catch comprised of 69 black marlin, 34 blue marlin, 15 sailfish and 1 striped marlin.
Despite this relatively slow fishing, several blue marlin in excess of 200kg were tagged and released for the tournament by crews working the heavy tackle grounds beyond the nearby Continental Shelf. Chief among these were an estimated 330kg blue on 37kg for Jarrod Wiggers fishing aboard Crakawoody and an estimated 275kg blue also on 37kg for Brad Greere fishing aboard Time Out. No billfish were weighed in for the tournament.
Pelagic Hooker dominated the winners list in the billfish sections with their 8 marlin and 4 sailfish tagged enough to take out Champion Team Tag & Release Billfish (boats over 7m), Champion Boat Tag & Release Sailfish, Champion Boat Tag & Release Marlin, Champion Angler Tag & Release Billfish Junior (Riley Smith) and Top Tagging Captain (Eddy Lawler). Representing the Exmouth Game Fishing Club, Pelagic Hooker and Azura also won the Interclub competition held on days two and three of the tournament, with the Broome Game Fishing Club represented by Pulsator and Full Circle finishing runner up.
In the hotly contested Champion Team Tag & Release Billfish (boats 7m & under) section, Y Stress took the win with 7 fish tagged, narrowly beating out Papa George who tagged 8 fish but had a lower points score on countback which ended up coming down to time of capture. Champion Angler Tag & Release Billfish Male went to Peter Grant fishing aboard Zulu.
Exmouth’s hugely diverse fishing means GAMEX is much more than just a billfish tournament though. Queenfish, mackerel (Spanish, school and shark), tuna (yellowfin, mack, striped and longtail), golden and gold-spot trevally, barracuda, spangled emperor, cobia, dolphin fish, wahoo and more appeared at the weigh station throughout the tournament for the point score and sub 15kg line class sections. Each GAMEX invariably produces record catches in the line class competition, and this year it was the junior anglers setting new marks.
Will Roche fishing on Salty Dog scored a 16.3kg Spanish mackerel on 8kg line which is a pending Western Australian junior record, while Callum Horlock fishing aboard Mystic Knot had a fantastic tournament with two line class record claims. The first was an 18.9kg Spanish mackerel on 3kg line which is a pending WA junior record, and the second a 6.2kg dolphin fish on 1kg tackle which is a pending Western Australian and Australian junior record. Not surprisingly, Callum was also awarded Champion Angler (Junior).
Also among the section winners was Jan Prince fishing aboard Awesum who took out both Champion Angler Female and Champion Angler Tag & Release Billfish Female. Mark Hourn aboard Reel Obsession was awarded Champion Angler Male and Matt Arscott’s 6.8kg dolphin fish on 1kg gear fishing aboard Awesum earned him Most Meritorious Capture (greatest weight to line class ratio) as well as Highest Point Scoring Game Fish (Other than Billfish or Shark) Weighed in on 1kg line.
For dates and details on GAMEX 2017, visit: www.gamex.net.au.