The Australian Junior Billfish Tournament was held on Friday and Saturday, as 9 teams with 22 anglers headed out to target sailfish and marlin.
The crews started early with Will Cunningham aboard On Strike tagging the first marlin at 845am on the first day. There were 6 marlin tagged on day one and many cheeky grins from excited youngsters as they talked among mates at the clubhouse that night.
Day two had a calm start and Trent Gregory tagged the first sailfish at 810am, followed by Trent also tagging the first marlin at 945am aboard Ningaloo. There were 8 billfish tagged on day 2. The tagged fish comprised of 10 black marlin and 4 sailfish, with some fish estimated over 100kg. Coen Bryce, Jake Fitzgerald and Tait Missen all tagged their first ever billfish.
The winning teams were
Champion Team Junior: Team Azura with William Roche and Jessi Sutton
Runner-up was Team: Grand Slam with Hayden Michaels and Liam Collins
Champion Team Mixed: Team Kajiki with Riley Smith, Tait Missen and Summer Missen
Runner-up was team: Ningaloo with Trent Gregory and Jake Fitzgerald
Champion Team Small Fry: Team Reckless with Zac Owens, Lincoln Bryce and Coen Bryce
Captain Eddy Lawler won Champion Skipper, while Captain Ben Knight was runner-up.
Interestingly, there were two kids with broken arms that fished and one with a broken collar bone!
Despite the recent injuries, the keen anglers got out on the water in some testing seas and tagged some great fish. There were fantastic prizes for each section including days out on charter boats, Penn rods and reels, lures, caps, travel bags, signed books from Dr Julian Pepperell and Paul Worsteling, and of course some great trophies to take home. Every child received a shirt valued at $60 and entry was only $25
Thanks to the sponsors of Home Hardware Exmouth, Woodside, Turbine Services Australia, Penn reels, Clipsal, Peak Sportfishing Adventures, On Strike Charters and Ningaloo Sportfishing Charters.
This event is well suited for juniors, with fishing grounds just minutes from launching facilities, plus a choice of sailfish, black, blue or striped marlin. There were boats available for juniors to fish aboard, so if you missed out this year, make sure you ask about the 2017 event, which is tentatively scheduled for the first weekend of the school holidays in September.
Photos at top: William and Sam Cunningham onboard On Strike and Trent Gregory 10yrs (in the cast for his broken arm) & Jake Fitzgerald 14yrs!