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2017 Cairns Marlin Season Recap


Read the full Bluewater Magazine Season Report with pictures

Cairns Marlin season recap 2017 by Kelly Dalling Fallon

Cairns is known for giant black marlin, and season 2017 has certainly again shown why it is the big black marlin capital of the world.

The Cairns giant black marlin season off Cairns had one of the best big fish starts of recent memory. Captain Bill Billson on Viking II was still making his way into Cairns on September 17th at the end of his usual bait fishing trip north with when he weighed the first grander for the season at 1117lbs for Port Hacking GFCs Glenn Paris, the fish having died during the fight.

Just a couple of days later, Captain Daniel Carlson on Little Audrey put owner Phil Webster onto a fish pushing the mark on his very first day of heavy tackle fishing.

A week later again it was Captain Chris Miles’ turn on Levante with a fish weighing 1111lbs, a first grander black for long time Cairns veteran angler Ralph Czabayski from South Australia.

And again before the month was out, Captain Daniel McCarthy on Moana IIIl hooked up to his first grander of the season in his first half hour of fishing. Since then he has notched up quite a few big fish noticeably one that he put at 1200lbs for angler and IGFA representative Ichiro Takahashi satellite tagged during the Lizard Island Black Marlin Classic as well as a pending Australian Mens’ blue marlin record with a fish weighing 870lbs on November 1st.

Into October there were spectacular numbers of little fish being caught from as tiny as 60-80lb, (leaving many wondering if they were confused which side of the reef they should be on) up to 3-400lb which bodes well for future years, as well as more really good quality fish from 800lbs upward. Though of note, we have recorded a lack of mid range fish of 500-700lbs this year.

At the start of the month two ends of the reef were firing with Captain Mark Parkinson on Black Label reporting a grander for angler George Karst in the same spot he had released a grander 11 years previously near Linden Bank while at Number 10 Ribbon , Captain Haydon Bell on Kanahoee put also Equadorian angler Norman Pichardo onto a fish he put as nudging a grand.

But soon the bite moved north almost exclusively and in the right spot, Captain Darren Haydon on Bounty Hunter encountered a run of good fish including one that Darren said was truly giant while Capt. Brent James on Mauna Kea also let go their first grander of the season.

Into mid October this time it was Captain Luke Fallon’s KEKOA with the run of big fish with 4 in as many days, the biggest released for NY’s Philip Leonardi 1100lbs.

Next spectacular drone photos from on board Captain Steve Ahlers’ Hellraiser sent the internet into meltdown as the boys from Texas enjoyed great fishing that week including 2 fish over 900lbs. And another who had big fish encounters throughout the month and got some spectacular drone footage – we will see more drones on the reef in future as a result of this year’s success – was Captain Craig Denham’s Hot Shot.

Captain Tim Richardson on Tradition guided angler Peter Kim from Canada onto a fish he put at 1100lbs after a 20-minute fight. While in the unseasonal monsoonal rain Captain Adam Jordan on Iona put his anglers onto two fish he put at 1000lbs over two days running.

Lizard Island tournament’s winners on Peter and Sheridan Yates’ Absolute actually disqualified their first fish of the tournament which was weighed in at 1188lbs for angler Brenton Fetterplace in Peter’s maiden season driving his boat.

And while total tournament fish numbers were down again, there we some more big fish tagged during the comp including one for Captain Brett Goetze, fresh back on the reef from paternity leave, for Amokura’s owner Darren Sandy that he put at 950lbs.

The day after the tournament Captain Ross Finlayson on Top Shot was back out to his honey hole on Number 10 putting his angler Nick Cortezi Jnr onto one that he put right on the mark in glamour weather conditions.

And many other standout fish nudging the magic number were also reported.

But by far the standout of season 2017 has been Captain Corey Hard’s Askari who has notched up numbers that have not been seen on the reef in many years — 112 so far at the time of writing in early November. I asked Corey what he though made this season so successful given that with weeks to he’s already smashed his previous season best tally of 96 marlin.

Corey attributes the great team he has with crewman Rhys Younan-Whise and Jay Househam whose skill and enthusiasm also rubs off on him. And he can’t speak highly enough of the boat either.

But as for the fish, Corey agrees that the fish showing up in such great number so early in September has also been a big factor. In fact Corey put it simply that September was October, and October was November (complete with November-like weather and water temperatures). And the first week of November has seen the fleet fishing wide much more typical late of November/early December.

I asked Corey if he thought there was much left in the season. And while we’ll have to wait and see, Corey says he thinks there is. There’s been so many east in the current this year, bringing fish onto the reef (another game changer) he think there are many more yet to come in.

Captain Tim Dean is another who thinks 2017 will go down as a vey good year with many giants seen, hooked and caught already including by him on Calypso and believes there are big ones left for everyone this November. Tim also says it has been an emotional season in respect to the guys on the Dianne that did not make it home. We knew most of those guys and it was heartbreaking for the whole fleet.

Once again as the season matures, as there have been over the last several years, there have been more big blue marlin encounters and certainly the blue marlin fishery needs more attention! But for now, rest assured Cairns retains its crown for giant black marlin and remains a bucket list fishery!

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