Weather is dominating most offshore anglers’ conversations at the moment. Good weather is not lining up with weekends at all and it is only the guys getting out mid-week who can get to the fish. The fish are there though when you can get out.
Mooloolaba Gamefishing club held their Babes and Billfish Tournament in mid February, a one day event which lined up with some good weather and good fishing. Dave Morton and his lady crew on his Riviera Express Filthy lead the way, tagging six billfish to win. Steve and Kelly Jensen won the best dressed crew category from their 35’ Henriques Monster.
The Little Ship Gamefishing Club held their Haines Group Gamefishing Tournament, and Garmin and EMS Interclub Shield late in February from their clubhouse at The One Mile at Dunwich on North Stradbroke Island. It was reduced to a one day shootout, the same as a few other tournaments this tournament season. Gold Coast 2400 Kevlacat Viking won with Mooloolaba Gamefishing Club boats Luna and Dragon Lady snapping at their heels. Mick Wrack off the 35’ Caribbean Luna took out champion angler and Max Proctor on his dad’s 685 Cruise Craft Dragon Lady took out junior angler. Viking was Champion Boat Under 8m and Luna was Champion Boat Over 8m.
In early March The Surfers Paradise Game and Sportfish Club conducted their Simrad All Tackle All Species Tournament. 49’ custom charter boat Mistress won with a few tagged black marlin on light tackle for the Alty family. The Caelli family on their Riviera Jugs won the heavy tackle section. The weather once again was very average, resulting in a small field. The weather makes or breaks attendances at game tournaments, and with a small entry fee of only $85 SPGSFC deserved a massive rollup.
The Gold Coast had the better of the fishing up to late February. The 36-50 fathom line held heaps of bait and all of the regular boats got stuck into them. Mistress were top dogs tagging 10 a day, two days in a row during this period. Mat and John Stehman’s Hydrofield Murphy’s Law was also into them, taking on some rough weather in the process while the fish were biting. Mick Stewart and his little 30’ Black Watch Hot Deel tagged quite a few as well when he was not doing the deck for Ross McCubbin on the charter boat Lucky Strike. Gav Woodbury from Seaprobe Charters was always amongst the action with his 36’ Black Watch Watch Tower.
SCGFC boats into them included Reel Capture with a nine from 11 day one rough Saturday. They were the only boat out which skipper Craig McCulloch likes, but the crew suffered numerous chop-offs eating into their rig and live bait supply. They ticked away at them all month but couldn’t match Misty during February. The Lee boys and their 5.0m half cab racked up something like 21 tagged fish for the month, all on 6kg line. Son Darren did many days solo, pulling quite a few five-fish days by himself and with dad Greg. Going hard but looking at the bridesmaid category in a few SCGFC end of year trophies yet again are the crew from 31’ Noosacat, Cat-a-pult. Paddy Diamond and crew were ticking away at the fish two and three per day but they did have a blinder on the close grounds with six tagged black marlin and a sailfish for the day. Their best day ever.
As I write this the SCGFC team competing in the IGFA Offshore World Championships are making their final preparations for fishing in Costa Rica. Heath Irvine, Jay Graham, Brent Higgins and Brett Barton are back again fishing out of the port of Quepos. Next year if they can go, Brent would be looking at his third year in a row, it would be Craig McCulloch’s second time after previously fishing the OWC in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico and Grant Cooper’s first time – though he has fished overseas before in Vanuatu in their Gamefish Classic.
Other SCGFC members heading overseas shortly are Albert and Pauline Threadingham to officiate the Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament out of Kona, and angling will be Steven Chow. Steve always attends and about every second year another SCGFC team compete.
Across the river at the MGFC, Ymer the 34’ Black Watch skippered by Steven Brooks has been ticking away at the fish with a few four fish days. Tim Starling and his Barcrusher Big Wave Dave is still fishing hard and getting results.
On charter the mackerel have slowed up a bit for me though the return run should be good. One of the days we only got one mackerel the fish got me across the knuckles with its teeth. It was not good and the blood wouldn’t congeal so I had to tape some Band-aids up with insulation tape. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.
With the mackerel just be aware there are cases of ciguatera getting around this year as well. Smaller fish are going to be safer to eat than big fish. On the longer days if the mackerel haven’t bitten we have experienced some pretty reasonable early season reef fishing.
I did have one cracking game charter through this period though. I hadn’t had a whole lot of luck up until then, including a 13-7-1 day with Tim Whittle and crew aboard though they were not all marlin but a good half dozen were.
Regular client Ed Martin from Huntington Beach California who is 89 years young, along with his Australian neighbour Danny Davis, headed out with me one Thursday and by day’s end we had hooked 12 marlin and sailfish, released six and kept a mackerel and probably had 20 odd bites for the day on live bait and lures. That kept me super busy and we also clipped some fins for DNA samples for research scientist Sam Williams.
When we first found the school of bait we fished most of the day it was only 10m from the surface and virtually top to bottom. I knew we would be in for some action and the first bait out only took about 30 seconds before we had a run. We must have marked 20-30 fish on the Furuno sounder that day. They were everywhere. It was one of those days you dream about having and the guys got three each making everyone happy!
Give me a call at Smithys Fishing Charters on 0407 574 868 or check out my website, (www.smithysfishingcharters.com.au ) to get out there and get into some of this pelagic action! The jacks are also feeding up before winter in the rivers and I am starting to get a handle on them now.Reads: 1421