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"Fish Tales and Techniques"
by Captain Glenn Hunter


What a fabulous time we all had fishing The BIG GROGAN at Dunbogan. Imagine 13 dedicated anglers all living under the same roof and a more dedicated bunch crew one could imagine. The lads would be up at Sparrow Fart to compete in THE BIG GROGAN.

What a great time we all had, there were two groups the Old Farts and The Young Bloods The Old Farts comprised Bob “The Road Runner” Morgan, Ross The “Cogga” Hunter and Mark “Mikko” Mikkelson, although he probably would not like being put in with the “Old Farts” but alas he’s in there.
He is in there because he pretended to take my blackfish fillets and although I found them later, it cut me to the quick to think that he would have contemplated such a thing. So he is now an Old Fart.
It was a great experience for all to compete, bearing in mind that THE GROGAN is a fiercely fought tournament The Young Bloods were up at 5 am and earlier and on the water at before daybreak, such was their keenness. But the Old Farts were like the Young Bull and the Old bull” we just got the job done with max efficiency.

All the crew Banana Bob looks at the trophys and hoped that may win one , but alas not to be, he just got pipped at the post for the biggest Bream, caught by road runner.
Banana Bob into bed early Bob Morgan accepts his Biggest Bream Trophy. He won it last year
Ricko Koala Clay accepts his biggest flathead trophy Roscoe accepts The Blackfish trophy
The Emu accepts The Wanker award .He plugged his phone charger in and turned off the fridge The Emu on the blackfish
The Road Runner having a go at the blackfish The Trophys
These are our regular catches on Broadbill What a great weekend we had


The winners were;

BIGGEST BREAM Bob “The Road Runner’ Morgan (that’s the second time he has taken out The John Robbo memorial trophy)

BIGGEST BLACKFISH Ross The “Cogga Hunter” (on account I was pretty much the only one that targeted them)


TOURNAMENT WANKER (It went to The Emu for plugging his phone charger in and turning off the fridge)

What great time we all had. It is a joy to get together each year with my sons Ian, Glenn and Martin and we will look forward to THE GROGAN in 2012

This years competitors were;

YOUNG BLOODS……….Ricko “Koala” Clay, “Stinky” Willess, Glenn “Lurch”Hunter, Martin “Fester” Hunter, “Banana” Bob Cartwright. Pete Bradley (Ex INXS guitarist) Tom (son of Redwood) and “Redwood” Ian Rann

OLD FARTS………..Mikko, Bob Morgan, and Ross Hunter

We all had great time at this years GROGAN and will look forward to next year I am sure. We missed the “Moose”, but we will look forward to his company next year.


Sometimes things go totally to plan and for us guys who attended the ‘THE BIG DUNBOGAN GROGAN” that was pretty much the go. The weather was sensational with clear skies (a little wind occasionally, but by and large temps. well into the 25’s most days”)

The competitors this year were;
Glenn Big Bird Hunter, Ian “Redwood Rann”, Tom ‘Son of Redwood’ Rann
Paul “The Target” Lewis, Banana “Bob” Cartwright, Ricko “Koala” Clay, Steve “The Emu” Fielding, Bob Morgan and Ross Hunter heading up the old farts brigade.

Missing in action this year was Martin Hunter (had the Pumas on) Brian The Moose Nesbitt and of course John Robbo “the Gnome” who died through the year, however he was with us in spirit as Ricko had bought a Garden Gnome and he took him fishing everyday in his boat and then sat him up of an evening so he could observe the boys and our shenanigans of an evening
We made a perpetual trophy The John Robbo Heaviest Bream trophy in honour of Our great mate of over 50 years.

A beer and a hamburger after a great days fishing at Dunbogan Another flatty caught by Paul
Banana Bob with his bream that Bob Morgan beat Blackfish were hard to find but on Wednesday agood run started
Bob Morgan Ian and Tom Rann and The Emu with 22 excellent fish Friday we caught another haul
Glenn and Tom and his flathead Paul catches this beauty on the Saturday
The Emu holds up a nice blackfish Wednesdays fish were all big ones
Banana Bob with one of his flathead Tom Rann catches his first blackfish He reckons the go hard.
Local Dunboganite Brian Perkins at Diamond Head Redwood and son of Redwood Tom Rann
The gnome Johnny Robbo was with us in spirit. He died thru the year , but Ricko brought the garden knome and took him everywhere The Trophies for THE BIG GROGAN

The boys all arrived Saturday morning and Banana and Paul were first to hit the water as a matter of fact they launched at 7.15 am, talk about keen. They returned nightfall with a heap of Flattie fillets with great anticipation of cleaning up the Big Grogan the next day. The tournament is always run over two days the Sunday and Monday with presentation night the Monday evening.
Banana and the Paul deserve every fish they catch as they fish hard from day break to dark never stopping.

Ricko, Glenn and Tom too worked their magic with Tom catching the majority of fish. Bear in mind Tom had never fished before in his life so a saw may need to be taken on that one
Meanwhile “The Emu” Bob the “Road Runner” Roscoe and Redwood Rann concentrated on the blackfish and they were hard to find in the early part of the week they really came good , however in the mid week period . We caught over 45 fish from Wednesday thru to Friday and that was great.

All teams performed well but alas their can only be one winner in each category
And it was “The Road Runner” who decided to target the Bream trophy. We did this by fishing off the bank next to the boat shed. Bob hooked a beauty in the afternoon and we knew that Bob Cartwright too had a bream of 27cm, so the heat was on Bob’s measured 29cm so he was confident he had Bob covered, that is if he did not catch a bigger one in the afternoon.


• trying to hard
• not trying hard enough
• pissing into the wind from a moving vessel
• visiting fisherman’s co op during the day
• not taking photos of catch for web site report
• dummy spitting
• not showing respect to the Old Farts
• taking photos of someone else’s fish ( Yes! believe it or not this has been done before)

Banana Bob on guitar We had one of the great nights at Dunbogan. A beaut singalong involving a certain amount of alcohol Bob Morgan wins the biggest bream trophy
Getting through a rendition of Shark Fishing Glenn and The Emu singing a rousing rendition of SHARK FISHIN'
Oh! Yeah sing out loud baby! Ross , Glenn and Tom gettin' in the groove
The Emu got a little tired after 10 rums The team at the presentatin night
The Team What a fabulous night we all had
Banana Bob wins biggest flathead trophy Banana Bob shows effection to The Blackfish winner

The winners were;
BIGGEST FLATHEAD Banana Bob Cartwright ( He deserved this for effort put in 3 days of 8 hours fishing and never giving up)

BIGGEST BREAM Bob “The Road Runner” Morgan (Bob was thrilled to pick up the John Robbo Memorial trophy and had an extra beer on presentation night to celebrate
TOURNAMENT PEST ..This trophy went home to Banana Bob and he was gaggin’ for it

After presentation night we had a giant sing along Bob and myself got out the guitars and played until 11.30pm We never played the same song twice, except for “Shark Fishing” by request. It was a great night accompanied by too much alcohol and some sore heads the next morning.

I love this week away so much with both my sons Ian and Glenn ( no Martin this year and we missed him) I came home feeling totally relaxed knowing what a fabulous time we all had , plenty of fish, great company and beaut. weather.
I know it’s wishing one’s life away but I can’t wait for 2011


She’s been and gone and what great time all anglers had;

To fish the “Big Grogan” is like participating in one of the most prestigious competitions in the country, if not the world.

Anglers travel, in the case of Peter Bradley from Qld and Ian “Redwood” Rann from Lismore with the balance of the lads hailing from Sydney.

The “Big Grogan” has developed a cult following and is synonymous with excellence in angling and because it is by invitation only, it attracts world class fishermen with a cunning and dastardly approach.

The Big Grogan is like the Big Banana or The Big Prawn in status, it is fished out of Dunbogan five hours north of Sydney and believe me there is no quarter given when the Top Guns roll into town.
The weather for mid August was shaping up to be perfect so at least that was going to be in our favour.


We were early this year because the locals I.E. Brian “Perko” Perkins said.
Quote “You blokes come up far too late in October..  The best blackfish and bream is August’ So far from us not to listen to the locals, so August it was.
Having arrived and met Perko The first question was “How’s the fishin?” His reply was devastating, it was described with a word that starts with “F” and ends with D.

“No black fish, no flathead no it’s really tough” He added
At this point we were all contemplating what we could do to Perko for leading us down this barren piscatorial pathway.
“Let’s tie him up and whip him” someone said
Then others came up with some terrible suggestions involving stocks, a gloved hand covered with sand, a pop gun and battery acid.


  1. trying too hard
  2. not trying hard enough
  3. pissing into the wind from a moving vessel
  4. visiting fisherman’s co op during the day
  5. not taking photos of catch for web site report
  6. dummy spitting
  7. not showing respect to the Old Farts
  8. taking photos of someone else’s fish ( Yes! believe it or not this has been done before)
  9. picking on the Gnome (Robbo)


Not to be disillusioned we decided to take a professional approach and get on with the fishing
The Grogan was for the first time in it’s long history, fished over two day IE the Sunday and Monday and to say the competitors were keen would be an understatement The lads made up of ;

Brian “The Moose” Nesbitt
Ross “The Cogga” Hunter
Glenn “Big Bird” Hunter
Martin “Macka” Hunter
Martyn “Windy” Windeyer
John “The Gnome” Robertson
Ricko “Koala” Clay
Scott “Stinky” Willis
Bob “Banana” Cartwright
Ian “Red Wood” Rann
Pete “Dirty old’ Bradley
Bob “The Road Runner” Morgan
Steve “The Emu’ Fielding

Banana Bob with a nice bream on day one of the Grogan Banana with the runner up bream
Banana's blackfish that was plainly jagged Banana's flathead They were small this year but you can only catch what's there
Bob The Road Runner Morgan got amongst them too Something had a go at this little fellow
Emu and John Denver Scott Thorrington Emu scores again
Emu was winning day one with this fish Glenn Hunter and Stinky Willess They fished hard

The was a late comer Scott “John Denver” Thorrington who arrived on the Monday but did not compete. But never the less had his first introduction to the Grogan and by his own admission loved what he saw.

So the boys were up at sparrow and heading to the boat ramp at lightening speed in their boats whilst.

The Emu and myself  chose to target blackfish, we virtually strolled to the wall to give the young ones a chance, sort of like the “young bull and the old bull scenario”. No rush but a planned and vicious assault.

I had caught a couple of blackfish the day before one of them going 45 cm’s so we lived in hope that we could replicate that effort in The Grogan.

It was the Emu who came up with the goods with a 38 cm blackfish and shot to the lead on day one. The blackfishing proved to be tough so we decided to travel around and try a few other spots .. We tried the North wall, Henry Kendal and the Northhaven bridge for little results..

This was going to be tough blackfishing, I thought to myself.

Koala with a nice flathead Martin Hunter's first day flthead was to win the trophy
Redwood Rann with a nice blackfish Ricko Clay won the biggest bream trophy with this beauty
Roscoe fishing the gantry on the Dunbogan wall. I had caught a 45cm blackfish here the day before Roscoe with the winning fish We worked hard for them
Charlie The one legged Magpie hangs around the cleaning table for scraps The Emu had to get in the water so an adjustment to his jeans was called for
The Fish came on at the end of the week Roscoe gets lucky The latter part of the week we did well
The Ospreys nest The oyster farmers built this A lake of reflections


It was Martin Hunter fishing with Banana Bob who scored a 50 cm flatty on day one, but would it be big enough. Banana too, scored well with a couple of reasonable bream and a big flounder He always is a contender for a trophy ( a great talented fisherman who never gives up) He has been a regular winner of The Tournament Pest trophy over the years.

Ricko Clay, Glenn Hunter and Stinky Willis caught lots of flatties and small bream, but nothing spectacular, but not without a lot of effort put in.
Yes! the lads were trying and trying hard

Peter Bradley, too, fished hard but unfortunately had to leave because of a sickness in the family on day one.

It was Robbo and Moose that had caught a 38cm bream and were in the front running for heaviest bream.

Windy Windeyer fished hard as well It was his first Grogan and had not fished much before.

He reckoned that he had RSI of the right arm from casting soft plastics all day However the evening beers cured that problem as he dreamt of that fish of a lifetime as he snoozed off to sleep.

It was Banana Bob who in the afternoon caught a blackfish by jagging it in the back with a SP and had the hide to suggest that he may take out heaviest blackfish with a jagged fish. He was promptly put in his place by the Tournament judge ( we had encountered previous issues with this sort of thing from this angler and were totally suspicious of these events)

Red Wood Rann also fished hard and scored a blackfish or two but it was Emu in the lead day one with his 38 cm blacky.

Day two arrives and there are trophies up for grabs so it was a 5am start for most boats and their anglers There was smoke coming off the wheels as they all headed to the boat ramp like F 18 fighters. It was serious now, there were trophies for the taking and these hardened anglers were as keen as mustard to get amongst them. The Heat was on.

In the afternoon there was little to report and whilst Martin Hunter and Martyn Windeyer had left to head home it was Martin Hunter’s flatty that was still in the lead.
Banana Bob is a lovely bloke, a kind caring and kind person who never leaves his mates behind.

He always looks after his mates as Koala Clay found out when Banana said “Hey Koala this is where I caught those bream yesterday’”
Koala replied “What did you catch ‘em on?”
“On one of these, as he pulled out the small bug like lure out of his tackle box”
Koala put it on and first cast caught a 41cm bream. The winning fish
Banana said something like “Arsey Bastard” and slugged down the last of his beer and promptly smashed another with head down like a hang dog the lad knew that his trophy was out of reach, only alcohol could fix the problem.

It was about now that Glenn Hunter hooked up a giant flathead which ran off with metres of line only to snap him off on the oyster racks (maybe the winning fish) but alas there are no prizes for lost fish.

Meanwhile on the blackfish scene we were struggling Emu was still in the lead and Red wood was fishing hard, but with little results.

Moose and Robbo also caught bream and flatties but mostly on the small side, they had set up a berley bomb and it had attracted  a lot of smaller fish
We left the Dunbogan wall and headed for other spots, the wall was too quite.

 It was on the way over North Haven bridge that the eagle eyed Emu said “Shit I think that they are blackfish on those weed beds”.

I pulled the “Fishin” mobile over and we walked back and sure enough they were everywhere rolling in the weed beds.
We couldn’t get back quickly enough with our rods.

The fish were giants and were in 1 metre of water. Emu and I walked up on the bridge and we could see fish of up to 4kg rolling around in the shallow weed beds,  but would they bite, that was the question! Seeing is not always catching.

I cast out fishing 70 cm‘s deep and on the fourth cast my float went down I struck and came up solid on a big fish.

I knew from the feel that it was a beauty so I carefully played it out and with heart in mouth led it to the landing net... Having not measured it I estimated that it was around 41cm’s, Emu was in trouble., but there was still time but not at this spot as the tide was on the run out and the water was too low.

We headed back to the wall at Dunbogan where we all caught more blackfish, but I was still in the lead by the skin of my teeth.


A great team of champion blokes on presentatin night at Dunbogan Banana and Ross having a sing song on the guitars
Koala accepts the biggest bream trophy off Johnny Robbo The master barbeque chef The Road Runner relaxs with a coldy
Moose presents The Gnome with Tournament Pest trophy Moose presents Roscoe with biggest blackfish trophy
The Moose and The Gnome mates for over 40 years Martyn Windyere looks alittle jaded from a long days fishing It was his first Grogan

Back at the Fisherman’s Shack the presentations were made by The Moose
 (fully paid up member of The Old Seaman’s Mission) was the spokesman.
The cool beer was flowing and all anglers knew that they had put in a mammoth effort over the two days and also had a wonderful time in doing so.







As the week progressed the blackfish really came on and Emu, myself and Redwood really got amongst them.

We all had a wonderful time and I am sure we will all look forward to “The Big Grogan 2010 when we will all get together then.


In 1985 were approached by the Terry Willesee television show to do a segment on yellowfin tuna. That was way before Rex Hunt and other popular fishing shows hit the big screen. The only bit of fishing that was screened was the occasional old Bob Dyer segment, which, by today's standards, was a little amateurish, but still enjoyable. The wise executives running TV stations did not believe that fishing would rate. How wrong they were! Today there is a multitude of prime-time fishing shows on the box. Sometimes even highly intelligent ex-university graduates get it wrong, not that they would ever admit it.

It wasn't until a company did a census and found out that half the nation are regular fishos and the other half like the Rex Hunt show anyway. Well done fellas, took a while for the penny to drop! So it may have been that the top rating Willesee show wanted a little fishing content, but we were always hungry for some prime-time coverage so off we charged to the tuna grounds accompanied by camera men and, yes, a helicopter.

Vic Casey, Glenn, Craig Summerville and myself headed out of Botany Bay. Broadbill was loaded to the gunnels with berley. We had bread, mullet, pilchards, and not in boxes, but we had truck loads of the stuff. We were on a full mission to get the job done for Mr. Willesee. Nothing is going to stop us from catching a big tuna and there had been the occasional jumbo-size around during that week. We cruised the five nautical miles to the Peak, accompanied by the Channel Seven chopper, which is flying just two metres off our outriggers to get some close-ups.

I thought at one stage that they were so close that they were going to land in the cockpit amongst the boxes of berley and crap. We were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready for action, as we anchored on the high part of north Peak. The anchor took up and everyone manned their tasks; Vic on the bucket, Glenn on the cubes, Craig on the rod. After an hour or so we swapped tasks, it sort off breaks the boredom.

It was a calm July day, the ocean was slick, and hordes of shearwaters and petrels meandered past on their migratory journeys. The birds were excited and swept at the ocean every now and then to feast on a morsel of food that was coming to the surface as if from a fish kill. This happens when there tuna are feeding, the signs were good. But it was now 1 pm and "didley squat" was the result. Vic suggested that I have a go on the rod as his arm was getting sore. I obliged and wound the pillie in, replaced it with a fresh one and commenced feeding it back down the slick. The current was running at 2.5 knots to the south, leaving whirlpools at the transom of the boat. In fact, it was so strong that I did not have feed out the pillie, the current dragged the line off the spool for me.

The water was cobalt blue and full of sparklers, a kind of plankton that glows vivid and bright purple in the sunlight, it looked perfect for tuna. The boys were feeling a little dejected. The camera crew were asleep. As I fed out the pillie I was beginning to wonder whether we would get any footage at all for our hosts. There is nothing more adrenaline pumping, or as good an alarm clock, as the scream of a reel. That was the sound coming from the rod as I was feeding back. "Here we go!" I cried, striking the fish immediately. The hook-up was solid as the big fish bolted for the horizon.

The first run was 400 metres and we did not want too much more 15-kilo line out, so we decided to buoy off the anchor and chase the fish with the boat. The boys asked the usual question when a blind strike is encountered:

"How big, Cogga?"

I shrugged, hung on, and watched line pouring off the reel at a fairly distressing rate. "Dunno" I replied. "But if we don't start haulin' some arse backwards soon we'll never know, because we'll be spooled", I suggested. The big tuna had bolted and taken an alarming amount of line in the short period we had him on, and we were confronted with a certain amount of urgency that shiny, bright, lineless spools can dictate. That sparked them into a little more panic and action as the engines roared into life and we started backing up. After 20 minutes the exodus of line had settled a bit and the tussle grew into a more manageable stage of panic, line was no longer disappearing.

I backed off the drag to compensate for water pressure on the 400 or so metres that the tuna had out, things calmed down and the cameras rolled. We wanted a good tuna, we had caught 12 fish so far this season over 70 kg and this one was unlucky 13—and by the power of the fight, he was going to be up and maybe over the magic 70 kg.

It's funny how the thoughts of a fisherman can go from "Yes, he's a beauty" to "I'm not too sure now", as a bit of easy line is retrieved. It is always an unknown with a tuna on a blind strike, so the guessing game goes on through the fight. If he gets away, he's generally the biggest one ever hooked. The fishermen's adage, "Never let the truth get in the way of a good story", can come to the fore. We had a rating for yellowfin back then, a sort of code we used when talking to each other on the radio, boat to boat, thinking that other fishermen would be confused by the lingo and not be attracted to the spot. It never worked, but it was cool to do it. The "ready reckoner" went this way:

*Fleas (up to 20 kg)
*Rats (from 20 to 40 kg)
*Fish (from 40 to 100 kg upwards) …… this was definitely a fish.

The battle lingered on for two hours. The fish was 150 metres straight under the boat and still pulling like a 12-year-old. To this day I still have not found a way to catch a big tuna any quicker than keeping even pressure and waiting them out until they become exhausted and line can then be gained, but not till then. We were the first of the new breed of fishermen to use "short stroker rods" or as we called them in that era, before somebody came up with the name "trick sticks".

We were convinced that the shorter the rod the more advantage to the fisherman. Well I've since changed my views on that, having caught many fish on short strokers versus either a longer, softer rod or better still a chair rod, and results are astounding and quite the opposite. A big tuna caught from a bent butt game rod with the angler in the chair will be caught in half the time as an angler standing up using a short stroker, it is the hardest and most back-breaking way to catch a fish!

I was finding this out, as time and again the yellowfin would circle deep under the boat with me trying to keep my back straight but not having much success, against the fish's overwhelming power. The fight went on for another hour; the big fish is now 50 metres below. That is when it really got tough.

I had a little respite from time to time by sitting in the chair, but that is impossible now because the fish is directly under the boat. My back, after 3½ hours, is really hurting and to make things worse we have a storm front on us with lightning, tropical monsoonal rain and a 30-knot wind.

"Great", I whispered under my breath as my body started to reject me and wanted no part of that epic battle anymore. The storm eventually passed, my wet clothes started to dry out a little, and I wished that epic example of human torture would end. After much grunting and straining the doubled line is in view, and on gazing into the depths we catch the first sighter of the tuna. He is enormous, the biggest I have ever seen.

I settled myself down and tried to keep calm, knowing full well that all big tuna that are lost are lost at the tracing or the gaffing.

We now see the fish all the time, but he is so huge that on 15 kg tackle it is still a seesawing give-and-take of gain and loose line. "Be patient, Ross!" I tell myself. My Grandfather's advice:

"Good things come to those who wait"  …Was going through my brain as I put every last bit of strength I could muster into the final lift. It seemed ages until Vic and Glenn took the trace and Craig gaffed him in one swoop then lifted the fish—we all agreed it was over the magic 100 kg—into the cockpit of the boat.

We all stood spellbound for a moment, shocked at his size; the fish beat his huge tail as the life slowly disappeared from him. I always feel sorry for a fish, especially one as grand as this big old fella.
However, he was a record and fishermen thought differently then, so it was off to the weigh station at the Botany Bay Gamefishing Club to weigh him and finish off the sequence for the cameras.

If we had weighed the fish while we were still at sea he probably would have gone 100 kg. However, a couple of hours after he was dehydrated he weighed 98.5 kg—still a beauty and still to this day one of the biggest out of that port.

I retired from personal tuna fishing after catching that fish, I had caught my fare share of tuna and figured that it would be many a moon before I'd better that one, and besides, the rule "no pain, no gain" just did not appeal to me any more, especially the pain part. A fortnight later I was still feeling the effects of the fight, such is the power of the tuna.

We have caught many yellowfin for our customers from that day to this and have been part of some gladiator-type battles, but never with me on the rod. No! I retired that July day in '85 with a memory that I will not forget and that makes me feel good——but isn't that what it's all about?

65 kg tuna on a lure 645 bluefin at the Peak (That's 240kg It was caught in the mid 50's
1985 big tuna bb 1985 tuna at the peak
A 75kg yellowfin A couple of horses from a dinosaur era
A great catch from many years ago The one in the centre is Tony Barber A great fish from the '80s
Adrian Yates caught this beauty at the Peak in '85 Another gem from a forgotten era
Another great fish at The Peak on Broadbill Another huge fish caught at The Peak in the late '80's
Big tuna like these were caught most days at The Peak in '85 on Broadbill Gavin Sharp's yellowfin caught on the old BILLFISHER
Glenn Hunter with 85kg yellowfin in '92 Ian Tricker and mate with a couple of yellowfin one 55kg and 80 plus kilo at the peak on broadbill in 86
John Dunphy and Nat Ghosn with a couple of honker yellowfin caught on Broadbill 2 decades ago at the Peak My nephew Craig Summerville playing an 80kg tuna at The Peak in 85
This was the biggest tuna recorded at The Peak to my knowledge It weighed 98.5kg, but was 100kg when caught. I retired from catching tuna after 4.5hors on 15kg What a beauty
Where did these superb fish go.. Fringe fish we reckon  


Having recently read “Down to the Sea” a story about the Warren family, a great yarn about a dynasty of famous Eden fisherman.

  I was intrigued to read that one of the Warren’s made an observation about the southern blue fin tuna and that was that the commercial fisherman worked over the schools of blue fin with such pressure, first by long lining and then the totally efficient and most lethal, purse seining, that it created a Fringe Fish Syndrome.
By this it means that the fish that lived naturally in huge schools would be worked over year after year with unrelenting pressure and as time went by the skills of commercial fishing got more efficient.
 The fringe fish IE The schools that were closest to land were being punished unmercifully to the point where these schools became thinner under the constant bombardment, therefore the coastal fisherman were in a situation where they had to travel hundreds of miles further to obtain good catches, thus making the trips non viable because of distance, weather and the cost of fuel.

I have always thought that this theory is why we do not see big tuna at The Peak any more.
 The fish that we caught in such numbers in the late 70’s to the commencement of long lining in ’89………………….. I believe is due to the Fringe Fish Theory.
We never had to go to Browns Mountain or beyond to catch big tuna as a matter of fact all of our really big yellowfin were caught at the Peak, 5 nautical miles off Sydney.
We took it for granted that every season we would catch jumbos there and we did for over a decade.
The biggest blue fin tuna weighed over 300kg was caught at The Peak in the late ‘50’s imagine that today, that would be a jaw dropper!

On Broadbill we caught the last big tuna at The Peak in ’89 and I do believe that Shimano boss John Dunphy’s 80 kilo fin was probably the last tuna caught there.

We had been out on a Broadbill night fish and came into The Peak have a shot on the tuna.
 We caught three tuna a 52kg a 60kg and an 81kg fish that’s how easy it was back in that era.
I am convinced that pressure by long lining on the Fringe Stocks is why we have to travel so far to catch tuna today and the fish are smaller by comparison, sure the odd big one is caught every now and then but you can see by the historical archival photos of a past era that these big fish were common and what’s more expected back in those wonderful times of screaming reels and giant tuna.

The day that the airlines agreed to take tuna to Japan for the sashimi markets was the start of the decline of our coastal stocks and that happened in the mid to late 90’s.
The John Howard Liberal Governments 220 million dollar buy out of commercial long lining has helped to reduce the numbers of long liners now operating by over 60% this will help stocks to recover in the long term and maybe, just maybe we may see the return of big fish to our close in reefs like The Peak.

Certainly food for thought and anticipation and hope for the future.




As a third generation of fisherman my son Glenn and myself spend many thousands of hours game and reef fishing on our family owned charter boats both from our home port Sydney and then for three months each year we fish the marlin season from our second home Pt. Stephens, 100 nautical mile to the north.

We are dedicated "salts" to the extent that a recent blood test confirmed a percentage of salt water in our veins.

We fish the tuna in winter and the marlin in summer and nothing gives a Dad more pleasure than to be fishing a bait school next to his Son and watch him backing up most of the day chasing a hot marlin, sometimes beating the old bloke...

So many times at Pt Stephens I have had the thrill of experiencing both our boats Broadbill and Billfisher backing up to-gether after rampaging marlin.

I recall one day in 2005 where we were fifty metres apart working a hot bite when we both simultaneously had a double hook up, there were four marlin jumping all over the place as Captains and crew endeavoured to "knit one pearl one" in an attempt to stay in contact with the chaotic, wild action.

After 40 mins of hammering our boats in reverse all over the ocean in pursuit of fish that had extracted hundreds of metres of line, we eventually tagged and released them.
We both returned to the bait school and hooked a couple more up….Fishing at its best, heady days, happy crews, wild exciting action on Mother Ocean, stuff that dedicated marlin Captains live for.

The ocean is my life, it has given me so many wonderful experiences over a lifetime, memories that one savours and takes to the grave with a smile.
I started my fishing in my Grandfathers rowboat at the age of five; he taught me much, especially patience. I then fished lonely beaches, ocean rocks, joined The St George Sport fishing Club, fished the first Narooma Comp and so the wheel turned I was hooked, so to speak.

To day my personal passions are beach fishing, black fishing and believe it or not fly fishing for trout.

In the pursuit of these highly coloured specimens I have a mate of 30 years, who to is a salty from way back and loves to chase the illusive trout as well. He is a very talented trout fisherman who these days spends more time trout fishing and talking about it, than breathing…..we really do enjoy our alpine adventures away from the ocean, trout fishing to gether


It was beach and rock fishing and an occasional trout weekend where we started and it was these piscatorial pursuits that led me into the Bluewater scene, so why do they draw a fisherman back in the start, sort of a revisiting  childhood. I think if you are a fisherman no matter what species we pursue it is all so relevant.

For me trout fishing  is a totally different environment, a style that does not involve any pressure, no boats, no customers, just myself and a good mate in a wonderful carefree situation.

If we catch them, that's good…….. if we don't what the hell …………………….it was fun anyway.
We’ve fished hard, experienced some amazing country, generally walked a heap of kilometres every day to arrive back at camp to a cold ale and a relive of the day and enjoyed every minute of it.

Every year my good friend and trout fishing companion Gordon (the 50 kilo kid) Johnson and myself make our annual pilgrimage from Sydney to fish for a trout somewhere.


These beautifully coloured fish have drawn many a fisherman into sub freezing conditions with fingers, nose, ears and face freezing, for that matter any part of their anatomy which is exposed to the conditions within ten minutes is blue with cold.

We stroll through rivers that have banks frozen with ice, our fly rods at the ready as we inspect every section of river or lake with expectations of that fish of a lifetime working a rapid or rising on a bug.

Compared to their salty water cousins they are a relatively poor fighting fish and they taste like coloured cardboard, unless smoked, so what brings Gordon and myself back, year after year.

Is it the polaroiding, stalking and presenting a fly to feeding fish in a rapid on a crystal clear stream, whilst your heart pounds in your chest or maybe a late afternoon rise as the bugs come out and congregate in the wind lanes?

And another big brown out of the Thredbo A river we have fished for 30 years The mighty Thredbo
A beautiful brown caught on a freezing day . Thredbo NSW A great underwater shot of a rainbow I caught in the Thredbo
Gordon catches this nice brown in the Thredbo Gordon stalking a feeding fish on the Thredbo River NSW
I hook up on a big brown on the Thredbo River I look forward to my week of fly fishing every year
We let most of them go Ross's two browns caught on a nymph in the Thredbo
Mud Eye Mick with a nice Thredbo Brown.. It was released This is what keeps bringing us back

Maybe stalking a big brown on the Thredbo with the knowledge that one wrong move will spook the fish and it’s all over, after all they didn’t get that big by being silly.
Maybe as the mist clears on Little Pine Lagoon as we walk the edge casting delicately at feeding fish tailing in the weed beds in 150 mm water depth.
Or is it the alpine climate which is so different to Mother Ocean where I spend the majority of my life.

Maybe it is fishing with my life long mate Gordon, who also shares a similar passion.
It’s all of the above I am sure We, have over the past few years travelled to Tasmania to break fresh grounds there and whilst we are currently reviewing our times (because of my work pressures we go in late April and we know that December would be better fishing so I am desperately try to re arrange our next trip to Tassie)                      


Upon arriving at Launceston we pick up our Hertz camper , stock up with tucker and of course some reds and a carton or two of Boags, having carried out the domestics it is a 1.5 hour drive and we are fishing.

The feel of the fly rod in hand, that first strip of the fly line, the back cast and lay that fly out as the line loops beautifully and the fly alights on the lakes surface.
It’s funny how you never forget how to use a fly rod even after a couple of years away from fly fishing.

I have experienced a little rustyness,  however after half a dozen casts I am back in the saddle again and lovin’ it.
Yes! I think to myself this is what brings me back every year, no pressures of customer’s expectations, just me and Gordon spoiling ourselves again.

Last April we fished a lot of new grounds as well as some of our old stomping grounds.
We travelled far and wide. The beauty of distances in Tassie is that everywhere is only an hour or so way.
We fished Little Pine, Bronte and Brady’s lakes Lake Augusta, The Great lake and Botsforth lake.

A lakje of reflections Little Pine Tasmania A Tassie great fish
Local Shimano represenative Paul Ellis took us fishing in Tasmania and we did well Gordon's big salmon
Little Pine Lagoon The fish were tailing in these reeds A typical Tassie brown from Little Pine
Polarioding fish like this is what we love Polaroiding a big fish ..very exciting
The home away from home in Tassie This was my biggest brown caught in Tasmania
Hooked up and fighting a big brown A big brown catch on a gum bettle hatch at Lake Bronte Tassie
Another one of Gordon's browns Caught on a glow bug  

We cannot wait to get back to Botsforth as this lagoon the fish can be polaroided, however when we were there it blew a strong northerly making polaroiding impossible.
At Lake Augusta we caught fish, but once again it was cold, windy and unpleasant.

We left that area and headed to Bronte Lake, upon arriving we found that the lake had risen to record heights.
The weather had settled and whilst it was a little breezy it was coming over our shoulder .. Perfect
The temperature went to 21 degrees and we experienced a fabulous hatch of gum beetles and on que the big browns arrived.

Gordon called me up into his wind lane some twenty metres to the west, as I arrived a four pound fish rose, I was on the back cast I redirected the cast and lay a red tag fly on the fishes nose…”Whack” it grabbed it and the tussle was on.

Gordon too, hooked up and we both concentrated on catching our trout.
After ten minutes both fish were released we caught a couple more until the hatch slowly dissipated with the dropping afternoon temperatures

Sometimes it is the memory of a great session on a lake or a stream that will bring you back year after year.
Any way it does for Gordon and me.



What a turn up we had for the Big Grogan and whilst our organising skills needed a little more thought, being the full moon and the Bathurst Motor Races ( all the Holden and Ford petrol heads love to watch the event, whilst consuming a box or two of beer, hence a day lost on the tournament)

This combined with the full moon effected fishing pretty dramatically.

The teams made up of Old Farts….. Ross The Cogga Hunter, Bob The Road Runner Morgan, Brian The Moose Nesbitt, John The Gnome Robbo and Graham The Tourist Lees Then the young Bloods featuring The Crystal Cowboys Glenn The Captain Hunter, Johnny Son of Redwood Rann and last, but by far not least, Kevin Banga Banks competed extremely well catching a good haul of flathead as did The Coonas made up of Banana Bob Cartwright and Ricko Koala Clay ( who incendtally got the nickname for his disbelief that koalas don’t exist in the Dunbogan area, especially in the tree at the back of out house, well it all changed for koala when we arose after the Grogan and there was the koala sitting in the tree .

A better day on the blackies Banana Bob's great flatty only to be beaten by the Crystal Cowboys
Banana breaths in the serenity. The Coonas performed well as usual Banana's great bream caught on a hard body. There is to be a bream trophy next year in the Big Grogan
Emu.Bob, Ian and Smitty with the mornings catch Getting bigger
Ian Redwood get's lucky with this nice blackfish Ricko on the river
The Crystal Cowboy's Banga Banks John Rann and Glenn Hunter with their catch in the Grogan. They had their presentation acceptance speech all ready The Crystal Cowboys They never gave up A great team
The Emu had it won with this 38cm blackfish untill Gavin Sharp's 43cm took over The Emu with a good fish

At the sight of this Koala danced with glee, nearly wetting his pants with excitement at the sight that was before him. He grabbed his camera and nearly filled his memory stick with photos of the little fella.

We have not had the heart to tell him it was artificial and was velcrod to the branch.
“Koala” is now a believer, its only take five years

The boat teams of Old Farts the Crystal Cowboys and The Coonas fished hard throwing soft plastics, baits and the kitchen sink at them, but alas it was tough.

It was Glenn Hunter who had a 49cm flattie and the lads were already preparing their presentation speech for the trophy.

The Emu working his magic on the wall We fished 10 hours a day never giving up They weren't all big Ricko with a spikey
This made Ricko Koala's day A real koala that he has waited five years to see We all worked hard for our blackfish
Roscoe gets weary and heads to bed . Guess what footy team he barracks for Chris Smitty.. A great competitor
Stewy The Swordies winning falthead Banana and the gnome They had time
The Gnome catches this 38 cm bream on a strip of mullet The Moose congratulates Stew on his flathead trophy
The Tourist Graham Lees having just recieved the big dummy spit award The winner by a country mile Gavin Sharps 43 cm Blackfish
What a team The Big Grogan competitors back at the shack Banana accepting Aqua Monsters trophy.. He will do anything to get into a photo. He was happy he didn't win tournament pest this year

“I’d like to thank the organisers of this event and condolences to the losers” (that sort of gracious stuff, but it was Stew The Swordfisherman Case who, after having a tough time on the blackfish wandered to the local boat ramp and in desperation thew out a soft plastic and jagged a 52cm flattie, pipping the Crystal Cowboys with only minutes left in the Grogan

We decided to purserver with the blackfish and caught a couple, but it was Emu Steve Fielding who scored a really nice 38cm fish under the bridge at slack tide. He was home and hosed and was rehearsing his acceptance speech until The Aqua Monster Gavin Sharp caught two beauties at the death knock..One going 43 cm’s now that is a great blackfish. This went on to take out the converted blackfish trophy by a country mile


To fish the Big Grogan is like being in “Mad Max or Water World” it has become almost famous with a cult following. A team of hangover sufferers from a long forgotten era, an era of respect of your elders, a team of Old Farts who’s job in life is to give to The Young Bloods and train them correctly so when they become Old Farts they will have been brought up proper.

This year’s competitors were;
Brian The Moose Nesbitt, Ross The Cogga Hunter, Bob The Road Runner Morgan John The Gnome Robertson, Graham The Tourist Lees, Steve The Emu Fielding, Ian Red wood Rann, Johnny Son Of Redwood Rann, Glenn The Captain Hunter, Kevin Banga Banks, Banana Bob Cartwright, Ricko I’ve now seen a Koala Clay, Stew The Swordy Case, Chris Smitty Smith all fished hard and considering we all fished some of the biggest tides on the full moon the results were excellent, under the circumstances.



This amazed Banana Bob who has won the trophy every year since its inception and the look of relief on his face when he realised that someone else beat him, if only by a whisker to it was precious.

BEST DUMMY SPIT ………..Graham lees for a remarkable performance the previous year when his Suzuki wouldn’t start at the boat ramp.. Language… you’ve never heard anything like it!

Next year we are intend to introduce the Biggest Bream trophy into the Grogan after The Gnome and Bananas excellent 38cm gems caught later on.

2008 was enjoyed by us all  plenty of  barbeques, great company, many after dark sing alongs and great yarns but that’s what the Big Grogan is all about.

On a lighter note I am happy that there was no attempted take over by the Young Bloods like we experienced last year and for us Old Farts “Military Style de coups” are pretty much beyond us so it was nice to see the Young Bloods stuck to what they are most successful at and that is showing us how much they can drink and leaving the important things for us to oversee.




When we look back we really did have some fabulous fishing in late May and all through June.
Why!.... because the warm 20 to 21 degree water that tuna love stayed with us all month and so did the tuna.

A 45kg yellowfin on fly gear Now That's a challenge Another great fish on Glenn Hunter's Billfisher
Anglers first on Broadbill Another big June fish on BILLFISHER
Big June fish Dr Mark Josephs with his fish taken on fly gear
Emanuel's first tuna on Broadbill Greg Lees great fish
Hooked up and fighting on fly gear Lots of 20kg fish
Now that's what you pay for A great day smiles on dials The winch with a beauty
Paul Curuana's 45 kg gem  

Glenn Hunter’s BILLFISHER excelled with constant catches of fish to 55 kg all month On BROADBILL we too had some great days with our clients scoring big tuna makos and a stack of albacore.

The majority of fish were cubed on the wide grounds south of Sydney This method is by far the most successful for this type of fishing At times trolling minnows and skirts will work it is all up to judging the best method on the day by the skippers.

The reason our boats are more successful,  is dedication to the cause and the years of experience in tuna fishing between father and son Ross (45 years) and Glenn (25years)
They simply are the best and most respected Captains around and always give value for money.
Not the cheapest, but in most instances in the charter business you get what you pay for ……It can be a pit fall chartering vessels on price alone.


TO BOOK……….Ring Ross or Glenn on 9534 2378
Costs $1550.00 per day for groups of 6 people or $260.00 per head per day off Sydney
We leave from Sans Souci in Botany Bay
Duration of the day is 10 to 12 hours

As we are sponsored by Shimano all tackle is the best you can buy


As a dedicated marlin man I have never been interested in the “Mud Wallopers Sharks” althoughwe have caught many hundreds of different shark species over the years whilst tuna fishing, they have never been targeted specie on our boats.

As a matter of fact all sharks that we do catch are banned from being brought on board, mainly because they make the boat stink for days afterwards and also because there is an element of danger involved in dragging them onboard, with in many cases inexperienced anglers.
Makos and blue sharks are particularly dangerous in this situation so it is the safer approach we adopt on Broadbill and Billfisher

A GIANT MAKO AROUND RUNAMUK Now let's pull him in with us
An awesome shot by Dave Granger Matt Ghosen and his 350kg tiger caught last week
Big Tiger  

There are some along our coastline who live to catch sharks be it tigers, makos, whalers, hammers and blues.

The Toohey lads on Avanti, The vessel Rampage skippered by the Page boys are great historical shark fisherman and very competitive in their field.

However it is the Ghosn family, Nathan and Matt who own and run SylvaniaMarina who are extremely good on the sharks. Their boats Razorback and Thresher are legendary shark boats and I believe they are two of the most talented sharkers around the scene today.

David Granger on his boat Runamuk  too, has been around the shark scene since he was a lad fishing on his Dad’s boat Bounty Hunter.

These lads have been competitive fisherman all their lives.
In the case of Matty Ghosn he deckied a season with me on Broadbill, catching and releasing many marlin in that ‘91 season Matt was 13 years old back then and a great reliable crewman..

The Goshen boys and David all work to gether at Sylvania Marina and live for the long enduring tussles and seemingly never ending fights with the “BigTige “ The other thing that makes the thing more special is that they have been catching these monsters for years from their 18 foot trailer boats.

So many times in can recall fights that go into the wee small hours of the morning.

 Ten hour battles through the night, miles from home on a lonely ocean, great efforts indeed from these dedicated fishermen, pursuing their craft of big sharks from small vessels

Just check out the great photos of the lads recent 350kg tiger shark capture.

Here’s a verse that describes it all from one of my songs.



Our annual blokey’s get away fishing get together week has been and gone and what a wonderful time it was.

We had 15 visitors over the week all staying at the Fisherman’s Shack at Dunbogan.
Some targeted blackfish others chose the flathead on soft plastics from their boats.

Us OLD FARTS Inc… myself  Brian Nesbitt The Moose , Bob The Road Runner Morgan, Graham Lees (the tourist) all love it to see the antics of the YOUNG BLOODS….they are as keen as mustard up at 4-30 am and into their fishing.

No siestas like the Old Farts may have……. no fishin, fishin, fishin all day and of a night …drink…we couldn’t keep it up to them.


This years the “Big Grogan” was fished hard and fast and the results were nothing short of spectacular.
The Young Bloods, fishing in two boats made up of the “Coonas” and the “Crystal Cowboys” worked their magic by thrashing every inch of the Camden Haven River with their soft plastics and they caught a heap of good flathead, including the winning fish.
The teams made up from Glenn “The Captain” Hunter, Martin “Macka” Hunter Ricko “Koala” Clay, Kevin “Banga” Banks, these were the coverted “The Crystal Cowboys

And The Coonas headed up by…. “Banana Bob” Cartwright, Paul “The Target” and then the experienced and devastatingly lethal the old Farts Graham “The Tourist” Lees, the Moose and Bob “the Road Runner” Morgan and Ross the Cogga Hunter

Other late arrivals were “Aqua Monster”, Steve “Emu” Fielding, Ian Redwood Rann and Roberta

The Crystal Cowboys fished hard and fast with soft plastics, acres of enthusiasm and packed eskies. They pulled flathead all day and were a definite early threat to the Coonas
 They fished well catching 30 or so flathead over the two day Big Grogan, but in the end were no match for Banana Bob’s very aggressive Coona team ..In Paul’s brand new boat with Banana at the helm, they pretty much run up on all the sand banks in the river (keep port on your port when coming to port Banana) but these blokes go hard and their 50 flathead left the Crystal Cowboys wanting. The nice shiny white prop was by now shiny alloy from its constant ploughing of the sand flats.

In the meantime The Moose hooked up a remora on some spider web line and was last seen motoring after it at hi speed, and of course his vast experience shone through in the end, as they boated the remora, which Moose fastened it by its sucker to The Tourists leg for a while before releasing. Nothing affects professionals!

A good blackie session Banana and Paul in the hunt for flathead and sandbars
Paul lands a flatty..a most consistent competitor Ricko gets lucky with a small flatty on the plastics
Road runner catches a beauty Roberta and Redwood They are happy
Roscoe with his 44 cm model The crystal cowboys Glenn and Martin Hunter and Banga Banks...Just Crusin
The magnificent river They were tough but when we caught them they were beauties
Waiting patiently for a down We nearly caught a kangaroo as it swam across the river
Banana with that fish A swab is being taken on this one  

As for us more elderly crew (we were like the young bulls and the old bulls) we just wandered down the blackfish grounds and did the job well, no fuss , no hype just pure traditional blackfishing…Ah! The joy of the float diss appearing as the blackfisherman watches with keen eye, ever alert to his surroundings and adjusting constantly to the bite and the current ….A style of fishing reserved for gentleman and scholars …and rarely entered into by the young and impatient.

I was lucky enough to score a 44 cm gem that took out the blackfish award (this fish was caught on conventional tackle and green weed unlike Banana’s blackfish which was caught in the mouth, so the story goes on a soft plastic) jagged with a plastic…………..or was it?
 After a swab was taken, there is a strong rumour, it may not have been caught at all or even caught by someone else and a photo taken at the cleaning table of Bob Holding it up.

This I personally cannot believe this, as only a desperate man, a cad and a bounder, would resort to such tricks and then accept the trophy, even after all contestants were asked if there were any confessions, re any kind of any indiscretions, but alas silence was golden.
So Banana gleefully accepted his trophy whilst guzzling copious quantities of beer in the process.
If the truth ever comes out on this incident it will not be pretty if Banana has to face a full committee from the Old Seaman’s Mission..   They’re a hard and sea wearied bunch and would not take kindly to dishonest behaviour even if the tournament motto is;


Banana also made a clean sweep winning Tournament Pest  trophy, which he expected from the onset.
Ricko Koala Clay stared aimlessly into the surrounding scrub for his first glimpse of a Koala which visits us at the shack whenever Ricks not there.
Redwood Rann had a PB. When he actually caught his first blackfish whilst fishing with myself and Roberta, she had joined us for a couple of days as did the Aqua Monster Gav Sharp he also tallied up with some great blackfish.
Of an evening Aqua Monster, Banana and myself played some Buffet and some of Roscoe’s songs on the veranda on our guitars after dinner around the campfire and that was most enjoyable after a hard days fishing.

Next late arrival was Emu Steve who had a mission to catch one of the many cobias we had seen running the edge off the wall but first he had to catch a mullet live bait after two days no mullet ..No cobia.

The week just flew and we all had a great time We fished hard , eat too much and washed it all down with copious beers but isn’t that how it’s supposed to be when good mates go fishin’ !


There was a diss appointing incident when the Moose, The Road Runner, myself and Graham Less The Old Farts were set upon by the young bloods in a miliary style Coup in an endeavour to get one of their kind on the Big Grogan committee.  This traditionally has been reserved purely for members of the most dignified and respected Old Seaman’s \Mission
A petition was signed and presented to us one evening after the Young Bloods had drunk several beers (and had been on the chrome water bag, the chateau cardboard as well) to the elders of the group (The old farts, all fully paid members of the Old Seaman’s Mission, I might add)..
 We took on the attempted coup and just smiled and took this aggressive approach in our strides as you would expect, tearing up the petition and leaving it in the toilet for arse paper, where it belonged.
I think the young bloods were a little taken back by our actions but never the less the message came through good and strong.
At the end of the day this tournament is serious business and you can’t have wankers running it .It needs a sensible stable of experienced and matured fisherman, overseeing such serious affairs, not a bunch of snotty nosed tossers trying to establish themselves, whilst revelling in total obscurity of their mostly miserable lives…Yes! The Old Farts rule with an Iron fist and that’s how it should be, otherwise the whole scene can become a ridiculous debacle….needless to say it was a failed de coup

Winners were;

Biggest Blackfish Banana Bob caught on a squidgy and still under investigation by the committee of Old Seaman
Biggest Flathead……… Paul “The Target” with a 58cm gem
Traditional Blackfisherman’s Trophy …Ross The Cogga (from the old Farts) Hunter (recognised for fishing with a traditional float and green weed, not for jagging one on a soft plastic or taking a photo of someone else’s fish)
Tournament Pest …..Banana Bob (we are thinking that this will remain as a perpetual trophy dedicated to the great man

We had a fabulous time fishing this magnificent area with great company and we will all look forward to Dunbogan ‘08

The photos tell the story of a great time at Dunbogan

Banana Bob the master chef cooks up a massive seafood extravaganza Banana gets the biggest blackfish and tournament pest trophy
Banana's big fish cook up Competitors in the Big Grogan
Paul also takes out biggest gut trophy in a clean sweep Paul wins biggest flatty and the elder Roscoe gets the blackfish
Ricko Koala Clay reckons he's won them all prior to the presentation Roscoe and Banana do a version of The Bue marlin Blues
The Moose reads out the rules of the The Big Grogan The winners Paul, Ross and Banana Bob witheir trophys

DOLPHIN FISH (and How to cook them)  By Ross Hunter

As a charter Captain of too many years I have not met many anglers who don't enjoy a session on the dolphin fish, many times after a fruitless marlin expedition they have saved our bacon.

They are great fun on light spin-cast gear or similar, once hooked they are amazing air dwellers as they clear the oceans surface time and time again, much to the joys of the anglers.

Visual fish like these will bring squeals of "Yeh! Did you see that" from even the most experienced angler, as time and time again they jump metres into the air.

Dolphin fish are one of the fastest growing fish in the ocean. I recall many years ago, tagging a heap of them on a FAD off Sydney, all season we went back to that FAD which we had personally put in………….so not a lot of others new about it .

At the start of the season the fish were around 2 kg at the end of the season the fish could be seen swimming at the back of BROADBILL with their bright yellow tags having grown to 6 to 8 kg and that's in a period of 6 months.

As an eating fish they are 5 star rated it is almost impossible for the worst chef to bugger up a dolphin fish.

Dolphin fish or Mahi Mahi are caught in our Sydney waters from the start of summer thru to around August (depending on oceanic temps)

I have seen seasons where we have caught them right thru winter as well, however that year the temps. remained around 21 degrees all season so the dollies stayed with us.

Nsw fisheries fad a must The barbeque will be fired up tonight
Soft plastics work well Happy anglers on Broadbill after a session on the dollies
Natalie Hunter with her first dolphin fish at Pt STEPHENS We always catch some great dolphin fish in a season
Circle hooks The modern way to go Natural baits are great
Nikee experience the thrill Everyone's favourite dolphin fish

Dolphin fish are a most aggressive feeder, they will pounce on lure live bait as a matter of fact anything that looks edible to them.

Sometimes when trolling a bunch of dolphin fish will be spotted jumping clear of the water when this is seen there will in most cases be  a Fad , trap buoy of a piece of flotsam floating near by.

It is like striking gold out on Mother Ocean as guaranteed hook ups are about to happen and the action will be thick and fast.

Because they frequent flotsam, such floating objects as tree branches, logs etc..These items, if found on the ocean are "walk up starts" for dolphin fish.

They use such floaters as their security blankets.  Fads too (Fish Aggregation Devices) are popular with these species they set up their whole community around such items all season
Trolling baits such as garfish, squid or live yellowtail and slimies is dynamite especially around FADS

We prefer light gear say 6kg spin cast rods or similar.
Another favourite, once a log or a Fad is worked is to cast small live baits into the zone. The dollies just cannot resist these morsels and will be seen shouldering each other out of the way to get to the bait first.

When trolling the bigger of the species around 15 kg and over will jump on any thing skirts, garfish minnows etc, they are quite ravenous.

If trolling around a log in the middle of no where then catch a few on lures, mark the log on the plotter so you do not loose it and then work the fish with cubes( cut up pilchards) they go mad on this technique and will stay with you for much longer.

If you keep trolling it is only a matter of time before they spook and go sulky.
We prefer to troll baits for marlin so the mahis are a bi catch.

Many times we have set up our boats with a mix of garfish and mullet only to be raided by a bunch of mahis necessitating a back to the bait rigging table for the deckies much to their disgust.

They are a great sportfish to catch on light tackle. And better again on the barbeque

Another technique is cubing with pillies around an area such as a FAD this will work well, with the fish taking up residence at the back of your boat in the berley trail.

I have, however seen times when a popular Fad has been worked over by a dozen other boats before you arrive and the fish are wise to the whole scene and will not bite.

In this case the live baits area must, without live bait the fish will be seen but not caught. They are a dumb looking fish but in fact if harassed too much they do get the drift on what us fishos are up to and go totally off the bite. Their normally aggressive persona now goes shy.

At our annual trips to Pt Stephens we often put in a FAD or two and give the dollies a touch up on the way home from the marlin grounds, because these FADS are private , they are not found by the masses so we have a bunch of agro dollies that generally are caught easily on the way home.

Fresh dollies on the barbeque after a great day’s marlin fishing a few tall tales over a coldy reliving the day…that’s what fishing’s all about

I love to eat them whole. This way we simply cutlet them across the backbone, wrap in foil, with garlic, chilli a drizzle of olive oil, tomatoes cut fine and onions then baked in the oven.

If, however it is boneless fish you prefer then skin and fillet, then add a little corn flower to a plastic bag, jiggle fillets in bag until cornflower covers, then dip in egg whipped a little red curry, then roll in lightly in bread crumbs.

Then cook in a pan with a drizzle of grape-seed or peanut oil …….Yeh! Gotta go I'm hungry



It can be a long journey that life long experience we call fishing. For me it has been the guiding light, the lighthouse beam that has had a major influence on my life for over 50 years.

There are some spheres of fishing that, as a charter Captain I enjoy more than others after all on our boats we cover a fair gambit of fishing styles and techniques during a 12-month season.

The summer we fish my favourite part of the world and what I do believe are the most productive marlin grounds in the world for big striped marlin. Pt Stephens…Even if this were not so I would still go there I just love the place that much However it is not just the brilliant marlin fishing, it is also the superb scenery of the place that I never get sick of looking at, it really is a breathtaking port to leave from and then come home to after a busy days fishing.

The entrance to the port is made up of Headlands and Islands that are remnants of an extinct volcano from a long forgotten dinosaur era.

The highest mountain to the south Tomaree forms an embattlement that protects the mariners from bad weather, making the port a most safe passage for our boats

To the north Yaccabah with its picturesque, almost vertical mountainous slopes and giant wind eroded gorges that the sea pounds into with great force, sending plumes of spray forever skyward.
Always, a most spectacular sight as we steam to the bait grounds at first light.

The colours of these beautiful steeped cliffs changes constantly with sunlight, depending on the light of the day.

Then there's Cabbage Tree Island with its western rain forest and gorges full of cabbage trees, home of the tiny Gould's Petrel and a resident family of white-bellied sea eagles.

To the south Little Island and Boondelbah Island they all form the breathtaking oceanic entrance to the Port. Over the years there have been many fishing milestones, Broadbill's twenty-one marlin in a day in February 2005.

A day when a bait ball was found with an estimated 80 striped marlin working it up all day.
All we had to do was to back up to it, throw two live baits in and immediately hook up a double on stripes.

There also has been many World and Australian records on all kinds of tackle all caught from this world-class fishery.

As a charter Captain of too many years it is these fish I love to catch and I am convinced that to be really proficient as a marlin skipper it is a life long journey, there is so much to learn

These days, however my personal passions have turned full circle and I find myself enjoying the simple forms of fishing so much this is a normal transition, maybe going back to a second childhood if so it's OK by me.

On my days off from charter duties I sneak down the river a couple of minutes from home with my trusty blackfish rod and get lost in the beauty of the Georges as I watch my float for hours If the fish bite that's good if they don't I still love the serenity.


Another type of fishing I really do adore, is snapper, these are by far our most sought after table fish and they are great fighters on light gear.

I don't think there is any thing that is so exciting as a big snapper laying on the surface, having just appeared from the depths.

We fish an area called the "Hump' it is about 20 nautical mile from our port Botany Bay, for me personally I have fished the area for 40years

Our normal day starts at daybreak and ends at 5pm long but most enjoyable and productive days on our boats BROADBILL and BILLFISHER.

Having picked up my crew we generally steam to Marley Point (around 12 nautical mile) and then troll minnows along the cliff face embattlements of the Royal National Park.

We often get kings and a few salmon on the trip down.

Trolling only 20 metres from the shoreline, it is not uncommon to see wild deer, kangaroos, and white-bellied sea eagles as we head slowly southward.

The scenery leaves you with the feeling that you are in the wilderness, it is so wild and untouched… houses, no man made catastrophes, just Australiana at its best and ya gotta love that!

This passage may take an hour, but it is an hour that every customer will take in the magnificence of the area and remember for a long time …There place makes me feel good, just to be there. First Marley with its wild beaches, Garie, Burning Palms Era and Bolgo, all just as beautiful as each other.

The high cliffs are now punctuated by grassy valleys, silky white beaches, adorned by the high mountain ranges above, just so beautiful.

We then change course at Thirroul and head sea ward to our snapper grounds
I have accumulated many great fishing spots over the years, some in 25 metres and some as deep as 70 metres .

We choose an area that may look good on the sounder and then anchor; the pre-rigged rods of floater style and paternoster rigs are baited as the deckie starts the berley trail. The anglers grab a rod and get busy in anticipation.

I am first to grab my trusty Shimano Corsair and start feeding back a big lump of stripey in the light current.

The bait reaches the bottom maybe 80 metres back and Whack the line is pulled through my fingers with a non-mistakable vengeance of a big snapper on the rampage.

Next thing an angler yells "I'm on too" as his rod bends over and line pours off.
The big reds are netted, accompanied by screams of joy, as they are ice slurry in the fish box.

The sea lazily rolls by as we are fanned by light west winds Broadbill lays on anchor as the sun warms my back, the snapper are biting their heads off,every one on the boat is loving it………an me …….well what do you reckon.


A cold winters morning and the rising sun is most welcomed as we head out a day break Cold maybe, but the thought of big snapper warms me up
An eastern grey kangaroo, we see heaps on the way down White bellied sea eagles roam the high cliffs
Heading to the snapper grounds Billfisher caught a heap of snapper as well
Broadbill on anchor and into the snapper on floaters The Scenery on the way to the grounds....Magnificent
We catch a couple of salmon on the way A snapper that looks like a giant bream Some are not as red as others
A beaut crew and a great catch of reds captain Glenn Hunter with a great catch on Billfisher on Sunday
A couple of beaut snapper in anyone's book The winch Anthoney Chaffey and Steve the shooter and Stew The Swordfisherman, what a great haul of big reds
Friends on mother ocean Chris with a thumper of a fish
Matt and daniel with a couple of the 21 Snapper caught Hals 3.5 kg snapper
Don't ever give a kid afishing rod, Next thing they're catchin more than you, Luke catches his first Mark Rea had a great day on BROADBILL
Paul Hobb's with a beaut snapper he caught on Broadbill on Sunday Proud of the effort You Bet Steve with his big snapper
Roscoe gets lucky last Monday. The lads had a great day on the snapper What good fish..They don't catch them like this in Cowra says Maurice
24 fish kept 10 released We all enjoyed the magnificent scenery on the way to the snapper ground

by Ross Hunter 7/11/06

Snapper are one of Australia's favourite recreational fish they are great fun to catch and they are five stars as a table fish, they simply are everyone's favourite.

On Broadbill and Billfisher we love a day on the reds as a change from the gamefishing.
There is nothing better that fishing on anchor with engines turned off , maybe a little soothing music on the stereo whilst fishing at our favourite snapper area the Stanwell Park Hump.

This place is the home of the big reds, it is found 19.8 nautical miles south of Botany Bay Heads, which is our homeport.

To visit "The Hump" is a wonderful experience if only for the scenery itself, as it quite breathtaking, to be in this part of the world always makes me feel good.

Miles and miles of National Park, the rugged unspoiled coastline is made up of magnificent cliff faces, reaching one hundred metres high, so rugged and so shear. Home for many families of white bellied sea eagles as they majestically soar in the updrafts searching for food. We often troll the washes along the edge of the cliff faces and catch kingfish and bonito on the trip home.

Deep diving lures trolled slowly will get the job done as we sit back and breath in the serenity of this wonderful area of the Royal National Park, usually with a fine catch of snapper in the fish box.

It is always a pensive thought that only 30 miles northward is the big smoke, Sydney, the biggest city in Australia, but down here we are in a bit of wilderness, that is the beauty of this wonderful country we call Australia.

When planning a trip we ensure that the following factors are in place. (After all it is a long haul down there and it can be a waste of fuel and time if the following are not right)

(a) Current flow…To fish the floater system the current must not be running too fast, any more than one knot and this system is in jeopardy (more on that in techniques)…The current should be running lightly to the south.

(b) Wind…The wind must be reasonably light and from any direction but the south. Light west light nor east but not south. The reason is that because we are fishing on anchor if the currents light from the north (IE running southward) and the wind is from the south then we could find our selves fishing under the boat and back up the anchor rope, this never works.

If the breeze is from any other direction other than against the current the boat will generally lay with the current flow thus allowing the baits to be fed back from the transom with the current assisting to take them down to the depths with the berley.

(c) Selecting a spot to anchor……This is the most important part of the day. Having fished this area for many years I have land marks I work with and still use to day.

Yes! Believe it or not people actually used land marks once……that is before a thing called GPS was invented.

After all how else could you find your fishing spot, mind you we still use the GPS to check our landmarks.

Having established that we are now in our spot we then sound the bottom carefully, we are fishing in 20 fathoms and the bottom is broken reef and gravel We pick a section of reef to anchor on and drop the reef pick allowing for breeze and current to drift us over the small reef outcrop below. Anchoring on hard reefy areas will result in rubbish fish all day Such species as pike, sweep, jackets etc will plague all day making it impossible to get a bait to a good snapper.
The wider reefs are where the big fish forage for their food and that's where we have selected to anchor.

Ok! So all the above are in order so we can plan our trip an early start for these sorts of trips is essential.
In the Spring, which is the best month by, far, we leave around 5 am getting us on the spot at 6.15 am, first baits hit the water about 6.30am.

A couple of good size reds caught on floaters on BROADBILL. Dave Bogle with a nice snapper caught on BILLFISHER.
Even Roscoe gets lucky sometimes. Glenn Hunter witha couple of snapper caught on floaters.
Snapper like this can be caught on floaters from now through to spring. Spring snapper We love them Glenn Hunter holds up a 5.8kg.

(d) Techniques………Ok! if you have not fished the floater method for snapper then there is a great experience waiting for you…. Basically what we are doing is not rocket science. Once we have anchored on our favourite spot, a spot that in our instance has produced some great days over many years on the reds, we then get the system going.

Firstly pilchards are cut fine on the cutting board and berley slick is started as they are thrown in small pieces cut into 8 or ten cubes per pillie and fed back down the slick. This never stops all day. We have now sent a message to any snapper feeding below in the adjacent area that we have arrived and there is food above.

Snapper like all fish have a great sense of smell and will pick up such a berley trail from a along way away.

Sometimes you won't get a bite for maybe 2 hours, be patient it will pay off and when they arrive it can be in numbers.

Tide changes can play a part in the snapper's feeding habits an hour before and an hour after is always good. Also after big seas and bad weather, this too will work well.
Once the berley slick is working then the baits go in.

We use a Shimano bait caster loaded with 6kg line, a ball sinker of enough weight to carry the bait slowly down in the light current sits directly onto the mustard 2/0 bait holder hook.
No swivel is used with this sort of fishing.

Yes! Small hooks are the best; I prefer 2/0 to a max of 3/0 they never come out and are easier to set on the light drags we are using.

The bait is striped tuna cut into a triangular shape complete with skin…The hook is fed thru the thin end of the triangle once only The baits are 120 millimetres in length .

I use big baits as it helps with the drift and the pickers cannot eat them but snapper are "guts" and they have no trouble getting them down.
Ok! Now the baits are on correctly and we are ready to present same to a waiting snapper below

Good sized slabs of striped tuna are our favourites. A range of circle hooks Great for snapper.

It is now important to feed the bait back in free spool in the current, not too fast but at the same speed that the berley is flowing back. How far do we feed the bait back? …Depending on the day up to 100 metres, if you get snagged up on the bottom then go to a lighter sinker You do not want to be on the bottom at any time as the snapper will feed right up in mid water once they are in the berley slick.

To experience a snapper's run on this light gear is a buzz and is so instant and powerful you will never miss it. You will be dreaming away, feeding back your line, you may have done it for a few hours with out a bite and all of a sudden line is screaming off the reel and the fun has started You have just hooked a big red and the fun has started.

At this point the reel is clicked into gear and alight strike is made and then hang on as the light line pours of the drag. But the best is still to come and that is the sight of a big snapper coming out of the depths after a 20-minute fight.

The landing net is called for and one hell of a beautiful specimen joins the boat.
These days we release a fish or two especially the big breed stock the best table fish are the 1.5 to 2.5 kg size.

Yep! The barbeque will be fired up tonight ….Fresh snapper a nice wine and a great days "Floater Fishing".

Sounds good!………………………………… well go and give it a go and good luck….send us the photos!


IT'S THAT TIME OF THE YEAR AGAIN by Captains Ross and Glenn Hunter


It seems so long ago when I add up the years, however as a memory my first yellowfin tuna experience seems like it was just yesterday. I can vividly recall the power of the fish's runs that seemed endless and the helpless feeling that after an hour I had not gained one millimetre of line. After 2 hours of frustrating "hanging on" my back was hurting, my forearm was aching and I had the distinct feeling that this was bloody hard work, maybe even too hard for this most inexperienced tuna angler.

But there is always seem to have a mate or two on the boat who reminds you that only a wimp would complain, let alone giving the rod to someone else, just 'cause the lactic acid has kicked in and you are in diabolical pain. Then after 2.5 hours we get colour "Oh! Shit he's a monster" every one yells in unison at the first sight of the huge fish circle below us. What a magnificent sight it is in vivid gold's, yellows and silvers, the huge anal and dorsal fins trailing back to the tail……… The fish is now visible all the time as it circles 20 metres under us, it is by far the biggest I have ever seen, but every bit of line is still so difficult to gain. This then makes the angler more nervous because every one has told you that this is when you can loose a big tuna.

Then for another 20 minutes the big fish fights in circles, he is "just there", but "just there" is now taking every bit of energy you can muster to gain those precious pumps of line. Inch by inch line is gained until a giant of a tuna joins the boat…..The boats shakes as the fish's body reverberates through it as its' giant tail beats its last. The wild screams of delight, handshaking and the backslapping are all part of the joy. The angler is wondering if there may be a local chiropractor still open, back on land for a quick spinal re set. The 2006 season off Sydney was a screamer with some great fish like this being caught since May on BROADBILL and BILLFISHER.

That first tuna is a wonderful memory and whilst it was three decades ago, as a captain of a charter boat I have related to the same scenario so many times, when I experience one of our anglers struggling with their first tuna encounter…….The memory is an un-forgettable one because these are the toughest of all fish and make any angler work extremely hard to earn the final result…………We are talking about the gut busters of the ocean . The most power full fish that swims…………….."the mighty yellowfin tuna"

Every season in our business is different; it all revolves around the thermo clines and isotherms, the oceanic currents.

An example is the '97 marlin season off Pt Stephens, that season we tagged 248 marlin inc 18 in one day on Broadbill..a season where the water didn't get to hot, but stayed blue, right to coastline and never went over 24 degrees, perfect for great marlin fishing
The 2006 yellowfin season has been the same off Sydney.

Glenn and myself have caught more tuna this season than we have in the past decade…….Why?
The current flow had eddied off Sydney in a giant swirl of tuna rich water…20 to 21 degrees right through winter and has basically not moved. As a result the tuna have taken up residency off Sydney as well.

We caught tuna since May rarely missing out.
On our boats we like our anglers to release a fish or two, having all caught one each.
The fish have averaged around 25 to 30 kg……… The biggest going far for the season.

A great fish we trolled in 200 fathoms on a soft plastic saurie. Artificail garfish work well The hardest thing is getting them back.
Everyone loves catching these speedsters. Gavin Sharp's yellowfin caught on the old BILLFISHER
JIsaacs YFin 75.5kg caught on 24kg A great effort. Sometimes a tuna will get sharked This one a mako bit off its' tail.

Two factors are paramount here; Visual observation on both the sounder and with you're eyes. Always be observant as to what is happening around you on Mother Ocean.on a typical tuna day.

We run quite powerful sounders on our boats and it is possible to pick up fish that are schooled under a bait source they show up as speckles sitting under the schools, when this is found we often will set a cube trail up in that area.

Sea birds are so important we love to see the albatross and petrels in an area. The small Wilson's Storm Petrel and Grey Prions and the common tern is also a wonderful guide to tuna schools in the area.
Always remember that you can troll all day and not get a bite on a lure, but you will catch them by cubing.

This has happened on our boats all season., we may have caught ten fish between Billfisher and Broadbill on the troll, this would not be ten percent of our seasons catch when compared to the cubing method.

Playing big tuna from a chair is so much quicker than shorter rods. We caught this big boy on a lure off Sydney.
We trolled this fish on a bib less minnow a couple of seasons ago Yellowfin tuna Thunnus albacares A great sportfish.

What is cubing!…well you do not have to be a rhodes scholar to do it. Having selected an area to fish, in our case it will mostly be "Browns Mountain" (a 600foot seamount off Botany Bay) or "The Southern Canyons" to the south off Stanwell Park.

We then drift and at the same time cut a heap of pilchards up generally into three pieces, add little tuna oil and throw a few into the briny in a constant stream. Sort of two or three cubes every 15 or twenty seconds, so you can always see a cube in the trail.

Then the wait starts and patience is a virtue. Some days we have started cubing at 2pm and not so much as had run until 5pm however by 6.30pm have had them boiling everywhere behind the transom.

I recall one night we stayed and hand fed them in the floodlights then drove way leaving them biting.

Here we favour short traces of 1.5 meres We use 150lb Jinkia or similar.
However I have many times fished straight 80 line no trace no swivel on a shy fish that won't feed. There is a risk factor here that a big fish may wear through light trace on a long fight.
We stick to a simple system for charter work 150 lb trace attached by a sampo swivel with 20 or so feet of plaited double. We don't use wind ons for tuna.

On our boats we pretty much use circle hooks for all our fishing.

They are dynamite on the marlin and because of our policy of tag and release only on all billfish, we are giving the fish every chance of survival with circles There ability to catch every fish in the jaw is amazing.

With a tuna hook up on these great hooks, we fish around 4 kg strike drag and most times do not work the bait in and out a lot until the fish turn up. We find that stationary bait on reasonable day weather wise will be taken better than one that is worked in and out. Just sit back and chill out until the rod bends…"Too bloody easy."

Once a fish is spotted in the slick we will grab a rod, wind it in quickly, putting on a fresh pillie or cube of stripey and then re-feed it back with the ratchet on and light drag . Once the fish eats the bait the drag is feathered on to eventually reach fighting drag of 6kg on 24kg.
Don't fall for the old one third of the breaking strain of the line routine or you will snap line. 6 kg of drag is perfect, no broken line, all fish caught in a comfortable manner.

Over the years I have seen all kinds of anglers, some excellent, some bloody hopeless, however when it comes to the end result they all catch their fish and that's what it is all about.
We have checked customer's rods only to find drag settings far to high, so high that the line would have parted on the first run, we naturally back them off, sometimes to be told by the owner.

"Mate that was set up on spring scale"
"That's excellent" may be the reply as we back off the drag.
And we always suggest that if they leave it there and they snap off, then they go to end of the strike
They always agree with the back off.

We set our drags by "feel" not a spring scale, however I guess we've set a few over the years.
If you set yours on a spring scale then 6kg will work well on 24kg.

You see once you have snapped a fish off you have not given yourself a chance it's that simple
Light drags are good and they will be more productive…after all you can always put a little on but it's hard to take it off after the line has parted.

Pillys threaded through the eyes or through the mouth and then back through the gut or cubes of stripey cut into triangular pieces, which will fit into the palm of your hand. Pass the hook through the skin at the very end corner of the triangle, once only it doesn't matter if all you can see is hook. A rampaging tuna is not a fussy feeder; they will grab anything if it's presented reasonably down the slick.

Live bait is not necessary if you can't catch a tuna on a pilly "you ain't gonna catch one at all".
If we have live bait we will pop one out, however it is not paramount.
If you do get a shy fish in the slick, straight through 37kg will generally entice it to bite The lack of iron mongery of the swivel and the light line will normally work , however if the battle lasts too long the fish may wear through the trace. It's the risk you take.

Both Glenn and myself earn our living from catching tuna in the winter and Spring.
Around January we head to Port Stephens for the marlin season through to late April we have experienced some amazing seasons at this world famous fishery.

Some seasons better than others the 2005 season at the port was an amazing season, a season where we released over 300 marlin between our boats.

Without a doubt my favourite is the week before the full, the fish certainly become more active during this phase, so much so that it is the best time to troll.
Our favourite tuna lures are bib-less minnows , Bloodshot Tuna Hunters and Lazer Pros.
If you encounter jumping fish, then any of these lures will work well.

Australian gannet.To see these dive bombers going in on a bait school is always worth a look. The common tern mainly an esturine dweller but when the tuna are abundant they will be on the grounds.
The cape petrel always good to see A great sign of tuna below. Sheerwaters or mutton birds a great guide at times.
Wandering albatross a great sight They follow the squid schools and tuna eat lots of squid.  


Australian Gannet
If encountered is a give away….. .When you see these birds plummeting into the ocean from a great height there is always bait under them. Maybe it might be pilchards, slimy-mackerel, sauries, bellows fish and squid.. If you don't know the sea birds the gannet is easy as it is the only bird in our waters that can plummet into the ocean from height. Always worth a troll around when encountered. In '97 we were catching 20kg tuna 2 nautical miles off the Kurnell light, as soon as the gannets started feeding the fin would be right there with them.

The Common Tern
The common tern frequents the wide grounds when the fish are running
This is an estuarine bird that journeys to the tuna grounds to feed when the big boys are in town. Terns at the tuna grounds is really good to see.

Fairy Prion
This is most delicate sea bird of grey colour about the size of a sparrow. The Prion and the Wilson's Storm Petrel are all great to see. They are sometimes called "Jesus Christ Birds" as they look like they are walking on water with their stop, start, staccato flight. When encountered in the tuna grounds, the action, generally will be good.

Albatross are a great sign that you are not far from action. This rare Buller's takes up residency in our berley slick.

We are so lucky on the Tasman Sea to have almost the total worlds species of Albatross, from the biggest sea bird in the world the Wanderer and Royal to Shys, Black Browed, Bullers, Yellow nosed, Grey Heads, Light Mantled Sootys and more . To see any of these in numbers means great fishing.

Always remember, however that all sea birds are protected with a $10,000 fine even the wedge-tails and short tailed shearwaters (mutton birds). These little birds migrate from China each year to Bass Strait, they can be a pest to fisherman, if this happens whilst your cubing there is no other option but to move your location or to troll.

Please do not kill the birds it will not help the cause there is 330 million following them up during Sept October. It is plain cruel and lowers your esteem in others eyes, that you have no respect for mother Ocean.

WATER TEMPS 20 to 21 degrees
Water temps are so important," not to hot, not to cold," the perfect winter temps for yellowfin during winter and spring is 20 to 21 degrees. The fact that since May that is what we have had all winter is the reason for the fabulous season here off Sydney. As well as this the huge eddy of anti clockwise currents has remained between Pt Stephens and Jervis Bay the whole time and so have the tuna.

Colour is not important as a matter a fact the best catches we have had have been in the greener water. Blue water is not necessary…... I have always suggested that "the colours of lures catch more fisherman than fish"……………… It’s a bit the same with oceanic watercolours.

An example, the best days fishing in my career was at Pt Stephens when we tagged 21 marlin in one day in Feb 2005. The temp was 21.2 degrees, the water was greeny blue and running into the north west and we were all catching the hell out of them, big stipes to 140kg and lots of them. A week later the water went cobalt blue and 27 degrees ran hard to the south and every striped marlin did a runner to the cooler stuff. We did not catch a marlin until the temps dropped back with the next head of water. The point I make is that the water can be too hot, this is not desirable in our latitudes.

Strong currents, say 2 to 3 knots are Ok. The only problem you may encounter with strong current is that if you start drift cube fishing at Browns Mountain at 10am by 4 pm you can be off Kiama, this combined with a northerly breeze can mean you are drifting at 4.5 knots and that's getting a little to fast for good tuna fishing.

A southerly breeze would be better, the breeze would then hold you back against the current, this is a better situation as it will slow the drift to maybe 2 knots and that is OK. Drift is so important when cubing, if you are drifting at 4.5 knots the cubes are left behind and the tuna that you want at the back of your boat have no real need to pay you a visit as the cubes are spread over miles.

Yellowfin are like humans they too eat a balanced diet. These fish vary their diet as the season progresses. The tunas staple diet is squid, these schools are generally found deep in the oceans in the middle of the day so us air breathing anglers would never know when there might be a school of tuna 200 fathoms under us feeding on squid, however always examine the fishes stomach contents and you may be surprised at what you find.

Other surface favourites are sauries (pike mackerel or no billed garfish), pilchards, slimy mackerel, garfish, toadfish and small tuna.

To see big schools of yellowfin slicing through any of the above food source, leaping metres into the air, will raise the hackles pretty quickly, it also makes you glad that you are not one of them such is the tuna speed and feeding efficiency.
This is a great time to troll when rippling schools are located, using skirts or minnows. Other favourite foods are bellows fish, Montague mullet and light fish.

We fish no more than three most time two More lines in the water area pain in bum The cross overs mean lost fish and to many dramas Simple is better, once the fish arrive you can select the fish and hook it up and share them around the anglers on a share strikes system …………………It works OK!








Black marlin, a fish that are the "crazy ones" especially the juveniles which are what we catch off Sydney and our second home Pt Stephens To even pass on the many memories and exciting adventures we have had on these superb sportfish would be impossible They are a most aerobatic fish and a great light tackle challenge for any enthusiast wanting the ultimate challenge on light string or fly.


We rounded the break wall at Soldiers Point, it was a superb February summer morning. A light southerly of 15 to 20 knots was predicted for late afternoon, but conditions as I eased the throttles down were textbook perfect. Broadbill, with turbos screaming, leapt onto the plane, I eased back the power to a comfortable cruise speed of 20 knots, both tachos read 2000 rpm, the twin Cummins sung in unison as we passed Corlette.

Our first stop was to be the live bait grounds at Mrs. Murphy's, behind the Tommaree headland.
The Bat was busy on the deck mixing bread for berley and rigging live-bait hand lines. We wanted about 25 big slimy mackerel; everyone was in high spirits anticipating a great day's marlin fishing.

A good bait shot is always welcomed, rather that the days when you have to spend an hour and a half trying several spots before enough bait is caught for the day's fishing. Today, having caught a swag of bait in 20 minutes was a good bait shot. Allan Davies was the morning champion bait catcher, catching two to the other's one. The Bat reminded him that he was a remarkably skilled bait fisherman and would qualify as one of the best baiters he had seen, so good in fact that he was verging on a "master baiter" reckoned The Bat.

Bait tanks were brimming as we rounded the outer light, heading southward to Morna Point, where we would dunk the baits and fish our way slowly homeward with the southerly wind. A 40-minute cruise southward saw the gear in the water at 8.30 am; we pulled two live baits and a teaser trolled down the centre.

The baits were trolled 25 and 30 metres back, the teaser about 20 metres, the 10-kg Shimano TLD's set in free spool with ratchet friction stopping them from free-running, the line is then run through roller trollers on the riggers. The scene was set to break Chris's duck.

The sounder redded the vast bait schools under us, I couldn't use the bait alarm function as it was continually going off, such was the mass of the bait below, and it sure looked good. When I troll I like to watch the top of the riggers, in order to do this we run the roller troller clips about a metre from the rigger tips, the clips are set so light that sometimes the swells will pop them open, the plan being that when a strike is encountered the rigger clip releases and the reel spins with no resistance that may spook a shy fish.

I try not to take my eyes off the rigger tips; their movements will relay the vibration of a panicking bait about to be eaten. When this happens I back up to give the marlin free line and time to eat the bait.

A strike happens most times when live baiting comes without warning; in other words because the baits swim a metre or so under the surface you don't always see the marlin strike. That's why I like to watch the outrigger tips, when they start vibrating the proverbial is about to hit the fan. As we trolled along a current line full of ripplers (baitfish that are feeding in huge schools on the surface) it was obvious that a marlin would not be far away. The line flew out of the clip as I yelled to The Bat "Left rigger." I backed up a couple of metres to reduce the forward momentum of the boat and to give the fish time to devour the big bait.

A bunch of common teaser The Mop, witch doctor and a minnow all good. Artificial garfish rigged with stinger hooks These work well on stripes and blacks. This one rigged with a sinker to swim.
Bridled rigged live mackerel our number one method for juvenile black marlin. Different types of circle hooks We only use these hooks for marlin.
Teaser lures nb no hooks These are run on the teaser poles. Natural baits are great This gar rig with stinger hook is very efficient on stripes and black marlin.
Good quallity tracing gloves are a must on a marlin boat.  

After 40, maybe 50, seconds, we strike the fish by gunning Broadbill forward; Chris pushes the lever forward and strikes. The rod bend tells us that hook-up is solid and we were hopefully only half an hour from Chris joining the marlin club. His first marlin was a fine black, as his first jump of two metres told us; line poured from the reel. I reversed to avoid too much line loss; the fish was 90 kg. Repeatedly the marlin jumped high, to the cries of the excited crew. Camera shutters clicked and words of "C'mon Chris, break your duck mate", were yelled.

Sometimes the unexplained happens, it can be a hook pulling or a line break, but in this case just when the fight was getting into a slug-it-out stage the trace broke, severed probably from a half hitch around the fish's bill, who knows, but one thing for sure:

It was fish one, Chris nil!
The look on the angler's face of so close yet so near, was almost pathetic as we tried to console him. The old adages of "bad luck mate, you'll get the next one" were helpful but deep down Chris was convinced that his first marlin was a long way away. He sat back in his corner, cracked a Crown to drown his sorrow and gazed seaward, feeling a little jaded and jilted. Little did he know that within half an hour he would not only achieve his first marlin, but by the end of the day would have caught three.

Kidding the tops didn't fly off the Crowns on the trip home …… Chris was no longer a virgin, it was celebration time, he was an experienced marlin fisherman now, with three for the day. We cruised home with the light south wind, rounding Tomaree, sporting eight tag flags flying off the left rigger for the day's effort. We knew it was going to be a ball-tearing black marlin season but neither Glenn, The Bat or myself in our wildest dreams imagined what an experience we were in for …… One instance of how blasé one could get after a couple of months of catching an average six marlin every trip, we returned after only tagging four marlin for the day, this by any marlin fisherman's standards is still pretty special.

As we returned to port, The Bat hadn't put the flags on the rigger. I asked why. He replied, "Shit, we only tagged four!" as if embarrassed by our meagre tally, having tagged eight the day before, ten the day before that, and so on. I replied, "What about the days when we tag none, we'd be real grateful to have tagged four, now get those flags up and be proud." The season just rolled by and we kept catching the hell out of them, all the fish were caught within two to ten nautical mile from the heads, making the fuel burn for the season half of what it would have been if we were travelling to the shelf.

The time factor too was great; we had the baits in the water and catching marlin within 20 minutes of clearing the heads, rather than the two hours of travelling time each day to the shelf and back. As the season rolled by we won Runner-up Champion Boat in the Shoot Out Tournament and Runner-up in the Interclub Tournament, we were fishing hard and well. But one day that stood out against them all. April at Pt Stephens can bring some superb weather and some very special fishing, this particular April morning a light west breeze greeted us, west winds herald the onset of autumn, they also bring with them some beautiful offshore conditions of flat calm seas and very pleasant temperatures.

Today was going to be a textbook autumn day, as was already evident as we wandered around preparing gear, checking fuel and generally preparing for one of our last day's charter fishing at the Port for the '97 season. We had to date tagged 230 marlin for the season and it would be nice to reach the magic 250, it sort of sounded nice we reckoned. We sat in the cabin, feeling a little sad that the tour was nearly over and we were about to put behind us one of the greatest marlin seasons that maybe we would experience in our lifetime, so many great times so many high flying marlin and for us three dedicated marlin fishos we did not want it to end.

We had fished so well, a great team that worked hard, partied hard and all of a sudden the fun was going to end. In the back of our minds was the thought was there but alas we still had a couple more days to do and as we sipped our morning coffee we agreed it would be good to go out on a high, a real good day maybe 10 or 12, that would end a perfect season in a perfect way. Our charters arrive and after the normal introductions were over we sparked up the "Hummin' Cummins" and cruised down the bay to the heads.

A school of long-tail tuna were jumping, chasing baitfish off Corlette. A bunch of crested terns croaked in excitement, feeding in turn on the scraps from the aggressive tuna, the day just got better as we put the baits in off the outer light. It was so calm that it was possible to see a reflection in the ocean's surface—we waited in anticipation.

At 1 pm we were devastated: not a bite and what's more the water had gone filthy green and most uninviting. Maybe we had to be content with our achievement thus far, "What a shame" we muttered between us. The anglers below were getting restless, having caught diddly-squat also after hearing how well all our other groups had done, but what can we do when whole scene looked like it was over?

Comments like "Oh, well! Just our luck, we should'a been here yesterday". The radio crackled and I heard someone say, "We just caught a marlin and while we were playing it we saw two more finning along". I knew that the boats were close; I strained my eyes scanning the ocean for them. It was a weekday so there wasn't too many boats out. Where the hell  were they? Knowing well that if we could locate them we would have a chance to catch these guys a fish. Squinting seaward nothing could be seen to the north or south, towards land I spotted two boats off Little Island, two small trailer boats—it had to be them, I thought. "Pull 'em in Bat, I want to investigate another spot, put two fresh baits on and be ready", and then added, "We're going in close, off the islands, nothing ventured nothing gained!"

The Bat pulled in the baits and we steamed the three miles back to the island. Easing back on the throttles about 500 yards from the island I wondered if the two boats were the ones on the radio that were on the fish. It was a guess, but the radio transmission could have come from anywhere - I was fairly sure it was close. The Bat put the fresh baits in and set up the boat, I steered just off the Island. Through the Polaroid sunnies it seemed as though there was a colour change along a tide line which was clipping the inside edge of the island. As we got closer, I could see that it went from ghastly green to purple, my pulse rate jumped, this was what we needed. As soon as we trolled into the purple water, a double hook-up was immediate; two blacks of around the 40 kg mark, these were tagged after 20 minutes. The crew was smiling now and smiled even more when within five minutes another double was encountered.

A black marlin at Pt Stephens A very heafty fish caught by Huw Llewelyn in 07. A young Glenn Hunter about to trace a small black in the '92 season.The photo says it all.
Hooked up ( a Peter Roberts photo) PT STEPHENS '07 BROADBILL at the mosh pit. That's what I'm talkin' about stand up gear on wild black marlin 'Top of the excitement ladder.
This fish caught on the sacrificial sinker, deep bait method . The sinker breaks free once the fish jumps. When you let me go can i keep the mackerel LIVE BAITING OUR FAVOURITE TECHNIQUE.
Pt Stephens '97 The year of the small blacks in close. We constantlyran out of flag tags on Broadbill. Probably one of the greatest marlin seasons of all.  

As we played these two 50-kg blacks, I watched another six fish tailing around the vast schools of slimy mackerel that were rippling on the tide edge. There was marlin everywhere. By 3 pm we had tagged and released 13 marlin, made up of three doubles and one triple and there was no sign of it backing off, the fish just thickened up. This was what we were praying for to end our tour; we were run off our feet, the action was red hot. The Bat said, after we've tagged 16 fish "Why don't we catch a couple on the spin cast gear just for fun?" "Yeh! Lets do it, let's have some fun", I replied. We troll hook less lures and raise the fish on them and then cast bait back on the 3 kg gear, once hooked the marlin nearly disintegrate the tiny eggbeater in the first run. We snap three fish off and catch one.

The Bat says at 5 pm, "We've tagged 17 marlin, you know Cogga the record is 17 tags in a day?" Craig Denham had achieved this remarkable effort this season on Tim Dean's Calypso in the Shoot Out, but records are only made to be broken and we were on target to do that. "Let's see if we can beat it?" he added in excitement. I had been so busy on the wheel that I had not realised we had caught that many fish. I replied, "What the hell are we mucking around with the spider web for, put it away and let's get the record for the season."

As quickly as the fish came on, they went off, but not before, at 6.45 pm, we tagged our eighteenth marlin for the day, not a bad day to go out on, considering we had lost five fish on the 3-kg gear before we changed back to the more sensible 10-kg gear. It was the perfect end to a perfect season—a season in which 8 and 10 tag flags were the norm, a season when every group on the charter had caught fish and experienced the unforgettable excitement of light tackle marlin fishing a season that goes so quickly, a season that the boys and myself did not want to end. The words of my dear old Grandfather rang in my ears. When I used to get sad, having to return to the city and leave my beloved Tascott, he said:

"All good things must come to an end, young fellow."

Back in the pen at Soldiers Point we sat on the gunnels of Broady, raised our glasses high and toasted each other, we had worked hard and fished well, we silently knew that we had fished the season of a lifetime. We watched the sun set over Swan Bay, nobody said much, we just took in the beauty of the sunset as the crimson colours reflected in the glass-like estuarine waters. The sunset turned to dusk, lowering the curtain on a wild day's fishing our personal best and brought to an end the '97 Port Stephens marlin season.

In hindsight, we did not realise it then, we may have been privileged to have fished the greatest of all marlin seasons. What with commercial long-line pressure on our marlin stocks increasing year after year, thus pressuring our gamefish, we may have been lucky enough to experience one of the best marlin seasons anyone will ever see; who knows, only time will tell, but as I write this chapter in the year 2004, the best tally has been 100 in a season. We tagged 248 marlin in five months in '97—and that's pretty special fishing, no matter where you come from.

We will live with that memory for many years to come, but isn't that what fishing is all about?


With juvenile blacks to 70kg maximum, bearing in mind that these are our bread and butter marlin in NSW .

We do not encounter big black marlin like the big boys that are caught in Cairns, tackle wise 8kg to 15 kg is a great line class to fish providing you are prepared to chase the fish,if you want to fish from a stationary boat then 15 to 24kg is a better option.

If you are releasing the fish then don’t drown them to death before release, as they will die.

All the light tackle brigade do is successfully drown fish to the point where they never survive, long winded drawn out struggles to fulfil angler's egos is not the way to go if you want the fish to live. Thank goodness the younger generation of anglers are a most conservation conscious lot, something they should be proud of.

We make no excuse to any one that we do not allow marlin to be killed in mass on our boats. When you've been around the scene for long enough and you love these fish like Glenn and myself do, care and conservation of them becomes paramount in your mind.

I have seen fish that have been bleeding from the gills or the mouth and I hate to see that.and will make every effort with boat backing skills to release the fish as quickly as possible.

In a perfect world it would be nice to think that we are not harming the fish but in actual fact we are putting these fish through quite a bit of stress , but we are fisherman and we do catch and release a lot of marlin that swim away a little shaken and maybe a touch wiser after the event is over.

So fish sensible tackle, we prefer Shimano TLD  20's 30's and 24s,we have experimented with egg beaters but that was a waste of time because of the line twist involved.

We do Fly fishing for marlin this is a most exhilarating way to catch a marlin especially on a good boat that can back up really fast.


Once we get into drag settings on lighter tackle the ratios become more critical too heavy and a snap off will happen too light and you go no where when a bit of lift is required. We set all our drags by hand but we do it every other day  however there are ratios that must be observed and that is 1/3 of the breaking strain of the line . Be careful and always work half to quarter of a kilo less You can always put a little on but you can't take it off once the line has snapped . Use good quality spring scales and set through a bended rod, as if you were playing a fish.
Once set at a third then back off a little and you should never break line.


Live baiting for juvenile blacks is by far the most effective method but you must know in advance that you are working an area where there is a population of marlin Live baiting in the middle of a marine desert will never work.

In this instance pull teasers or skip baits until you reach your desired location maybe a reef area that holds up baitfish or are recognised black marlin haunts.

Live baits are trolled at two or three knots so if you are running into a bit of current the across the ground speed can be down to 1.2 knots and that'd going no where, an important factor in live baiting.


Teaser fishing for blacks is quite successful, but these little buggers are like greased lightening when they do come up, so deckies and skipper have to be on their metal to get a bait back very quickly and work the teasers successfully.

Always work on the KISS system 'Keep it Simple Stupid'. Too many teasers will create confusion personally we only use two hook-less lures run at 25 metres these are run on teaser rods and must be watched every minute. When a small black is raised it is imperative to get bait in the water immediately and then either teasers removed if the fish is all over them Many times a black marlin will fall in love with the teasers and then refuse the bait…Ah! Back to the drawing board.


Skipped baits such as garfish, mackerel, pike, whiting and mullet will work well but as with all marlin they must be watched with hawk eyes. Black marlin has a burst of frightening speed when they are hungry. Sometimes a fish will appear, devour the bait and miss the hooks in all of a few seconds. Drag settings on skipped baits should be just enough so that the bait is held but the spool doesn’t turn until the fish hits. If a marlin comes up behind a bait and doesn't seem keen to eat then accelerate a little and make the baits dance out of the water, this can work, that little bit of speed puts the thought in the fishes mind that an easy feed is slipping away. Many times this will work.


Without a doubt the most efficient method to catch small black marlin My preference is slimy mackerel but yellowtail and Cowan young will rate a good second I recall catching 8 marlin on yellowtail one day when we couldn't catch mackerel.

Once your boat is set up to live bait i.e. correct rigger clips, live bait tank and live bait tubes you are well on your way to enjoy the wonderful and exciting world of catching black marlin.

I do not recommend lures for this species the hook up rate is very low and it is not on my list of Favourite what's to catch.

When live baiting as mentioned before the right area must be fished the baits are bridled through the eye sockets and trolled slowly around the bait schools. We often send a bait deep by attaching a snapper sinker with a break off rubber band if fish are marked on deep bait schools when the fish jumps the sacrificial sinker breaks away This has worked a treat over the years.

My great companion and deckie of 9 years The Bat and myself were the first to instigated this technique in the mid 80's and still use it to day.  It can work so well.


Best moon phases are a week before the full to four days after Always be in the best area for the tide changes this is when the blacks and all pelagics are at their feeding best








Let me try to paint a picture of a typical striped marlin encounter:


It was a magnificent day as we trolled a sea of purple glass, the only disturbance was the burble of the twin Cummins and the boats bow wake that seemed to stretch over the horizon. A few hundred metres away a pod of oceanic dolphins fed on a bait school, their feeding efficiency always intrigues me.

We were skipping a brace of blue mackerel, complimented with a teaser bank off the short riggers.

The two baits skipper beautifully at the back of the teasers as I strained my eyes for the early tell tale sign of a set of purple pectoral fins, the first glimpse a skipper will see from his high vantage point on the bridge or tower, of a striped marlin on the prowl.

The sounder redded out with bait under us and I knew that it was just a matter of time before it would "Hit The Fan"…I love skipping baits for marlin because of the visual factor.

I enjoy the best seat in the house and pride myself on concentration when I am fishing, and part of that is never taking my eyes off the brace of baits and the sounder.

It is not just a layback and she'll be right show, this is my job and I am proud to be a marlin Captain, it is my profession and I love it.

I am almost disappointed if a crewman or angler spots a marlin on the gear before I do, it rarely happens after all I do have the advantage of height above the water.

I stand at the wheel in anticipation, scanning the gear and all of a sudden he's there.
The fish first appears with lit up pectoral fins, they are vivid purple just like a strobe light in a '60's disco it is impossible for this sight not to thrill time and time again.

The big fish is right under the left skipper eye balling it for an attack.

"Fish on the left rigger" I call with a lot of volume and a hint of urgency.

The deckie mans the rod and waits for the strike; the reel is set in light drag.

When the fish strikes we will stop and allow the bait to be eaten.
The dorsal appears now and every one in the cockpit has a visual encounter, there are gasps of "look at the colours Wow!" every one is on tender hooks as the fish lights up like a neon light.

It's as if a cocoon of lightening surrounds its body, pectorals now light up the brightest of all, purples, the vertical stripes almost iridescent as they signal that an attack is evident.

The angler comments, "Wow! How wild a is that I never seen any thing so exciting".

The giant dorsal fin that is shaking with excitement is now right on the bait as the big fishes mouth opens agape and swallows the bait…………we've got him on!

The fish flies high time and time again as line pours of the Shimano Tiagra I slew Broady around the cockpit is clear and we concentrate on another wild encounter with the mighty striped marlin.

All marlin love stripeys Great trolled live or dead even used as a switch bait sometimes on our boats. Artificial garfish rigged with stinger hooks These work well on stripes and black. This one rigged with a sinker to swim.
Blue mackerel dynamie skip baits. Circle hook and bridling needle attached to bridle loop.
Different types of circle hooks We only use these hooks for marlin. Natural baits are great This gar rig with stinger hook is very efficient on stripes and black marlin.
Teaser Lures.  

Striped marlin are very well behave They rarely go deep for long so there fore can be caught successfully on lighter tackle I personally don’t fish any lighter than 10 kg and that is rare, remembering that we are charter boats and time spent on one marlin can be better spent catching another, so long drawn out fights are not what we want. "Catch one and then catch another".

For this reason we fish either 15 or 24 kg We do fish stand up gear but personally I love chair rod fishing for marlin.

I know that the modern angler loves their stand up and sock it to 'em gear but I promise you that the job gets done so much more efficiently and so much more dignified and efficiently in the chair, than falling around the boat on stand up.

On 24kg we fish very light drags and it works so well.

Striped marlin grow to (the biggest we have encountered is 150kg caught by G Sharp many years ago) average size is 90kg so they are excellent fun and a great challenge on 24kg.

I hate spending hours on light tackle on a marlin that is to be released and thinking that it will live that is not what release is all about.

So catch them on sensible tackle if you intend to let them go.

Drag settings are crucial to break line in this day and ages very, very bad. Make sure that your drag is set to 15kg…..4.5kg…24 kg….6.5kg..These setting are on the light side but you will not break line and remember you can always pop a bit more on for extra light further into the fight.

Line breakage will generally occur in the first encounter when the fish is on the early charge having well and truly hit the panic button.

NEVER put more drag on in a panic to stop a wild marlin this will ensure line breakage.

A marlin boats outrigger set up must include Roller trollers and black clips. Teaser pole note there is no runners the line runs through the centre of the rod.
The SHIMANO TIAGRA was almost emptied on the big stripes first run. The tip of the teaser rod This eliminates getting tip wrapped and snapping off if the marlin does grabs hold of the teaser lure.
Top view of live bait tubes The water is fed through these by engine driven pump. Live bait tubes on Broadbill a must on any marlin boat.

Without doubt live baiting with blue mackerel is the 99.9 % best method and with the advent of circle hooks this is by far my favourite method. To do this however you must be working around bait schools or an area that the stripes are attracted to.

Trolling baits in barren waters at 2 to 3 knots will not work, if this situation exists then maybe use some skippers (see photos)to cover some better area.

These are trolled through roller trollers (see photos) on the riggers at around 6 knots.

Set drags enough to hold the baits and have your crewman on alert to feed back once a striped marlin is encountered.

Lure fishing for stripes is almost, useless the hooks are removed and used as teasers.

Lure fishing is great for yellowfin and other species but not for striped or black marlin, the percentage rate of success is far to low.

Striped marlin are the hardest of all to remain hooked up on when using lures .

Over many years we have experimented with hooks of all styles even running stinger hooks out side the skirts and nothing improves the success rate of hook ups, sure, a marlin sticks every now and then however by and large we have tried lures fishing for stripes and have never found a successful way to improve the hook up and stay on ratio of 45% and that is far too low and most inefficient, but I am convinced that there is a better mouse trap and this is "well prepared baits and presented baits" (see photos of baits) I am convinced for stripes is the only way to go.

A fish that is raised on a natural bait can smell the bait, it looks natural and when the fish has a slash at it, it feels natural and generally will be devoured on the next attack (read previous story in "FISHING STORIES and HINTS" scroll back to "MARLIN TECHNIQUES" for our thoughts on this subject.

The only marlin we will target with lures are blues. The rest will be caught more efficiently on well-prepared and presented baits.

These are the ratios of successful hook up and catch rates we have achieved over the years.
Teaser (switch and pitch fishing)…….75 %
Skipped baits………………………….80%

Teaser fishing is a most exciting way to catch stripes here again it is visual and has to be performed efficiently and quickly.

This system we use teaser rods (as pictured) we run two lures 25 metres from the transom of the boat When the marlin is raised, a bait is fed back, which has been pre rigged and held in the bait tubes These tubes (see photos) are fed a continuos supply of fresh salt water from engine driven Jabsco pumps.

On a marlin encounter the crew must follow the captains orders as to wether the teasers should be wound off the fish and where the switch bait must be placed in order that the fish sees it and eats it.

The down side to teaser fishing is that some fish refuse the bait and swim away leaving a certain amount of egg on ones face, especially if you do not see another for the day.
The big advantage in teaser fishing is that you can cover a lot of territory in a day when the fish are scattered.

The key to success with teaser fishing is crew efficiency, by and large you probably have 30 seconds to get the bait out of the tube, feed it back to the marlin and present it successfully, a good deckie is a must and he must follow the skippers instructions to achieve success.

Skipped baits (see photos of skipped bait)are used to cover a little more area.
This method is my second favourite option to live baiting, these well prepared dead baits are what it says simply "skipped across the oceans surface". We normally wax thread a loop by stitching up the gills and mouth with a loop left to pass the hook through in front of the bait. Some baits like garfish we use a stinger hook ( see photo)these are inserted through the body of the bait.

We favour slimy mackerel, whiting, mullet, pike and of course garfish. (Brined in salt first and only trolled on a calm ocean).

Skippers are trolled flat or through the roller trollers, light drags are essential and a feedback works well on a hungry striped.
Captain and crew must be alert at all times when fishing skipped baits.

A big striped with mackerel still in mouth One of 10 caught that dat on Broadbill at Pt Stephens. Hey boys! I thought I would see what's goin' up here.
Our favourite marlin (the pretty ones) check out the lit up stripes, just beautiful. Soxie traces a lively striped on Broadbill.
The magnificent striped marlin They light up in stripes and bands. They are the pretty boys and girls of the species.  

Without doubt the most successful way to catch marlin Best baits are big slimy mackerel, cowan young, frigate mackerel or striped tuna. (see photos of bridle loop and needle)These baits are bridled live and towed at 2 to 3 knots behind the boat in almost free spool. When a bite is encountered allow a few seconds before striking never panic more time is better than less.
It is important to have an idea that there is a marlin populating in the area before live baiting, as distance is not covered by this method.

Trolling live baits at 2 knots through a barren ocean is not going to work.
Livebaiting is carried out with great success around known marlin haunts, such as bait schools, reef structures , sea mounts and current edges.

Success on live baiting is 99% it is the most efficient and most successful way to catch stripes.

Our favourite Water temps for good striped marlin fishing must be under 24 degrees These species do not like hot water and so many times, for example in 2005 in February at Pt Stephens when we caught 21 in a day only to see the herd disappear a week later when the water went to 26 degrees.

We then heard of boats at Bateman Bay and beyond catching the hell out of them in the 23 to 24 degree thermo cline that had headed south and the fish went with it.

Current flow to the south and even the northwest has always worked well over the years 1 to 1.5 knots is my personal favourite. Best moon phases always the week before the full and just after, however when the stripes are really snapping we have caught them on all moon phases of the month. It is not the be all and end all, but from many years of observation, the run up to the full moon will see more active pelagics.

Also of great importance is the tide changes Generally speaking all marlin feed better and are more active the hour before and hour after the oceanic tide changes It is noticeable how the bait schools too will come to the surface and ripple up during the tide changes.
This is when the tuck shop is open for striped marlin to visit and enjoy the jelly beans , "THIS IS BITE TIME"




by ROSS HUNTER 11/4/07




I have never liked the word gamefish, to me it always sounds a bit snobbish, maybe it reminds me of days gone by when it was considered that only the rich could indulge themselves in gamefishing.

An era of pomp and ceremony, maybe an era when you had to be fairly well heeled to chase gamefish.

Well that all changed in the '70's with the advent ANSA the Australian National Sportfishing Association.

I personally grew up through this amazing and exciting era, an era where keen fisherman took to the sea in remarkably small trailer craft and dished it out to the very abundant population of gamefish.

We preferred to call them sportfish, after all it was our movement and bugger it we'll call the fish what we want.

It was a wonderful era that nurtured some great techniques, some brilliant fishing, remembering that there was no commercial pressure on our stocks back then, long lining had not been heard of.

We fished Bermagui, The Sir John Young Banks, and Hat Head in the north and of course Sydney. Looking back we were wet behind the ears fisherman or should I say sportfisherman
We roamed the oceans in boats that I wouldn't be seen in a backyard swimming pool in today, we thought we knew it all but in fact knew little, but despite all this we caught some amazing fish more by good luck than good management.

A sport fisherman's boat could be a 14 foot Dehaviland offshore with a crude live bait tank and a compass and a 27mhz radio, no sounder, no GPS ….just start the old girl up and on ya way! ……The thought still frightens me to day.

This era produced some great talented fisherman mainly because they learnt their craft well. A lot of this due to the great Sportfishing clubs of the times and the keenness of the members to do battle with the powerful oceanic species Australia's Sportfish which all of a sudden were target able from our small trailer boats and once our appetites were wetted we wanted more.
A most exciting and historic era to live through.

Let's deal this week with these species and the best techniques to catch them.

A blue marlin on the rampage. A nice blue takes to the air.
Yet another in '92. It's important to keep in touch with a blue by either backing up or going forward.
Small yellowfin like this A perfect blue marlin bait. Bloodshot lures we swear by them.

BLUE MARLIN (the bluewater bullies)
I start with this magnificent marlin because they deserve to be first…Blue marlin are dynamite when hooked, they too are the most aggressive marlin on a strike.
To see a big blue hit a lure is generally a "What's this bloody thing here flying through the water, never seen any thing that even looks like this before Oh! Bugger it I'll bloody well eat it then".

Decision then made the big fish moves with lightening speed and generally inhales the lure like a jellybean and "Wham Bam thanks Mam!" the proverbial has hit the fan and it's on for young and old Screaming reels as the fish time and again lunges clear of the water, generally, but not always jumping anti clockwise…don't ask me why it's just something I have noticed over the years.

Whilst we have caught a 297kg blue in '92 (a fish that is still the record in Sydney waters) on 24 kg I do consider that to catch that fish on 24 after it had taken 750 metres of line in no time flat was more arse than class.

If you are serious about blue marlin I recommend 37kg they will still give you a work over on this but the tackle has a little more lifting power when the fish goes deep. Blues are very prone to a deep dive after the surface show and with 37 kg you really do have a little more grunt to get them moving upward instead on downward.

We recently snapped a beautiful blue marlin off and I knew that on that day, that was game over, we were not going to see another for the day.
We hate breaking line as it is absolutely Dunces stuff Go to the back of the room and put on the dunces hat.

You have not given your angler or the fish a chance you have just lost a 100 dollar lure and it's all over rover no more fish.

On this day the line was nicked when it passed under the boat whilst jigging bait and the deckie failed to pick up a nick in it, it cost us a 250kg fish.
The drag settings are crucial, some say a third the breaking strain of the line is OK I say it's NOT.

On a wild blue marlin run with added water pressure you will bust line on this setting. I prefer one-third the breaking strain less half a kilo. You see you can always put a little more on once the heat is off and the fish has settled.

Drag does nothing to catch fish when you think about it. Would an extra half kilo of drag mean much to a 250 kg fish built like a brick dunny that’s flying around the ocean like an F-18 fighter?
Snapped lines is our worst nightmare so keep the drag settings light and double check you lines every day when feeding them out.

Lure trolling works well for blues, because of their aggressive nature the hook up rate is much better on lures than when compared to their cousins the stripes and blacks
I loath lure trolling for these latter marlin unless they have the hooks removes and used as teasers.

We only use BLOODSHOT lures on our boats these are superb lures that have worked well for us over the years. I prefer green lumo patterns so much so that we will often only troll lumos in the lure set.. We only ever troll four lures and never troll a shotgun …close is always better and simple is always best when fishing for blues Some may think that a whole bunch of lures will attract them better I do not believe this an example is when we are teaser fishing we only ever pull two lures for simplicity and raise a heap on this system. We always run stingers lines with return slides off our riggers, these do give a more direct angle to our rod tips thus effecting a more direct hook up We use no 32 rubber bands on these lines.

This system works very well but time is of the essence once a blue is raised on the teasers (lures with hooks removed pulled on teaser rods) We prefer two big lumo pushers run 20 to 25 metres back , not too far as the fish will grab them before the deckies can get them in. This can spook the fish.

Once a blue marlin is up on the teasers it is important to have two deckies one to wind the teasers off the fish before he eats them and the other to feed back either a live tuna or a big slimy mackerel from the tuna tubes. Blues will eat dead bait as well and using this technique.

This switch and pitch method is a great visual show but has to be carried out with military precision or you can have a fish swim away from boredom was he waits for the bait which takes too long to be presented. A well-practiced crew is a must.

297kg of pure power caught in 1992 off Sydney The big fish died after a lengthy fight. Brian Nesbitt's blue caught in ' 81 The first recorded in Botany Bay.
Glenn Hunter's 220 kg blue another great fish caught on 24kg in 92. Harvey Sainsbury's 297 blue marlin. The big fish took 750 metres on the first run.
Mike the ace Rowe's great fish caught on Broadbill in the '92 season. 1992 saw many great blues caught. We have not had as good a season since it was a blinder back then.

This is a great way to catch blues because it to is very visual We rig a couple of stripeys or small yellowfin with hooks either inside or protruding at the front of the skipped bait. The rest of the fish is wax threaded around the gills and the mouth sewn up. These two baits are then skipped off the rigger through blacks clips and bands, no more than 20 metres back.. Reels have just enough drag to hold the baits and the skipper has to watch, never taking his eyes off the baits for a second Once a strike is encountered the baits can be fed back in free spool or the boat backed up a bit to allow the fish to take the bait and eat it. We use circle hooks so when the strike is made it is a gentle wind on three quarter drag until weight is felt.

Our favourite live baits are yellowfin up to 8kg, striped tuna and mackerel.

These bridled and towed slowly around rippling bait or schools of tuna are dynamite. The deckie must hold the bait in gloved hands ever alert., bearing in mind that a blue marlin never sends a telegram before he devours a bait, it all happens pretty fast and with copious amounts of panic.

The reel should have just enough drag on it to prevent backlash when a strike is encountered.
Always give the fish enough time to eat the bait I personally back up a little and sit for maybe 15 or so seconds before attempting to set the hook

Chair rods are essential "Short strokers" will kill the angler on these fish and I do not recommend them at all for big fish like blues, bent but chair rods are the go for comfort and ease.

The first 20 minutes of an average blue marlin encounter will be mass exodus of line, it is important to stay in contact with the fish as best you can by either backing up or chasing forward.

If you get lots of line out then back off your drag or water pressure will surely break it. Many times on Broadbill and Billfisher we have lost 700 metres but still caught the fish. Billfishers estimated 320 kg blue was a 6 hour effort and whilst the fish was released would have beaten our long-standing record.

The fight will then go deep with the big fish sounding, this is the tough part when many anglers can wilt and there is not a lot a skipper can do to help easing forward to gain angle can help especially on 37kg but on 24 it can mean the loss of hard won line for little result. I recall Hong Kong's Gamefishing club's Ross Pays' great 220kg Blue on 10 kg we spent 8 hours on and eventually caught and released, one of the great efforts.

I too remember another fish that we snapped a short stroker on after 3.5 hours but still caught with a one-metre stump of a rod.

Over the years we have had many wild encounters with blues. As charter skipper they are not my favourite fish to target because of the time factor and the "needle in a haystack" situation by this I mean targeting blues can be a very fruitless exercise sometimes, the oceanic conditions have to be right. Whereas targeting blacks and stripes we can catch 6, .7 and 8 in a day making the day more exciting for our anglers. Having said that these blue-water bullies are by far the wildest of all marlin to catch.

In NSW waters my favourite moon phases for all oceanic species is the week before the full to four days after Best water temps 21 to 25 degrees and not too much current I personally prefer a light drain to the south rather than 3 knots boiling down. In 92 we caught some really big blues I think from memory 7 for the season over 180kg that season the water temps were 22.8 degrees and we caught the majority of the fish on the 90 to 120 fathom line.

You do not have to be out it the never never to catch these species they will be where the tucker is. Their favourite food is small yellowfin tuna and striped tuna, they love them.See photos of a great season in '92 a season of season of seasons for blues.



Mahi mahi are one of the fastest growing fish in the ocean . I recall some years ago when we were involved in the tagging of these species, how we would return to the private FAD (fish aggregation device) we had put in and be constantly astounded to see the fish swimming around with their fresh yellow tags having grown noticeably in a week.

These fish grow up to half a kilo per month They do not live for long, around three to four years, they grow to around 30 kilos and are a great sight to see as the light up in magnificent yellows, greens and blue.

As a table fish they are five star. They can be eaten whole off the bone or filleted and skinned . They freeze quite well if ice slurried when caught.(placed in a mixture of salt water and ice)

Great light tackle fun and great to eat As big as they get
Nikee experience the thrill of her first dolphin fish Dolphin Fish Mahi mahi
These are about as big as they get Gavin Sharp and Tony Ceccato atPt Stephens in 06 Nsw fisheries fad A must for any mahi chaser
Great light tackle fun and great to eat  

Where to find Mahi's
They area species that love to hang under any type of flotsom be it a log a piece of timber or a lump of kelp, anything that floats in the oceanic currents.

Traditional FADS are a walk up start The only problem with these is that the resident fish can get very spooky if they are being constantly hammered day after day by each and every boat that targets them. When this happens live baits are a must Best baits are pencil slimeys and small yackas.

We fish light threadlines and light tackle for them .The method is to sit off the FAD and feed back or cast the baits back to them Always give them a little time to devour the bait and then strike lightly. If the fish are responding well and you don't have live bait such lures as medium squidgys and small minnows will get the job done, once again casting back to the Fad will work better than trolling.

We use circle hooks as they are by far the most efficient hook made for this type of fishing.
Small Gamakatsu's are great. The baits are hooked through the back either at the tail or under the dorsal ..

If you wish to release fish then the circles make that task so much easier.

When trolling the bigger of the species around 15 kg and over will jump on any thing skirts, garfish minnows etc, they are quite ravenous . If trolling around a log in the middle of no where then catch a few on lures, mark the log on the plotter so you do not loose it and then work the fish with cubes( cut up pilchards) they go mad on this technique and will stay with you for much longer.

If you keep trolling it is only a matter of time before they spook and go sulky.
We prefer to troll baits for marlin so the mahis are a bi catch .

Many times we have set up our boats with a mix of garfish and mullet only to be raided by a bunch of mahis necessitating a back to the bait rigging table for the deckies much to their disgust.

They are a great sportfish to catch on light tackle. And better again on the barbeque.

When caught fillet and skin Then place in an ice slurry
Dry fillets and dust in corn flower Whip a few eggs in a bowl and add garlic, and some mixed herbs and a table spoon of red Thia curry then whip well, dunk fillets in egg mix and lightly bead crumb Cook in peanut or grape seed oil until golden brown….Wash down with a nice white…Gotta' go I'm hungry.

Good luck!


Left rigger was the cry……………..and the lure is taken
It's a giant blue………………….hurry this one's not fakin'
The big fish jumps high ………………..It's action a plenty
But I think were in trouble 'cause the big Shimano's nearly emptyYeh! We're marlin fishin' on Broadbill to day…. wide on the bluewater
Where the whales 'n dolphins play
There's a light nor -easter blowing……… big lures were a trollin'
Yeh ! We're marlin fishing on the Broadbill to day

These are part of the lyrics of a song I wrote and recorded on my first album "BLUEWATER COUNTRY" and they typify my feelings and love for marlin fishing.
Let me create a vision in your mind;


It was a balmy summer day with a hint of moisture in the light nor east breeze, the ocean had that wonderful smell of salt as the lazy swells rolled past.
We trolled the "Mosh Pit" Pt Stephens a natural area that because of a ledge of hard ground and corals is a natural attraction for bait schools.

A place that we named for it's busyness when the bite is on, a place that is the finest striped marlin grounds in the world because of this natural attraction to acres of slimy mackerel that gather in the summer months to spawn and what loves to eat slimes…..that's right marlin.

It was two months into '97 and the marlin were every where, a mix of stripes and blacks and we were lovin' it. Busy, active days of multiple releases of some remarkably good size stripes up to 140 kg add to this a black or two as well as an overactive blue and we were in the middle of a great Pt Stephens season. A season of three "grand slams" (a black, blue and a striped in one day)

The lazy burble of the twin Cummins was the only noise to break the serenity of Mother Ocean in her quite persona, a cobalt calm sea of almost glass like surface the sort of day that all serious marlin fisherman dream of.

Glancing back to land the city of Newcastle was just visible, my mind drifted to the people in offices and factories, earning their living, but I would not swap them for all the tea in China.…..Yeh! I though to myself this is as good as it gets as a cooling slither of nor east slid through the open screens on the fly bridge.
I was surrounded by the endless expanses of Mother ocean in a way the last wilderness, the place where a marlin fisherman earns his living.

Glancing down at the anglers who had already fished the two previous days on the boat and had caught 12 marlin so far, I could sense their expectations of an action packed day as they gazed back into the froth trail behind Broadbill, forever looking for that tell tale fin stalking the baits

A beaut photo says it all A big striped with mackerel still in mouth
A double hook up, we back up on the second fish it had a lot twine out Billfisher trolling ....they also had a great season
A Pt Stephens striped goes hard This fish was 140kg Legendary Aussie cricketer Mark Taylor works ona big blue marlin, one of a grand slam for the day

We were trolling a couple of teasers and two live mackerel through the riggers ……..the roller troller clips were set light just like the hair trigger of a gun.
My eyes scanned the sounder, the GPS and then to both riggers looking for that nervous twitch that signifies a bite in progress.

The sounder redded out on massive bait schools under us and under and around the schools were the markings of the marlin that had them balled up………. I knew that action was just a matter of time.
Pulling the twin Cummins out of gear we idled stationary over the bait school and let the baits sink down.

We also drop a deep live bait down 25 fathoms, a sacrificial snapper lead is attached by a rubber band to get it down quickly (the lead breaks off when a hook up is encountered)
My great mate and deckie of nine years "The Bat" developed this system we would mark a fish and feed the bait down to the exact depth…… we marked the line with coloured dental floss super glued at 20 metre intervals I would say "There's one at 60 metres and the Bat would feed the bait down to the fish.

It worked so well for us that year……….Broadbill won the majority of tournaments that season,.being assisted by this system.

An important factor when fishing over a bait school is to be aware of the drift factor in other words when you stop over a school, if you are going to drift with wind and tide then position the boat a little north of the bait so you drift slowly back into it. We also back up to keep the baits positioned where you need them and that is right in the masses of bait and that's always where the big boys roam.

The left rigger bends the line flies out of the clip…Instinctively I cry "Left Rigger" as I reverse up to give the fish some slack line.
Johnny mans the rod and slowly winds up to set the circle hook, the rod bends and where hooked up.

The boys clear the gear but before the deep bait can be brought in another marlin jumps on.
"I've got another one" some one yells from below" as he is winding up the deep bait.
I watch the lines angle up waiting for the explosion out the back and it doesn't let us down as 100 metres in the distance a 120 kg striped flies high.
The Shimano screams as line pours from it, this is the stuff that raises the hackles on any fisherman.

"How beautiful are these fish" I think as the second marlin leaps clear of the water only 20 metres away.
The fishes flanks are glowing in vivid purple stripes, just like the old days at the disco with the purple fluro. lights, only brighter.

There is just nothing I can think of that is this exciting, they are the most spectacular fish that swims and these striped marlin are the prettiest by far. The colours of a lit up striped will never cease to blow even the most experienced fisherman away.

It's dorsal and pectoral fins are even brighter as it flies higher, time and time again, its huge tail beating air as if to climb, higher and upwards like a Polaris missile from a submarine...
Both fish are now heading in opposite direction s I advise the crew that we will back up on the smallest and closest fish, in an endeavour to tag and release that one first.
I hammer Broady back on the smaller marlin as the angler on the bigger fish just hangs on and watches line evaporate. .

We advise him that he will loose some line in the exercise but once we get the first fish we will start to get it back. After backing up on the smaller marlin for 10 minutes Johnny traces and tags
The circle hook is right in the corner of the jaw as always.

The fish swims away a little stressed but I am sure a lot wiser for the ordeal.
Engaging forward and reverse I spin the boat on it's axis, also noticing that the Tiagra is very low on that stuff that normally occupies the spool.

Ok! the angler's back in the chair, the marlin is 400 metres away and still leaping high……More reverse whilst the angler pumps and at last he starts to see line back on the very empty spool
After another half hour the magnificent fish is released.
We head back to the bait and catch seven more marlin for the day.

Great fish eye of a wild black marlin Ian Berril after releasing his first marlin He does look happy!
it is one of the best medium tackle fisheries in the world The winning team on Broadbill at The Northern Waters '06

We pull stumps at 4 pm and head for our FAD on the way home, were we catch 20 dolphin fish (Mahi Mahi) for a feed back on land and for the clients to take home.
We steam back to Port to a superb sunset I smile to myself as I take in the beauty with contentment in the thought that;

I am engrossed in my favourite pass time, marlin fishing All our customers have had a ball in some cases caught their first marlin all is well.
Some one once said to me what are your favourite fish ?
I never have to think for long my reply is always "MARLIN and WHAT THEY EAT!"

If you would like to join us in '07 at Pt Stephens email on gamefishing @bigpond .com or Ring 9534 2378..Also visit "Fishing Adventure Packages" on this site.