Tales and Techniques"
Captain Glenn Hunter
“THE BIG GROGAN” HAS BEEN AND GONE AND WHAT A GREAT TIME WE ALL HAD!
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
|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)
BIGGEST FLATHEAD Ricko “Koala Clay”
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.
THE BIG GROGAN AUGUST 2010
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.
ANGLERS MAY BE DISQUALLIFIED FOR THE FOLLOWING;
• 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
||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 BLACKFISH…Ross Hunter
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
THE BIG DUNBOGAN GROGAN 2009 by Ross Hunter
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.
PERKO SELLS US OUT WITH BAD INFO
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.
ANGLERS MAY BE DISQUALLIFIED FOR THE FOLLOWING;
- trying too 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)
- picking on the Gnome (Robbo)
NOTHING EFFECTS PROFESSIONALS
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
THE LADS IN THE BOATS WORK HARD ON DAY ONE…….. DAYLIGHT TO DARK
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 AND THE LADS GO EVEN HARDER
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.
BACK AT THE FISHO’S SHACK THE BEERS WERE FLOWING AFTER TWO HARD DAYS OF FISHING IN THE SUN
|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.
THE TROPHYS HARD FOUGHT FOR OVER THE TWO DAYS
THE WINNERS WERE:
THE JOHN ROBERTSON “PERPETUAL TROPHY” BIGGEST BREAM …RICKO KOALA CLAY
THE BIGGEST FLATHEAD TROPHY…MARTIN MACKA HUNTER
THE BIGGEST BLACKFISH…ROSS THE COGGA HUNTER
BLACKFISH TOP GUN… ROSS HUNTER
TOURNAMENT PEST (BY SECRET BALLOT) JOHN THE GNOME ROBERTSON
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.
POWER AND MUSCLE AT THE PEAK
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
THE FRINGE FISH THEORY
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.
BRING BACK THE GLORY DAYS I SAY
TROUT...THE NEVER ENDING JOURNEY by Ross HUNTER
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
GORDON AND ROSCOE AND OUR TROUT
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.
TROUT THE CHALLENGE
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)
TASMANIA…… GOD’S COUNTRY
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.
THE BIG DUNBOGAN GROGAN 2008 (BEEN AND GONE)
WE HAD A GREAT TIME
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
|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
TROPHY WINNERS IN THE BIG GROGAN
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.
THE WINNERS WERE
BIGGEST FLATHEAD …Stewart Case
BIGGEST BLACKFISH…Gavin Sharp
TOURNAMENT PEST………Graham Lees
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.
WE ARE THINKING THAT LATE AUGUST WILL BE THE DATES FOR NEXT YEAR…MORE ON THAT LATER
WHAT A WILD MONTH JUNE WAS
BEST TUNA FOR A DECADE
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.
CHECK OUT THE PHOTOS THEY SAY IT ALL AND AS ROSS SAYS YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR IN THE CHARTER BUSINESS.
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
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.
SHARK FISHIN SHARK FISHIN’
JUST SITTIN’ IN LOUNGE ROOM WISHIN’
I WAS OUT THERE SHARK FISHIN’
“THE BIG DUNBOGAN GROGAN” BEEN and GONE (WE HAD A BALL)
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.
THE”BIG DUNBOGAN GROGAN” A HOTLY CONTESTED EVENT IN ‘07
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;
CHEATING IS NOT ENCOURAGED, BUT IF DONE WITH FLAIR MAY BE ACCEPTED
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’ !
AN ATTEMPTED MILITARY STYLE “DE COUP” TAKEOVER BY THE YOUNG BLOODS
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
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
BEST METHOD TO CATCH THEM
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
COOKING DOLPHIN FISH
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
A MAGNIFICENT MONTH OF BRILLIANT SNAPPER FISHING
By CAPTAIN ROSS HUNTER…..16/8/07
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.
SNAPPER FISHING (THE CAPTAIN'S CHOICE)
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…..no 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.
THE FOLLOWING PHOTO GALLERY IS A COLLAGE OF HAPPY CLIENTS AND THAT MAKES US CAPTAINS HAPPY TOO!
|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
FLOATERS FOR SNAPPER
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
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
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
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
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
(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
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
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.
couple of good size reds
caught on floaters on BROADBILL.
Bogle with a nice snapper
caught on BILLFISHER.
Roscoe gets lucky sometimes.
Hunter witha couple of snapper
caught on floaters.
like this can be caught
on floaters from now through
snapper We love them Glenn
Hunter holds up a 5.8kg.
FOR FLOATER FISHING
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
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
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
Ok! Now the baits are on correctly
and we are ready to present
same to a waiting snapper below
sized slabs of striped tuna
are our favourites.
range of circle hooks Great
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
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
well go and give it a go and
good luck….send us the
TUNA (THE GUT BUSTERS) 12/05/07
TIME OF THE YEAR AGAIN by Captains
Ross and Glenn Hunter
DO'S AND DON'TS OF IT ALL
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
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
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"
SEASONS VARY FROM YEAR TO YEAR
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
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 58kg.so 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
I recall one night we stayed
and hand fed them in the floodlights
then drove way leaving them
Here we favour short traces
of 1.5 meres We use 150lb Jinkia
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
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
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
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
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
"Mate that was set up
on spring scale"
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
We set our drags by "feel"
not a spring scale, however
I guess we've set a few over
If you set yours on a spring
scale then 6kg will work well
You see once you have snapped
a fish off you have not given
yourself a chance it's that
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
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
|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.
TUNA VISUALLY BY THE SEA BIRDS
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
The common tern frequents the
wide grounds when the fish are
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.
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
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
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
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
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
ANGLERS SHOULD FISH AT ONCE
ON ONE BOAT
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
SPORTFISH AND HOW TO CATCH THEM"
By CAPTAIN ROSS HUNTER 29/4/07
THIS WEEK BLACK MARLIN (THE CRAZY FISH)
LOOK OUT IN THIS SECTION EACH WEEK AS WE GO THROUGH OUR FAVOURITE SPECIES AND BEST TECHNIQUES TO CATCH THEM
FUTURE SPECIES IN THE SERIES
NEXT WEEK; YELLOWFIN TUNA , WAHOO, KINGFISH, COBIA, STRIPED TUNA, DOLPHIN FISH, MAKO SHARKS AND MORE
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.
ONE AMAZING BLACK MARLIN SEASON PT STEPHENS 1997
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?
BEST TACKLE CLASS
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.
DRAG SETTINGS FOR BLACK MARLIN
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
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 AND WATER TEMPS
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
NEXT WEEK OUR FAVOURITE ……….THE MAGNIFICENT YELLOWFIN TUNA
SPORTFISH AND HOW TO CATCH THEM"
By CAPTAIN ROSS HUNTER 18/4/07
MY FAVOURITE MARLIN …THE
IN THIS SECTION EACH WEEK AS
WE GO THROUGH OUR FAVOURITE
SPECIES AND BEST TECHNIQUES
TO CATCH THEM
SPECIES IN THE SERIES
BLACK MARLIN, YELLOWFIN TUNA
, WAHOO, KINGFISH, COBIA, STRIPED
TUNA, DOLPHIN FISH, MAKO SHARKS
MARLIN (THE PRETTY BOYS and
Let me try to paint a picture
of a typical striped marlin
THE LEFT RIGGER
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
We were skipping a brace of
blue mackerel, complimented
with a teaser bank off the short
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
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
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
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
marlin love stripeys Great
trolled live or dead even
used as a switch bait sometimes
on our boats.
garfish rigged with stinger
hooks These work well on
stripes and black. This
one rigged with a sinker
mackerel dynamie skip baits.
hook and bridling needle
attached to bridle loop.
types of circle hooks We
only use these hooks for
baits are great This gar
rig with stinger hook is
very efficient on stripes
and black marlin.
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.
FOR STRIPED MARLIN
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
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
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.
marlin boats outrigger set
up must include Roller trollers
and black clips.
pole note there is no runners
the line runs through the
centre of the rod.
SHIMANO TIAGRA was almost
emptied on the big stripes
tip of the teaser rod This
eliminates getting tip wrapped
and snapping off if the
marlin does grabs hold of
the teaser lure.
view of live bait tubes
The water is fed through
these by engine driven pump.
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
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
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
These are the ratios of successful
hook up and catch rates we have
achieved over the years.
Teaser (switch and pitch fishing)…….75
99%TEASER FISHING FOR STRIPED
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
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
Captain and crew must be alert
at all times when fishing skipped
big striped with mackerel
still in mouth One of 10
caught that dat on Broadbill
at Pt Stephens.
boys! I thought I would
see what's goin' up here.
favourite marlin (the pretty
ones) check out the lit
up stripes, just beautiful.
traces a lively striped
magnificent striped marlin
They light up in stripes
and bands. They are the
pretty boys and girls of
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
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
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
AND WATER TEMPS
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"
THAT MAYBE A FEW OF THESE HINTS,
MANY, THAT HAVE BEEN LEARNED
OVER 40 YEARS OF MARLIN FISHING
WILL HELP YOU IN YOUR PURSUIT
OF THE MOST MAGNIFICENT FISH
THAT SWIMS ."THE BEAUTIFUL
TO THEM WON'T YOU!
OUR FAVOURITE …………THE
BLACK MARLIN (THE CRAZY ONES)
SPORTFISH AND HOW TO CATCH THEM"
by ROSS HUNTER 11/4/07
LOOK OUT IN THIS SECTION EACH
WEEK AS WE GO THROUGH OUR FAVOURITE
SPECIES AND BEST TECHNIQUES
TO CATCH THEM
STRIPED MARLIN, BLACK MARLIN,
YELLOWFIN TUNA , WAHOO, KINGFISH,
COBIA, STRIPED TUNA, DOLPHIN
FISH, MAKO SHARKS AND MORE
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
An era of pomp and ceremony,
maybe an era when you had to
be fairly well heeled to chase
Well that all changed in the
'70's with the advent ANSA the
Australian National Sportfishing
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
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
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.
blue marlin on the rampage.
nice blue takes to the air.
another in '92.
important to keep in touch
with a blue by either backing
up or going forward.
yellowfin like this A perfect
blue marlin bait.
lures we swear by them.
(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
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
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
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
I loath lure trolling for these
latter marlin unless they have
the hooks removes and used as
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.
FISHING FOR BLUES
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 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.
of pure power caught in
1992 off Sydney The big
fish died after a lengthy
Nesbitt's blue caught in
' 81 The first recorded
in Botany Bay.
Hunter's 220 kg blue another
great fish caught on 24kg
Sainsbury's 297 blue marlin.
The big fish took 750 metres
on the first run.
the ace Rowe's great fish
caught on Broadbill in the
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
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
TECHNIQUE PLAYING A BIG BLUE.
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
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
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
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.
AND WATER TEMPS
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
OUR FAVOURITE ………………………….
THE STRIPED MARLIN
MAHI MAHI (DOLPHIN FISH)
by ROSS AND GLENN HUNTER
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
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
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
light tackle fun and great
big as they get
experience the thrill of
her first dolphin fish
Fish Mahi mahi
are about as big as they
get Gavin Sharp and Tony
Ceccato atPt Stephens in
fisheries fad A must for
any mahi chaser
light tackle fun and great
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
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
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
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
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.
AND WHAT THEY EAT" by ROSS
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
There's a light nor -easter
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
Let me create a vision in your
IN FEBRUARY '97 ONE OF MANY
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
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
beaut photo ............it
says it all
big striped with mackerel
still in mouth
double hook up, we back
up on the second fish it
had a lot twine out
trolling ....they also had
a great season
Pt Stephens striped goes
hard This fish was 140kg
Aussie cricketer Mark Taylor
works ona big blue marlin,
one of a grand slam for
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
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
The boys clear the gear but
before the deep bait can be
brought in another marlin jumps
"I've got another one"
some one yells from below"
as he is winding up the deep
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
"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,
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
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
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
After another half hour the
magnificent fish is released.
We head back to the bait and
catch seven more marlin for
fish eye of a wild black
Berril after releasing his
first marlin He does look
is one of the best medium
tackle fisheries in 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.