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Invasion of the black marlin

In early November, I went for a troll just off the Jumpinpin Bar, just north of the Gold Coast. Normally at this time of year marlin trolling on the close grounds is a bit of a dud, as the fish don’t usually turn up until around Christmas, if they show at all. But the word was out that the little black marlin were swarming down the coast, and a few fish had already turned up off the Gold Coast. At first we trolled around the Cottons, a reef complex in around 50m of water off the ’Pin Bar. The water was around 22 degrees and there were a few birds about, but four hours trolling produced only one small yellowfin tuna. However, the banter on the radio was quite positive, with reports of small marlin, missed strikes, jump offs and other excitement all across the airwaves. The fish were in a bit closer. A few boats were working inshore where the water turned green. If I hadn’t heard the radio banter I would have a natural tendency to write this area off. There was bugger all bait and dead-looking water. Regardless, we set the lures and started trolling. Nothing happened and I began thinking that whatever had happened in this cold lifeless slop was long over. Then a little black marlin crashed the short corner next to the teaser, hooked up and we were in the game. That fish put up a spirited battle, and was soon brought boat side and released. Even though they get called “little blacks”, they are feisty critters. That fish bashed my boat and went wild when I grabbed his bill for release. Fifteen minutes later we were on again, with a similar fish caught after a short but intense fight on light tackle.

What was unusual here was that these fish turned up very early, were in cold water and there were quite a few of them around. It was the leading edge of a large migrating population of small black marlin, and at the time of writing in late November it looks like the mother lode is heading south and should be on the fang at all the known east coast ports as you read this.

So what’s the best way to catch a small black marlin? …

David Green


This story was first published in the Fishing World February2013 issue.

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