In a blink of an eye, the 2009 heavy tackle marlin season is almost over. Many of the fleet are soon to head to home ports, while the rest of us finish our last few weeks.
At this time of year, generally we see the return of the good fishing to Linden Bank, closer to Cairns and it certainly has been the case this year with many good fish still around. For the last few days we have been fishing in a fleet of about 10 boats, all returning to the anchorage at Opal Reef at the end of the day with each getting a share of the action.
There have been a number of big fish around, with at least four of approximately 1000lbs released this week alone! We accounted for one of these fish for 73 years young angler Julio, who with some excellent guidance from the boys on deck, battled for 45 minutes before she was tagged and released.
Julio’s grander takes to the air during the week.
Some of the fleet have also been taking advantage of the better weather to fish out wide of the reef at the Sea Mount and on the tuna aggregations east of the Escape Reef with the long liner fleet. The crew of the professional fleet’s biggest boat, Ultimate Lady, has been doing what it does best: spending time covering ground out wide for days at a time and have been getting good results too. This week they have been averaging three fish a day including two grander class marlin – one of which died during the fight and was weighed at 1058lbs.
But it is not only the charter fleet who are getting into good fishing. With the return of good weather, the local private boats, including a good number of trailer boats, have also joined us on the reef. This past weekend, local trailerboat Spread ‘Em was amongst the action. On Saturday, Adrian released “two from three” including a nice fish estimated at 800lbs plus.
It’s a big task to bring a trailerboat to Cairns, but I spoke to Matt Price who did just that, trailering his 26ft Whittley Dream Catcher from Brisbane to Cairns in search of the elusive grander. Matt, who has been fishing the wider Brisbane area for mostly blue marlin for the last couple of years, was joined by mate Jano Patterson who has done some seasons on deck in Cairns.
While the weather wasn’t so perfect, which cut their original plan to fish two weeks quite a bit shorter, they certainly got into the big fish action. On the first couple of days without bait they bided time trolling lures, but when they were able to get fresh bait it put them straight onto the fish; releasing a 200lb-er straight away and another at 300lb. The next day, they were excited to release another at 500lbs before Matt himself hooked up to the giant!
A three-hour-fight ensued on 130lb stand-up, certainly no easy feat, and with the boat ending up about 8kms east of hookup, she was finally released with another Cairns veteran on board confirming she was well over the magic 1000lb mark! As if that wasn’t enough, the next day, they were able to release another big girl estimated at 950lbs for Jano too.
Matt tells me that to be able to go up with his own boat was an amazing experience and are making it annual event. And with results like that, why wouldn’t you?
Underwater marlin shot – prior to taking the bait. Pic: Kelly Dalling