Exmouth marlin grand slam

MY first experience game fishing off Exmouth was during the 2014 GAMEX tournament with East Coast game fishing buddy, turned Perth resident, Gres Vukman.

Gres towed his trailer boat 1300 km north from Perth and without any prior knowledge of the area we tagged 13 black marlin and a sailfish from 30 billfish bites, plus numerous wahoo and mahi mahi over the four day tournament. I couldn’t wait to return!

When Gres invited me to join him and Halco Tackle managing director, Ben Patrick, for four days heavy tackle blue marlin fishing with Peak Sportfishing Adventures ‘ Captain Eddy Lawler, my response was predictable and immediate!

Eddy has built a reputation as the “go-to” skipper to catch marlin in Exmouth and in particular, big blue marlin – his passion. In January this year he caught Australia’s first “grander blue marlin”, a 1089.7 lb (494.3 kg) giant, breaking the 20 year old Australian all tackle blue marlin record from Batemans Bay, NSW. The Exmouth heavy tackle blue marlin season runs from October to April, although billfish (including swordfish) can be caught throughout the year.


One down…striped marlin.

The first opportunity to wet a line and experience Exmouth’s billfish diversity was a half day sailfish fishing from Eddy’s 25 ft Contender in the Gulf of Exmouth. Eddy spotted baitballs and sails from the boat’s tower before we pitched live baits on 10 kg spin outfits to the feeding sails. A few hours later, four sailfish up to 30kg were caught & released. More than 20 sailfish have been caught and released in a day using this method. Lures and fly can also be used. My billfish itch had been relieved and I was looking forward to locking horns with marlin over the next three days.

Day 2 to 4 were fished on Peak Sportfishing’s 36 ft flybridge Blackwatch professionally set up for switch baiting billfish. The fishing grounds are a relatively short run west of Ningaloo Reef and you can be fishing the 1000 fathom line within half an hour of leaving the mooring. A typical “spread pattern” includes teaser lures and dredge teasers (without hooks) on electric reels and smaller traditional lures (with hooks) run on 37 kg trolling outfits from the outriggers. The plan was for smaller blacks and stripes (and often larger blues) to eat the outrigger lures and fish interested in the teasers could be teased to the back of the boat and pitched circle hook pre-rigged baits on outfits ranging from 15 kg to 60 kg tackle as directed by the skipper depending on the size of the fish. With skipper, Eddy and expert crew, Wes and Riley running the deck, the system operates like clockwork.

Day 2 and 3 saw a tagged 50 kg striped marlin for Ben, a spectacular double hook-up on blue marlin for Gres and Ben (approx 150 and 170 kg) both tagged & released, and a 20 kg wahoo plus mahi mahi for the table. A fantastic two days fishing. The final day started for me with a frighteningly violent and exhilarating bite on a teased and switched 180 kg blue marlin from which my heart rate is still elevated that was expertly wired by Wes (see the video) within 10 minutes of hookup and still very green.



Two down…blue marlin on the trace.

The rest of the afternoon was relatively quiet until an hour before “stop fishing” when we found a purple patch of water and an exceptional day quickly became one of the most memorable game fishing experiences of my life. A 180 kg blue was switched by Ben and tagged within 15 minutes, before the spread was fully reset, a 100 kg black jumped on the rigger lure, angled by Gres and tagged within 10 minutes and five minutes later, a 50 kg striped was nervously fought by me and wired and tagged by Riley. That’s a grand slam (three different marlin species in a day) Exmouth marlin within half an hour! Gres, Ben and I were speechless as we struggled to take in what just happened. A game fishing milestone I was unable to achieve in 35 years was now completed. We properly celebrated the occasion with Eddy, Wes and Riley that evening. They were also ecstatic with the marlin grand slam – the 19th for Peak Sportfishing!

The grand slam…black marlin.

I have fished for marlin overseas and in most of the recognised “hot spots” in Australia and rank Exmouth at the top of the list for options to catch billfish (and other table, sport and game fish). I also rate Eddy and the team as one of the most professional charter operations I’ve had the pleasure of fishing with.

If you want to catch billfish, make the trip to Exmouth – you won’t be disappointed!

More info about Peak Sportfishing at


An Exmouth Gulf sailfish.


The grand slam flags flying proudly.


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