The Marlin Season that was

THE marlin tournament season on the East Coast started off with the Lake Macquarie Game Fishing Clubs Billfish Bonanza. The event recorded 219 marlin tagged & released in two days by 55 boats; with non-tournament boats also successfully fishing the same area, estimates of around 500 marlin in total were caught.

This set the scene for the Newcastle Port Stephens GFC. Luhrs Billfish Shootout, The NSW Game Fishing Association Nautilus Boat Insurance Interclub Tournament & The NSWGFA 50th Anniversary Billfish Challenge.

During the week leading up to the Luhrs I was invited to join Capt. Billy Billson (a legend in marlin fishing) to join him on board his magnificent vessel Viking II for three days marlin fishing. We went on to release eight marlin on day 1, four on day 2 and five on day 3.

A total of 96 Boats competed in the Luhrs Billfish Shootout in picture postcard weather conditions, with 189 Marlin tagged & released in two days. This was a fall in the boat to marlin ratio from the Billfish Bonanza. Champion Boat was Gunrunner with Billson’s Viking II picking up the Peter Goadby Award.

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The NSWGFA Interclub weather conditions were good during the first weekend, and on the second weekend, well,  there was enough wind to blow a dog out of its kennel! On the last Sunday only 56 boats were fishing (out of 176 entered) by afternoon, 254 marlin were tagged & released and 13 weighed. 16 sharks tagged & released and 17 weighed. Champion Boat was Gunrunner, Runner up was Diversion and 3rd was Viking II, which also picked up the Nautilus Marine Boat Insurance Trophy.

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On the Wednesday and Thursday between the two weekends of the Interclub, the NSWGFA held a special tournament – the 50th Anniversary Billfish Challenge – and good weather conditions prevailed. I again fished on board Viking II and we tagged & released nine marlin in total to come in second to The Force.

In 22 days of chartering out of Port Stephens during February and March, Viking 11 and Capt. Billy Billson averaged 4.3 marlin a day. Unfortunately, over the past two weeks the fishing has dropped off with many boats reporting seeing only one fish a day, with a few blue marlin being tagged out wider. But the big news is that the blue marlin are on the chew off the Gold Coast with reports of up to eight fish a day being tagged.

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Viking II will be back on the Gold Coast next week and available for charter.

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