The last few seasons have seen a rather slow start to serious game fishing action, but with coastal Marlin running on further into late autumn than might be the expected.
Highly experienced professionals were beginning to suspect a shift in seasons/migration patterns from what they had experienced over many years of operation.
Things looked different in the early part of the summer this year, however, so much so that I predicted/guessed that the first Blue Marlin, which often doesn’t appear until February, would be caught before the New Year.
My guess was soon proved correct when the first serious efforts were made, as a fish close to 500lbs was caught on Boxing Day. Unlike recent seasons, with a slow, sporadic build up, the fishing has been “full on” and very exciting since. It makes me wonder if the Marlin had already been here a while.
Almost as many Blues as Stripies have been caught so far, again unusual, with the best of each species, so far, going 690lbs and 308lbs, respectively.
A boat from the Bay of Islands hooked 6 Striped Marlin in a day, comprising a single, double and treble but was unlucky enough for none of the fish to stick!
The most notable capture, by light tackle specialists, is a 498lb Blue captured on 30lb stand up tackle by the 10 year old son of the skipper. The same team accounted for a pending world record claim for a 473lb Blue on 18lb/8kgs line, for the boat’s owner.
Whilst not disputing the extreme skill of light tackle teams, I can’t help wondering if the fish actually fight harder when hooked on “conventional” heavier tackle after feeling a more serious threat from the stronger resistance. A recent encounter with a big Blue on 80lb gear resulted in a smashed rod and fish lost after a 3 hour battle.
A sad downside of the latter seems to be that fish go so “ballistic” that a proportion die in their efforts and sink to the depths. With so many trailer boats now deployed in the game fishing here, lack of experience and inability to back-up speedily, probably compound this problem
A much rarer Black Marlin, was recently seen tailing on an inshore reef but the two subsequent efforts only resulted in the live-baits being rapidly snaffled by the marauding Makos, whose numbers seem to on the increase. Another live-bait was taken by a magnificent 92lb Yellowtail Kingfish…a great fish but not the intended Black.
A few more Yellowfin tuna have shown, of good size, but nowhere near approaching the numbers of yesteryear. A few Shortbill Spearfish have added the spice of variety and Mahimahi are fairly numerous and seemingly of higher average size than we usually expect (up to 30lbs). It’s a pity we don’t have more than the odd FAD out there to permit targeting of these wonderful fish on appropriate tackle. The vast majority are taken as an incidental by-catch on Marlin tackle, when passing rare floating debris.
I’ll make another prediction/guess though; with their astonishing growth rates, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see club or national records being beaten this season for this acrobatic and brilliantly coloured little fighter.
In summary, the action is hot and prospects look fantastic down under, especially if the season runs into late autumn again….watch this space!