Newspaper article Coffs Coast Advocate (Coffs Harbour, Australia)

Game-Fishing Crews Earn Their Stripes

Newspaper article Coffs Coast Advocate (Coffs Harbour, Australia)

Game-Fishing Crews Earn Their Stripes

Article excerpt

Byline: Rick O'Ferrall

AS WOULD be expected, the game-fishing conditions off the Solitary Islands' coast are improving in leaps and bounds as we push towards the end of September.

Ocean temperatures, stuck around 20C for weeks when the East Australian Current stalled over the cooler months, have climbed three degrees in just the past three weeks.

Over the same period, reports of marlin hook-ups have gone from non-existent to the point this past week where boats can reasonably expect to see at least one marlin a day in their lure pattern.

This was impressively illustrated last Tuesday when skipper Marcus Blackwell's newly arrived game fishing boat, Hemingway (a replacement for the old Hemingway, which fished here last summer), went out for its first shakedown day on the continental shelf and hit the jackpot.

At least nine striped marlin were raised between two boats fishing in good conditions in very "fishy" water east of Coffs Harbour that day, and three of them were hooked up and tagged by Hemingway.

The day started particularly well when within 15 minutes of getting their lure pattern set up, they passed over a big bait ball out in Marlin Alley near the edge of the shelf and almost immediately had a large striped marlin materialise behind the boat and do a great job of devouring one of the lures in the pattern.

Two hours of hard work later and George Blackwell had the big striped marlin up beside the boat ready for tagging.

Striped marlin are the smallest of the three marlin types caught here, rarely getting over 100kg as adults, and this one measured up at an impressive 120kg, so it was a great fish with which to christen the boat.

As luck would have it, no sooner did the tag go in than the fish busted off and saved the crew the trouble of unhooking it.

Despite Hemingway's good luck with such a clean hook-up first time around, striped marlin are usually pretty fussy eaters and they're also extremely suspicious of lures behind boats that just don't look quite right.

Hook-up rates with these fish are always tenuous at best compared with the hard-hitting blue marlin, which will start arriving shortly, and the voracious juvenile blacks that swarm into these waters in mid-summer. …

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