Forget about New Year’s resolutions… InTheBite is straight to the point in 2019.
Grab a copy of the latest Jan/Feb Issue, hitting the docks now!
Forget about New Year’s resolutions… InTheBite is straight to the point in 2019.
Grab a copy of the latest Jan/Feb Issue, hitting the docks now!
Captain Brett Alty’s 50’ custom charter boat Mistress is at it again. Upon arrival back at Fraser Island at the end of September Mistress tagged 32 marlin within just 7 days and 3hrs of fishing! As Yogi Berra, the New York Yankees catcher was as famous for his baseball skills as for mixing metaphors, once said “ This is déjà vu all over again.”
As was reported earlier in In The Bite E-News Mistress enjoyed outstanding success at Fraser last year as well, tagging 104 in just 42 days during the period late August to late Nov. Mistress fished through early December before returning to the Gold Coast for some much needed maintenance. All told from August through December 2017, the Mistress tagged 128 marlin in 48 days of fishing. An astounding average of 2.7 fish per boat day!
We were on our lonesome for the entire period from August to October, but in November we were joined by three motherships and 10 gameboats all sharing the most commonly used anchorage at Rooneys Point. Among them the Gold Coast boats Caboom, Special K, and French Look 111, plus the charter boat Kekoa. Word of the outstanding fishing had spread quickly.
In late February, Mistress returned to Fraser and fished another 44 days. During this period currents weren’t ideal and weather patterns dictated that most fishing was done around the New Moon. We generally don’t find the best Moon Phase optimal; rather the week before and after the Full seems preferable.
Nevertheless Mistress managed another 71 tags to bring the total for the year ended 30 June to 199. As we were hoping for a nice round and memorable number –like 200—the 199 was a bit disappointing. How close were we to the magic 200? On the last day of the fishing year we developed the dreaded “Rubber Hook “ syndrome, going one for five for the day. Damn. The 199 marlin tagged were comprised of 150 blue marlin, 30 little blacks and 19 assorted heavy tackle blacks and stripes. That’s world class fishing by any measure. During this period we were frequently accompanied by Dave McMaster a light tackle specialist on Poledancer and we had some memorable social nights.
Then, just to cap it all off, Mistress won the Hervey Bay Gamefish Club tournament fishing against a fleet of 40 odd boats. This time fishing heavy tackle with 9 blues in the 2 ½ days of fishing. We also won this tournament in 2015 catching 15 little blacks on light tackle, and were second on a countback in 2016 to the well performed Sunshine Coast Privateer Kamikaze.
Frazer Island Background
There are some interesting aspects to the fishery at Fraser. The blues and stripes strike very aggressively. With the stripes there was none of the usual Tap—Tap— Tap. The majority just climbed on like a Blue. All the fish were in excellent condition. They were all fat. Much more so than the ones we see on the Gold Coast only a couple of hundred miles south.
There were also yellowfin tuna present ranging from a few kilos to up to 75kg out on the shelf. On one occasion there were so many yellowfin around that they were beating the Blues to the lures. Captain Brett could see blues coming up in the lure pattern, but they were being consistently beaten to the lures by frenzied yellowfin.
A new Giant Black Marlin Fishery on the Horizon?
In June/July we also tagged, and quite predictably lost quite a few, tiny little Blacks. Some vainly trying, but failing to hook themselves on lures were as small as 2kg (5 pounds)! We reported this to Dr. Julian Pepperell (Australia’s preeminent billfish scientists—and one of the world’s foremost experts) who was intrigued because he thought that fish of this size would be probably only two to three months old. If this is the case it means that they were most likely spawned about February or March. This has quite serious ramifications as it means that there is a black marlin spawning period outside the traditional September to November Cairns breeding period. Julian requested that we keep a couple of the Heads off these tiny Blacks so that he can inspect the oeliths and more precisely determine their age.
If Julian’s initial prognosis is correct it may well lead to another Giant black marlin season, most likely somewhere near Fraser Island. No doubt when we get confirmation of Julian`s estimate we and other long range liveaboard boats will be out in the wild blue yonder doing some exploratory fishing trying to find this new breeding ground.
The 2018 Season
Mistress started its latest session at Fraser with a three day, three hour fishing trip that initially targeted little blacks. After tagging eight, in the morning of the 3rd day the crew decided to go heavy tackle seeking a Slam. Well the Lady angler, one of the three on board, caught her first blue and then was unlucky to pull the hooks out of a stripe.
On his second trip, Captain Brett decided to fish Heavy Tackle for four days. The Mistress wound up with an absolutely outstanding 23 tags deployed from 32 strikes. All blues! That’s 5.75 blues per day. Fingers crossed this keeps up!!
On the fourth day Captain Brett actually moved away from his spot and called a couple of his friends in. His sole charterer was worn out from fighting so many fish and his two deckies were worn out from constant work rerigging/ resetting lures and leadering fish. How’s that for a problem?
Now Mistress has done a total of 11 days and 3 hrs at Fraser since the end of September and has tagged 42 marlin comprising 33 blues, eight blacks, and one striped. That’s an astonishing average of 3.72 per day of fishing.
At the moment there are around six boats fishing at Fraser, among them Brad Dobinson’s Special K and Captain Simon Carossi driving Assegai. Simon also has his Mothership there.
I imagine that once again there will be a fleet descend on Fraser in November. Some of the Cairns charter boats have announced their intention to come down. There will also be boats from both north and south making an extended visit around their Hervey Bay Gamefish Club Tournament attendance (Tourny 16th to 19th Nov).
There are plenty of fish for everyone and I expect that as we fish the area more we will all learn more and enjoy an even greater level of success. As if it’s not outstanding already.
For more on the Mistress operation, or to book a trip, check out their website: http://www.fishingmistress.com/
CABO SAN LUCAS, BCS, Mex. – A 458-pound black marlin landed on the final day of the Bisbee’s Los Cabos Offshore Tournament was worth $520,485 in prize money to the Wild Hooker Team aboard the Wild Hooker.
It took tournament angler Danny Hogan 1 hour, 25 minutes to subdue the monster which ate a skipjack tuna.
The winning fish narrowly beat a 455-pound black marlin caught aboard the boat Predator. The second-place fish was worth $333,418 in prize money.
In all, the tournament’s 123 teams composed of 763 anglers and crews competed for a record $1,165,000, according to event director Wayne Bisbee.
Other notable winners in various categories included:
· A 235-pound yellowfin tuna by Team Overtime aboard the boat Overtimevalued at $129,860;
· A 73-pound tuna by Team Altata Bay aboard the Catamaran valued at $78,200; and
· A 455-pound black marlin by team Los Compadres del Dorado valued at $9,686.
Winning amounts are determined by tournament entry fees together with various daily and event jackpot prizes.
The tournament was divided into seven categories limited to marlin, tuna and dorado. Five billfish exceeded the minimum weight of 300 pounds, eight tuna and numerous dorado were brought to the scale. All the fish (2,869 pounds — 8,607 meals) that were brought to the scale were given to charities for orphans, homeless or disabled.
2018 Los Cabos Billfish Tournament Final Results
The 20th Annual Los Cabos Billfish Tournament recorded 150 billfish catches across three days of fishing.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO (MONDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2018) — Radio Channel 28 stayed lively all three days of the 20th Annual Los Cabos Billfish tournament, with the tournament fleet averaging 50 releases each day. Last year, anglers released 61 blues and 31 striped marlin; this year, the striped marlin bite returned with a fury. In total, the fleet of 52 boats caught 150 billfish, consisting of 109 stripes, 29 blues, five blacks, five sailfish and two spearfish. Days one and two saw stronger afternoon bites, while day three’s afternoon bite was the slowest of the tournament.
Fishing teams were competing for $642,300 in cash, plus prizes.
The overall winner of the 20th Annual Los Cabos Billfish Tournament was Team Sea Angel, scoring 1,700 points. Sea Angel didn’t weigh any fish, but thanks to their 28 striped marlin releases and one blue marlin release, they were able to hold onto the top spots in the Overall Team Division and Overall Release Points Jackpot. Plus, they won the Day Two Release Points Jackpot. The team, consisting of Capt. Billy Chase “BC” Angel, Andrea Angel, Greg Angel, Austin Angel, Chase Travers, Fico Ortega and Juan Carlos Buenes, earned $113,500 for their efforts and an invitation to the 2019 Offshore World Championship in Costa Rica. For his outstanding showing, Capt. BC Angel won the top captain and received a Garmin Quatix watch.
The Los Cabos Billfish Tournament awards 300 points for black and blue marlin releases, while striped marlin, sailfish and spearfish are just 50 points. Marlin weighed over the 300-pound minimum are awarded points based on their weight. In 2018, each pound was worth 1.5 points, so a 500-pound black marlin catch earned 750 points. The Los Cabos Billfish Tournament point system favors blue and black marlin releases, or catching a monster marlin for weigh-in, but Team Sea Angel was able to defy the odds by totaling 28 striped marlin releases. The year 2018 was the first time a team not weighing a marlin won first-place team in the tournament.
Second-place in the Overall Team Division went to Team Chupacabra with 1,548.5 points. The team released two blue marlin and four striped marlin for 800 points. On the third day of fishing, angler Blake Stamper landed a 499-pound blue marlin worth 748.5 points. The monster blue marlin won all four levels of the Day Three Marlin Jackpot and the Overall Largest Marlin Jackpot. The team, consisting of Capt. Clay Hensley, Bo Jenyns, Jason Douglas, Blake Stamper, Don Stamper, Don Logue and Pablo Pino, earned $195,950, the largest check of the tournament.
Third-place in the Overall Team Division was secured by Team El Suertudo with 1,400 points with four blue marlin, three striped marlin and one spearfish. The team also scored the Day One Release Points Jackpot and Second-Place Overall Release Points Jackpot. Their top-three finishes earned them $57,780 in total. The El Suertudo team consisted of Capt. Greg DiStefano, Bruce McDonald, Alfonso Ortega, Guy Yocom, Oswaldo Ortega, Gary Mason, Dave Elow, Azam Flores and Noe Isaias Cruz.
Three qualifying marlin were caught during the tournament, with Team Chupacabra’s the heaviest. But two other marlin catches on days one and two won teams Carpe Diem and Second Wind large cash payouts.
On day one, Carpe Diem’s Dr. Rick McShane landed a 467-pound blue marlin. The blue marlin won all four levels of the Day One Marlin Jackpot, earning $81,750 for the team. The 2018 Carpe Diem team was made up of Capt. Jeff Hamm, Dr. Ricky McShane, James McDonald, Gary Benson, Kellium Tice, Alex Hill and Juan Manuel.
On day two, Team Second Wind won the day with a 363-pound black marlin caught by angler Ryan Donovan. The catch solidified all four levels of the Day Two Marlin Jackpot and second place in the Overall Largest Marlin Jackpot for a grand total of $119,550. Second Wind got redemption with their day-two catch after weighing a marlin on day one that was seven pounds shy of the qualifying weight of 300 pounds. The Second Wind team consisted of Capt. TJ Dobson, John LaGrone, Ryan Donovan, Tony Frascone, Erik Chang and Jerry Bribiesca.
Team Yahoo had two strong days of striped marlin fishing after a slow first day to win third place in the Overall Release Points Jackpot. On day three, the team also won the Daily Release Points Jackpot with 12 striped marlin released worth 600 points. Team Yahoo consisted of Capt. Ricardo Escamilla, Bryce Schell, Mike McKamey, Kurtis McKamey, Jose Escamilla, Ricardo Escamilla and Valentine Ucamp. In total, the team won a check worth $18,420.
Teams entered in the Tuna/Wahoo/Dorado Jackpot who weighed gamefish species were also able to get on the winner’s stage and take home cash prizes. No qualifying dorado were landed over the three days of fishing so that prize money was distributed to the tuna and wahoo winners. On day three, no qualifying wahoo were caught, so that purse was split between the day one and two winners.
Angler Edward Cota, of Team Estella Del Norte, landed a 66-pound yellowfin tuna to win the Largest Tuna Daily Jackpot. The fish won Team Estrella Del Norte $10,762. The team consisted of Capt. Adrian Miranda, James E Rosenwald, Daniel Camacho, Adrian Miranda and Edward Cota.
Angler Jesus Garcia, of Team El Animal, landed a 37.2-pound wahoo to win the Largest Wahoo Daily Jackpot. The fish won Team El Animal $13,837. The team consisted of Capt. Hugo Beas, Jesus Garcia, Jose Roberto Sanchez, Jose Macias and Daniel Fiol.
Angler Scott Leonard, of Team Game Time, landed a 31.3-pound yellowfin tuna to win the Largest Tuna Daily Jackpot. The fish won Team Game Time$10,762. The team consisted of Capt. Javier Zamaya, Kris Anderson, Scott Leonard, Matt Condon and Manuel Gil.
Angler Jim Smith, of Team Mjolnir, landed a 43.9-pound wahoo to win the Largest Wahoo Daily Jackpot. The team consisted of Capt. David Harris, Brandon Walton, Jim Smith, Brandon Baiocco, Jared Dow and Kevin Schloot.
Angler Jim Smith, of Team Mjolnir, landed a 70.3-pound yellowfin tuna to win the Largest Tuna Daily Jackpot. For their day two and three catches, the team won $19,987.
Blue Marlin Tagged in Bermuda Swims 5,089 Nautical Miles to Win 2017-2018 IGFA Great Marlin Race
DANIA BEACH, Fla. – July 9, 2018 – The International Game Fish Association (IGFA) today announced that a blue marlin satellite-tagged on July 21, 2017, during the Bermuda Triple Crown Billfish Championship has won the 2017-2018 IGFA Great Marlin Race (IGMR).
The winning billfish swam an estimated 5,089 nautical miles (nm) in total or 2,658 nm point-to-point from Bermuda to about 600 nm northeast of Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil. This is the longest distance ever recorded by an IGMR-tagged blue marlin in Bermuda.
“Congratulations to tag sponsor Mike Verzaleno whose generosity allowed us to track the incredible journey of the winning billfish,” said IGFA President Nehl Horton. “Strong support from recreational anglers is the key to the success of this innovative, citizen-science conservation initiative.”
The IGMR is a partnership between IGFA and Stanford University that pairs recreational anglers with cutting-edge science to learn more about the basic biology of marlin and how they utilize the open ocean habitat. The goal of the program is to deploy 50 pop-up archival tags (PAT) in marlin at billfish tournaments around the world each year.
Since 2011, more than 350 satellite tags have been placed on billfish during IGMR tagging events. In the 2017-2018 race season, 58 tags were deployed on 31 blue marlin, 18 black marlin and nine striped marlin in seven countries around the world.
Marlin tagged in Bermuda during the 2015, 2016 and 2017 Triple Crown Billfish Championship tournaments swam a total of 16,464 nm and the winning fish accounts for 16 percent of this distance.
To learn more about the IGFA Great Marlin Race, visit https://igmr.igfa.org/Conserve/IGMR.aspx.
By Barry Alty
Fraser Island, located off Australia’s eastern Queensland coast is a National Park with pristine rainforests and inland lakes of varying hues. Stretching nearly 75 miles, Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world.
Hervey Bay is the step off point for Fraser Island. It has a well serviced airport, a range of resorts, hotels, motels and restaurants, and is an easy four-hour drive from Brisbane, Queensland’s capital city. It is a 4WD paradise accessible by barge from the nearby town of Hervey Bay.
Fishing Fraser Island is most popular during the months between July-October. Local runabouts have tagged and released juvenile black marlin, up to 30 a day, near the northern end of Fraser Island just outside of the Breaksea Spit.
The established juvenile black marlin fishery has recently been supplemented by the discovery of a well-rounded adult marlin fishery as well. The waters are marked by the presence of a lot of bait and multiple species of marlin. The blues have averaged around 400-pounds with our biggest to date circa 700. The Stripes have ranged from 240 to 300-pounds. They climb on like blues– none of this tap tap tap nonsense!
Any place where you can catch an average of nearly three marlin a day is a fantastic, world-class fishery. What makes it even more incredible is that there are four species available with Pacific blues and blacks being the most predominant, followed by stripes and Pacific sailfish.
The Mistress, skippered by Captain Brett Alty who has driven Gameboats in Perth and the Gold Coast in Australia, has explored the waters offshore of Fraser Island. Capt. Brett says ” I have never seen anything like this, so many species available and Blues and Blacks in big numbers by any standard. There will definitely be a Grander Blue here somewhere.”
Mistress began fishing again off Fraser Island beginning of March 2017. The day before my 73rd birthday, in December, we tagged our 100th blue marlin for the season (which started in July 2017). As of March 2018, the boat’s total was 136-marlin.
The Mistress is a family affair. Captain Brett Alty is Barry’s son. According to Barry, Brett’s birthday present for his father will be a grander blue. We hope it’s a good birthday and look forward to reporting the present! ITB
Check out this video of Karen Wright record fishing.
By Capt. Peter B. Wright
Several years ago I did a boat trial on a new Hatteras for Motor Boating and Sailing Magazine. I knew the captain, Pete Grosbeck, had a great reputation in California, but I had not yet gotten to know him personally. What he taught me that day in Mexico, has helped me catch hundreds of billfish and win copious amounts of money in tournaments all over the world.
I deliberately did not write about it, until now! Over the decades I have passed on this knowledge to many of my anglers and deck hands; I really don’t consider it to be a secret anymore (sorry Pete). When I share this information with new customers, or crew members, who have not yet used the tactics that Grosbeck taught me, they are usually skeptical. Once they see the success that comes along with the unusual set-up, they always put the rig into their own bag of tricks.
After I climbed through the boat and tested its ability to dance, with me at the controls, Captain Pete asked me if I wanted to catch a couple of sail fish. Of course I did! He handed me a light, 20 pound, outfit and a huge, plastic headed marlin lure with multiple skirts! I blinked and said, “I can’t catch sailfish on that!” He replied, “Do you want to bet?” in a tone of voice that put me on guard immediately.
He was way too confident in what looked like a ridiculous set up for me to bet any real money. I knew Pacific sailfish were larger than the Atlantic ones I grew up on, and I had caught several, large sails in Australia by that point.
At the time, I rarely used lures as large as the one Pete had handed me, even on full grown blue or black Marlin! My hookup ratio was not high enough using large lures compared to smaller lures. Only after using Grosbeck’s lure was I able to realize it was the hooks, and not the lure size that made the difference.
I could not believe a sailfish would even try to eat such a huge artificial lure. If it did, I was sure that the hook up ratio would have to be at, or near zero! Little did I know that in a short period of time that day, I would have 5 strikes from sailfish, and tag and release 3 of them! I was amazed! When I carefully checked out the hook set that Grosbeck was using, it was like nothing I had ever seen before. He was using 2 small and short shanked “J” shaped hooks, sized about 5/0.
I can best describe them as being similar to what we used during live bait fishing for small Florida sailfish before switching to circle hooks. I tested the hooks on a line testing machine and it takes right at 100 pounds of pull to straighten one out. Each hook was on its own individual leader, and the hooks were not completely inside, or outside, the skirt’s tail! The skirt just barely covered the eyes of both hooks! It was an IGFA legal set up! Each leader had a loop eye and the main leader passed through the eyes of both leaders.
Years later, while, trying to catch Fonda Huizenga her first world record spearfish, we would catch a 300 plus pound Big eye tuna, and tag an estimated 500-pound blue marlin, which became the first Atlantic blue marlin ever to wear a satellite tag! We finally got the Ladies Spearfish Record late that day! All the fish were caught on IGFA 50 pound class line, with the Grosbeck hook set on small Mold Craft “needlefish” lures!
I have won several tournaments using that same set-up. Including the Dunk Island classic, a 12 pound IGFA class line competition for Sailfish and Black Marlin, for three consecutive years. We might have won it 4 years in a row if I had not made a silly mistake!
Trailing my old deck hand, Laurie Wright, by 3 fish on the last day, I figured there was no way we could get 5 releases before Laurie got at least a couple more. Sailfish and small Black Marlin tagged and released were worth something along the lines of 35 points each. Marlin over a certain size could be gaffed and boated, and were worth a point per pound of body weight.
I knew we could catch a decent Black on 12-pound so we went for broke and ran outside the edge of the reef to where the big ones lived. Almost immediately we got a bite! Instead of being worth 5 sails or small blacks the fish we were fighting on 6 Kg. line was a full grown female in excess of 800 pounds! And worth a point a pound!
If we could catch her, we would win by a mile! My mistake was in not changing from the 80-pound test leader we used on the little blacks to something much heavier! I managed to get the leader to Doug Haig over 10 times! Each time he pulled as hard as he could, without breaking it, then dumped it, turned to me and said “Sorry Pete, I was going to break it.”
“Great job Doug,” was my reply. “We still have her on!” We were never able to get a tag on her and get the release points but it was one of the best fights we ever had! Whenever I show amateur crew members and anglers how to use the “Grosbeck Rig” I tell them to always use heavy leader and go fast.
One new friend called me up recently and told me “It works!”. “What works?” was my puzzled reply. “I got my wife her first sailfish, then we hooked another one! But it was not a sail. It was a marlin right here in front of Stuart. We messed up trying to tag it and broke the leader at the boat.”
THANKS AGAIN TO PETE GROSBECK.