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/