Spring has sprung with fishing starting to heat up. However the northerlies have certainly made it difficult to get out there. The inshore reefs are producing snapper, amberjack, pearl perch and cobia from Mooloolaba to the Gold Coast. If you are willing to venture out wider, between the 300 and 1000 meter mark, yellowfin tuna, mahi mahi, striped marlin and blue marlin are being caught.
We had three successful offshore trips in the last two months. We had 4 strikes, 3 hook ups but unfortunately we did not tag anything. We did however catch mahi mahi while trying to target yellow fin tuna while out on the shelf. Other members have successfully tagged striped and blue marlin this season already.
The east coast of Australia has some of the best fishing grounds in the world as pelagics can be targeted almost all year round.
HAWAIIAN INTERNATIONAL BILLFISH TOURNAMENT
The HIBT is regarded as one of the most prestigious annual fishing tournaments in the world. This year, three of our club members, Wayne Spalding, Mark Anning and Jason Mangan formed a team to represent The Moreton Bay Game Fish Club. Wayne has been kind enough to put pen to paper to give us an insight as to the running of the tournament.
Kona is an hour’s flight south of Honolulu, big airport though small town. The town centre is made up of hotels, bars and tourist shops clustered around the local peer. Water, even at the peer, was very clear and blue with plenty of sea life.
Saturday and Sunday was registration and briefing day after which was a formal get together, introducing the other teams and boat crews.
The format is that the entry fee covers the cost of chartering boats every day. Teams draw for boats. A different one each day. Fishing starts Monday morning at 0800, with anglers onboard by 0730. Every morning, coffee and pastries are offered before boarding the boats about 0730. Boats then stand off, waiting for power up at 0800. Fishing consists of trolling a couple of miles off shore, along the coast in very deep beautiful blue water. (thousand metre depths are very close to the shore, due to the volcanic topography of the region)
The crew consisted of a captain and one or two deck hands. Boats were nice, our first one was Topshape, a newish Cabo43 in great condition and fitted with aircon. Kona being in the lee of the prevailing winds was flat glassy calm. No seasick pills required here.
Lines were set, using pointed hooks, rather than our “blade” sharpened ones. I felt these might be more suited for 130lb tackle (which is normally used). We were using 50lb reels, either Ttiagra or Penn`s to take advantage of the higher points available. We ran mostly 5 lines the shotgun being referred to as the stinger. The lures were generally run farther from the boat. Some boats ran multiple teasers, others just one and others none. We hooked up on the first day to a skipjack and later tagged and released a blue marlin. The following day a blue was lost at the boat before tagging. We had multiple strikes and brief hook ups over the week, but failed to stay connected.
At the end of each day’s fishing, teams stepped off the boat, where tags and weighs were checked or carried out. A complimentary bar was provided along with hot snacks. Tackle was VERY strictly checked in accordance with IGFA rules. Then it was a matter of returning to the hotel, only a few steps away for a shower then dinner, all to do it again the next day. Fishing was completed on Friday night, with the formal awards function starting Saturday afternoon.
There was quite a lot of interest from the locals every afternoon, with anglers interviewed by the local newspaper and small crowds gathering to watch the weigh in of any boated fish. None of the fish were wasted, all blue marlin were actually sold for consumption.
Kona is a fantastic game fishing destination, with luxurious gamefish boats available.
We had a fantastic time, I would love to attend again!