2011 Season Summary & Stats

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AN ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL SEASON

  • LOTS OF FISH. BEST SINCE EARLY 2000
  • 3 GRANDERS
  • TOURNAMENT SUCCESS
  • GREAT WEATHER

We had a ball this season. Brett drove for the full season for the second year in a row, after being co Skipper the previous two. He has done a long apprenticeship, doing his first Cairns season in 1993. In fact in 2002, when the late Geoff Ferguson retired as Skipper of “Mistress”he recommended that Brett take over saying “he`s very very good and he`s going to get even better”. Geoff was correct. Brett puts in the effort, is in the Tower all day, fishes late,finds fish, and does a great job of driving on them.

Johnathon Lawrence from Alabama was No 1 Deckhand and Troy Ilic, and Rodney Van Der Heide split theNo2 role.Johnathon fishes Texas, the Bahamas,Florida, and South America, and he is right up with the best as a Deckhand.His baits are first rate,tackle never fails, and he can hang on to anything, but also more importantly knows when to let go.

Johnno is also a Computer wiz; he made edited, captioned Dvd`s incorporating both stills and video (From the 3 fixed cameras,Hatcam, and handhelds) set to music of our Tournament participation; for each Charter Party, and of the whole season.

Johhno assures us that he will be back next season, and we will be delighted to have him on the boat again

The season started early this year. The Boats that were fishing were catching fish all along the Reef from early September.

We had a bit of a slow start. We did very poorly in the Lizard Island Tournament with 2 from 11? I went 2 from 3, and my fishing partner 0 from 9.Fortunately it was all uphill from there or I`d still be ripping out what meagre strands of hair I have left.

In fact following that abysmal performance during the rest of the season we enjoyed an 87.5% Strike to Tag ratio on Black Marlin, which is the best we`ve ever achieved. Whether they were eating better, or we are getting better with our circle hook technique I don`t know, but I`ll take it, and hope it repeats next year.

Additionally Jarmo, Okko, and Aarne; Charterers from Finland decided to really make sure of the Hookup. They persuaded one to eat 3 baits, and Hookup on all 3. Maybe that’s why Rapala Lures are so good. They have some Finnish magic working for them?

Most of our fish were caught on Skip baits on the Shotgun or Centre Rigger, which is the longest bait. Usually on Scaly Mackeral, but also on Tuna and Spanish Mackeral. Amazingly a couple of other boats have reported to us that they couldn`t get a bite on a Skip Bait, that the majority of their fish were caught on Swimming Scads? Why this is I don`t know. Maybe the boat. Maybe the rigging. Maybe the distance.

The weather during the Lizard was the best since 2003. None of the usual 25/30 Knots or worse. The winning boat got 16, which is right up there. Over the last 5 or so years its been won with between 7 and 9 fish. As usual the winning boat stayed at “The Marks”. This year, again most of the fleet were at “The Marks”for the first two days with a couple of boats north of Lizard Island at Day/Hicks Reefs.

Then about day 3 a boat got 4 from 6 at No 4 Ribbon, so most of the fleet headed down to the Middle Ribbons. Lo and Behold the boat that stays at “The Marks”then gets 6 for a day and streaks into an unbeatable lead.

However that was more or less it for No 10. One boat did have a spectacular 5 day trip on 10, but within a week of that he was headed South. Several of us did well at the Bottom of 3 for a while after the Lizard, but by mid October just about everyone was fishing the Linden Bank or the Opal Ridge

The week after the Lizard Tournament the wind got up to 20/25 knots, and that was the worst we had all season. Generally the wind was a balmy 10/15, or 15/20. I have never experienced a season of such mild weather. Interestingly the fish seemed to shut down a bit during that period of stronger wind. So much for the theory held by some old timers that we need a big blow to bring the fish in to the Reef.

Grander number one was a massive fish. We saw the bite. The fish had it`s head out of the water and to describe the Bill as a baseball bat would be a serious understatement. It was more like a telegraph pole! Then it arched over and in what seemed like at least a second later about 3/4feet of it`s upper tail lobe came out of the water, but we still didn`t see the tail wrist.At the strike my words were “C***** this things way over 1200

Now the fun started. I have often said that Blacks; particularly when struck with a circle hook at 18lb of drag are usually confused and jump around close to the boat.If they stay doing this you can tag them quickly( Gaffing them is another story) However when they get themselves sorted out they go down, don`t jump and just head East. Then you are on the wrong end of the lever and the fish is bigger and stronger.Well this one never jumped. It got it`s head and pecks out of the water once quite a distance from the boat and that was that. It headed east. I had 75lbs of drag on it and we are in pursuit. After about 3 miles of this, and with us trying everything ( one side, the other side, in front etc) it turns around and heads back to the Reef. And believe it or not tries to feed in a Tuna school. I felt insulted. Anyway I got the Leader to the boat 4 times, but Johnno who is over 100 kgs just couldn`t budge it enough to even get a wrap.The exercise ended when I broke the leader from the Rod Tip after 2hrs 54 mins. It wasn`t chaffed it just broke. ( Lindgren Pitman 550lb)

How big. Well I can`t call it. I have seen quite a few up to 1200, but the only things I have seen bigger are a 1388, and a 1324 on video. Thus I am just not prepared to make a definitive call except to say “way over 1200”.

Amazing how word spreads. I had Emails from Kelly Dalling of www.Blackmarlinfishingblog.com and Hook Hammerling of www Granderwatch.com within minutes. I guess someone figured that if I was on a fish for over 2hrs it had to be a decent one

Grander 2 was a simpler exercise; 1100 in 4 mins 40secs

Grander 3 was even easier; 1000 in 4mins 32secs.That’s the way it should be.

We won the Yorkeys Knob Makaira Bullfight Tournament, and also got Champion Angler, and first and last Billfish Tagged. Among the prizes were 4 Okuma Makaira Reels, and we donated these back to the Yorkeys Knob Fishing Club in recognition of the great hospitality they have extended to us over the years. In response their Committee met and extended us the offer of free Tournament Entry next year. We have won this Tournament in 2 of the 3 years we have entered.

We also did well in the Port Douglas Tournament. The winning boat got 3 for the 4 days. We got 2 so placed second overall, I was Champion Angler, and we got Champion boat Day 3. It was tough fishing. Only 4 other boats caught a fish in the 4 days.

We did two exploratory “wide”trips during the season, once to Osprey Reef and once to the Holmes/ Flora Reef complex. Both are about 110miles offshore. Osprey was really interesting. There were birds , baits, and Wahoo everywhere. It was a real challenge to get away from the baits, and give yourself a chance to catch a Marlin, because any time you were near birds or bait’s the inevitable result was a Wahoo. We didn`t do well, one for 5 on Blues, with one bitten off by a Wahoo. Bye Bye Big Dog, and three falling off. The Osprey Lagoon is massive. You could spend a month exploring it.

The biggest problem in the Lagoon is that if you troll anything and you catch something it is invariably a huge Giant Trevally. If you try to catch Coral Trout the bait doesn`t even get to the bottom before you`ve caught a Shark or a Red Bass.

We didn`t see anything at Holmes/ Flora, but a couple of weeks later a boat got 4 from 6 out there, so either we were there at the wrong time or fishing in the wrong place.

The new electronics we put in the boat a couple of years ago are a benefit. With two 3kw Sounders and a Scanning Sonar Brett is marking fish all the time. If they are shallower than 40 metres he will spend 10/15mins circling them to see if they will come up. Quite frequently they do.

That sort of concludes the season wrap up

Overall we ended the season with 37 fish for 42 days fished. Our average weight was 476 lb.

I believe from various reports that there were in the order of 20 Granders caught. We did really well to catch 3, and we are chuffed with our Tournament, and overall results.

As we would say in Australia. It was a blinder.

Lets hope that this indicates a change in the cycle and that we are on an upswing.

Till next year. Tight Lines.

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